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Reged: 05/06/05
Posts: 924
Loc: Los Angeles
Over the Rainbow
      #248675 - 12/03/09 10:00 AM

I have just returned from a magical night at the Los Angeles Opera production of Rossini?s The Barber of Seville that combined two of my favorite things, Bel Canto Opera and the Wizard of Oz. What is not to like about an octet of eight talented singers and a balloon ascent of the opera?s lovers at the end of the work just like that of the Wizard of Oz at the end of the movie? The magic of tonight has made me forget for a time all the worries of my life and to live for a time in The Wizard of Oz of my boyhood.

For those who do not know the opera, Figaro, the Barber of Seville, helps a young man marry Rossina, the woman he loves, who is ward to an odious older man who wants to marry her himself. The opera is in the Bel Canto style which uses trills and runs to express the emotions of the singers and to showcase the singers? vocal talents. It is a style of opera that not many singers can pull off successfully; but, the cast in tonight?s opera was nearly perfect.

As a young gay boy growing up in a dreary, sandy Central Florida town, the first time I saw the Wizard of Oz was a revelation. There was a place over the rainbow that was as fabulous as me and when I got there a beautiful fairy would tell me I wasn?t where I started. The movie has remained one of my favorites and is on my desert island list along with Auntie Mame with Rosalind Russell, Sunset Boulevard and Since You Went Away. Rossini?s work, in my opinion, was just waiting for a staging with the Wizard of Oz in mind.

The LA Opera production of The Barber of Seville uses the same contrast between the black and white of Kansas and the Technicolor of Oz to show the movement from Rossina?s captivity to her joyous marriage to her lover. The effect was completely entrancing.

Tonight was a welcome break from the rash of bad news we have had of late. The We is my husband of thirty years and I. As many of you know, I was diagnosed with the initial stages of HIV Associated Dementia in June 2008. My dementia is caused by 25 years infection with HIV and poor control of my infection prior to the introduction of protease inhibitors.

My dementia has progressed to the point that I experience periods of anxiety when I am in unfamiliar surroundings or around unfamiliar people leading to high blood pressure, muscular weakness and profound tremors. My psychiatrist tells me that the cause of these symptoms is a lack of neurotransmitters caused by the effects of HIV on certain parts of my brain. I have had periods of muscular weakness caused by physical or emotional stress over the last three years, but I have always been able to handle social situations such as one encounters when traveling or at parties.

The psychiatrist has proscribed Lexapro for the social anxiety. I tried it this evening at the Opera. I must confess that I felt just as anxious as I have ever felt going to the Opera of late. I sweated profusely and I my heart went thump-a-thump in my ears. We are going to give the new med a better trial when we go, as we normally do, to The Bellagio for Christmas and New Years. Cross fingers, everything will go off well.

On top of those worries, we are having trouble getting into retirement communities that offer a continuum of care for people with dementia and with the congestive heart disease that my companion has. Just today, a place in the Wine Country of Northern California, that we love, told us that I would have to be examined for fitness for entry because I have a diagnosis of dementia. Many care homes, it appears, have the same prejudice when it comes to dementia.

My case is complicated by the fact that I have periods of socially inappropriate behavior as a result of my dementia. I am embarrassed to admit that there have been several police reports as a result of my actions. My doctors have reported these episodes in their reports prepared for the facilities to which I have applied.

Tonight, however, I am enveloped in the memories of a great night of theater; and, I will not think of these things as I drift off to sleep. There is a more fabulous world over the rainbow.


Life is a river.
Carpe diem.

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Reged: 12/03/09
Posts: 1
Alternative Therapy new
      #248681 - 12/03/09 07:11 PM

Hi there, have you looked into the massage modality of CranioSacral Therapy to help combat the dementia?-It is a modality of massage that can stimulate the neurotransmitters and connections to the body...I highly recommend it. Hang in there!

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Reged: 03/21/06
Posts: 581
Loc: South
Re: Over the Rainbow new
      #248691 - 12/04/09 03:21 PM

Hey ScotCharles,

Glad you had a wonderful evening, and happy that you're still here on this site. You've had so much to offer in the past, and I'm sure that your sharing of wise counsel will not change.

I'll meet you on the other side of the Rainbow!

All the best to you!

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Reged: 05/06/05
Posts: 924
Loc: Los Angeles
Re: Over the Rainbow new
      #248701 - 12/05/09 06:39 AM

"We will all get together at the Postmortem Ball" - Lou Reed

I plan to wear the white three piece suit and Nik-Nik shirt I danced the night away in the discos of my youth. I miss all the friends I had in those days who died of AIDS.

Afriend of mine says that he thinks the people who died back then were the lucky ones. What he means is that it is hard duty to live alone with only the ghosts of those who have died for company.

I understand what he is saying as I too live with ghosts of those who have gone. However, life has its own design. In this season of light, I am glad that I survived and have had the gift of 25 years of a full life.

The goal of life is not more life but a more full life. I find it sad that many on this site count the days of their survival but forget that HIV has called us to fill our lives to the fullest. A diagnosis of HIV is not an end but a beginning.

It is not enought to count T cells and viral load and think that is surviving with HIV. We are called to make something of our lives by our HIV status. Joseph Campbell said that we must find our bliss and follow it. He meant that we must find that thing that fills our lives with joy and then do it as best as we can.

Our Bliss can be raising children or growiing a garden indeed anything that gives us joy and fulfillment. I have been blessed that I had a career helping people and learned from my mother the joy of nurturing a garden.

Life is not a ruler measuring out the span of our lives, but a balloon that grows in volume as we breathe into it the air of a life fulfilled.

Pax Vobiscum

Scot Charles

Life is a river.
Carpe diem.

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Reged: 12/06/08
Posts: 130
Loc: NY, NY
Re: Over the Rainbow new
      #248717 - 12/06/09 08:11 PM

you're amazing and inspiring. thank you

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Reged: 11/30/04
Posts: 113
Loc: United Kingdom.
Re: Over the Rainbow new
      #248821 - 12/18/09 11:13 AM

Hi Charles,

Have just read the excellent long posting on HIV and the Brain on the The Body's main pages and see the link to your articles.

Interesting to hear about your night at the opera.

But what I was most glad to see were your feelings about how acquiring HIV must make us live with a rage and make our dreams into realities! This is so true.

A lot of people have so much nonsense and so many obstructions in their way that they can barely locate their deeply-held dreams. But it is worth clearing the woods, so to speak, to find that trail. Finally making those long-held dreams into a reality is the ONLY fulfilment, I think, and while doing it one feels that when the time comes to say goodbye to life one will KNOW that one has done everything one really wanted to.

Very surprised to hear that nursing homes in California appear to be accepting only the aged healthy! Getting old is, for most people, all about slowly falling apart! It would appear that the people running these homes want to help old people as little as possible - hence they select only those who can give the impression of being totally without "flaw". This is so morally wrong and clearly discriminatory. I would write a careful and strong letter and send it to your state's authorities, bringing their attention to this problem. And maybe feed it to the media as well. People are more interested in such topics these days because the entire population is aging. Science is prolonging EVERYONE'S lives.

Festive greetings to you!


Without a dream, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Keep hold of your dreams.

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