Get Outta My Head, You Crazy Virus!
Talking to My Teens About Life, Sex and HIV
September 23, 2013
I have three teenagers, 18, 16 and 14. If I could, I would probably want to lock them away in some high tower and let them out after their teen and young adult years passed by so that I could enjoy them fully again and I could know that the risks in their lives could be minimized once again. Did you know that the average brain is not even fully developed until the age of 25? Yet teens every day face enormous challenges in decision making coupled with peer pressure and insecurity and many times can't even pull from the recesses of their brains to help them make healthy, and positive choices. When my friends and I say that we are raising our teens as a collaborative process, we mean it. We are living by the slogan, "It takes a village to raise a child." In our case it may be a virtual village, but it's a village alright and one I'm not sure I could live without.
Happy 21st Anniversary to Me -- Giving Thanks for a Precious Gift
September 9, 2013
September 9th is the 21st anniversary of the day I became infected. That means my virus is legal now. It's time for it to grow up and face the music. It should realize by now that I am a fighter -- with or without my HIV drugs I intend to survive day by day, week by week, month by month and yes, year by year. We can peacefully cohabitate until a cure comes as long as it agrees to behave. If not then I will continue to launch an assault every time I get a new symptom until I get my body back under my control. 21 years or not, I will never let this virus get the upper hand.
Two Years in a Row, It's Been My Turn to Go to Summer Camp!
August 27, 2013
Growing up as a child in the suburbs of Philadelphia, going to summer camp was always something I looked forward to. It's a tradition I have passed down to all 3 of my children. The years we could afford it, they went eagerly. Each year the focus of the camp was different. Sometimes it was sports oriented or horseback riding. There were performing arts camps, karate camps, Girl Scout camps or even Christian-based camps. Most of the time there were camps that had more of a mixed, diverse offering of activities that kept the kids occupied. One thing was certain that once my kids reached the age of 8 or 9, if they were interested in sleepaway camps for a week or two, my husband and I let them go. We were all for the experience that those sorts of camps brought in fostering independence and a sense of autonomy.
Losing My Driver's License: The Battle Continues
August 14, 2013
So ... When I last left this story of an Angeleno trying to fight the system and get my driver's license reinstated or at the very least have my DMV hearing to examine the issues in my case, I was moderately hopeful and pretty stubborn. Today, as the middle of August 2013 approaches, I know I've lost some of my spunk and a lot of pep in my step. Fighting the system wears you out. Or at least it does me.
My Truth: My Issues With Adherence
July 30, 2013
While I'm anxiously awaiting being able to write the next chapter in my blog about the battle to get my license back and discuss the various testing I've had, I thought maybe I should talk about my issues with medication and adherence. I know I am not alone out there in this situation. My husband and I were just sparring over the issue again last night.
That's What Friends Are For
July 15, 2013
As I started to write this next blog I was overrun by my 16 year old daughter who was in cahoots with my husband as they made fun of me for using that classic song "That's What Friends Are For." Left to my own devices they feared this blog would be the cheesiest of them all..and without giving them too much credit let's face it now that you've read my writing we all know they are probably right!
Don't Ask, Don't Tell! Thoughts on HIV Disclosure
July 3, 2013
The concept of disclosing one's HIV status is something that can bring much fear and pain to a person infected with HIV. There are many scenarios that really deserve to be addressed in any mature discussion on disclosure of HIV status. Most people immediately and rightfully so think of sexual partners and their need to know. The CDC and Departments of Health require anonymous reporting so that sexual partners can be tested and the risk can be disclosed. When I think of disclosure issues however I think of friends, family, coworkers and medical personnel who all may have a need to know one's HIV status but not necessarily a right to know.
The Stigma of It All
June 19, 2013
1992 was supposed to be a great year for me. I had just graduated from college with my nursing degree. I was ready to take on the world. I had chosen to focus on critical care nursing and found a job at my local hospital in the Intensive Care unit. I was pumped and excited for all the days and events and challenges that would lie ahead. September 9, 1992, changed all that for me. On a routine day, in a routine evening shift, we had an emergency admission. I under my preceptor's care was responsible for getting my patient admitted into the ICU and stabilized. I followed all standard universal precautions; I wore my gloves, I took my time and as I inserted the catheter into my patient's vein to start his intravenous line, I removed the needle. At that second the patient moved his arm and the needle jabbed my left palm leaving a half moon style jagged tear in my palm. It had sliced through my gloves.
Battling My Most Recent Loss
May 29, 2013
Who knew that losing my driver's license would be such a life changing experience for me in LA? I remember (well ok I don't really remember!) but I have the psychologist reports that suggested I have my license reevaluated nearly 8 years ago due to my cognitive decline ... but I didn't really take them seriously ... I have the multiple speeding tickets and the fact that I imposed limitations on myself to stop driving late at night when I felt less safe behind the wheel due to my issues with visual spatial limitations and night vision. But still even when the young psychiatrist sat across from me in the hospital during my recent summertime 3 and 1/2 week inpatient stay and explained that they had reported me to the DMV for dementia, I had no clue as to the wretched impact that losing my license would have.
Baby Steps! 20 Years Later ...
May 28, 2013
20 years, 20 years, 20 years ... the words and images race through my mind. There was a time I thought I'd be dead before my oldest child reached the age of 7. This year we celebrate his 18th birthday. There was a time I thought I'd be dead and wouldn't need to worry about growing old, debt or finances, long-term relationships and other non-related health issues. There was a time when AIDS and HIV consumed my every waking thought, action, goal and outlook. Today HIV/AIDS is something I live with; it doesn't define who I am. There was a time when I fought publicly and proudly, standing in solidarity with other PWA's, ready to fight every new discriminatory turn and glance ... 20 years, 20 years, 20 years ... 20 years I survive this infection with a virus that has made itself comfortable in my bloodstream and has literally nested in my brain.
Get Outta My Head, You Crazy Virus!
Lynda Arnold, RN, BSN, MBA, was one of the first health care workers to go public after her occupational infection with HIV by an accidental needlestick in 1992. She successfully launched a nationwide campaign for safer needles in hospitals and medical facilities which resulted in the passage of federal legislation mandating the use of such devices in facilities nationwide to protect all health care workers from accidents such as hers. For many years she was a sought-after speaker on living with HIV/AIDS as well as health care worker safety issues, and she traveled the globe educating others. She garnered many awards, national distinctions, authored two children's books, and was the subject of an award-winning documentary. After the birth of her youngest son, Lynda chose to step away from the public eye and focus on raising her young family without the spotlight. As a blogger for TheBody.com, this marks her reentry into the public eye -- 20 years after her infection. She can be reached for further engagements, commentary and questions through her email.
Subscribe to Lynda's Blog:
September 30, 2014 - Checking Back in After My Long Hospitalizations: A Blog Entry by Lynda Arnold
June 23, 2014 - Memory Loss Follow Up: Taking a Deeper Look -- A Blog Entry by Lynda Arnold
May 19, 2014 - Living With Memory Loss: A Blog Entry by Lynda Arnold
April 27, 2014 - Spring Has Sprung and Remembering My HIV Anniversary Date: A Blog Entry by Lynda Arnold
March 3, 2014 - Lesson From the Freeways: Longtime HIV Survival and the Things Money Can't Replace -- A Blog Enry by Lynda Arnold
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The opinions expressed by TheBody.com's bloggers are entirely their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of TheBody.com itself.