An HIV Nonprogressor Starts Meds; or HIV Sucks
This entry has been cross-posted from Brandon's Blogspot blog, My Feet Only Walk Forward, which is home to Brandon's general musings on life, the world and other matters.
Let's start this way: I have an amazing job with amazing people, especially my co-director Amber Hollibaugh and my Shelter Program Director Jay Toole. I've known them both for years and years before working with them and I love them both dearly.
Though I live with HIV, I am healthy. I am fed. My bills (except my student loans) are paid. I have an awesome roommate and a beautiful dog. My family loves the Hell out of me, and I have seven siblings that hold up their big brother always. I have friends/family/complicated definition folks in my life such as JT Mikulka, Bebe Zahara Benet, RJ Thompson, Roojie, Kamal Fizazi, Sam Matin, Di Sands, Jennifer Molina Balbuena de Hannon, Jason Ruiz, Coya Hope Artichoker, Anh Thu Pham, Betty Tisel and Sarah Farley, Susan Raffo and Rocki Simoes, Rigo and Nubia, my beautiful nieces and nephews, my godson Santiago aka Baby Rufus, Troll Baby and Rebs, Gracie, crazy ass and brilliant Ebony, my brother from another mother and father Carlitos Blanquitos, and so so so many others. I am so blessed and full up on love, and I KNOW that so many folks walking around this earth experience or believe that they have a love deficit. I don't. I NEVER have had. I have ALWAYS in every moment, in my deepest poverty, during the greatest violence, and in my fiercest hurt, and during my most self induced crazy, been held by so many with such compassion that if any one of them walked down to Hudson River park and commanded the River to split open, I wouldn't have been the least surprised. It would be nice though, if they do, if I could at least grab my good chancletas first.
We might be going to Jersey, but we don't have to LOOK like we live in Jersey.
My life changed this week. Only slightly. Only nominally. But it changed. After 10 years of being so very blessed. After 10 years of having my body, and all I've put it through, kick HIV's ass (I am one of those super rare and magical creatures called a nonprogressor ... not a super nonprogressor ... but a nonprogressor ... there is an important distinction that I am about to talk about), my amazing doctor, Steve Dillon at Gotham Medical, recommended that I start HAART treatment.
Nonprogressors go years, in my case a decade, without needing HIV meds. Supernonprogressors never need them. My body just got a little tired. It fought so hard for so so so long. From 25 to 35 it fought a war that it will win but now it needs just a little help. Just a bit.
Lets be real. For 10 years my body kept my HIV viral loads at or near undetectable ON ITS OWN. My T cells, are at "normie" levels. Near a thousand (and usually over....most normies aren't even that high).
And, to quote my girl, Lezbehonest ... the news that I have to start HAART treatment kicked my motherfuckingass.
I ain't dying. So far from it. I ain't sick. So far from it. I get to start a new state of the art med (Complera) particularly designed for folks like me that have a natural resistance to HIV. The side effects are almost non existent besides some initial fatigue and headaches. I AM SO FUCKING BLESSED.
And today, I broke the fuck down.
My walk with HIV is MY walk. And if I stop to compare it to other folks' journeys, I have nothing to complain about. But my feelings are real. My experience is real. My sadness and hurt is REAL. It's not cute. It's not easy. It's not a tragedy. It's not a crisis. But it is hard. It does hurt. And this transition and its incumbent feelings are all valid.
Thank you everyone who picked up the phone or sent a text today. I needed it. I needed you. I still need you. Thank you. I love you. And anyone else that walks this walk ... know that it's gonna be all right but it's gonna hurt when you take those first few steps ... whether it's a week after your diagnosis or after a decade.
Imma love and live well. So will you.