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.
Wow! I can hardly believe it's the end of October; Halloween is upon us and fall is in full glory! Living in California and being born and raised on the East Coast, I miss the change (the true change) of seasons and all the little smells, feelings and beauties it provides. Granted there were plenty of times I didn't appreciate them then but like other losses along the way, I sure do now! Living the LA life has made me a wimp when it comes to temperature changes. The rain and fog here are felt in my bones and the cool dips of temperature in the evenings at times make me want to break out that old winter parka!
I'm not sure where to even begin this blog today. Since finding out I have HIV dementia, it seems my life has literally turned upside down. I've suffered through several losses of my independence. However there have truly been some really comical moments. Most have seemed funnier when I stepped away and looked back at myself not when I was right in the moment. However my friends and family members found them hysterical at the actual time they were occurring.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.