27 April 2010

Pickles the Wonder Dog

The day started out great for me.
That day.
My birthday.
February 27, 2001.
I was turning 31.

I had to drop by the clinic though.
First thing that morning.
For a quick second.
The nurse had left a message the previous day on my machine, telling me my doctor wanted to see me.
Any excuse to see my good doctor.
Very cute.
Wonderfully calm and centered.
David is his name.

I thought nothing of it, as the week previous, I had been ill, so I went to see him.
We had some tests done.
I had a flu.
A shocking flu.
Felt real bad.

I sat down and smiled.
I love my doctor.
So good to me.
He began to speak.
He said something to me.

I looked up at him with a jolt.

"I'm what?, I said in utter disbelief.

"You've tested positive for the HIV virus". He said to me.

Huh? I though to myself.

"What did you say mate?"

What the fuck?

My entire life changed that very second.
The whole thing.

I just could not believe I had contracted HIV.
I was always so careful.
Apparently, not always.

I was such a tidy boy.
Almost proper. Too proper.
For a gay boy.
How did this happen?

Oh yeah. I remember.

I went out with friends one night in Sydney. We were celebrating a birthday.
To a pool hall. Smoky, hazy. You know the kind.
Played some pool.
Had great laughs.
Drank way too much.
Had an
Ecstasy pill with my mates.
It was a long time ago.

That night I made a HUGE mistake.
I lost control of myself on drugs.
I took this guy home.
I was in heaven.
We fucked.
With no condom.
From this man, I got HIV.

But soon, I got control of my emotions and started to react.
No one was to blame but myself.
I own everything I do.
I phoned the man who gave me HIV and told him.
I knew who it.
He was it.
I had been tested on routine for my Australian permanent residency and citizenship program.
I just knew it was him. I remembered what we had done that night.
He eventually got tested and discovered that indeed he was positive.
And had been for a while most likely.

Since that day, I have had to live my life differently.
I lost the luxury of dreaming for a while.
I was 31 years old when I was told I was positive.
I had a great life at the time.
A great business that I worked very hard to establish.
Wonderful family and friends. Still do.
I had a heart full of passion and love.
And now, it was all at risk.
Evaporating like mist before my very eye's.

But eventually, things begin to settle.

You just learn to pick up the pieces, somehow.
And reassemble them in a new fashion.
A new shape.
It's a new bloody world, that's for sure
You have to recreate your life.
One that's more conducive to the predicament you find yourself in.
Because, having HIV has also been a blessing for me.
A nightmare.
And a blessing.
Double edged sword.

The day I was told, I called my mother in Canada.
I needed to hear her sweet voice.
I needed to hear her breathing on the other end of the line.
I was desperate for a hug from her.
My mother makes everything better.
Her soothing way.
A mothers way.

I really needed her around me.
I arranged for her transport to Australia.
I was fragile.
No one could help me but my mom.

When she arrived.
My world made sense again.
But there was a problem.

I could not tell her.
Too afraid. Embarrassed. Deeply ashamed at the time.
My mother had always warned me to have safe sex.
A million times while I grew up.
I told my mom I was gay when I was eight years old.
I was going to let her down.

She could see that I was unwell.
She knew I had problems.
My eyes were swollen for weeks.
Deep inside, I was stuck.
I was deeply affected by the new 'status
quo' in my life.
Totally alone with my new friend, HIV.
Hey mate, how ya doing?

The next day after arriving, out of the blue, my mom suggested we go buy a puppy from the pound.
"What"? I said in amazement.
I was crazy about the idea.
So we went.
Just like that.
We were going to find a puppy.
A new puppy.

It seemed like my mom knew I needed a HUGE diversion of some sort.
She has told me since, she thought all along, that I was hiding HIV from her.
Mothers are so brilliant.
You can't fool mine.
Smart as Einstein.
I swear.
She knew a puppy would help me.

We arrived and went into the animal shelter.
I had visions of puppies in baskets with felt lining and ribbons.
Walt Disney-
It was nothing of the sort.
A typical shelter. It stunk. It was so sad to see the homeless dogs and cats.

Gods creatures.
In cages.
I remember relating to them at the time.
As I felt caged too.
Caged with my secret.

"Where are the puppies" I asked.
As soon as we got there, I looked down.
There she was.
My new baby.
The prettiest puppy I had ever seen.
Split second love.

I scooped her up in my hands and declared that she was my new daughter.
At the very spot, I named her Pickles.
A fox terrier crossed with a
DIVINE. Teared up on the spot.
My new baby.
Pickles the great.
She just looked like a Pickles.
I took her home. Beautiful little angel dog.

And it worked.
For a few months, I was able to put aside 'the news', and focus on my puppy.
She needed me.
I had to love her. Teach her.
SPOIL her.
My puppy saved my life. She canceled out the fear.
She filled my heart when I needed it to be filled.
I love you my precious

HIV is NOT a death sentence anymore.
Having HIV is NOT something you should be ashamed of. EVER.
Nor should you be ashamed of HOW YOU GOT IT.

Needles, anally, orally, straight sex, gay sex, in a hospital.
Your body does not care where you got HIV from.
You've just got it, and you have to deal.
Millions of people live with HIV around the world.

I am no different then a baby in Africa with HIV.
The baby's mother.
Her husband, who also has it.
Anyone on the planet who has HIV.
I am just like them.
Just living the best way I can.
With dignity and honor.
With my disease.
I am lucky to have the medications I need to live well.

I know and understand the problems associated with HIV and the Philippines.
It's the same for other countries in a similar position.
I have done so much research on the topic.
Fascinating indeed.

It is cheaper not to educate people.
Free actually.
It's also easy not to educate people.
You just don't do it.
That's why there is so much intolerance and ignorance.
People have used HIV on this blog like a weapon.
Against me and others.
Please stop.
It's not only because I have it.
But others have it too.
People in your country too afraid to tell others.

This is an international blog now.
We have moved beyond both our countries borders.

We are a global community who should work together to stamp out ignorance.
All ignorance.
We are all the same.
If you became sick or diseased,
You would not want to be judged. Trust me. It's the last thing one needs.

Just loved.
And nourished.
Nurtured into health again.
Not badgered because you fucked one night without a rubber.
That sucks.

And how many people in the Philippines do you think have HIV that have never been tested?
How many people can afford an HIV test?
And even if they can, do they?
How many people with HIV are going to have a life's worth of unprotected sex because they can't afford to be tested.
Before you toss HIV grenades at others, makes sure you go get tested first.
Because unless you have been tested.
You just don't know.

When a very young girl/couple gets pregnant, and it comes as a surprise,
what's the difference?
We all make mistakes.
You don't toss out the baby, do you?

And we have to live with them. Our mistakes.
Own them. Embrace them.
Understand them.
These mistakes that we make.
Please don't punish the very people who need acceptance and understanding the most.

God created HIV.
To test us.
To test the people he gave it too.
And to test the infrastructure around those chosen.
To test our communities.
Our growth as a humanity.
His humanity.
Let us not disappoint him.
Because he is watching.

Stereotypes are just that. Don't fuel them please.
It's very nineties.

People need a sense of community in their lives.
Don't be prejudice against people with HIV.
The 'edge dwellers' are the very people we have to bring back into the wider sense of feeling and compassion.
Love and acceptance.

Many people who have HIV have contacted me.
Bless you all
I have been moved to tears.
Woman as well, with HIV have contacted me.
Please do not think that only 'faggots' get it.
Because that is truly ignorant.

I worked very hard throughout my life.
Not only for money.
But for a sense of pride and honor.

Do we shun people with a herpes on the face?
On the lip?
But this disease is much worse for many people than HIV.
Destroys lives.
It can kill you too.
And it does.
As can many, many more afflictions that humanity deals with everyday.
So as a nation, let's make an effort to look beyond the stereotypes.

My ex boyfriend DJ set me back many years.
Not only did DJ take my money from me,
But he took away the only real sense of security I had.
My savings.
He targeted me. I know it.
I was his money ticket.
He took everything.
And now I am at square one.

I can't fly to Canada to see my mom anymore.
I no longer have enough money for organic veggies, as they are too expensive for me now.
I can't afford petrol like I used to.
Which means I don't go out much.
My life has changed so dramatically.
I have had to cut out so many things since DJ
devastated my savings.
I want an electric blanket because it's so cold here at night.
But my
internet bill takes priority.
Without it, this blog stops. Along with my dream.
Getting back my savings.
70,000 dollars.

Go on line. Find out for yourself if you need more facts about HIV.
I do all the time.
And I have HIV.
I am always learning more.
So should you.
Please don't promote hideous stereotypes that further injure the hearts, minds and souls of those people who are actually 'dealing' with it.

You are no better than the person beside you who has HIV.
We are all the same until we die.
We live our lives the best we can.
With dignity.
With honor.

And in my case,

with a little dog names Pickles.
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