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Dr. Bob and you
Sep 26, 2011

Hi, Just learned of Dr. Bob's passing and I am devastated. I did not even know him but I read his answers and your answers daily for a source of strength of knowing that you were both still here. I don't get it at all. It is like the whole manageable condition thing is a lie and this is still a death sentence. I was already looking at my children and knowing that I will not see them grow up or be here to help them. So much for people not dying of AIDS anymore.I just want to thank you for what you do. You probably have no idea that you are the source of strength for so many people who aren't making it through so well and who have very few outside contacts.I rarely even leave the house. I do not know how to get that strength now. I am not one of those stoic people. I will still check for your answers daily. I was wondering if you could tell me what bacterial sepsis is. I googled it but I do not understand the information and it isn't on the list of opportunistic infections. I cannot even believe it. I thought he was undetectable and he acted like he was going to be here for the cure. Now that whole idea seems like a cosmic joke. How could he have been answering questions one day and then be dead the next? Sorry I am rambling. It is 3 in the morning here and I just found out. This life has no meaning. Love to you, maria

Response from Mr. Vergel

Maria

When I heard about Dr Bob's passing part of me also thought what you thought. It happens every time I hear about the death of a long term HIV survivor that I know, specially one like Dr Bob who is educated about health and helping others live better. We will all die eventually, but an early death of someone close to us really makes mortality even more real. And for some of us who have lived with a sort of post traumatic stress syndrome caused by an HIV diagnosis and burying our friends and lovers, sudden deaths of HIV positive long term survivors around us may trigger that PTSD.

Luckily, most people living with HIV and on successful HAART can put HIV in the back burner and go on with their lives. But some of us are not as lucky. Even with undetectable viral load, some of us may still succumb to depression, isolation, and fear of stigma and rejection. And our challenge is to raise above that somehow, to live life like we only have a few days left and yet in peace to savor every moment.

Dr Bob died of something unrelated to HIV. Sepsis, an infection of the blood and organs, took over his body after his dealing with a health problem.

He was part of a virtual support system for you and many others. And it is right for you to grief his loss. But I know that Dr Bob's wish right now would be for you to live life to the fullest and to honor his memory like you are doing it right now.

I am not sure of what are your circumstances. But I have the feeling that getting some help with therapy and medications to help you deal with potential depression and feelings of hopelessness would be good for you right now. Getting out of the house and talking to friends are also not bad ideas. Your grieving his death is obviously bringing up doubts about your own survival and belief that we can all beat this bug. You do not have to be "one of those stoic people". But for the sake of your own quality of life and that of your children, you have to find inner strength to seek some help.

Life goes on even for some of us who grief in disbelief and doubt that we will have a full life. The challenge is not to waste our remaining days on this earth suffering in the present about our life's end. And yes, some people may seem "stoic" but deep inside we all have some fears that our time on this earth will be made short by this virus that remains part of us. Until a practical cure is found (and I now believe more than ever that some of us may be alive for it), we have to find ways to move forward while we enjoy our stay on this planet.

I highly recommend the book "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle. It really showed me how to manage my inner chatter that is constantly trying to make me an enemy of my own reality. I hope you can find it as enlightening as I did. A New Earth

Hang in there! As one of your virtual support system members, I am here for you.

Nelson Vergel



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