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Fifty Shades of Gray (Matter)

September 23, 2013

I recently had an MRI done that discovered white spots on my brain. Scar tissue. Most likely caused by the hard knocks of life you can say. One in particular. Three years ago. I became a victim of a hate crime. Because I am ... GAY.

I have to admit, I had many brushes in life, but none as close to death as this. Although, to this day, I have no memory of that dark day or the months preceding it. What I do have is a police report and a court transcript of the trial that ended in an acquittal for the defendant. The jury's reasoning was that since I fought back I was in-turn an equal participant. So much for the defense of defending yourself.

I now have a new diagnosis of post-traumatic stress syndrome to add to my portfolio of maladies that includes, but is not limited to HIV+, bi-polar and obsessive compulsive disorder. The only enrichment I have is to live life every day to the fullest. And literally as if it were my first.

You see, what prompted me in getting an MRI was that for the past several months my short-term memory was exactly that. At times, the forgetfulness spread like wildfire and burned out all memory of just minutes before.

My biggest issue was in remembering to take my HIV meds. From the very beginning, I've always hid them away in the linen closet beneath the towels along with my psych meds. Call me crazy, but rarely did I miss a dosage. My philosophy of out-of-sight-out-of-mind had suddenly turned into exactly that.

My HIV and psych meds are now placed conspicuously on the nightstand. They're the first thing I see in the morning when I wake and the last thing at night before I retreat. Throughout the day it has become a continuous reminder of my status and the stigma attached to it.

Although, not all is lost. The hidden shame has finally come out of the closet in many ways. It's like that old saying: "If it doesn't kill you, it'll make you stronger."

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Positive Thinking

B. Osten

B. Osten

I've been living with HIV for 26 years. I volunteer at various AIDS organizations in my community in the day. At night I like to spend my time at the observatory. I couldn't tell you the names of all the planets offhand, or what a black hole is for sure. But, there isn't a day that goes by I haven't looked up at the night sky and thanked my lucky stars I'm still alive to enjoy it.

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