Monday 20 September 2021

From a death sentence to the joy of living and loving

A life changed totally

It is a story I have told many times before about how a check-up in September 2002 brought life-changing news that just a decade before would have been a life-ending situation.

The many people whose lives were cut short by the HIV/AIDS pandemic that appeared to hold sway from the mid-1980s and through the 1990s until medical science found the means to manage the disease with treatment and therapies.

I cannot tell for how long I was HIV+ before I got the diagnosis, but when I did, I was ready for whatever the result might be for until then, I took tests but I expressly required not to be told of the outcome out of fear and caution. The fear of the stigma of HIV where you were shunned and caution where you could not access certain financial services on account of apparent life expectancy.,

No more a life sentence

By the turn of the century, the outlook was better though the thought of pill-popping daily made me reticent about taking on medical services out of folly and an apparent sense of invincibility until 7 years later that there was literally nothing left to fight infection and aggressive cancer; Kaposi’s sarcoma was eating away at my feet.

Testament to the advances of medicine in 2009 was what gave my consultant to confidence to say my condition could be treated and I could have a good outcome if I responded well to the treatment and my physiology could handle the onslaught of chemotherapy at a point where I had already lost 25% of my body weight.

Welcome to the joy of living

The story I have to tell today is one of gratitude and thankfulness, of doctors and nurses with competence, empathy, and care, of friends far and near who have supported me through the hardest times, of acceptance that this has become part of my story, of meaning that there is a greater purpose to which one is called and of love that has blossomed in my life in the person of Brian.

I am blessed beyond measure, 19 years on, I celebrate the joy of living, the faith in extraordinary humanity, the hope for a great future, and the love of one who has given me happiness beyond words. We live to tell better stories, I did not defeat HIV or AIDS, we just found the means to live lives of significance and consequence without the threat of it stealing us away suddenly.

Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead. [Bible Hub: II Corinthians 1:9 (NKJV)] Even in great adversity and infirmity so close to death, I was raised to life again.

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