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An HIV-Anniversary ER Trip During Sick Season

January 27, 2014

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Brooke Davidoff

Brooke Davidoff

Four years ago on Jan. 8 I was diagnosed; yesterday Myles my three year old and I spent a good two-plus hours in an emergency room waiting room waiting to see what was going on with my husband Keanen.

Keanen has been sick since the day after Christmas (he and Myles are negative). My mother in law was sick on Christmas, she hung out Christmas Eve and we didn't see her Christmas day other than to watch us opening stockings and attempt to eat her breakfast.

We dragged out Myles' present opening all day waiting for her to feel better and come down. He got one present an hour; if he liked the one he opened he had more time in between the next present. It actually worked out well and helped the day to be more exciting for him, less hectic for us. More than half of his gifts were donated from Life Long AIDS Alliance and BABES in Seattle. Being the sap that I am, I cried when I saw what strangers bought for my little boy, just because his mommy has HIV. But that's another blog for another day.

Myles and Keanen went up to her bedroom Christmas evening to bring her a present. I did not.

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Since being diagnosed I am horrified of sick people other than Myles. When Keanen gets sick (which is all the time) I avoid him like the plague. I keep Myles away and sometimes I sleep in Myles' room to avoid being breathed on. Keanen wants to be taken care of, and I look at him and think If this knocked you on your ass it could kill me; that's a risk I will not, cannot, take.

So Jan. 8 he's still sick. He seemed to get better, and then he was worse. Fever, coughing, chills and sweating; cough medications make him speedy not un-cough-y. With no medical insurance it's hard to know where you can even go. I drove him to work Tuesday morning; his job does not offer medical insurance nor does he get any paid holiday or sick days off. He's a contracted worker on one of the Microsoft campuses. He had more than a week off for Christmas/New Year's, unpaid. His boss told him to go home early that day and go to the doctor; he texted me just as Myles and I got home.

We got dressed, ate breakfast, packed a bag for a waiting room-filled day. We're good at this, thanks to Papa. I know as soon as we're in a waiting room Myles is hungry. I bring snacks, drinks, crayons and coloring books. We take Nash our doggie potty, we grab a blanket for Keanen and we get back into the car. We picked Keanen up and drove all the way back toward home. The first place we tried was an urgent care just down the street. It was packed, with half of the people wearing face masks. We waited about ten minutes when his name was called to go to the front desk and fill out paperwork.

No insurance -- no treatment. They turned him away and let him know we could only go to an emergency room. So we get back into the car and drive to the closest emergency room. Yeah free parking! We were excited -- sad but true, on one income it's the little things sometimes.

Keanen didn't even get to sit in the waiting room; he was put into a private room immediately. Myles and I found seats and began our wait. It was a nice big room with one TV; we got to watch ESPN football, Super Bowl predictions and playoff matchup babble, with no sound. It felt almost like an airport, from the lighting and weird chairs to the fake plants that made up the décor.

No one came out to get us; a sketchy guy with shifty eyes went into and out of the bathroom we are sitting next to, about ten times in an hour. He did not look sick; he looked like trouble. I tried to avoid eye contact with him, or letting him know I was watching him.

I checked my phone maybe every 30 minutes, the WIFI sucked, if you were not playing on your phone it did not keep you logged in. So you got no messages until you checked your messages and had to log back into the WIFI.

Myles got cranky, wanting to run around with two unattended children in the waiting room; their mother was busy talking on her cell phone. He got mad and cried when I let him know that he could not run around, he had to sit with me on a chair, we were not at preschool or a playground.

I began to realize it had been almost two hours since Keanen checked in; my brain freaked out. The reason I assumed that Myles and I had NOT gotten sick hit me like a brick in the face. He has IT. I have given him HIV, and now he's got pneumonia, he will be admitted, and everyone including myself will blame me.

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