John McCain Rally, Disgusted Comments
January 9, 2008; 5:39 p.m.
Today I am moved by two completely different experiences related to being HIV positive. I write this with raw emotions, but by humanizing this feeling I hope you too will become disgusted and make your voice heard. Please, take a moment to read this.
First, My name is Tom Donohue, I am the 28 year old founder of a national HIV awareness organization called Who's Positive. I feel compelled to share these stories with you today.
Today I went to my infectious disease doctors' office for an appointment, see I too am HIV positive, so these stories had a great impact on me. While sitting there I noticed an older man sitting in a chair it was obvious that he was not feeling well. His head was hunched over and appeared drained. Then something happened to me that honestly affected me like no other moment has since being diagnosed in '03. The man began to stand with the assistance of someone else. What frightened me was his look, the way we locked eyes together as if it was saying the end is near. I'm not one to really read one's eyes or facial expressions but this, this truly frightened me and brought tears to my eyes. The man looked at me as frail as one could be and I immediately saw fear. He looked at me as though he knew he was soon to meet his maker, that he had no more fight in him, that with the help of others he would barely get out of the chair make his way into one of the rooms to face an admittance to the hospital where he may never return home, where he'd never see his family again, and I, I was the new generation of this fight against HIV/AIDS, that I have the ability to make a difference. In my four plus years of working among people who are living and dying with HIV/AIDS, never had I come so close, so intimately close to death with someone without even saying a word. I sat there in my chair after he was assisted out of the room to sit and think. Hoping that I would never have to go through such an experience, wishing that my family would never see me like that I sat back and feared for my own well being. I've thought about this man all day, I don't know his fate, I hope he is in peace, I hope he is strong wherever he is, at home, in the hospital or with his maker, I just know that with the look in his eyes I'll never forget why I reach out to my peers, why I help to humanize HIV, why I hope that others can understand that this can happen to others, to anyone. One moment of passion, of intimacy, of irresponsibility not only changed my life but the lives of so many around me, today a face, a face of someone I never seen before affected me in a way which will give me passion to continue on this mission, I share this story because I hope it too gives you a mission, to understand that your voice, your guidance, your expression can too make a difference and to never give up the fight.
On this same note, let me talk about a disgusting comment that I heard through a YouTube video today. It happened at an McCain debate, some very dedicated individuals interrupted a John McCain stump speech raising signs and yelling "People with AIDS are Dying and your not even trying." Some may see this as rude, but it was successful, it brought a very needed topic to the forefront, directly to the face of a very influential presidential candidate. I often get frustrated that the media can cover news about a cop that is under the investigation of a disappearance -- granted to the families of that person appreciate the attention for it brings attention and pressure on the agencies investigating it, but when tens of thousands of people are being infected with HIV/AIDS and some of them are on waiting lists are dying because there is no funding available to help them get on much needed, and very expensive HIV medications I wonder why HIV/AIDS is only being discussed on World AIDS Day, you see and banner all day on the networks "World AIDS Day 2007" but then on December 2 the banners are gone and the story waits until the following year simply to discuss what should constantly be discussed throughout the year. Well anyway, as these 'birddoggers' as they are called, interrupt and are ushered out of the room, peers of mine, fellow American citizens respond to them saying "Not Soon Enough" as if those living with HIV/AIDS are not dying soon enough -- check it out for yourself ... www.youtube.com/watch?v=xto4HYf3Dks another man went on to say "You know what they need to do to them people? Use some of that uhh advanced interrogation techniques on them" -- as if they who were simply trying to bring to the forefront a much needed issue that affects Americans in every state were some mongrels that needed humiliation and torture. Granted they interrupted a speech, of an influential presidential candidate, but wouldn't you do what ever you could if you, yourself saw the eyes of that man I talked about above try to get better assistance and medical care, or if it was someone you loved or cherished who was positive waiting to get medications on some waiting list, I personally applaud the conviction and dedication of those who stand and use their voice for people like that man I talked about, its them who help bring much needed attention to this cause, directly to the faces of those who make the decisions -- rather than meeting with some staffer who takes every issue up they took it to the candidate, they got it in the news, and brought attention to a much needed deadly virus right here in these United States of America, a country with one of the largest infections of HIV/AIDS in the world.
To Mr. McCain who replies after they are escorted out "You know, I've always been curious why people like you who live in a free and open society would disrespect one of the most fundamental parts of America, and that is the ability to take part in the conversation with people who aspire to [political] office. I'll never understand it." well, its because people like the older man I talked about above who are dying from HIV/AIDS and need your attention and leadership and he and I are lucky to have people who do speak up, its not disrespectful it is passion, its desire, and need to recognize and execute change to make a difference in this fight against HIV/AIDS, guess who can do that, You. Now wonder why they do it.
Thank you Mr and Ms birddoggers for representing me, my friends and people I love who are infected with HIV/AIDS I am sure my new friend above who I will think about for years to come appreciates your voice being heard since his by now may be ... silenced.
Happy New Year
January 5, 2008; 10:32 p.m.
Happy New Year everyone!
Wow. So many things have happened through 2007. I wish I had blog through much of it but as much as Who's Positive has been in the national spot light, we have to be careful what and how things are told.
Yes, we have restructured. It was the best for us. We still have much to do with the restructuring, much of it no one will see but we continue to thrive and focus on our goal of bringing to the forefront the immediate need to alert young adults of the dangers of irresponsible sexual behaviors.
We are proud to continue to bring our grassroots efforts of nearly five years ago -- to simply humanize HIV through first hand accounts of young adults living with HIV to young adults, our programming, probably one of the best in the country does a simple but most important task. Our HIV positive youth bring a face and a story to their peers. Last year we spoke to thousands of young adults and over the last two and a half years we have had nearly three million hits on our website, proving that the message is getting out, that people are listing.
We are excited about the future, we are still looking at launching a National Youth HIV Awareness Day sometime in the future, we will be looking at good days prior to most spring breaks which we can highlight the need for young adults to act responsible during spring breaks while also highlighting the trends of young adults and HIV something that we must continue to do, bring light to this epidemic among young adults.
Look for more information forthcoming!
Guess Who's Found Someone!
December 7, 2007; 8:26 p.m.
This feeling is different, unique, but not something I would or could change for the world. He smiles and well I cant help but to smile back, but my smile seems to be much more then this public display of affection towards him, it seems to be so much more, no I mean it is so much more it's something no one else can see or feel, it is a feeling that warms me, gives me comfort, security and love. Ohh there is no doubt that our affection for each other has slapped us both so quickly but I've see a guy that well I think many other's haven't seen. I see a guy that I cant wait to see or touch, and hold. We traveled to State College this past week together, he flew for the first time and well, our evening was amazing, he was with me while I sat on this panel discussion, when we got to the hotel, I made him stand outside the room I lit about 20 or so candles all around the room -- we got a suite, one of them rooms with a Jacuzzi so I put lots of candles around the edge of the Jacuzzi and I opened the door to this wonderland of candles and kicked off our day/evening with a dip together in the Jacuzzi. Wow, it was relaxing, we held each other and just laid there holding each other. Then we went to the panel discussion where I was one of the panelist, from there we went to the local gay bar where I got to introduce him to some ppl, then went back to the hotel, a little tipsy to find no room service could be ordered, so we settled on Taco Bell. What a night.
I miss him when I am away, I miss his laugh, his smile, his touch, our conversation, but one thing is sure I look forward to seeing him when I come home. I'm happy and well I think we are happy together.
October 14, 2007; 10:09 p.m.
So, I've moved. Keep doing what we are doing, just in a new place. We've planned some changes -- more of a transition but not anything anyone will really see.
I'm doing well, and happy to see new faces and ready for the challenge of meeting new people. I'll tell you more soon, but only after telling me you've visited :P ha ha.
I Used to Want to Be an Astronaut
August 14, 2007; 10:52 p.m.
Ha ha, its true... it really got me thinking about me being a young boy, how growing up i recall wanting to be an astronaut, why? well I think it was because we went to NASA in Florida... it was like something I lived for -- its weird how things change.
my numbers are awesome! i've lost 30 pounds i'd like to loose another 30 and I've gotten completely off soda, its been great and I actually feel pretty good. wooo who!
Fantasize of a Nightmare?
June 14, 2007; 6:40 p.m.
So I was talking to someone online tonight and he's a pilot for an airline, he knew I was HIV positive and had the guts to tell me this...
lol well basically one of the things I fantasize about is getting pozzed and then spreading it...so i'm sure you'll think i'm an evil freak
Honestly, I don't know what to say
May 22, 2007; 11:19 p.m.
Someone sent me something tonight and I thought I would share it in hope it too will inspire someone ...
Famous Elementary and High School Drop-Outs
Michael J. Fox
The Wright Brothers
Famous College Drop-Outs
Among many others, dude. Chase the dream until it's not a dream.
.90 to Feel Like a Kid Again
May 9, 2007; 7:24 p.m.
ninety-cents thats all it did to bring the child back in me today and to not sweat the small stuff but also to enjoy them. It cost me ninety-cents and a fun experience back to my 'child' hood to get an ice cream from the musical ice cream truck. Everyone there were kids, there I was a big kid getting one remembering the ice cream truck down my home town back home, it brightened my day. Remember never to forget the kid in all of us, it too might brighten your day and cost simply a few pennies.
May 8, 2007; 7:02 p.m.
Hello everyone, I know its been a while, but I am going to try to keep up with this blog a bit more. ... While still sharing personal feelings and emotions I am going to begin to discuss some more complicated issues allowing for input from you all. Somethings I may suggest don't necessarily reflect the views of the organization but could reflect my own opinion.
Lets talk about the recent CDC recommendations about removing written consent for HIV testing and counseling. First I am all about more people getting tested. Honestly, I think that every time you go into a doctors office for a routine visit and or blood work, you should be asked if you want to be tested.
In a recent email I recently got from someone visiting out website the writer wrote "i go to my obgyn for an annual every year and if i had hiv/aids, they would tell me.' just to be extra certain, i called my doc's office, and guess what? when they do my annual, they do an std test that does not test for hiv/aids! so year after year, i am relieved to hear that my std test results came back negative for everything ... yeah, well they don't test for "everything!" i'm planning to get tested for hiv/aids, but i'm pretty scared about it. if i do have it, due to this false senses of security i've been getting from my obgyn year after year, i may have infected other people."
I would assume that this is the case with a lot of people. They think they are getting tested during routine testing but don't know they aren't. So this poses the question about getting consent for testing -- Yes, I think everyone should know if they are getting tested for HIV -- but in that same breath doctors should make it more routine to begin asking if their patients want to be tested. I think this for several reasons, first its going to require doctors to continue to keep themselves educated about HIV/AIDS, when the doctors ask, they may get questions, and that alone will encourage the doctors to remain educated on the issue. Secondly it will prevent issues such as the one from the writer. She just assumed that she was getting tested when in fact she never was, in theory potentially putting others as risk if she was indeed infected.
Here comes the part where people will get upset. Counseling. The bottom line is that I support pre/post counseling for HIV testing. But what I also hear that this becomes a barrier for young people. They don't want to necessarily tell some stranger what there sexual activities have been, they just want to know their status. A few things on this, it could be the norm that people continue the behavior they are use to doing even after their test is negative, a test can be a sense of security, in the sense that if irresponsible behavior results in a negative test results its a green light to continue that behavior. In other cases the counseling and waiting period give opportunity for people to think about their actions/behaviors -- like sweating it out. Its tough.
Then you have to know that OraSure Technologies is getting closer and closer to putting out their over the counter rapid HIV test. Although I don't have any inside information, I think you are going to see this happen sooner than later -- that will allow anyone to go to a walmart pick up a test and know their status in 20 minutes in the privacy of their own home. How might this change the epidemic? It should be interesting, while hopefully empowering many to learn their status. Hopefully those who learn of a negative status are strong enough to handle the news.
Well, its just some food for thought. You'll read more and more of it I promise.
PS for those eager to see pictures from my cruise -- go to http://picasaweb.google.com/psuboi
In the Middle of the Ocean
April 10, 2007; 9:18 p.m.
Honestly, this this the first time I have checked anything ... email, voicemail, blackberry ... its been nice, and it will probably be the only time.
If you didnt know, my father came home for two weeks from kuwait and a week of that he treated my sister and I to a week long cruise to the western carribbean. we just left Costa Maya (i think that was it) and its been the greatest time of my life.
I've been spending some great quality time with my dad and my sister and some friends (there are about 10 others that I grew up with us as well) it could not be any better ... the sunsets, the blue clear water, and most of all a few days to clear my head and get away from things. Its been great.
Robert, thanks for the note, I appreciate it, Easter was great, we left Miami for the cruise and so we didnt have the traditional Easter festivities but we boarded a boat with 3,000 other people for 7 days of nothing but relaxation its been great.
I'll post some pictures when i get home but for now, you all take care and i'm thinking about you all (he he)
A Story ... the Life ... the Result ...
April 2, 2007; 4:24 p.m.
I wanted to share this experience someone went through ...
February 17, 2006
I might be HIV positive. Tim is. We had unprotected sex. I'm so fucked up right now. So is Tim. He knew when we slept together eight months ago ... he knew that he was positive, but he didn't tell me until yesterday night. Now, I'm scared shitless waiting for my test results. I won't know until March first. It's so long to wait. It's torture. I am worried about Tim. If I'm positive I'm screwed. So much would change -- my friendship with Tim, my health, my family and friends, my whole life. So much running through my mind ... pain ... uncertainty.
February 18, 2006
This is the most painful thing I've ever had to experience. Well, my parent's split was pretty bad, but this one is just me. I don't want to tell my family until I know my HIV status. So, Tim knew he was positive. It's starting to sink in. Since Tim didn't tell me, for eight months I had no idea I was at risk. So I started dating someone and had unprotected sex with him. Because of TIM, two people are now at risk. Yesterday I told my x-boyfriend and that was hard. He was pissed off, not at me, but at the person who put me at risk. He just knows it was one of my friends. I guess seeing my x's anger helped trigger my anger. I guess with Tim it's more than anger. I love Tim. Yes, I had a crush on him, but he's my best friend. I've always been so happy that we're friends and now this. I just wonder -- how could he have done this to me? How could he sleep with me knowing he's HIV positive? Why did he do that? Did he want to fuck up our friendship? Because although I wish it didn't, regardless of the test results, our friendship will never be the same again if I can even still be his friend. On one hand, I don't want to bail on him because he's dealing with so much. On the other hand, how could he do this to me?! Put me in so much danger, drive me through emotional turmoil, and completely alter my life. Fuck! This is so difficult, sad, unbearable, hectic, depressing, tiring, painful, lonely, traumatic ...
I don't want to tell my family until I know, but I wish I had their support. So, I haven't called them because it would be hard to act okay. I'm so fucked up right now I'm hurting all the time. I'm on a constant roller coaster of emotions, but HIV is always there -- it's ALWAYS there!
Then there is my x. So, I ran in to him last night on campus and when I saw him my stomach sank. I felt awful and I knew I had to tell him. At his apartment I told him. I felt so exposed because he brought up some bull shit about
"If you hadn't had casual sex with your friend who was probably having casual sex with other people, you may not be in this position."
Of course, I went off because fuck that. Don't give me that bull shit. Of all the people I've told, he's the only one who has brought that up. However, of all the people I've told, he's the only one who is also in danger of being HIV positive because of me. So, I tried to be understanding. Instead of walking out the door once he made that comment, I had a drink and went home. However, once I got home I felt like shit. My roommate is out of town and I'm alone with my pain. I called my x and told him I didn't want to be alone. He invited me back over. I had one more drink and fell asleep.
I now realize that my x and I will never be the same. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if after we get tested he doesn't want to have anything to do with me, whether he's negative or we're both negative. Up until this point we had been able to remain friends even though our relationship hadn't worked out. This is it -- everything will change. Knowing this made it difficult to leave his apartment this morning.
I'm so sad and lonely. My life will never be the same. ... NEVER. I am forever changed because of HIV even if I'm negative.
Life is full with each moment, but sometimes I feel like I'm just watching it pass by -- watching myself -- waiting for something to happen. I feel like shit. I have a very high chance of being positive. I'll have to cross that bridge when it comes because I could drown myself in pain if I let my mind wonder.
Right now, at this very moment, life feels unbearable. I just want to go away ... away from here.
February 20, 2006
I will find out within the next 24-48 hours. My x found a place in a small town that gives back quick results. We had to pay ninety dollars, but it is well worth knowing sooner. I'm so scared! We drove to the town today and it was awkward. It's like we were in the car, but our minds were everywhere else. It hurts to be around my x because it makes HIV feel so present and inescapable.
What if I'm positive? I'm glad to know sooner, but I'm scared shitless. I just keep having daydreams of me getting the phone call and hearing it's positive. I see myself completely fucked up. Then I imagine that it's negative and I can feel a HUGE burden lifted off my shoulders and my heart.
Right now, life is so blurred. It's intermingled with bouts of depression, thoughts of pain, and crying. Sometimes I'm doing something random like cooking or hanging clothes in the closet and I start crying out of nowhere. Sometimes I stop myself, other times I just cry. I don't want to be positive! I would give anything to go back to the days when missing my x was my biggest problem/pain. I would give anything to not be here.
But I am here and wishing won't change anything. I'm here. This is my life -- this is it. I only get one. If I am positive, I will have to cope. My life will not stop -- it will go on and so will I. I know this, but it doesn't change the fact that I would much rather be negative. This hurts so much!! It's sooooo stressful. I wouldn't wish this on anyone. 24-48 hours. I think I'm going to drive myself crazy waiting. How will I sleep until I know? This I so hard. I just want to be okay. I just want my x to be okay. Oh, how I wish I could go back to missing my x, when all this stuff didn't exist. I don't know my HIV status, but I'm so freaken scared to know while also being eager to know. My mind is racing non-stop. I'm going to write a paper for class now just to get my mind off of HIV.
Please, please, please to who ever is listening -- please let me be negative ... let my x be negative.
February 23, 2006
I'm negative!!! My x is negative! Thank God! Thank everyone who supported me and loved me through such an awful time! I found out Tuesday evening around 4:45 p.m. I was ecstatic and I cried. I thanked the guy who told me my results. I called my best friend, my roomie, my x, and Tim called me. I felt so relieved. The weight that was lifted off of my shoulders is unbelievable. It's been tough though as I slowly settle into being negative. My stomach is slowly calming down and getting used to eating food again. My body is so used to being anxious; I often feel myself tense up and become nervous. In order to calm down I have to remind myself that I'm HIV negative. Life feels good being negative. It feels so good. Tuesday night a smile was plastered on my face. Still when I look around I just feel so thankful that I'm negative.
But I still have to think of what I will do about Tim. My x wanted to press charges before we got our results and I'm sure he'll still want to now. We haven't talked about it though. That stresses me out. I mean I know I can't ever be Tim's friend like we used to be, but I know he's already fucked up. He'll have to deal with putting me and my x at risk on top of being positive. I think that's enough. He's got a lot to deal with already. I want to move forward, which is why I need time away from Tim. I don't want to be thinking about how we can press charges against him. I just want to focus on now. I've been given a chance to see how fortunate I am. I need to live my life to the fullest. I've always strived to live my life fully, but it's like you don't realize how valuable life is until it's almost taken from you -- or at least almost completely altered.
Then there is my x. I remember thinking that I wish my only problem was missing him. Now, after all this, though things have changed, I still miss him. But I really feel like he judged me and thinks my promiscuous behaviors led me to HIV. So, why do I still miss him? Now, don't get me wrong, this missing him is way better -- WAY BETTER, than HIV!!! I almost love missing my x as compared to being at risk of HIV.
So many questions run through my mind:
Why did Tim sleep with me knowing his HIV status?
How could he do that?
Why did my x and I have to go through this HIV scare?
I was starting to believe that life had no rhyme or reason, but this incident makes me feel like there is a reason behind everything. For whatever reason Tim hurt me; put my life in danger. In turn, my x and I went through this scare. I don't know why yet, but I know one day I will know. As for now, I am extremely grateful for life. I am thankful to all the angels who looked out for my x and me. Now, all I can do is move on. A wise woman once told me -- It's not how many times you fall, but how many times you get up.
Where Is Tom ...
March 19, 2007; 10:54 p.m.
I have to apologize for not writing sooner. Things have been rough for me lately. I must say, some days is hard to write in here, I dont want to show a sign of weakness by sharing thoughts and things that are on my mind so I open my journal to make a post and find myself clicking off of it.
Let me start with saying I've lost a dear friend. Growing up my friend Jeff and I hung out all the time, we were in scouts we were alter boys together, we spent a lot of time together. In doing that I grew very close to his mother and father -- they became to me what I thought of as second parents. Jeff's mom, my second mom growing up passed away from a strong battle with Cancer. Barb was loved by soo many. She was there when my grandmother died, she died in Barb's arms. It was hard. Jack, Jeff's dad asked me to read scriptures for her funeral. It was an honor and something I wont forget. Barb, thanks for watching me grow up and thanks for being there so many times.
On the other hand, I've been depressed. I know it, I am not sure if its the Atripla or not, but for weeks I have done nothing. I started off well going to the gym, getting ready for my cruise that I am going on with my dad and sister next month and stopped. I think part of it was running into an ex of mine, I miss him, others is just frustration with not knowing what to do with my life at this point.
Well I am going to bed, I'll write more soon. Good night
Penn State Lion Support
February 13, 2007; 11:38 p.m.
Today I had the pleasure to talk to a group at Penn State that I have been talking to for years now, Penn State Lion Support. After the program tonight I got this message through facebook ...
I was in the Lion Support audience that you presented to today, and I asked the question about how to encourage my peers/friends to get tested w/out being made fun of or not taken seriously. You told me to humanize the advice, so I used your story immediately afterwards, and am on my way to get tested on Friday with my boyfriend. I've almost convinced my roommate to go with another friend as well, and I have you to thank. You gave me the confidence to stand-up and get my beliefs out and affect other people. I've always been a huge HIV/AIDs activist, but I'm always at a loss for how to make a difference. After today, I really feel like I've made a large step in the right direction!!
I can't say how messages like these keep me going and focused on what I do. She knows who she is ... and I say Thank you!
February 9, 2007; 12:58 p.m.
First it was a pleasure to see D'Jaun and Cree. We all went to Clarion University in Pennsylvania as part of African American HIV Awareness Day. Cree and D'Jaun spoke, it was good to sit back and watch them tell their own stories. After a wild day of figuring out ground transportation my sister, harlene and I drove the two hours to see D'Jaun and Cree since leaving the tour bus last year. So I was excited to see them and since they were speaking so close to our State College office, I knew we had to go support them.
A special thanks to the University Activities Board along with those who we worked with Shannon and Jamie -- Erika and David thanks for the great hospitality (sorry to screw up your dinner plans together but it was great to get to know you)
All in all, I think the students wanted more, Cree and D'Jaun probably could have talked for a few more hours. It was great to see such interest in HIV/AIDS.
Finally, D'Jaun -- what an educator you are, your abilities REALLY was evident last night and I cant be more proud to have such awesome quality on board such as you and Cree. Cree, your story of where you came from to where you are is sooo inspiring to so many never forget what you do is only a small % of what you actually do.
Clarion thanks for bringing Who's Positive to your university. Check out the pictures by clicking on Photo Gallery and don't forget facebook (friend me -- Tom Donohue or Cree Gordon) and our yuckie myspace page at http://www.myspace.com/whospositive I really need to find someone to do something with it. I am not a big myspace guy more facebook :)
GO GET TESTED!!
And a Dreamer Began to Climb
December 30, 2006; 9:59 p.m.
"SHOOT FOR THE MOON. EVEN IF YOU MISS IT YOU WILL LAND AMONG THE STARS"
First let me say it's been a while -- my apologies. Many things have happened for me personally but if you are on our mailing list then you got my personal well wishes for a happy holidays.
On low right now in my crock pot is my sauerkraut and hot dogs in honor of my Dad serving this New Years Eve -- Eve, in Kuwait and to my sister celebrating her first year by herself and her three kids.
I want to dedicate this journal entry to my sister. I am very proud of her. As you all know if you've been following my blog, my sister and my mom haven't talked/seen each other in nearly 5 years. Agreed the relationship between my mom and I was inexistent for over a year but this Christmas was a reunion between my sister, my grandfather, my mom and I and we had a great great Christmas Day dinner. To my sister and my Mom who both put their differences aside I thank you, you may have just given yourselves the best Christmas gift ever, I know you did for me.
An emptiness was among us all at Christmas and that was the voice and sights of my father who is in Kuwait serving his 38th year in the US Army. It's the first time that I am aware of that he was absent from Christmas. It's hard b/c over the years growing up we always bonded -- no matter how difficult it was growing up with him, it was our time. This year: nothing but emails which served as his voice and a small gifts as his presence -- both my sister and I were grateful for.
Christmas Eve I played Santa as I do each year for my Dad's neighbor. It was great, this year my niece helped be my assistant b/c -- well she knew it was me (he he she IS nearly 10!) You could definitely tell dad was not there so it too was hard but it got harder when Donna -- my dad's neighbor brought out a few gifts for my sister and I from my DAD -- which he had sent to us from Kuwait. We open them up together with my sisters kids leading the way. They were very excited to get their gifts as were my sister and I.
Christmas Day I picked up my sister and we met Gary -- my mom's new husband and my grandfather and they took us to my moms place. She had made so much food. It was a great time but I noticed I was exhausted and just starting to feel tired. Sure enough the next day, I came down sick. Long story short I had a 103 + temp and finally went to the hospital and found out I had Strep Throat -- yeah. I bet I got it from one of the kids. So two trips to the ER 7 pokes with needles and I am slowing feeling better.
And ... sooo ... let me share with you two thoughts I'm thinking about, one is a sacred gift I gave to my Mom, Dad (I sent it to him in Kuwait) and my sister, a journal. This is not a general journal. Its very specific, its to be used as a treasure chest that only they can fill. Fill with memories of times we've spent together. One day they will get shared either at my expense or someone else's. Either way, it will become the most treasured gift they probably will ever get. In return I promised to write one myself, and that's where I summarize ...
You too should live the life you want to live, dream it, live it, create it, make it happen; you can do it only if you begin to act, don't just sit there and dream it ... make it happen -- let me explain
The front of my journal reads "Shoot For The Moon. Even If You Miss It You Will Land Among The Stars" and the title of my journal "And a dreamer began to climb" fit well together. I dream of great things, bigger challenges I can only get to the moon if i begin to climb my way there, If I fall I'll probably fall doing something I want and enjoy doing so my climb that far had been successful. I am searching for my ladder, shooting for the moon, any know I'll always be among the stars.
Happy New Year -- may it be safe happy and a memorable climb!
And the Tour Comes to an End ...
November 30, 2006; 2:00 a.m.
Wow! What a journey. I am in LA at the moment to finish up our 7 week tour, Operation Get Tested.
We have spoken to THOUSANDS of young adults, we have encouraged and gotten hundreds tested for HIV, its been an amazing journey, difficult at times but amazing!
If you are HIV positive we encourage you to sign up to speak next year. Apply at www.whospositive.org.
Watch for Who's Positive in the NY Times on World AIDS Day, this Friday, December 1, 2006.
WORLD AIDS DAY: WHO'S POSITIVE CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION TO REDUCE HIV/AIDS AMONG YOUTH IN THE UNITED STATES
November 27, 2006; 7:03 p.m.
State College, PA -- With World AIDS Day rapidly approaching and 2006 being the 25th year of the AIDS epidemic, Who's Positive is calling for parents, schools, faith based organizations and political leaders to bring immediate action to help reduce infection rates among America's youth. Who's Positive is a national organization focused on bringing HIV awareness to youth through first-hand accounts of young adults already living with the virus.
Tom Donohue, Founder and Executive Director of Who's Positive said, "The stark truth is that teens, like it or not, are having sex! Parents must realize that their teenagers may be engaging in risky sexual behaviors. The next wave of HIV infections is becoming today's youth -- youth who have limited access to condoms and lack easy access to getting tested. Parents, communities, schools and faith-based organizations must push past the taboo of sex to discuss and provide resources for young adults who engage in sexual activities with or without their parent's knowledge."
In a recent non-scientific survey conducted by Who's Positive during programming to 1800 high school students in Gainesville and Pensacola, Florida approximately 95% of high school students admitted they, or someone they knew within two years of their age, were sexually active. Also, according to Child Trends Facts at a Glance approximately one in every four sexually active 15 to 24 year olds contracts an STD each year.
"As a parent of three teenagers and an educator, parents must wake up and take this stand as the first educator of our children and as an educator call to our schools to immediately bring comprehensive sex education to the forefront. We have an obligation when students are telling us they are sexually active to act," said Janine Plavac, Director of Academy of Health Professions at Gainesville High School
Who's Positive strongly urges parents to bring forward school board proposals allowing schools to provide free condoms, offer better peer-to-peer comprehensive sex education programs and to work with local agencies to provide free rapid HIV testing to high school and college students. These resources will allow youth to empower themselves to know their HIV status ultimately helping to decrease infection rates among young adults.
Half of all new HIV infections occur in those under the age of 25. According to the CDC, over 40,000 young adults have been diagnosed with AIDS and over 10,000 living with AIDS have died since the beginning of the epidemic.
"No matter what we teach them, America's youth are going to continue to have sex," added Donohue. "On this World AIDS Day, we need to commit ourselves to give teens all the tools they need to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS."
On December 1, 2006 Who's Positive will wrap up a 48 day nationwide HIV testing initiative called Operation Get Tested using first hand accounts of young adults living with HIV as a way to encourage peers to be tested. Thousands of young adults have turned out to programming and hundreds have empowered themselves to know their status.
About Who's Positive
Founded in 2003, Who's Positive is a national non-profit organization which foregrounds the reality of living with HIV through first-hand accounts of young adults coping with the disease. In telling the stories of people living with HIV, Who's Positive hopes to reduce the transmission of HIV among teens and young adults -- a population with one of the fastest growing infection rates. For more information on Who's Positive or Operation Get Tested visit www.whospositive.org.
Fucking POZ and Not Telling ...
November 19, 2006; 7:23 p.m.
Never in any of my journals have you ever seen me use the f word. To use it in my subject line is unheard of, but this is real raw.
A lot of feelings are surrounding me at the moment. Well here is the story ... so I was on gay.com and I typed into the open room ... "Who's not telling you they are HIV+? Just check their profile ... answered? not answered? WHY NOT?! -- we need to really grasp hold of HIV among young ppl -- 1/2 new infections occur in those under 25" I was prompted to write it because I saw the guy who infected me in the room and in his profile said nothing about him being infected. As soon as I said it he got off line.
Well as I had hoped, it had prompted a lot of conversation in the room. Going back and forth talking about it someone had said something to the effect that he knew someone who was positive and as soon as we started to talk about HIV he got out ... without me even thinking about it, I was like weird so did the guy who infected me. We began to go into a private conversation and he started to give me small details and without identifying him or confirming it with him, I quickly realized that it was him.
As we talked he began to tell me more, how he found out was through someone who use to work at the local AIDS service organization (ASO).
Here is what he said
"The person who told me used to be involved with the aids project (an AIDS Service Organization in State College where I live) like I said, and he was no longer involved long before you were ever in State College and at the time he told me (less than a year ago) he said he knew for a fact that he was still meeting people and in some cases f'ing bare without telling people ... the first time I ever met him I was 18 and still in high school, that's why I am particularly furious with him because I can't fathom that he would put me at risk like that when i was so young ... probably met him 5-6 times over the course of 5+ years, never said a word ... I'm sure ultimately this won't help you but I think you deserve to know nonetheless"
*Sigh*, If you have seen me speak you'll know that I have always said that I am not mad at the person who infected me that it was my responsibility to protect myself, I still think its true. BUT ... shortly after I became open about being positive, the guy who infected me came up to me at a local club and actually told me he thought he had infected me. I took the convo further and asked if he had known at the time we had sex and he said no, that he had just found out. Knowing a little about HIV/AIDS I asked him what his viral load and cd4 level was -- they were really high which made me think he had been infected longer.
Honestly many things go through my head at the moment ... first how many other people is he putting at risk? How many other ppl has he infected? I mean he's already infected me. Part of me wants to sound the trumpets and tell everyone. Heck he owns a business I feel like I want to picket outside of it with signs, I feel like i want to go to the police dept and report him ... BUT then I keep thinking what I always tell people, that it was my responsibility to protect myself ... that's always worked for me, me personally ... until today. This will definitely be on my mind for a while.
To the Fort Lauderdale folks, sorry this post bumped me talking about the great program and people I talked to while there but this really got me, I promise I'll post soon, maybe when I calm down a bit.
November 13, 2006; 6:40 p.m.
I thought I would share some feedback from some of our tour stops and the host committees my next post will be some feedback from the students :)
Tom, I want to express my sincere appreciation for your coming to Pensacola and sharing your message of hope and prevention to the students at Washington High School and the University of West Florida. You were simply fantastic! But more importantly the students heard you and realize that HIV does not care that one is young and that one's behavior places one at risk for this infection. What an excellent way in sharing the prevention message to other young people. This is indeed peer counseling taken to another level. I wish you and your agency much continued success in reaching out to stop the spread of HIV. Let's please stay in contact.
Maurice Moody, B.S.
HIV/AIDS Prevention and Training Consultant
Escambia County Health Department
I just want to tell you that we had the honor of Tom Donohue talking at our HIV assembly. All I can tell you is that if you haven't asked him to come to your school, you will regret that decision in the long run and your students will be the ones that will miss out on an enormous amount of information.
We had three assemblies with over 500 students in attendance per assembly.
I have been to many assemblies in my life, but you could have heard a pin drop when he started his talk. Very inspiring, thought provoking, and evoked an enormous amount of discourse amongst the students.
Please, do yourselves a favor, do your students a favor, call Tom. Get him to your schools.
Feel free to talk to me anytime.
Janine Plavac, R.N.,B.S.N.
Director, Academy of Health Professions
Gainesville High School
November 9, 2006; 11:22 p.m.
Wow ... So I've been feeling a bit under the weather, the last two days (with what I think is enough rest) I have been completely drained. I mean walking up the steps became a huge task -- I went to the office today and when I got home I was completely gone.
Soooo ... It's time I had my blood work done anyway so I went and did that today -- probably didn't help things, but with me taking Truvada for the first time I wanted to see how my #'s would be affected. But man as tired or drained I am it reminds me of the days I had mono. Yeah. That tired.
It may also be jetlag and the recourse of me speaking so much and traveling who knows. I'm planning on taking some xtra time to myself Friday and rest some more maybe it will get better.
Well until I have more to say ... Good Night.
Gainesville, Florida -- Gainesville High School
November 2, 2006; 2:56 p.m.
I was missing six members of my family today. Today we took our focus away from the problems we had with the bus and back to where it needs to be and that's to our peers. Today I was honored to speak to some 1500 students at Gainesville High School, got to meet two amazing women whose mother is HIV positive and was serenaded with a beautiful song of hope and passion.
I want to thank the Gainesville community for doing what this tour was intended to do; bring the community together to discuss HIV/AIDS. They had two front page articles talking about AIDS, they brought school administrators and community-based AIDS organizations together to help lay the ground work for more discussion down the road. Thank You.
Back on the road Operation Get Tested moved into a more condensed schedule as speakers prepare to fly to stops pushing onward, not letting anything get in the way of opportunity to reach out to young people.
Shout out to Ms. Plavac, Ms. Parker, Dr. Dixon, and all the folks at GHS. To the students: I want to hear from you, I know we didn't have enough time to talk, but walk the walk, email me, add us as your friends to Facebook and Myspace, we are here for you. Thank you to those who came up and shared personal stories with me -- you know who you are, thank you!
To the nearly 95% of the student body who admitted they or someone they knew within two years of their age were sexually active, yes, 95% or better -- be safe! Please don't become the next statistic. You can prevent this from happening to yourselves.
Feel free to click on the word 'comment' below to offer up your thoughts on the program, we'd love to hear from you. Next stop, Pensacola, FL presenting to sophomores at Washington High School and a class at University of West Florida. Until then, Be Aware, Be Prepared, Get Tested!
Maggie, Eileen, Jessika & Brittany :)
Lean on Me ...
October 30, 2006; 9:15 p.m.
You know, its a small secret that the song 'Lean On Me' is one of my favorites, a song I sing -- literally around the office all the time. Cheee toe can testify to that.
Never have I ever had to lean on so many the last few days then that of six amazing, strong and courageous people, some people who completely trusted my decision and who have faith in me (our sponsors) and most importantly my backbone -- my sister. I think, no I know that I have learned so much from this experience -- most importantly to lean on others. I always find myself wanting people to lean on me, allow me to be there for others, honestly I would do anything for anyone, but this experience has been the best and worst experience in my life.
Kahlo -- Failure is NOT an option, and you're completely right. OGT has not is not and will never be a failure. Even though the decision was made to leave the bus -- which I still completely support, this tour is continuing. Three stops in Florida, D'Jaun is going back to a school where we've already been (Thanks William Patterson for the welcome back) Teniecka is going to OK, D'Jaun is going to OK, Marissa is covering all the CA stops and we have more work to do. We will test hundreds if not thousands more to get tested. We've started dialogue among young adults, young adults have come to us telling us they too are positive. The momentum has started, we started it, we together have taken conversation back to people our age -- something we should have done years ago.
I am so proud to have our speakers stand behind me and I thank them for allowing me to lean on them during the most difficult decision of my life. I promise to turn to you all more -- no more hiding in the office working (well not 24x7 at least). Now ... lets stay focused and move forward ... we already have almost 10 tour stop requests for 2007 and we have so much more work to do.
Thank you. Thank you, Kahlo, D'Jaun, Marissa, Teniecka, Richard, and Cree for your guidance and support, Thank you OraSure Technologies for your support and help, thank you to my sister Charlene. Family is most important and I am proud to say and welcome so many new people into my family. I surely have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Pushing forward -- lets do this, lets rock it out -- we all have work to do and we can and will do it, one school, one person at a time! Be Aware, Be Prepared, Be Tested!
Operation Get Tested Takes to the Air
October 27, 2006; 8:58 p.m.
Operation Get Tested Takes to the Air
HIV Positive Students to Share Experiences With Students
After a successful ground tour that included stops in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., Operation Get Tested will be flying speakers to college campuses and High Schools all over the United States including Gainesville High School, in Gainesville, FL, University of West Florida in Pensacola, FL, NOVA Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Oklahoma State University in Stillwater OK, Oklahoma City Community College, in OK City, OK, and Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA where participants will spend an entire day on campus -- sharing their experiences in various forums and settings -- from the classroom to the playing field, culminating in a campus-wide testing event that encourages students to know their HIV status.
"Our early experience on the tour made us realize that we had an opportunity to really make a difference by spending more time on a campus in a more integrated way, rather than just spend an hour talking to an audience," said Tom Donohue, executive director for Who's Positive. Our challenges on the ground with our bus and it's driver will not stop our speakers and our dedication to continue seeing Operation Get Tested and its successes continue. To continue using the bus under circumstances which made the environment on the bus stressful would have been irresponsible for Who's Positive. I made the decision in the best interest of everyone on board. Now we are even more determined to reach more of our peers and focus on getting them tested" Donohue says.
Who's Positive is committed to bringing real stories and real faces of young people living with HIV to their peers and are currently working with individual tour stops to fly our speakers to several of the events that were scheduled. We look forward to working with tours stops as much as possible to execute our programming and following through with our commitments as much as possible through the next 5 weeks.
As per our recommendations, tour stops like NCU-Chapel Hill and Duke University continued with their local testing efforts and they tested hundreds of students for HIV. "We did testing for 4 hours. We ran out of the 200 tests in 1.5 hours and had an additional 50 free test vouchers which were gone in less than 30 minutes. We had people waiting up to 4 hours to find out their results. But the response in the end was tremendous as we also turned away an additional 200 people. We could easily have reached 500 people tested in one night. We are already trying to make preparations for WAD." wrote Jarrod Cruz, Host Committee Chair person for NCU-Chapel Hill hours after their testing came to a close. We believe that tireless planning by Who's Positive, its staff and speakers along with execution by local host committees will allow Operation Get Tested to continue onward with or without our speakers allowing for young adults all across the United States to get tested and empower themselves to know their status, says Donohue.
Who's Positive values the continued relationships with all the speakers and we wish to thank them as well as all the tour stops, financial supporters and our corporate sponsors for their support and understanding in this matter and we look forward to evaluating the successes of Operation Get Tested 2006 in order to execute a similar initiative for 2007. We are determined to learn from these first years' challenges and continue this successful initiative in similar ways in years to come. Tour stops and speaker applications are now being accepted for Operation Get Tested 2007 at www.whospositive.org.
"Be Aware, Be Prepared, Get Tested!"
For a complete list of current stops visit our tour schedule on www.whospositive.org.
It's Your Call With Lynn Doyle
October 20, 2006; 12:04 a.m.
A big part of Operation Get Tested is to reach out to people beyond typical ways and Kahlo, Teniecka, Richard and I were proud to be able to reach out to more people tonight through the use of live TV. Lynn thank you for giving us the opportunity to reach out to people all over the US.
A shout out to Celia and all the folks who tried to call into the show. We really want to hear your questions and thoughts so please email us!! firstname.lastname@example.org -- we'll answer your questions and take your comments and respond, you can also visit our web blogs or journals too!
Another SHOUT OUT to Jeff and all the folks at Lehigh for an awesome program, and to the folks at Lincoln University, hang in there thanks for your understanding and support it was good visiting your school!
October 15, 2006; 1:12 a.m.
So it's 2:12 and I am sitting in the back of the bus -- the place that is becoming more of an office typing in the dark. Chido sleeps across from where I am working. In the room to my right sits 12 bunks, Cree, Melissa, D'Jaun, & Kahlo went out and I think had a pretty good time. They are still up talking and having a good time laying in their bunks. My sister, Charlene came drove up with me and will be returning on Wednesday. She's so special to me, I am so happy to have her be really like my best friend. Last night we got a note from our dad, it was exciting he wrote us all and said to me "Tom, Hope things are going great with you trip through out the country. Just remember get your rest and eat." It really feels good that he's really starting to come around and worry about my health, it really does mean a lot -- especially when he sends this email to the entire family. Even though he's serving our Country, I really miss him and am very glad to hear from him and even more glad to get some pictures of him.
Tomorrow -- Sunday, we will work with Richard, Cree and Teniecka who will be speaking -- its the first program. We'll do a 90 minute program and then various HIV/AIDS service organizations like the Gay Men's Health Crisis will offer Free Rapid HIV Testing from 6-10, that's really exciting. We also will be interviewed by WNBC the big NBC affiliate. They are coming out early to interview us and get pics of the bus. It's pretty exciting that all of our planning is finally coming through. It's like the honk of a horn -- one honks and honks really to go no where any fast we honked and honked for months and it really seemed like it was going nowhere -- but all of a sudden we've taken off, taken off to do great things and touch many people. It's very exciting!
SHOUT OUT TIME: This is the section of my blog where I'm going to give shout out's to just people I know or don't know -- today, it's to a few 2 I know and a group I don't. First a special thank you to Adam, a long time friend from NJ who saw our Advocate article and wrote to me -- thanks Adam, Marc Lo from NYU -- poor guy was out at like midnight last night trying to get our no parking signs up for the bus, it was a challenge NYU's hospitality has been great! Can't wait to see the presentation tomorrow ... and finally -- the groups of folks who stopped by the bus to say hi, we appreciate the support it was awesome to meet you all.
Well heck it's now 2:24 and I am heading to bed. Take care and talk to you soon. Feel free to write.
PS -- New Yorkers, stop honking your horns next to the bus! lol
PICTURES PICTURES :)
October 13, 2006; 5:54 p.m.
Real quick -- chcek out our pictures so far www.whospositive.org/gallery/ keep checking back for more :)
What a 24 Hours ...
October 12, 2006; 5:52 p.m.
So ... the drama continues with the bus wrap. It never arrived in Nashville until today, Thursday -- the day the bus is to be in NYC. That meant we had nowhere to stay. SOOO we had to get hotel rooms to make sure everyone had a place to stay, it was very frustrating.
Otherwise, Everyone is here! Everyone but Djaun flew from there home state to Phoenix then they all boarded the same flight and flew to NYC. It must have been exciting for them.
I realized that I left my flash card at home for my camera so I haven't been able to take pictures but we'll get them posted on our website soon under photogallery. Take care everyone and thanks for reading.
A Little Strength
October 10, 2006; 6:18 p.m.
I am amazed at what hurdles Who's Positive have overcome to see this project actually happen.
I get a call from the bus owner tonight 7 pm tonight saying that we are missing one of the boxes. Apparently UPS shipped the boxes separately giving a false sense of having the entire shipment. Well they tried to deliver the last box yesterday and today -- well the owner of the bus had already left to go to Nashville to have the wrap applied. Sooo the box never made it to the installer.
The owner of the bus and I got on the phone with UPS it was a nightmare to try to get UPS to get the second box to Nashville tomorrow for the rest of it to be applied but after talking to a supervisor we were able to manage a guarantee that it would be delivered on Wednesday, one day before the bus is due to be in NYC.
Thanks Terry of Brutal One Leasing for all your help.
October 9, 2006; 5:29 p.m.
I can't thank enough so many people who have been so instrumental in making Operation Get Tested such a success. First we have Chido. Chido has acted as our Public Relations Director, she's done everything -- played so many roles but I am so glad to have met her and even more proud to call her a friend. Chido thank you for all your hard work, it's truly appreciated.
Then we have AJ -- phew AJ and I well we met at a program at Lock Haven University where I spoke, he dedicated his entire summer really to helping OGT really get off its feet, I'll never forget that dedication and value the relationship we have, I care a lot about you and so proud to have had you part of my team but more importantly my family.
MaryAnn & Katie -- I know you've been busy ... but you've helped paint the office you've played cheerleader and MaryAnn you can blame Chido for your newsletter not getting out -- but thank you!
Then, there is Todd -- my do everything and anything when its needed -- Todd is really responsible for so much behind the scenes stuff I can't even begin to mention. He's been my best friends for years you're truly remarkable and your talents are amazing.
Finally, six amazing young adults who have given up so much to be part of this endeavor, Cree, Teniecka, Kahlo, Richard, Marissa, and D'Jaun; you will travel on a mission -- a mission that we all see so well but not as clear as everyone else; no worries, we'll change that one person at a time. Kahlo, you've been on since day one really, your cheerleader attitude has really helped carry me onward on some days, Richard, your story; your outlook on life -- as someone infected just gives me hope especially after all you have been through -- I cant imagine what it's like to have lost your mom and your sister to AIDS and still continue like you do. Teniecka well honey your so beautiful! Your charm, personality and energy enlightens me all the time, your story as strong and powerful as it is does not even come close to the force you have to fight HIV. Marissa, your quiet voice will become one of a choir that will carry all over the US ... you've come through so much and still you remain so strong -- you should be proud of yourself! Cree -- well you too have such a wonderful story your past is filled with so many personal challenges I'm proud that you're ready to stand up and set that example for others who are in the position you have pulled yourself from, *hugs*, and D'Jaun -- the baby of the group the newest addition to this family, with your backwards hat and Detroit attitude you too will become a role model for so many who will resonate with your story.
Your all such amazing, powerful and I'm so lucky to have been able to bring you all on board. "Thank you" Thank you, thank you! I cant wait until we all meet in person on Thursday.
Four Days Till We Leave; Seven Days Till Our First Program!
October 8, 2006; 10:12 p.m.
Twelve months of planning have come to this ... 4 days until I pack an SUV full of boxes, food, luggage and meet 6 brave individuals for the trip of a life time.
The last few weeks have been challenging to summarize:
I fired the bus wrap company we originally went with for a cheaper more friendly guy who has just given us an awesome design.
Then the guy who was going to install the bus wrap backs out on us for some other larger client so with the help of Terry and the designer we've been trying to find a new graphic installer.
The bus owner was car jacked by gun point a few days ago, he's OK -- thank God, but man o man ... Apparently he was washing his car when they car jacked him at gun point and stole it -- they found it via onstar a few blocks away
Then he told me he fired the bus driver -- this is frustrating a bit because the one he had was willing to work with us and now he's using a guy who has never driven for him so ... a little worrisome, but Terry (the owner of the bus) is an awesome guy and will assure we are taken care of
So now that we are 4 days away from leaving, we got all the posters in the mail Friday -- YAY they are awesome! We will be mailing them all out on Monday to the schools -- its pretty exciting!!
This past weekend I stayed home -- yes all weekend. I slept and tonight I've done like 6 loads of wash so I can be ready since I expect this week to be crazy busy.
OHHHH OHHH -- We ordered "OFFICIAL" OGT T-shirts they are ringer t-shirts and we are pretty excited about them, we should be able to get them on Wednesday right before we leave. Otherwise, we are all set, lets rock and roll!
Take care all ...
ohhh pps -- Watch for the tour in the Advocate magazine this month and Instinct Magazine in December.
October 3, 2006; 4:18 p.m.
Alright guys :) I know we are all excited, scared, and eager to get things going. Trust me I understand this is a project I've been working on since Oct of last year so I completely understand what you are all going through ...
It's going to be fun & exciting to travel but just remember what all we are going to do and the changes we are going to make in peoples lives.
Take a moment to step back and breathe. We'll all be fine, its going to be hard at times -- we know this, but together we can do anything!
In 9 days we will meet to help change the world!
D'Jaun -- Pack!? Heck I haven't even begun to think about packing! You should see what we are trying to get done in the office, its crazy.
11 Days!!! 11 DAYS!!
October 1, 2006; 6:48 p.m.
Wow, what should I be doing? I still have so much work to do things to think out ... Should I start to pack, who do I need to call?, I feel like I need to study the stories, get to know the speakers better, press releases, tour stop chair people, funders, so many people who have taken part in this effort to bring awareness but today when someone asked me how I was, I told them ... "Scared" We've worked on it so hard for a year now, and today I sit here 11 days until kick off. I just cant imagine its come to happen.
Please, lets see this be as successful as it needs to be to reach out to as many people as possible. Until then ... lets finish up some of these tour stops, give them support and lets do it, lets make the next movement, lets use our voice to make a difference in this world.
Johnny, thanks so much for your support ... Cant wait to see you in NYC!
Frustrating Day/Night in Different Ways
September 23, 2006; 1:22 a.m.
So I think today was a frustrating day because I am just a bit burnt out. Several days this week I worked until 12:30 am and tonight I just decided to go home -- I made me something to eat and I think over the weekend I am just going to do Tom things, like things I sooo need to do -- clean, laundry and get to know my new roommates before I leave.
Tonight was also frustrating, I decided to go to this big party, I walked over and just as I was finding it, I felt like I needed to go to the bathroom -- this would make the third time today. Now generally people don't share these things but I am thinking it's directly related to my new meds maybe, but I had to get into my car drive all the way home, do my business then go to the party, it was frustrating. Very frustrating. I really began to understand that this is life for me, this is just something that I need to learn to deal with. It sucks yeah, but its life. Maybe after some more time it will stop but I literally don't have much time after I feel the urge. I share these details because I think its important for people to understand that although there are meds out there -- the side affects suck. Granted I think what I am going through is nothing compared to some but it did put a downside to my night.
Other then that I heard from my dad in a few emails last night which was nice -- if you recall he's serving his 39th year in the US ARMY in Operation Iraqi Freedom, so it will suck to be away from him for the holidays but I am glad I will be around people that care for Thanksgiving. In fact my Aunt and Uncle on my Dad's side is preparing Thanksgiving dinner for us since we will be in Tucson. That will be nice.
I didn't have the guts to do it, tonight at the party I wanted to take a fish bowl of condoms into the party with me, I tried but left quickly I am a wimp when it comes to things like that -- I feel disappointed b/c I think many people could have used them. But I think me being there alone was a reminder that Tom's here and he's not going anywhere and hopefully it's a reminder to play safe.
I am off to bed, my roommate is drunk on the floor in the living room but at least I know he's safe and ok, for tonight he may sleep where he is, glad to know he's ok.
Good night all. Dad, be safe and thank you for doing what your doing. I love you.
Scared, Thankful, so Many Emotions
September 16, 2006; 1:57 a.m.
So ... Quite honestly I have been so busy I haven't really even been able to give much time to think about what Who's Positive is about to undertake ... tonight as I sit here I honestly have to say, Darn, I'm scared.
So much time & energy has been put into this project that I sit back tonight and think about the impact that we potentially could have on this epidemic ... and I'm scared. So many people are counting on us; So many lives are going to be changed because 6 brave individuals have decided to put themselves out there to make a difference.
Cree, your spunk, energy it just not only amuses me it excites me, Teniecka -- your on the ball, everything we've ask of you is done in like hours, Richard, your so quite, impressionable -- I honestly can't wait to see you develop and see the US this is really going to change your life in such an awesome way, Marissa -- your adorable ... you've been challenged in so many ways and for you to lead by example and to be a role model after all the challenges you've been though is such amazing! I'm proud to have you on the tour ... D'Jaun well your the newest part of the team, but it's not like we don't know each other, I was proud to have met you at a Ryan White Youth Conference, your a great addition to this family and we are excited to have you on board! ... then, there is Kahlo -- now I tease with you all that Kahlo is my favorite -- It's not really true ... Your all my favorite -- out of nearly 40 people we've chosen you six, Kahlo well he's memorable to me because we met as he agreed to be tossed in front of an audience to speak while in Washington DC, Kahlo, I probably know you the best, you are going to go so far in life, so smart and caring I cant wait to spend more time getting to know you ... I promised I'd take you under my wing ... something I wont go back on
Well there we have it the Who's Positive first Operation Get Tested speakers ... Welcome. I am scared, scared that something wont happen or that something goes wrong and as your leader it becomes a reflection on me, but just remember, together we will achieve greatness, change, and we will provide so much opportunity for youth to change behaviors ultimately reducing the amount of our peers who become infected. To all of you ... Thank you. In the end ... This is the scariest endeavor, I too will need your support.
PILLS: From White to Blue
September 15, 2006; 10:35 p.m.
Gosh you'd think I picked the colors for Penn State (Blue & White) but I didn't.
Although many may look at me as a role model, I too struggle with challenges mine the last two months were taking my meds the way I was supposed to. I didn't share this struggle with you because I know my sister reads my journal and I didn't want to hear her giving me crap.
I know you are all saying "Tom you just started them" well yeah it was easy to get off routine and just not take them. It's harder then you think, see I'm not really sick or anything so taking meds is goofy in my mind concept, so its not a big deal to me right now. Generally most people take meds as a result of some sort of need. Well I understand I have the 'need' to do it but I have a need without any physical complications -- gosh I hope that makes sense. So for the last month I haven't been taking my meds ... I saw my doctor in preparation for the tour and I had him change my meds to two pills once a day; right before I go to bed. Its much easier for me this way, if I take them during the day its much much harder for me. This is really something I have found very difficult and know I need support for.
SO I went from taking a white pill called Combivir to taking Truvada and it's a blue pill :) Tonight I will begin it and I am sure the people on the tour will be of support to help get me into a routine.
Anyway ok it's out ... I wont tell my sister yet until she reads this lol she'll call and yell at me but anyway, I am home at the moment first time home before 11 in many nights, but tonight I am going out for a few drinks then hitting up the PENN STATE game tomorrow, my last expected day to myself ... Sunday turns to almost 7 days a week in the office.
Good night all
Long Tiring Nights
September 14, 2006; 11:20 p.m.
Wow ... I have been here in the office since 9:30 am, its now 12:21 am of the next morning! 15 hours! Its crazy I know but honestly it needs to be done.
Today we invited our final speaker onboard -- D'Jaun Black then all six speakers had a great conference call together, it was awesome! We finalized our speaker press releases and inserted the new professional pictures of all of our speakers onto our website, created PDFs of their profiles for the media. We finally got word on an additional corporate sponsor that's exciting! We'll talk about that when its final -- the ink is still drying.
Things are progressing well ... tour stops -- well ... that's coming along ... well SLOW but hopefully everyone will begin to get us the information we need very soon. Poster design by the weekend, palm cards, so much more to do.
Saturday, taking the entire day off!! I am going to tailgate a bit then was invited to go to a Penn State game, I am sooo excited about that!
Alright, I am outta here now ... D'Jaun -- welcome and hello to everyone else ...
My Dad ... CSM Donohue
September 10, 2006; 9:20 p.m.
Staying busy, real busy, doesn't make things go away. Now facing being sick the last few days I have taken some time to myself -- and I do mean a little, but tonight as I watch a 9/11 special I lay in bed thinking about him.
Growing up our relationship was well ... crap. But today he serves this country a different man. I miss him. He wrote us his first real long email the other day and I sat there and cried, wishing he was here. His email already sounds as though he is counting down the days it says "The only thing that I look forward to is the letter, email and the cruise in APR, oh yea off every other week on Sunday, Well for now I will sign off. I have a little more then 11 months to go. Thanks for the support, emails and letter and pictures."
The other night was rough, I was alone, and wishing someone was close by, someone I care about a lot. I refer to him as my best friend. Someday I wont be lonely.
PS, Now I am sick, I have a running or stuffy raw nose and not sleeping well -- but lately that's not been anything new.
Throwing Up ...
September 8, 2006; 9:51 a.m.
Yuck! I woke up at like 1 am this morning nearly choking on my own vomit. I threw up all the way to my bathroom out of the blue. It was scary actually. I don't know what brought it on but I'm taking today off to relax and see how I feel. I have a lot of heartburn so I am trying to determine if it's something or nothing ... I hate that.
Tom could use some lovin -- heck someone to cuddle wiff so I'm not alone on days like today.
Inspired by Two Kids ...
August 17, 2006; 8:54 p.m.
For those visiting our site from all over the world Welcome! Thank you for visiting. As you'll read Who's Positive is all about the personal side of HIV/AIDS, the humanistic side of HIV the stories and faces of those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Make sure to visit our guestbook at www.whospositive.org/guestbook and tell us where you are from!
I had to hurry back to my hotel tonight from dinner to share with everyone how inspired I was by two kids I spoke to tonight. As I was sitting eating my dinner, these two women and two children walked past me. They caught my attention because they were all wearing red ribbon pins. As one of the women and little girl walked by I thanked her for wearing their pin and how nice it was to see the children wearing one as well. As they began to leave I stopped them and gave them a business card as I did that I thanked the kids for wearing their pins the little boy who is ten years old asked me a question that really threw me. He asked me what HIV was. I was honestly taken back. I had never thought about the mentality of a ten year old and how ever I would explain such a complex thing to such a young person. It was funny, I looked at the women to gauge what sort of response they were thinking I was going to give and they suggested if I wanted, it was a question they could answer if I wanted them to, almost giving me permission for a direct response to this 10 year olds important question. I honestly was so inspired that this young man asked this question, but how was I to answer it so that a 10 year old would understand and what sort of questions would this young man begin to ask next.
I honestly was just so inspired by him, I talked to him simply, he was smart, attentive and certainly showed how well is being brought up. He cared. He honestly cared at 10 years old. I was amazed, I mean I probably could have talked to this kid for a while or until he got bored with me. The girl, maybe his sister I don't know was also very caring I didn't share with them that I was HIV positive, after leaving I thought maybe I should to show that someone living with HIV can be healthy but I didn't also want to scare him. So I want to say to these two women if they are reading this. ... Thank you for setting the example for your children and your fellow Canadians and their children, to the kids. ... Thank you for making my night!
So tonight I think brought me the most inspiring part of my entire week, to the boy, the girl and the two women, Thank You! I hope you get to watch the piece tonight on Anderson Cooper -- feel free to contact me!
IAC -- Wed Morning
August 16, 2006; 7:44 a.m.
So I had this interesting conversation with my taxi cab driver this morning ... He said organizations should come together to put a bounty on HIV/AIDS ... A cure = 2 billion dollars ...
This made me think a bit ... sure would out an incentive for individuals to bypass pharma for a cure ... It was an interesting point I thought I would share ... Feel free to offer your thoughts.
Monday, IAC, CNN ...
August 14, 2006; 7:43 p.m.
Well Here it is 8:45 and I am exhausted. Lots of networking today and had a great opportunity to sit in on some great sessions.
I wanted to summarize a few things I learned today ...
Over 12 million young adults between 15 and 24 are living with HIV/AIDS worldwide ... of 5 million infected last year 58% were under 25
These numbers just make me sick. Then I sat in a session where a professor from UPenn in Pennsylvania did a study on 12 year olds around abstinence. It was crazy, I honestly wanted to stand up and just yell that although abstinence is an important message, it can't be the only message. These numbers are just the beginning of the proof. In summary, half of new infections still occur in those under the age of 25, his 24 month old study evaluated 12 years old through the age of 14! Try studying those 16 to 25 and see what kind of results you get from that. Those who are much more sexually active or in a position to be will prove a much different outcome.
Tonight -- I am heading to be early. Thursday morning watch for the piece on American Morning with CNN, it was originally suppose to air during the Anderson Cooper 360 show but got bumped due to the stories about the terrorist and the cease fire over seas.
Until tomorrow. Thanks JPG for your warm comments I really appreciate it!
International AIDS Conference
August 13, 2006; 11:43 a.m.
Well I promised to as much as I can offer a blog of events happening for youth here at the conference. I encourage youth to respond to me with questions and ideas as I am here I will try to get them answered. There is a large amount of resources available here.
This morning I attended a High Level Youth Leadership Forum. Dr. Frenk, Minister of Health of Mexico, The First Lady of Honduras, Excellency Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, Dr. Peter Piot, Executive Director for UNAIDS, Julian Bond, Chairman, NAACP and 14 international youth leaders took part in a forum.
I think in theory it was good, but the leaders took much of the time talking limiting the youth leaders time from asking questions. It was very unfortunate because I think today's political leaders MUST and need to listen to today's youth to help get a head in this fight against HIV/AIDS.
I will be posting pictures from the day on our Photo Gallery later today/tonight when I can get some accesses to better internet. I have some great pictures.
Well I am off to do a little networking, take care and you'll be hearing from me soon.
My Dad Leaves for Iraq
August 10, 2006; 10:01 p.m.
Well ... 12:20 tonight, my dad leaves on a commercial airplane with some 300+ soldiers to begin a little over a year in operation Iraqi Freedom.
Around my neck I wear, a cross which is a duplicate of one my sister wears his dog tags and his father's dog tags. I wear them close to me. Our relationship over the years has been very, very difficult, but the last two years has brought a new man into my life -- one which for a long time was hesitant to call dad. Tonight, not only am I proud of who he has become -- a dad, but I am also proud of the solider -- the 38 years of his life he has dedicated to the US Army. My CSM Dad.
I will miss him, yesterday I bid him sole long, not goodbye but sole long. I'll see him in April, and until then ... Dad, keep your head low and just know Charlene and I love and miss you so much. Until we see each other again, good night and God Speed.
August 4, 2006; 2:19 p.m.
GRRRR ... I took a double dose of Truvada this morning by mistake. I didn't think I had already taken it but then I realized that I did because I had also taken my allergy medication. Wonder how this is going to make me feel tonight. No worries, I called my doctors office they told me to call the pharmacy they said I should be ok.
July 27, 2006; 3:20 a.m.
I must say that there are days that I am really challenged with the way I live my life.
Its about 4:30 am, and I am sitting on the 21st balcony of a hotel listening to the crashing tides hit across the rocks below. It's dark, quiet, and relaxing actually. But it reminds me of someone I really care about and a conversation I had with them just about life in general.
The conversation talked about how our friendship has grown and how the times we've had have just been so enjoyable together. I truly think this person has become my best friend. I sit here and listen to the waves crash. I wonder what the future holds. Who's Positive is thriving -- the tour is just going to affect so many lives across the US and that is so gratifying to me. I can not ask of anything more then to allow my peers to have sometime in their lives to talk about something that really can be prevented from happening to themselves.
I don't really know what I am trying to say, part of me says tonight; I'm lonely. Ready for someone to walk with me side by side hand in hand, but where am I going to find this person? Then part of me says, where are you going and what do you want to do? I think to some degree, we at some points in our life have to all evaluate these questions. As I sit outside and feel the breeze of the summer night -- my mind wonders then my body says go to bed ...
I know I am not alone in this fight -- there are so many others that are fighting HIV/AIDS but each fight is personal. Some choose to fight it, some just let it do its thing, for me its a bit of both. I think I have come to learn that its important to live life; to do the things I want to do with my life -- and do them the way I want to do them, its only me who in the end can say if I enjoyed life or not ... thus far.
It can be fun and exciting to think what today will bring challenge yourself, challenge yourself to be determined to enjoy the day and make of it as you wish. Days and nights can be challenging but only you can guide yourself through to make it a great day. Today ... wake up and see that you make it a great day. That's what I plan to do -- even if it is a bit challenging.
Good night -- my best friend :)
Our New Office -- "Junk"?
July 24, 2006; 12:42 p.m.
Well, it has been a crazy couple of days. But something gave me extra reason to write yesterday and I wanted to share it.
I was walking out of the office yesterday with my sister and her kids when I overheard a young girl probably 15 or 16 look at our sign "Who's Positive" in our window and ask her dad, "What's That"? Her dad replied loud enough "That's Junk" I could not help responding to him by saying, Sir, we are not junk we are a national HIV awareness organization which brings awareness to young adults about HIV and AIDS.
I then began to understand his junk comment quickly. He thought we were junk because there is a sign in the window which simply says, "free condoms inside". He rudely began to express his opinion about abstinence only. I acknowledged his thought agreeing that abstinence is a very important message but it can't be the only message when 1/2 of new HIV infections occur in those under the age of 25. He just kept saying it was junk, I was like whoa ok. I left it be and my sister, her kids and I went off for a great day.
Lets see ... OHHH Today, we officially announced OPERATION Get Tested. It's very exciting. We issued our national press release which went out to press agencies all over the US so hopefully it will provide some awesome awareness of the campaign.
My dad is just about to leave to Iraq, probably two more weeks stateside then off, it's a bit nerve racking but we'll have to manage.
The last few days I've been forming this boil on my thigh, can we say OUTCH! Yeah, it really hurts so I went to the hospital to get put on some antibiotics hopefully it will begin to clear it up. My meds, well its getting better, still feel kinda ehh, and I get diarrhea still now and then but its not too, too bad. I will go for blood work probably next week to see how things are going since I have gone on it.
PA vs. Samuel Cordoba
July 10, 2006; 7:24 a.m.
I am not sure how I feel about a ruling that came down last week where an HIV positive guy is being charged with recklessly endangering another person after his -- what seems to be a hook up partner found out he had oral sex with someone who was HIV positive.
Apparently, the alleged victim, an adult male, had a consensual sexual relationship with the defendant for about two weeks. They had oral sex 5 to 6 times during that time where the HIV+ guy never told his partner he was HIV positive. The partner found medicine bottles for HIV and confronted the defendant. Then he threatened to "expose" the defendant to the people at the bar where they had met each other. The defendant confessed that he had HIV and the alleged victim called the police. The defendant was charged with recklessly endangering another person's life.
Now before I get swamped with mail ... I understand the importance of telling your partners that you are HIV positive. That should be a given. BUT ... are we not responsible for our own bodies, our own health? Don't we have the power to control what happens to us and what risk we put ourselves in? Those being HIV+ know how difficult it is being HIV+, so although I always advocate for telling of ones positive status, I firmly believe that it's important to also protect yourself. The defendant being an adult and all probably knows the risk of any sort of unprotected sex. So where is the fault of his own for not protecting himself?
Do I agree with not telling someone of a positive status? NO. Do I understand why they don't tell? Yes.
What do you think?
My Side Hurts
July 8, 2006; 1:10 p.m.
Since I have started the meds I have been keeping an eye on my body and how I am feeling ... Well I've been having this pain in my left side about two inches under my rib cage. I am not sure if I just pulled something but it hurts to even cough at times. First thing I am thinking is that it's related to the meds but then I pretty sure I don't have a fever so I am probably ok and just pulled a muscle. Other then that and my stomach bothering me a bit it hasn't been too, too bad. This weekend I think its going to be an easy weekend. Soon my roommate Laura (aka Rudy) will be leaving and I will be getting two new roommates so it should be interesting to see how the transition goes.
Eryk -- Hang in there!
June 14, 2006; 9:06 p.m.
Tonight, I am scared. Tonight starts a new chapter. Tonight for the first time I have taken my first dose of HV medications. Sustiva and Combivir. Now I wait. Honestly, I am not sure what to expect. With tonight's meds I also took a sleeping pill. Tomorrow should be interesting.
I take three pills a day. One Sustiva at night along with a Combivir and one of them in the morning.
June 8, 2006; 5:15 p.m.
Well, I will meet with my doctor on Wednesday to discuss which cocktail. He's going to start me with Sustiva with either Truvada or Combivir.
Feel free to give me your input.
Other then that I got a message online from someone last night it was awesome. It said --
Kyle: I'm Kyle a senior theatre major at Milwaukee High school of the arts who is incredibly inspired by your strength and character. I have read so much about you and am completely in awe.
Kyle: I am a major HIV AIDS activist and am currently witting a play about the lives of people who are both infected and Affected with HIV and AIDS I wondered if you would allow me to interview you for my piece.
Kyle: The play is made up of interviews that I have had with people over this past year and I would love to hear what you have to say. My mission in writing this play is to break the stigma connected to being HIV+
Thanks Kyle for making my night. I am glad to help in anyway.
Blood Work About the Same
June 1, 2006; 10:47 p.m.
Well ... cd4 after 10 days is at 520, up a bit from 499. I think the doctor is gonna try me out on meds, I wont know till next week. He is away until Thursday.
So two nights ago, I got home from being away from the weekend to find Laura my roommate had locked my cat in my room and he scratched the floor to shreds. Then she said something to be to get me all aggravated. So when she came home I ripped her apart. My frustration, nerves, feelings all just came to a boiling point and she was my out. Then I went to her the next morning just balling, literally I could not hold back anymore. Thank god, she like my sister is always there for me. After all I said to her, she ran to me and held me as I just got it all out. Needless to say she's not mad at me, she knows I am never like that.
My dad leaves his house tomorrow, not to return for about a year and a half :( blah.
First Real Movement ...
May 22, 2006; 9:36 a.m.
Among everything that is going on, the news gets worse ... but this time its about me. :( As feared over the weekend, today I got my results back for my cd4/viral load. My last test happened in Jan.
Viral load last time 237 this time 674
CD4 last time 736 this time 499
Not completely sure what it means, I set up an appointment with my doctor for next week, but it could mean it's time to go on meds. I just don't know if I am ready for that. Today living with HIV just got harder. Someone said to me "its like someone spanked your ass bleeding, hit in the face that you know your poz by having to take those dam little pills everyday"
Reality comes to light ... I don't think I am going to tell my dad, with him leaving and all, I just don't think its the best time to tell him. I told my best friend, my sister ... I just don't think she knows what to say/do. I'll know more next Tuesday when I talk with the doc. Anyone feel free to offer your thoughts.
Happy Mothers Day Mom
May 14, 2006; 1:31 a.m.
Well Mom, Happy Mothers Day. No matter where you are or what you are doing, I just want you to know I love you and miss you. I am ready for you to come into my life again anytime you are. The invitation is always there.
As far as other things happening ...
It's been an eventful two weeks. Last weekend, my sister and I traveled to almost Ohio for my dad's Hail and Farewell. He is leaving for active duty on June 10th to go to Iraq the end of July or early August. So its been tough. Something that I will never forget, actually two things, my father passed onto me his and his father's dog tags. It was a very special moment for me, his fathers dog tags is something he has been wearing around his neck for a long time and for him to give them to me was a tear jerker moment. Then I gave him a Bible he gave me 15 years ago. I told him he had to return it to me as well in exchange he had to give me the Bible he used in Vietnam. Two hard moments.
Then just yesterday my brother in-law had to have two toes removed due to a staff infection. So Rudie, my roommate and I went to hang out with their kids. We went and bowled played some arcade games and went for ice cream. It was fun. After that Rudie and I went to Philadelphia for Mother's Day. Since my mother wants nothing to do with me I decided to go.
Blood work next week, its a must do.
Happy Mothers Day Mom, Charlene (my sister) and any other mom's out there.
Should This Really Be a Contest?
May 10, 2006; 6:59 p.m.
My roommates friend came to her, probably in a joking manner and asked, who do you think will last longer Tom or Tuller (I have an 8 month old kitten). My roommate knows that I will take humor like this lightly so she told me. But I guess it has really got me thinking. Should I really wonder that? Probably not but I guess it made me ponder it.
I guess after 2.5 years my #'s don't become as important to me. I remember right after I found out I was real faithful to knowing what my CD4 and viral load were. Today I am probably 2 or 3 months behind in knowing. I wonder if its only because I am starting to realize that sooner or later I will need to be on meds. Am I ready for a step like that? No, I honestly don't think so. I keep promising myself I will go do it, but haven't yet ... busy? maybe. It will be interesting what it will be.
A shout out to Kahlo and Amy for starting their Journals :) Make sure you all support them as you learn more about them!
Oops ... Didn't See You There
May 2, 2006; 2:40 p.m.
So I was by my apartment waiting for the bus talking on the phone to my complex about the mess I made this past weekend when I overflowed my third floor bathtub. I ran the tub and lay on my bed while it was filling and I fell asleep so I flooded my bathroom and two apartments below me. As I was talking to them I never noticed that my ex-boyfriend (the guy I was with when I tested positive, and the guy who cheated on me a month after I found out) It was a bit of a shocker for me actually. I was not really sure what to say, I mean I was like ohh, hey I didn't even see you there and we talked a bit. I got on the bus and was surprised when he sat next to me.
See the thing is that I really think I had or was falling in love with him so it was really hard. But it got me thinking because we were catching up a bit.
I guess I have just been going through this lonely streak. I am now 27, wow, 27. I really would love to meet someone. There is just a ton of stuff going on. My dad leaves this weekend for active duty for the Army. He will stay 30 days in the US training then leave for Iraq the first week of June. He asked me to move into his house, that's 70 minutes from where I live now. I don't really know what to do. Then there is my mom, still didn't hear ANYTHING from her. I got a birthday card from her father which was a big shock. I try to call him once a month so getting a card from him was nice.
I don't know, I guess I sat there and thought about how it could have been if I never tested positive. It was hard, real hard. Although he looks much different -- he has long hair and facial hair -- blahh lol, it was still him; the person.
I dunno, well anyway back to work I go, I should be doing my blood work this week, Friday is the plan, I am much late getting it done.
When You're Face to Face With Death
March 20, 2006; 3:57 a.m.
Recently what was to me at one time my second mother found out she was dying of cancer. I called her tonight she told me they gave her 6 months to live. She talked about it like it was a discussion about who was going to wash the dishes. It was clear that she has accepted the news. She said to me, you just have to pray now. She was chipper and content, it was amazing. How could you be sad for her? What strength she has. She was doing what Barb always did, she was cleaning up after dinner and feeding the pets the scraps living her life, planning and figuring out what the feature weeks were going to bring to her. I was at a loss of words, what do you say to her, someone who knows that life continues to push onward until its her time. For that moment her time was not up and it was time for her to move on to the next best thing, to the next task, or joke. She was the same Barb or 'mom' I knew some 12-15 years ago when I was a boy scout hanging out with her son. I salute her, a wonderful person who has helped so many other people through tragedy. May god be with her as she continues to live her life to the fullest everyday. MY thoughts, prayers and love go out to her during this difficult time.
March 12, 2006; 12:44 a.m.
Well ... wow, I have FINALLY met a local guy that's just amazing! Here's what happened, first his name is AJ. I spoke at a local college called Lock Haven. Basically I met him as a result of speaking there. He facebooked me and I sent him a note and that's how things all started. Last week I went over picked him up took him to dinner, gave him a little teddy bear, we met some of his friends and we watched some movies, well sorta, I fell asleep laying on him ... I spent the night cuddled up with him all night. It was amazing! Everyone, anyone who reads my journal, please be happy for me its been a long time since someone has made me this happy, granted its early, but man this could be it ... :) every time I talk to him or about him I get soo giddy and become all smiles its the best thing. I miss him I am in DC until Monday night and he's on spring break so I prob wont get to see him for a bit but its ok we talk a lot during the day. I really, really care about him already!
February 19, 2006; 12:39 a.m.
So I was called today by someone on campus about a student who wants to get tested. The student is real scared. I am so proud of the student who wants to get tested but here in State College rapid testing is not available and the regular testing take 2-3 weeks to get back so there is no simple answer to getting test results. Its tough. I got to talk to the student for a bit and hope to talk more to them tomorrow, its hard they are kinda stuck in a waiting game which is not fair. This is a great example of how the rapid over the counter test would be so helpful.
In other news, there will be a new volunteer helping out, I got to meet with her today, our key staff for the tour is growing and I am really excited about it. This next week will be a real big week, lots of exciting news coming from our fort :)
Well its almost two, Michael and I are chatting online, since he works overnights at a hotel in CO and sleeps during the day and there is a two hour difference its sometimes hard to catch up wiff him but we are working through it. Excitement is growing for my birthday.
Well I am outta here. Take it easy all. Don't forget our live Webcast of our program is Wed, March 6th, save the date!
Reflection From a Year Ago (About)
February 16, 2006; 12:53 a.m.
A year ago, I was dating this guy, so sweet, caring, someone I really could see myself with. I had to go to CT to speak on my birthday and was sad Jeff was not going to be able to be with me. I had just returned from another speaking engagement when to my surprise Jeff was waiting for me at the airport, (he had live about 3 hours from me) he surprised me; he somehow called the airline got my itinerary and purchased the same flight with a seat next to me as a surprise. It was amazing. While in the air he presented me with a ring, it was a commitment ring. It was the first time ever that I had ever thought about going this far in a relationship but really things were going really well, so I accepted. I upgraded our room to a Jacuzzi suite since we would be in CT for my birthday and we had a wonderful weekend. I returned to find an AP picture of me printed all over from an event that I was at the week before. Apparently Jeff's parents (who did not know I was HIV positive) saw the picture in there local paper and called Jeff. He came to me and said his parents found out and that he needed to go home, I wanted to go with him ... it was the last time I saw him. His parents gave him an ultimatum him or me. He chose family. A year later and still single I find it difficult for people to accept me for who I am, to love me for me. I miss him and miss what we had.
PS tonight I find myself really missing my mom. Still no word, nothing. I send her a X-mas card to her last known address and tried to call her at work and I got nothing. It really kills me sometimes. She used to be my best friend growing up.
Been Sick ...
February 7, 2006; 7:51 a.m.
Well, I think my roommate got me sick. I have this horrible head cold. Stuffy nose one minute drippy the other. I have been trying to stay in bed as much as possible (ok not that much) I always feel there is so much work to do. Last week I started taking Ritalin for the ADD. Not totally sure how I feel on it yet, but I want to give it a chance. Also last week I committed myself to going on a diet, nothing harsh but getting myself out running again and thus far its been tough. I cheated a lot for the Super bowl but with me being sick I didn't eat anything yesterday, my appetite is just out the window. My stomach is feeling a bit better, at least I have not been running to the bathroom several times a day, hopefully that hemorrhoid I have will clear up since I am not going as much.
I didn't get much sleep last night because of me being sick and I guess going to Pittsburgh after the Superbowl with some friends didn't help much but it was fun. Alright I was up early, like 7am did some work, took a hot bath and now I think I am going to lie down. I have to speak this afternoon at Penn State so resting b4 I go will be good.
Take care all. Pat you are still in my thoughts.
Bug Chaser ... a Must Read ...
February 3, 2006; 1:20 a.m.
You know I have been traveling around a lot over the course of 2 years and hear stories from people that when I first started surprised me now its rare that I hear something that really, really disturbs me ... I had a convo with someone 21 in a POZ chat room. I just had to share it ...
HIM: I was a chaser
ME: wow. interesting.
ME: mind if I inquire more, thanks for being candid
HIM: I was turned on with the idea of being *ucked (sorry ladies) by someone who was poz and taking a poz load and being breeded. Like many thousands of guys are. I got it and help spread the gift to those who want it
ME: wow. interesting ...
HIM: don't act so surprised
ME: you on meds?
HIM: there's a huge following
ME: not many ppl will admit that tho
HIM: I guess
HIM: Look at the ads all over bareback.com, etc. its full of it. breeding, breeding parties
ME: true ...
HIM: bug chases and givers
ME: do you *uck and not tell ppl you are positive? I am drawing no opinion about you btw just learning, inquiring trying to understand it I guess
HIM: no, I always tell. I'm not like that. though many, many are.
ME: how many ppl do you think you've infected?
In my two years of working in the field, this is the most disturbing thing I have ever heard. I am just speechless. Please share your thoughts ...
February 2, 2006; 11:51 p.m.
For some of you who have been following my journal, a wonderful woman who visits this blog, Pat, lost her father. My heart, thoughts and prayers go out to her and her family. Pat, your dad is in a much better place, it sounds like he was a wonderful man. If there is anything we can do please let us know!
Sorry its been a while since writing, still feeling like crap and been real busy with this tour. I have also been dealing with a Facebook group that was online that was called "I have AIDS and I am not afraid to use Them" next to it had a logo which said "AIDS KILLS FAGS DEAD" We issued a press release calling for Facebook to remove the students and well as more action on behalf of Penn State University, especially since they used University Email to place this hate. So its been busy.
On that same note, I am very excited about a tons of things happening with Who's Positive This month we are in a journal entry of the New England Journal of Medicine (article is in our news section of our website) and Next month we are featured in a big publication of Penn State University. I have also been asked to contribute to the Advocate.com as a contributing writer about this Facebook thing ...
"So here's the scoop. I'd need something from you by Feb. 11. Can be as long as 1,500 words if you'd like, but you're welcome to write to any length less than that that suits you.
The piece should be very much a first-person kind of thing. Start with what happened at Penn State and FaceBook, segue into your perceptions of HIV stigma and homophobia (especially play up the homophobia angle) at colleges even still today, segue into how that affects HIV prevention efforts and use that as a transition to talk about your group and how it's working to break through the stigma and homophobia to reach these at-risk folks. Feel free to include lots of personal observations, your experiences, etc. Essentially, we need to use the info about the FaceBook group as the springboard to examine the larger issues."
So watch for that to come out ... :) Alright everyone, thanks for checking in and hope to chat with you soon.
A Thought ...
January 18, 2006; 3:18 p.m.
So I read a posting on another blog and someone had asked a few questions one inquiring if people blame themselves for being positive and the other if people were afraid to die ...
I wanted to share my thoughts on this, neither is one I think A LOT about but now and then it comes up in thought so here is my response.
The Blame Game ... Heck you can do it but no one wins. As far as me personally, I recognize the fact that I am ultimately responsible for being infected. I should have could have been safe but chose not to be. BUT as I said in a previous post, Never ponder the past, wont do you any good its the past it can't be changed. What you can do it take the lessons you've learned from the past and apply them to your future. Its happened, you cant fix it we just have to learn to live with it and continue to be focused on living the life WE want to live and have fun doing it -- if in the process we can do some good in the world -- its a bonus and someone someday may look at it in a 'positive' manner! Why else are we here? Am I afraid of dying ... No. I'm not. I am afraid of not living my life to the fullest. Not sharing my life with someone special, Not getting married to a man I love [HA HA NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS] ... I am afraid of all the things that are currently in my control that I want to do but fail not doing Dying -- its going to happen, today, tomorrow or 60 years from now, we know that. What we need to do it just live it, enjoy it, get something out of it ... We live to die, in between, raise hell, make friends, have sex, pay taxes, one day our time will be up and all you'll be able to do is ask what have I done with my life and did I enjoy it unfortunately if you have regrets at this point ... its too late? You have the power.
December 28, 2005; 10:12 p.m.
So tonight was refreshing ...
I went to Wal-Mart tonight with my roommate. I was in the stationary dept and for what ever reason I decided to say something to this young Asst Manager -- saying something like I use to be an asst manager and we started chatting a bit, quite innocent, never thinking anything about him, so we had small talk and I kept looking at what was there ... next thing I hear him say is about having the weekend off and hopefully taking Monday off so he could go out Sunday night -- it was almost code -- Sunday night locally is gay night at the local club, it was as if he wanted me to know that ... and then all of a sudden I was like ohhh at Players? *wink wink* he was like yeah, so then my conversation went into ohh I've never seen u out blah blah blah, long story short I gave him my # lol, lets see if he calls. He was totally going to give me his # but neither one of us had paper/pen (yeah go figure we were in stationary dept) and he was like just put my # in your phone but I didn't have my phone on me ... .
I guess it was refreshing for someone to kinda hint that he was gay to me, chat about, exchange #'s and all, and I looked like crap, sweats, t, sandals it was horrible. It kinda made my night :) -- nice to have small things make my night!
December 15, 2005; 10:25 a.m.
I am not sure where I can reply to things like this but I guess until I figure it out I will do it here. (What do you guys/gals think about using my discussion board) You can post things and I can reply ... let me know what you think as for this ... Dear Tom, I have been reading your journal entries for the past few weeks. They have really made me stop and think ... not about myself, but about those around me. I am a great fan of RENT, and for a while I have wanted to bring my friends to go see it with me. Most have gone so far, but there is one who refuses to see it. For the longest time, I couldn't figure out why he wouldn't go. Then last week, someone told me. He is afraid. He is gay and, apparently, has not been faithful to his boyfriend. This came as a shock to me. Because he's been cheating, he is afraid that he might have HIV. Since I found out about this, I can't stop thinking about it. I want to encourage him to get tested, but I know he's afraid of the results. Also, I don't know how I would be able to talk with him about it. Every time we mention RENT, he walks out of the room. I'm very worried about him. What should I do? I thought maybe you might know/understand ...
Master Rentless ...
A few things I think about, I would stop bringing up RENT. Although its a great movie he's not comfortable with it and everyone pressuring him might be a sign to him how you all (his friends) may deal with a possible diagnosis. Secondly, he may be going thought a lot of guilt in addition to being scared. Unless you have talked to him about the entire situation how do you really know he's scared to get tested, I mean has he told that to someone ... that might be the person who may want to initiate a conversation about the two of them getting tested together. He may not want to do it in a large group in case he is positive he may not want you all knowing. If you think he has shared this information with someone specific then approach that person and ask to offer him and your friend to get tested together. Most of all try to stay away from discussions on the darker side of the movie RENT. It may frighten him more. Most of all you need to be supportive.
The one person who we haven't talked about was your friend's boyfriend ... what about him? He too could be put at risk and him not even know it. So there are a few things to think about, Be supportive, don't raise suspicions among the rest of the friends, have his closest friend go to him and say "I'm a little scared to go get tested would you want to come with me to get tested" playing a bit of reverse psychology was work out well and get him to the office.
Hope this helps. Feel free to respond. I'll answer
Family, Others Want Me Part of Theirs While I Struggle Without My Own.
December 13, 2005; 9:34 p.m.
I think I want to share tonight about a mom who posted in my journal. Let me share with you what she said first ... She posted this as a comment on my last post called "Damn"
"dear tom, I read your testimony on my pflag mail.. I am the mother of a 28 year old gay son ... whom I love with my entire heart and soul ... Reading your site has given me quite a shock.. but a needed shock.. he's in a good relationship.. but HIV still scares me ... Tom I am sorry that your father is so miserable. My husband was like that with my son at first.. now they have a better relationship than before Dan came out. And to that I am thankful ... my heart goes out to you that you have to go to procedures alone.. and I wish you were my son.. just know out there somewhere is a grey haired lady that thinks you are wonderful and courageous (I cant spell sorry even though I did graduate from college) ... . if you ever want to write to me for any support I am here.. God Bless you Tom ... stay well pat"
First, Thank You. I don't think the relationship with my Dad bothers me as much as my mom disowning me. My Mom, I think was a big support system growing up. I love her Mom, my grandmother so much and when she died I think I realized how special I was to have such a great Mom. Now dad was never home, he was always away with the Army. I don't approve of my mom cheating but I think in some ways I understand? See I love my mom dearly, very much, but she was cheating on dad for years. It wasn't until my dad walked in on my mom till things came crashing in. This actually happened 2 months before I found out I was positive. -- yeah bad timing.
I was the only member of my family to show up to her wedding to this man. My mom wanted me to talk her down the aisle but I said no. I couldn't do it. I could not give her away to someone I didn't know. On the other hand, I did stand up for my dad when he got remarried to what was my mom's old best friend. Let me tell you why. First we knew Jackie, my sister and I grew up with her. Secondly I don't think that it was even about her, in fact I know. I really wanted to better the relationship with my dad. I agreed then I backed out, I didn't think I was the right person to stand up for him. See my dad abused me when I was young. We never had a relationship, we never threw a football, we did do scouting but I think it was more for him because it got him in the woods -- I don't really ever recall any "dad/son" real moments. I have always wanted a relationship with him but was always afraid of him or it always had to go his way.
Wow, this is getting long ... I guess what I am saying is it hurts that a women who does not even know me wishes I was her son when my own family (minus my sister) doesn't even embrace me. Maybe one day they will read this and understand I may not have as long as they do on this world, and maybe they wont regret that they didn't take more interest in my life. I know should something happen to me, I will regret and feel guilty of not allowing more time for them to wake up and invite me in or back.
So Pat, thank you. Thank you for your support and encouragement. It really means a lot. I just wish it would come from my own mom, but its nice to see other moms are willing to help pick up where others drop off. As far as your son, remember straight or gay you'd have to worry about it, sounds as though he's had plenty of support along the way and I bet he'll do just fine. Either way just love him for who he is and let him live the life he wants to live, everything we be just fine.
Other another note, I started talking to this guy who's about 2 1/2 hrs away I guess ... He seems real adorable, sweet, you know the whole works we've talked about how it would be nice to have each other there now for each other and some other things we'd like to see in our lives and I think its got me down ... well I know it ... I just want someone in my life right now, I don't have a car so I cant go see/meet him and I am just afraid of getting hurt again ... blah ... I think I should go rent a car -- when I get some money -- which I am expecting, and go see him. He has a great relationship with his mom which we talked about tonight and it made me realize how much I just want to be part of a family or begin a family with someone.
Pat, thanks again!
December 10, 2005; 6:20 p.m.
Another post ...
It sucks. I am looking at this guys pics, he's real proud of his family, has pics of him and his mom and all on his facebook, it sucks, really does that my family is do dysfunctional. STILL have not heard anything from my mom.
Is it ok to be jealous over things I don't had and wish I had or not had? :(
Days Like Today I Wish I Was Not Positive
December 10, 2005; 6:06 p.m.
SO I talked to talking to a really nice guy online. He seems real sweet and has a great head on his shoulders. Then I told him about being poz and we talked a bit and the conversation went like this ...
[18:50] cute sweet guy: I'm such a great guy and I devote so much time to them[18:50] cute sweet guy: but all anyone wants to do is hookup [18:50] cute sweet guy: which I do sometimes [18:50] cute sweet guy: but then get uber-paranoid after [18:50] tom: awe [18:51] tom: these are times where I feel like blah, cause I would totally woo you but won't (although I want to) do to me being poz. [18:51] tom: wish I wasn't poz. I could really use a sweet guy to care for :) [18:51] cute sweet guy: aww [18:51] cute sweet guy: yeah no offense but I couldn't ever be with someone pos. [18:52] cute sweet guy: cause there's so much I couldn't do with them :- [18:52] cute sweet guy: and I couldn't handle knowing that in 10 yrs I may lose them
It's sad, I really do love the work I do and the lives I affect, but, its hard to hear things like this. Do I understand his position? Of course. Here is what seems to be a really awesome guy but do I blame him for taking this position? One mistake. It makes me wonder where I'd be if I was not positive and what relationships I'd still be in or be able to start.
Finally Caught Up With Him ...
November 28, 2005; 11:01 p.m.
Wow. I wanted to write about this a few days ago buy honestly I was scared. Shortly after I was diagnosed, I started to talk with this guy Eron, he became -- a lifeguard to me. He had found out a year b4 me that he was HIV positive so we related to each other. We keep in touch now and then and honestly he was my life line for a while. He called and checked up on me, he was just there. I will never forget that and I thank him for it.
Well we haven't talked lately, last I knew he was moving away out of the state he was moving in with a boy and that he was not feeling well ... Well I dropped the ball, I should have kept up with him but we just haven't talked in several months but recently I tried to contact him and haven't been able to reach him, here's the thing I honestly thought something may have happened to him ... For a moment I thought what if something did? I think I would have hated myself if I was not there for him and so I called his office and asked for him. I heart was pumping ... they transferred me to him -- it was SOOOO good to hear his voice, I totally had something to be thankful for. I miss Eron, he's a great kid, so caring and one of these days I will meet the guy that gave me so much strength after I found out ... he continues to give me so much strength. Thanks Eron!
This really gave me an opportunity to think ... What if ... you know its so important to share what you think with people. I think there was so much I would have wanted Eron to know and the most important thing is how much he means to me. You know this is something I don't share or talk a lot about ... Those who know me well know I was in love with someone years ago who I lost in a car accident ... She is now my angel. she will always be my first love, someone who captured my heart, my mind, and continues to capture thoughts of her ... The reason I bring this up is because I life my life knowing that she knew how I felt about her, I shared my feelings for her, she knew ... in fact weeks before she was killed in a car accident I told her in the car, you know if I knew you'd say yes, I'd ask you to marry me, I meant that. Leslie, continue to be my angel, one day hopefully we may fly together and watch over those we love.
November 28, 2005; 12:37 p.m.
First lets talk about some fun good stuff. Thanksgiving -- my sister picked me up and her kids and I went to NYC to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Ohhh RENT. Now I was lucky to arrange a midnight private showing for RENT for some folks at Penn State. It was amazing. The next day my sister came to pick me up and her and my roommate Laura -- the two most important women in my life went to see it together. Wow. It was hard. When Angel was dying I was balling ... I had my sister on my shoulder crying and Laura holding my hand crying ... I think to some degree it brought a realization of what could be. I am sure they were both thinking the same. I love them both so much. Thanks Charlene and Laura for going with me.
Now onto my dad. I really feel this relationship going south. So I went to the doctor to see what's up ... Things have not been the same since I had giardia. So ... b/c I have been running to the bathroom non-stop I got a small hemorrhoid -- that's what the blood was from. But I am still feeling like crap so they are going to do a colonoscopy to see what's going on. -- Dec 7th. So I was talking with my sister and she tells me that Jackie -- my dad's new wife (my mom's old best friend -- yeah it's unique) was going with my sister to the apt. ummm ... hello ... did anyone ever think about me? Maybe I didn't want Jackie to go? Her or my father never discussed it with me, never called nothing, but they both talked about it with my sister. Their theory was that Jackie could go to keep my sister company during the drive up to my place and that Jackie could keep my sister occupied during the procedure. Nothing about me ... it frustrates me that they would make these plans without even asking me. See Jackie has never called me, never really talked to me about anything medically nothing, my dad said last night that I was just being self-centered and that Jackie tried to reach out to me and that it would never happen again. I say, no Jackie never reached out to me never called me never talked to me about it, when they wanted was to get Jackie and my sister together -- closer together. See my sister is closer to my dad then I am so this was all about an opportunity for Jackie to be with my sister, not about being there for me. I think it would have been different if Jackie called and was like hey I heard your going in for this procedure do you mind if I come along ... or something like that ... nothing like that happened, I had to find out she was coming from someone else. I think it would have been different if she had called now and then to say hi, she has never called me -- literally. What's up with that? So my dad was a total ass last night, I tried to talk to him a few nights ago and he blew up on me and walked away, last night was no better, I tried to again offer him a perspective from me and it was all about him and his power -- I am self centered b/c I was concerned about someone tagging along for a medical procedure that has to do with me. See no one will replace my mom. Don't even try. I am open to Jackie being part of the family but come on lets make an effort other then pushing your way onto me. Talk to me, ask to come, show interest. Blah, I am really thinking of now sharing Christmas with them. I am real frustrated they think I am just supposed to accept Jackie into my life like that, They have only been married since Sept ... blah.
I'm open to what people think ... Back to work I go ...
What's Up With My Last Post? lol
November 21, 2005; 10:00 p.m.
Wow, I cant believe I share that in my journal. Wow. Well I have a doctor's apt tomorrow, I think its prob hemorrhoids. I dunno, but my stomach has been sick and just feeling crappy.
I had a program tonight that went pretty well ... there were about 50 or 60 students I guess.
Ohh ohh RENT, I was able to arrange a private screening of RENT which comes out in theatres on Wednesday we got it at Midnight on Tuesday -- well officially Wed but sooner then anyone else in our area so I am real excited.
Thanks to everyone who came to the program tonight -- hope you got something out of it.
Going to the Doctors
November 21, 2005; 9:57 a.m.
Well ... I haven't been feeling well. My stomach has been pretty sick especially Wed, Thurs, and Fri of last week. I was feeling better on Saturday so I decided to get out of the house and go out to watch the away Penn State game. I ran into some ppl who knew me and they insisted me going out with them to the different bars ... I think I went because I knew I was SOO down that I thought it would be good for me, and I think it was, I had a blast ...
Well, last night I was getting ready to hang out with some other friends when I noticed that my butt was wet. I was bleeding. Now, I have not been sexually active so it was odd for this amount of bleeding. This morning I went to the bathroom and a significant amount of blood came out while I was on the toilet. I am not sure if its from the anal wall or internal. But its scary. I feel like shit today. I have a program tonight and I know my doctor is going to want to see me so I did call the office and am waiting for a call back.
As I continue to work with Who's Positive I am committed to sharing my thoughts it acts as a footnote in my history one day. I look over these entries throughout the year. On this note I am going to end this my stomach is gurgling lol
If I don't post anything before Thanksgiving. Have a safe and happy holiday.
C2EA Finishes Its Caravan
November 12, 2005; 11:08 a.m.
Wow, I am finally home from traveling the east coast. It was awesome. I think for me the most powerful thing about the trip is just learning what is available out there that may not be available here in rural PA. I also think that the people I met along the way were just fantastic.
Although I am glad to be home; home still has the same challenges, my roommate now has a girlfriend :) go Laura but I know that its going to be harder to keep my head up and that I am going to have to get out and meet new people. I think everyone knows me here anyway but I am just going to have to do something. Maybe I will go back to shooting pool on a weekly basis. I think there is a pool tournament across the street from where I live that may help get me out a bit.
Monday is the PFLAG dinner they do for the local LGBTA's. They do this every year, I think I want to go but I don't really want to go alone. So we'll see.
My next challenge that I am going to face -- I sorta already have begun is going to be the holidays. Wow, the holidays are such a big thing for me. No one has even mentioned anything about Thanksgiving yet. I think I have heard once from my dad in the past month, still nothing from my mom. My sister and I talk now and then but Thanksgiving and Christmas is just not going to be the same anymore. :( Its going to be hard.
Good news I got my CD4/Viral load back while I was traveling. I got this note from my doctor's nurse -- Judy
Hi Tom; your CD4 is 785, up from 674 -- yea team! and your viral load is 282, down from 299. Let me know if you need anything, Happy Halloween. Judy
Yay! ... well alright I am going to go do some wash and things. Lets give a huge cheer to all those in this fight with me. Until a cure is found ...
On the Road: C2EA
November 1, 2005; 1:05 p.m.
First ... www.c2ea.blogspot.com -- check it out!
Secondly, I am sitting in a can listening to Ray singing he's a believer from the Monkies! God help me. A Special thanks to Jim from SPRINT for helping us out with a cell phone and air card which makes this post possible while on the road literally.
This has been so fantastic, I flew to Boston to begin the caravan with France, Ray and I we drove to Dorchester, then Northampton Mass, then to Albany and now we are on our way with 4 cars to Syracuse NY. Tomorrow we are off to State College where I will have to get off the caravan :( to go fly to DC to speak before the FDA about over the counter HIV tests. Then I will get back with the caravan when they get down there. Then there are four days of action scheduled -- www.c2ea.org
Make sure check out my posts the Campaign To End AIDS Caravan blog at www.c2ea.blogspot.com please leave us posts we are watching it!
Together in the fight until a cure is found ...
Catch Up ...
October 29, 2005; 10:03 p.m.
Wow, a lot has happened -- mostly good let me get you caught up:
First right now we are on the advocate.com website for our intent to speak b4 the FDA advisory committee for the over the counter test. that's exciting.
Secondly, I flew to Boston to be part of the C2EA (www.c2ea.org) go to that if you want to follow our trip. Thanks Niall for letting me stay at your place.
Alright I am going to bed, I'm tired. Will be ending up in Albany
Hey Folks ...
October 15, 2005; 10:21 p.m.
Well ... two years have come and gone. I still ask the question what I should do. I am really torn over leaving rural pa or busting out and moving to CA or somewhere else where I am going to be able to find someone to be with or heck someone that would just be interested in me. Someone who may be proud of the work I do and will stand by me. Here I don't think that is going to happen. I really want someone to fall in love with.
Tonight I had some pictures developed from an old throw away camera. On the roll were pics of my Penn state game against Ohio where I stormed the field and got sprayed with pepper spray -- I was fine they missed my face but got my arm and once we got on the field we were fine. But on the roll were two other pics ... one of Jeff and one of Jeff and I. I was trying not to think about it but I could not help it. I want that kind of relationship again. Someone to hold me to care for and to have someone to care about me. Someone who I can go to and talk about anything or to cry to when I need. I just know he'd be so caring about this thing with my mom. Its really tearing me up. I haven't heard from my dad in a while -- meaning he never calls me I guess he has his new life. My sister and I talk here and there but again she has a life of lots of things happening. Here, its just me. I really don't want to live life alone -- I am really afraid this is going to happen. I'd like to go on a diet, I don't eat a lot, I just eat too much when I do, I also find it a boredom thing. I think I may buy a bike. I know its getting winter but I think I really need to be getting out of the house.
I'm very lonely. Tonight I think I am going to do the dishes and clean my room -- more like do my wash, clean up my office so Monday I can really get going on working with Who's Positive and pushing this C2EA stuff. I want this to be a success.
Take care all and ... good night.
My 2 Year Reflection ...
October 13, 2005; 1:38 p.m.
2 years ago today, I remember a phone call, a visit, and the words "you're HIV positive". Simple to say hard to face. Two years ago I entered into a journey, a fight. A fight to save my life, a fight to save lives around the world. This same fight is being fought everywhere. Two years ago today I look back on a day that changed my life; not only my life but the lives of so many around me. I think about how different it is today then it was two years ago. I was scared then. I'm still scared today.
I think the initial news was hard but over the last two years I've had a lot of time to think about it. All those times when I was by myself when no one was around to see the tears and the fright -- to think, to think about my nieces and nephews, to think what my future may or may not hold for me; to wonder what I should do with the rest of my life. It's hard to sit down at times to think about this. I don't do it much. I push forward. I talk I listen I share. I keep busy. One day it may catch up, one day my doctor will say it's time to go on meds, one day my doctor may say it's no longer HIV. One day I may hear the words "why?" from my mom with me unable to speak.
Today, I try to celebrate another year. It's almost better then a birthday. It's another year of life. Another year I can share, listen, and keep busy; living my life the way I want to live it, living it to the fullest and living it to prevent this from happening to someone else. One moment of passion of intimacy of irresponsibility not only infected me but it affected so many people around me; today and everyday forward I have the opportunity, and opportunity from allowing it to happen to someone else. Till next year when I celebrate 3 years ... Cheers! Tom
Thanks Laura for the sticky bun and for helping celebrate this day. Click here for pics.
More blog postings to come!