Getting Ready for Year 25 With HIV!

Goodbye summer, hello early fall 2017! I'm not sure where the time goes these days. I've been meaning to blog. I want to check in, and then life hits! I'd have to go back and see where I left off before these long days began. That just feels unnecessary.

My memory hasn't really improved. I work really hard, simply exhaustingly, to keep myself on task and organized, and I use several calendars on my electronic devices, almost daily Facebook postings with pictures when appropriate on my private wall, three-ring binders separated by ongoing activities and multiple black and white notebooks separated for each ongoing need, such as my doctor visits, kids information, goals and projects, etc. I make and keep lists everywhere on my devices, pads of paper, charts on my walls -- really it's hardly excessive, yet oh so necessary, LOL!

My viral load thankfully is remaining undetectable. More thankfully, I am remaining compliant with my drug regimen. To date, I see two primary care doctors -- one for HIV and one general practitioner -- plus 11 HIV-related specialists: psychiatry, neurology, headache/pain management, intestinal disorders, podiatry, rheumatology, cardiac, pulmonology, dental, psychology and physical therapy. Together as a team, they keep my body and mind functioning daily, treating chronic and new symptoms and searching for additional modalities to help me to be the best me possible as I approach my 25th anniversary of infection.

My soul, my heart, my hopes, my dreams are fed by the unconditional love of my husband; children; church community; choir buddies; extended family; online and by-my-side "ride or die" best friends from 15-plus years in Calif., N.J., Va. , Md. and Pa.; and, last but never least, my five furry friends: three dogs and two cats.

This fall 2017, I am surrounded by children and young adults whom I have the ultimate privilege of loving, nurturing, protecting, encouraging, motivating, teaching, mothering and -- yes! -- learning from. Our college freshman, my baby boy, is spreading his wings and flying off, beginning his life full of anticipation and dreams. Our only daughter, a college upperclassman this year, is continuing to soar to new heights personally, academically and professionally as she builds her life congruently with her passions and dreams and undeniable talents. My oldest son, our U.S. Marine, is working his butt off to provide for my first grandson arriving in January as he continues to serve our nation faithfully, readying himself for a likely deployment in areas of harm despite an ever-chaotic American and foreign policy landscape of uncertainty. Our daughter-in-law is successfully completing her higher education goals, carrying a healthy pregnancy, navigating family relationships and building daily bridges of hope and personal enrichment with a tenacity that warms my soul. Our international student daughter is returning to the U.S. to tackle her sophomore year of high school with dreams beginning to flower, roots getting stronger and goals developing as these high school years zoom by. Our foster children continue to bless me in ways I can never fully explain. Their anxieties, tantrums, giggles, new beginnings, transitions, challenges, love, insight and seemingly insurmountable needs fuel me every day and night. Their perseverance wows and humbles me.

All of these kids -- my kids and their school friends and the ones I've watched from afar growing up through my various pursuits and volunteerism in the arts and entertainment industry, in my HIV advocacy and in my husband's and my sisters' families (my nieces and nephews) -- are each my lifeline, each and every one of them.

I spread my mottos daily. Live for today. Learn from the past. Tomorrow will take care of itself. Its God's world; we're just walking through it. Success equals opportunity meeting preparation. Luckily through all my efforts, most days I find an ear to listen or a mind to read my love notes.

I have so many personal physical issues and disabilities that seem daunting. I am emotional, easily moved to tears, worried about the daily atrocities and stripping of civil liberties or threats of such in education, immigration, minority protection, environmental and scientific fields, HIV prevention, health care, the arts and so much more. Yet today, I'm the happiest I've been in years!

I am able to practice gratitude daily and look to a future with hope. In all of it, I see it in my "kids" eyes. HIV is me. I am HIV. HIV has -- not singlehandedly but so substantially -- made me the woman and the mother I am proud to be. I make no apologies for that.

So, come on year 25. My team and I are ready for you!!! I may be freaking exhausted, but I am still here. One day at a time. Doing my thing. Living my life. Ready for the next quarter of the century -- guess we're not done yet!

I hope you all have a dream, a love, a mentor, a child furry or human to visit or care for as best your life allows. This is not a race, it's a marathon. You need your army. They need you!

Thank you for reading and being a light in my life. Until next time,