It's that time of year again. Holiday bustle. End-of-year reflections. World AIDS Day remembrances and calls to action. In my home, my days are busy, busy, and busy. I'm about to be a grandmother and couldn't be more thrilled. New life. New beginnings. Days I truly once thought I'd never live to see.
Yet, here I am. Still on a three-drug regimen, multi-drug resistant yet undetectable = unifectious. Working with specialists in gastroenterology, pain management, rheumatology, neurology, podiatry, cardiology, pulmonary, psychiatry, psychology, headaches, specialty dental, physical therapy, and of course, infectious disease.
I am also in year two of the renowned ANCHOR Study and making great progress in the prevention and treatment of my own significant anal cancer risks. So, my body has its moments of weakness, and I still take a lot of meds. My HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder continues to challenge my executive functioning skills, mobility, and short-term memory, but my life as an advocate for myself and my family has conditioned me to meet every new challenge head-on with tenacity and an independent spirit supported by my faith and my support system.
I've lived long enough now to learn to say "no" and mean it. To learn that it's not always necessary to simply settle for mediocre when I truly deserve the best. To know whom I can always count on, when that support matters the most, and when it's simply best to forge my own way.
Related: Aging, and Thriving, With HIV
Twenty-five years of living with HIV as a wife, mother, friend, advocate, health care professional, sister, aunt, consummate educator, and daughter has earned me my stripes. I wear them proudly. My children, now grown, are my friends. My goals have shifted a bit, but my dreams are far from realized.
I attended the HIV-positive cruise for a second time this year through Cruise Designs, and I had a wonderful experience. I came home sick as a dog, however, infected with the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) virus, and I wound up hospitalized for a few days, but soon my body got itself together again. And yes, my cruising days are not over. Nor should they be. Travel is super important to me. It's a passion of mine akin to what I feel for the entertainment business.
This community of persons with HIV is important to me. Young people still at risk are important to me. All marginalized communities are important to me. I'm not yet done making my mark. So, as I look to the future, it's full and wondrous and big and complicated and intense.
Just as it should be as I begin to approach my early 50s. For all of you, I wish you health and Godspeed. Blessings of peace and fellowship and strength.
It's in our numbers and voices and visibility that we can move this country forward in our homes, our churches, our schools, our colleges, our neighborhoods, and our businesses.
I'll be out there. Listening. Learning. Reading. Writing. Hoping to find you too.
AIDS is not over. HIV is still here. I am HIV -- well at least in my body parts. In my mind I am free; I am at peace.
Until next time,
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Read Lynda's blog, Get Outta My Head, You Crazy Virus!