One morning thirteen years ago on the 13th, he walked into the clinic almost sure that the news he did not want to accept might be the truth, will be the news he will hear.
For years, he took the test but always asked that he never be informed of the result, the burdens of many enforced and reinforced beliefs militating against the workings of a rational mind until a time he could not escape the truth of what it might be.
That first result was yet tentative, like the first urine sample of a doping test is, he had to wait another week for the confirmation of what had been learnt. On the 20th of the month, a day that seems to have gained a coincidence of significances in a lifetime, it was crunch time.
The power of hope
When his pastor asked of what might be going through his mind, he averred that he was ready for what the result might be, life had to go on from knowing the truth about the present.
The nurse holding the paper of the confirmation was distraught and literally crying, it was hard enough that he was there to receive news that they usually advice be received in the company of friends or confidant, he was alone, absorbing the news and comforting the nurse.
As he left the clinic, he was handed a pamphlet that was to identify with those who had that result, the covered the emotions of anger, despair, denial, depression, pity and much else, but it did not include the word that would have mattered the most to anyone with such a diagnosis – Hope!
Without hope, there can never have been another day, yet he put it behind him and continued life as if it mattered little. He returned to university, embarked on new journeys, made new friends, even found love, the love of a sort that was trouble and fun, crazy and really crazy, but love it was.
Years passed and he fell into the delusion of being inviolable and beyond vulnerable, yet coursing in his veins was a sentence of death, one that was coming and that which others began to see. He, however, lived in denial and his health began to deteriorate and rapidly so.
Soon, he sought succour in alternative medicine and the possibility of a miracle, he was seeking a health jackpot to spring him out of the grip of death. He became desperate and grasping, as pain took a hold that was indescribable.
Then like a slap in the face, his reality dawned and he when to see his doctor, she did not give the signs a second look, before a referral, then another referral and by the third within a week, he was in hospital a very sick man given just five weeks to live if the medicine did not take.
From PWA to PLWHIV anew
At that point, he was a Person With AIDS, his immune system so seriously compromised, it was the miracle of medicine that brought him back from the brink, the same manifestation of complications due to HIV that killed Fela Anikulapo-Kuti some 12 years before.
He recovered and recovered well to tell the tale of facing death square in the face and returning to dance in the land of the living.
Many lessons learnt:
- · Always go for check-ups.
- · Take the results of your check-ups seriously if you must go on treatment, do it as soon as it is recommended.
- · Own your condition, your situation and your decisions.
- · Medicine knows a lot more about these things, avail yourself of the science and the knowledge fully.
- · Never stop your medication without medical advice, you are not cured until medicine gives the final verdict – your pastor is NOT your doctor.
- · The medicine contains the virus and allows your immune system to recover so that you are not beaten by opportunistic infections.
- · There is always help for your condition, social, emotional, obviously medical and much else, despite the stigma that associates with being a Person Living With HIV.
- · Seek therapy at any opportunity, it works.
- · Things might be difficult after an HIV diagnosis, but it is not the end of life, see it as the beginning of a new life, knowing your vulnerabilities and gaining new strengths.
- · Your friends are closer than you think they are.
And finally, until you’re dead, you’re still living and if you are still living, you’re here to say once again – Happy World Aids Day!