HIV Positive and Past 50: Words of Wisdom to My Newly Diagnosed, Younger Self
Jimmy Mack, 55, Southampton, N.Y.; Diagnosed in 1987
Well, hindsight is always 20/20 and I know now I had to follow the path I chose in order to eventually find spirituality, a High Power and myself. Helen Keller once said: "I thank God for my handicaps, for, through them, I have found myself, my work, and my God." If I change "handicaps" to "diseases" then I, too, can see that the disease of HIV brought out my other disease of alcoholism/addiction, and brought me to me knees where I had nowhere else to turn but to a "God of my understanding" who was always there and always will be. So what would I tell myself at 29 after testing HIV positive? Maybe the same thing that is told to young gay people: "It gets better"; or maybe just simply: "Have faith, it's going to be all right."
Comment by: Zendemented
(Big Island, Hawaii)
Sat., Jan. 5, 2013 at 3:46 pm EST
In 1996, at age 55, my doctor suggested yet another HIV test. This time I had numb feet, and thought it might have been diabetes, which I had been developing, being overweight and sedentary. It was positive. How could it be? I'd had at least 4 tests that were negative in the last dozen years. CD4s at 137-go directly to AIDS. Oh, well. Two years left. I spent down and got on welfare (the humiliation) and ready to die. Two years later a new regimen turned my health around. Got a job doing medical transcription for the next 16 years. What is bad is that though my health is okay my finances are in the sewer. I couldn't quit spending money and ran up my cards to a great extent.
The transcription job prolonged my life. I learned a lot of medicine. It didn't pay for beans--doctors are so tight. But it kept me in some sort of discipline.
Now 71 and just got over bad pneumonia that thankfully disclosed my terrible anemia and loss of red blood cells due to lymphoma or AIDS. Down from 275 to 230 and feel okay. Some arthritis, depression, fatigue.
Be careful what you ask for: "Please, God, make this ELISA come out negative." And he did, X 4 false negative.
I never did ask to live forever, and if it were my time, well, I would go. I never pray as I don't think a god out there is ready to listen. As a Buddhist of 53 years I don't believe in prayer, but meditation helps. I say I don't believe in prayer but I did ask for help when ELISA came to call. I also ask for help when the front tire on my BMW motorcycle blew out. Foxhole religion.
It has been very strange and ironic. Just go from day to day with only your nose on your path and don't worry about tomorrow. I was once middle class and now poor as can be. I'd like to get married but John and I both have properties and it would screw up the VA insurance. So, from the first, not one thing is. I only cry for money--my Prius, La Hinayana, needs a new lithium ion battery.
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before adding your comment, please read TheBody.com's Comment Policy.)
The Body is a service of Remedy Health Media, LLC, 750 3rd Avenue, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10017. The Body and its logos are trademarks of Remedy Health Media, LLC, and its subsidiaries, which owns the copyright of The Body's homepage, topic pages, page designs and HTML code. General Disclaimer: The Body is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through The Body should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, consult your health care provider.