World AIDS Day 2013! I'm still here, blessed with perfect health. A miracle.
While most modern leaders base their careers on the Machiavellian quote that "It is better to be feared than loved," a handful of people throughout history prove by their lives and work that that doesn't necessarily have to be true. Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa are names that spring to mind but history may judge Nelson Mandela to be possibly the greatest of them all. His ability to unite a land on the edge of chaos and riddled with partisan hatred and division, after 27 years of imprisonment and personal humiliation, is nothing short of miraculous.
Did you know that Nelson Mandela was, at first, very quiet about AIDS? Yes, Nelson Mandela. The same man who spent 27 years in prison for essentially fighting for justice for the oppressed. But he turned things around as great leaders are known to do. He became a well-known advocate for AIDS causes. Today, as we mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela, the uber advocate, this Examiner reflects on three major ways he waged an international war against AIDS.
I remember a few years back when my oldest son had become quite a handful as he entered his teen years. In between his monosyllabic grunts and barely audible moans we were supposed to interpret his needs or better yet be amazingly adept mind-readers just to get through each 24-, no make that 12-hour, time period. He came out on the other side of those years OK and is doing really great. We as his parents wear our badges of bravery and show our scars proudly, especially in front of our 14-year-old son, as if to say, "you try any of that S**T, we have YOUR NUMBER ... Don't even think about it Bucko!!" So far, so good ... but really the parenting season has only just begun. It gets harder as they get older, we have found; don't let anyone convince you otherwise.
I rolled over and completed my morning stretch. The first thing that I reached for, as I always do, was my iPhone. I went through my morning ritual of checking emails, text messages and then making my rounds through social media. My notifications on Facebook indicated that a message was left in the early morning hours and it was as follows: "AIDS helped me lose 35lbs."
With ALL of the negative situations that I am forced to face head on, my focus and point of view is slowly maturing into an understanding. A significant awareness and understanding of what my Higher Power is doing in my life and why. All of these events are indeed serious but not life threatening. None of these situations appear to be easy to handle. None of them are what I would willingly or actively throw myself into. But, here I am.
Papa had blood and platelet transfusions, G shots in his belly, a PET scan that took four tries, and round two of RICE chemo. Each appointment lasted hours. Most were at 6:45 a.m. which with Myles and our hour drive to the clinic meant waking up around 4 to get dressed and meet my mother-in-law to give her Myles around 5:30. I sat in the waiting room typing away at my book, or browsing Facebook, or the news, writing emails to my mother whom I do not talk to enough. I learned which chairs were next to electric plugs to recharge my electronic devices; I knew which chairs were under air vents and freezing. I chatted with patients and families -- I guess I look approachable, or people are nervous and need to chat with someone other than their caregiver who they spend hours with. Most of them were living in hotels or cancer houses in the area; people travel from across the country to have their cancer care at the Cancer Care Alliance.
This segment was done in 2010 on the Logo TV Network online. Ongina Ryan was on Season 1 of RuPaul's Drag Race. She hosted the show where she interviewed HIV positive gay men, including friend and activist Robert Breining. It was so fun I thought I would share it. I was able to e-mail one of the producers of Logo that was able to get this series for me. The reason why its legal to post this is because it was an limited online series that was later taken down. But I had such a great time at the shoot. My friend Damian was with me the whole way in support. After the shoot was over he gave me a tour of NY and it was great fun I loved it. On RuPaul's Drag Race after the MAC Cosmetics Challenge, which benefited the fight against HIV/AIDS, Ongina Ryan began to cry. She then admitted to being HIV positive for the last 2 years and that it meant so much to her when she won the MAC Cosmetics Challenge. This was on NATIONAL TELEVISION. When I saw that I thought to myself what a brave soul and when I was given the e-mail that I would be working with her I was so excited. I did NOT want this chance of meeting her to get away from me. She was beautiful and such a professional. She also commented on how nice my leather pants were lol ANYWAYS enjoy the segment.
I found this site made by a fellow HIV Positive Marine A Positive Tomorrow and it is a really well made site (might have to get him to give me some site building tips). On his site he has a video called "HIV Education in the Military" where he and his partner have some very valid points about the HIV education Military members are receiving and how HIV effects not just the individual but the whole unit. Please take the time to watch.
I decided to do a little PSA for World AIDS Day 2013. I don't know how I got the idea to even try to pull this off but I tried. The only thing I wish people would take from this is to know your HIV status. It's very hard to want to know your status but the sooner you do the better. Whether it is HIV positive or negative it will be alright. At least now you can take the precautions or continue to take the precautions that you need to protect yourself and others from the HIV virus.
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