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Taking Back Control ...

By Rae Lewis-Thornton

December 9, 2013

This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

In the month prior to going on this last round of IV medication I was on top of the world. Overall, I was feeling BETTER. My Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) seemed to be under control. I was having regular, everyday bowel movements. I had more energy and was feeling great. I believe the combination of my new diet, working out and juicing was the sum total of my better days. I've been eating Paleo since the middle of October. Basically, meat, vegetables, fruits nuts and seeds. No dairy, legumes, grains or refined sugar. I was juicing everyday and working out everyday. I love CrossFit. It is the workout to get me off the sofa and the people of at River North Crossfit have been very supportive.

Then WHAM! I got another herpes infection. Man, oh man, you talk about being hit from nowhere. Yet, I was still determined to not let the IV medication stop my routine. Somehow, though, it seems that I lost my control with no return. That first week I made it to CrossFit one time. My body just was not cooperating. This round of IV mediation hit me harder than any others while on Cidofovir. I'm typically able to bounce back a few days after the infusion before I have to go back for the next one.

This round I was weak and nauseous the entire time. I wanted to juice, but had no energy and my meals were 90% carryout. I could barely make a cup of tea, so cooking wasn't even an option. This lead to some depression and the depression led to emotional eating and this led me right back to a hard case of IBS. Last week was the first full week off IV medication and I was sure that I would start to bounce back. I did make it to the gym 3 times but working out was hard and when I came home I was done for the day. This of course led to more emotional eating, mostly sugar. It hit me by the weeks end that I was really constipated, again. It had snuck up on me from out of nowhere. My back pain has been intense since last week and I just don't feel good.

I get it today, clearer than I ever have. My body needs certain things in this stage of my journey. There has been so much early damage to my immune system that my body needs help to be its best, especially as I age with HIV/AIDS. Yes, the antiviral medication keeps HIV under control, but basically thats all it does. So it's up to me to do the rest.

This week I'm back on it. I will be at the gym everyday, even if it means I come home and crash. If I keep working out, overtime I will have more energy, just like before. Yes, it's disheartening on some level, that I seem to be right back where I was 3 months ago. That first month of doing CrossFit was hard and I wasn't able to do a whole lot afterwards. I know in time it will render the results I'm shooting for, so I have to start somewhere.

Yep, I'm taking back my control. I Love myself enough to be good to myself. I only have one me and the choices I make today will impact my tomorrow. I wish I understood this when I was 20, before herpes, before HIV, but I can't beat myself up about what I didn't know. Instead I will take what I do know and use it to my advantage for my best life.

When I leave the gym, I'm stopping at the store to pick up items to get back to juicing everyday and I will be cooking, even if it's a light meal. I'm getting back to my chiropractor this week and trying some other alternative things like acupuncture and massage therapy at a new alternative clinic.

When I feel like I want to cling to food to comfort me, I will pop a grape in my mouth or have a slice of pineapple, rather than a cookie. Yes, there's sugar in fruit, but it's natural sugar and that's better than refined sugar any day. If I don't have the will-power to not eat emotionally right now, then I will eat the things that will do the least amount of damage to my body. Anyway, on the Paelo diet you can eat as much fruit as you want.

I've learned somethings about my body these last 3 months, it really does operate better under certain conditions. Every time I tried to have a big meal of pasta or some other unhealthy food, my nausea was compounded and my bloating was at full force. While I don't seem to be able to control herpes, I'm taking back the control I do have. I'm doing it today and I'm not giving it up again. My body is all I have and I want to be my best me for the rest of my life, even with HIV/AIDS.

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See Also
10 Things You Can Do to Enhance Your Emotional Well-Being
Depression and HIV
Feeling Good Again: Mental Healthcare Works!
More Personal Viewpoints on Coping With HIV

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Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton

Rae Lewis-Thornton is an Emmy Award-winning AIDS activist who rose to national acclaim when she told her story of living with AIDS in a cover story for Essence Magazine. She has lived with HIV for 27 years and AIDS for 19. Rae travels the country speaking and challenging stereotypes and myths about HIV/AIDS. She has a Master of Divinity degree and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Church History. Rae has been featured on Nightline, Dateline NBC, BET and The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as in countless magazines and newspapers, including Emerge, Glamour, O, the Oprah Winfrey Magazine, Jet, Ebony, the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, to name a few. She earned the coveted Emmy Award for a first-person series on living With AIDS for Chicago's CBS News.

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