Walk though every open door
Anticipate each new opportunity
Embrace the challenges of living
Hope for the miracle of healing
Be fearless in your journey to survive
Live in the moment
Prepare for tomorrow
Recognize the miracle of today
Be fearless in your approach to medical care
Your body, your mind, your spirit
My strength, my positive thought, my heart
Live life, think life, love life
Celebrate individual triumphs
Allow the universe to honor your presence
Carry with you hearts who have touched yours
Share with others everything you have learned
Acknowledge fear for what it is
Walk though fear with head held high
Allow the sprit of fond memories to comfort those who are afraid
Utilize anger to motivate change
Speak softly to those in need
Speak loudly to those hard of hearing
Speak gently with love ones, frightened
Speak ferociously of faith and hope
Grieve quietly to strengthen the soul
Cry abundantly to cleanse the heart's woe
Smile tenderly in the light of memory
Laugh joyously in celebration of living
Be fearless, be thoughtful, be sensitive, be fragile
Run with your dreams
Fly into tranquil waters
Touch people who need warmth
Enlighten others with your experience
Enrich your own journey with wisdom of past loves
Be hopeful, be aware, be strong, be fearless
As I watched other people walk though the challenges of living with this illness, I began to recognize that my greatest fear was that I would one day be faced with similar difficulties. I watched my friends lose their physical well-being, then their jobs, their homes, their families and their loved ones. I observed their heartache as their bodies physically deteriorated and their life force became hopeless. I have seen so many people die with HIV disease without hope and filled with anger. I have also seen moments of compassion expressed in the most unexpected places.
My greatest fear has always been that my body would deteriorate and I would no longer be capable of doing things in life that bring me joy. My fear has always been that there would be tubes coming out of my body, and machines keeping me alive. My fear has also been that I would become so discouraged that I would give up on living. Another fear has been that it would be so physically apparent that I have AIDS that the people in my life that I love would be afraid of me. As a result of these fears and many more, I always reacted by making choices as a result of the information that was available to me.
I took advantage of every opportunity of therapeutic options. I allowed myself to be used as a guinea pig, in the hope that I would miraculously experience immune restoration. I pumped my body with so many toxic medications that I cannot even remember the dozens of treatments I have tried. I have experienced every side effect imaginable. It is amazing to me that my body still thrives. Every treatment I pursued, I did perfectly. After several years of putting all these toxic medications into my body without missing a dose, I experienced my greatest fear.
I became homebound and was kept alive as a of result of twelve-hour intravenous feedings daily. I lost the ability to pursue my career, lost control of my financial responsibilities, watched my friends become distant out of fear and pushed those I loved away as a result of my own fear. I also became very aware of the deterioration of my thought processes. This became apparent with my inability to express myself in words. All of my self-worth that I had found in my being was stripped away as a result of my physical limitations.
This was the second time that I experienced a closeness to death that most people only experience once in a lifetime. I have learned so much because HIV has been living in my body for twenty years. Perhaps one of the greatest lessons I have learned now is to not live in fear. I no longer make health choices in response to information which may motivate fear. I have finally come to a place where the choices I make are in direct response to my physical and spiritual needs. When a medical professional takes a look at my history and current physical status there is no logical explanation as to why I am in such good health. My doctor is always telling me that I am a walking enigma. Especially now, when I no longer pursue my medical care perfectly.
It is so gratifying to have walked through my greatest fear and emerged on the other side. Today, I am truly fearless. I believe this is because I have already experienced the absolute devastation of having AIDS. I have arrived on the other side stronger in sprit as a result of my experience. Everything that life has to offer me today and in my future is a gift beyond measure. Why have I survived? Because I choose to laugh, love and live. My hope is that you are doing the same.
As a foot note, please write to me at Survival News, c/o AIDS Survival Project, 828 West Peachtree Street, N.W., Suite 206, Atlanta, GA 30308, and share with me your stories of courage, hope and survival, so I will know that I am not alone on this journey as person living with AIDS.