Panic! Okay, I can handle this! No I can't! Think! I didn't know which one to do first. My father is a very logical man whom I admire immensely. I was brought up to think things out and to look at all angles before making a decision, so I thank my dad for that moment that the calm set in, and I needed to tell my mother. The last thing a parent, much less your mother, ever wants to do, is face the fact that their children might die before they do. "It's just not natural! (Where have I heard that before?)
The door to my mother's office was open as usual, as I rounded the corner on my way to tell her what I am sure she was already expecting by this time. Mom knew when she saw me come in that morning, because she hadn't expected to see me and then there I was. She knew the doctor would not have me come to the office, if everything was all right. When I turned in past the door and saw her. I didn't say a word and I don't know if she remembers this but she stood up and said "It will be all right" and as we hugged we both cried just a little bit. Mom was going to tell dad. I couldn't!
Proving myself to my father has always been important to me. I think he has been tested by me enough already, just being gay was bad enough for him to get his head around, but now I was infected with a fatal virus (as it was thought of at the time). How was I going to fix this situation? I think that doing these pages and my volunteer speeches are my way of trying to give something back. I don't know what else to-do, because HIV/AIDS is now my LIFE! (Vice-versa)
During the following two years after that horrible day. I had numerous onsets of bronchitis. I had sudden gum disease which in due course I would start having to have teeth pulled, but thank GOD for cosmetic surgery. I was still in retail but the end of the first year 1987, I started with another firm and stayed with that company until I got so sick I had to "stop working or die" as the doctor put it, that was 1991.
I decided that I would do what I could to fight this disease and try not to worry about the things that I could not control. I ended my present relationship, and like so many other people who don't like to be alone and are also HIV Positive, I needed to find someone else. I found that person and we spent seven years together before he died. I was always afraid to wake up in the morning because I didn't know how I would feel.
One morning I woke up and started my usual routine, bathroom, Pepsi, cigarette. Well, I first went for a sip out of the soda bottle and as I put it to my lips the bottle fell out of my mouth. I mean literally fell out! I thought boy am I awake or what? Let's try that again. The bottle fell out again! Suddenly I began to get worried. I ran to the bathroom and looked into the mirror and there was the right side of my face frozen in place. I could not move anything! I couldn't blink, smile, or frown. I couldn't move any part of that side of my face. I thought I'd had a stroke or something. It was Saturday and my doctor happens to work in the morning, so I called immediately. After seeing the doctor, I found out that I had Bell's Palsy, which affects your face muscles. I was told it would go away in two - four weeks, but I would have to wear a patch over my right eye, because I couldn't blink or close my eyelid. I thought great, so this is the way it's going to be all these little problems. I can handle this....
Everyone close to me, mom, dad and includong myself found out all we could about this disease, and we still continue to learn, for the next two years. My new partner was also positive and was doing okay. So life would go on. I just didn't know that in 1988, I would be getting on a roller-coaster ride from HELL....