Remembering THE Moment
By Brian Ledford
November 5, 2013
I remember the moment I was told my test came back and the blood work showed that I had tested positive for HIV. At that moment time seemed to just stop, all I could hear was the sound of my heart beating like thunder in my head. I knew my Commanding Officer was still speaking to me but I really did not understand a word he was saying and not sure I even wanted to. I had a million thoughts racing through my head but the one that was shouting at me the loudest was "MY LIFE IS OVER, I AM GOING TO DIE."
The next few hours seem to be a blur, still to this day. I was taken to see our Squadron Flight Surgeon and the Squadron Chaplin. Everyone was trying to be supportive and comfort me the best they knew how, but I had shut down. I set quiet, not really paying attention to anything going on around me and only responsive when I was shaken out of the nightmare in my head by being asked a direct question. On several occasions I thought my body was going to just give out from under me due to the weight of the pain I was feeling inside, but it never did. I was still too numb to show the emotions that I was feeling while a war was being waged in my mind.
At some point during all of this a small voice in the back of my head, baerly noticable at first, started to get louder and louder. It was screaming at me "I AM A MARINE, I AM TRAINED TO FIGHT AND BE STRONG." It was then when I finally started listening to that voice and that one alone, that I woke up from the haze I had shrouded myself in. I started actually listening to what was going on around me for the first time. I heard them repeat multiple times that I was going to be alright. That was the first time I had felt like I might actually be alright.
The weeks that followed were full of doctors visits, blood test, training and other things to keep me busy so I would not sit and dwell on my situation. Nights were still hard, and I cried myself to sleep on multiple occassions but that soon played itself out as well. Everyday started to get better a little at a time, slowly at first and then more gradual. It took me awhile to get over my self pitty party and actually become thankful for each day.
Now nearing my 4 year anniversary I am much stronger than I was before any of this ever happened. I still have my down days but that is expected with anyone. If I feel like having a pitty party, fine I will have one. Then I am going to get my ass up and prepare to face the world once more. I will not let HIV rule my life, yes it is a big part of my life but it will not define me.
Visit Brian's live blog at www.AMarineandHIV.com.
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This is my story of how I found out I was HIV-positive while still on Active Duty in the United States Marine Corps and how I have tried to put the pieces of my life back together through the good times and the bad. I am currently a full time student working on a degree in Information Security Technology, which seems to be taking forever. I want to help make a difference and erase HIV related Stigma in the South, where due to lack of education people still do not know that much about HIV. If my story reaches out and helps at least one person, then I have made a difference.
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