Thursday, 24 April 2008

A Silver Lining - Meeting others

I feel a lot better after meeting other HIV women:

A lovely HIV Poz woman came for dinner last night, she lives in another county and not in Cornwall but was down this way so came to meet me - she is only the second woman with HIV I have ever met - I met the other one last Saturday and they are both lovely women .

Surprisingly both that I have met are over 50!! One woman I met is in her early 50s, and the person I met last Saturday is a little bit older than me, but not much!

Meeting both of them, has helped me loads and I hope to meet far more HIV Positive women as I go along in the future.

I now know I have done the right thing in trying to start this network - as both women had HIV awareness issues that they want help with to campaign for, that a network in the South West of England may help with - as we may as a group be heard at least a little?

One big one is travel i.e if you have HIV you are banned from visiting and living in certain countries i.e a biggy for me and another is Australia as we want to visit it in the future but can not because we are all HIV positive and they just will not let you in.

We want to go because all Barry's living relatives, including his brothers live in Aus and they are not getting any younger and Barry wanted to see them again before it is too late.

The other woman I have spoken to have similar reasons i.e relatives/friends that really need to visit in Aus, but due to HIV are banned from going there - if they are on medication and therefore have to say that they have HIV it seems - but if you are not on medication you can just go and not mention it??? - in this day and age to ban someone from visiting their relatives in a country due to HIV I think is truly out of order !! I mean as women over 50 who and how are we going to infect anyone with HIV in Australia? Its daft!!!!!

So we can campaign to change this together and get together on other issues

  • I can not really post anything more specific about either women as they need to choose who they tell about their HIV and one is a lot more 'out' than the other. But for neither can I post anything about their personal situation that may give any clues as to who they are.

However I have to say that both are very brave and strong women, and both have faced far more due to HIV than I have ( at least so far) and also all the other women I have spoken to who have HIV - online and on the phone - have had to face far more than me.

A few women I have spoken to online and in person who are living with HIV have awful stories to tell of losing their loved ones to HIV or related things, discrimination or even real abuse by partners or those they disclosed to, illnesses, hardship and bad living situations or homelessness, financial difficulties etc.

One said to me on the phone 'what more can happen' and while I have felt like this, she certainly had more reason than me to feel that she does no have any luck in life and little of the bad luck/circumstances she has had to endure is she directly ( or even indirectly ) responsible for.

So I feel I am indeed very lucky, that I still have my husband and I still love him and despite HIV we get on, and that he is now home living full time with me , something which I really love and appreciate.

I still have my daughter and she loves me however she may behave towards me I know this. I still have a lovely home and will never be homeless, I will have enough to eat and enough money to get by whatever else happens and my wider family and my friends are all sticking by us and everyone has been great - I am truly very privileged it seems to be an HIV woman with all this!

Without giving away any personal information, the woman who came to dinner the other night is lovely and we all got on with her well as was the lovely woman I met on Saturday - and I am meeting the one I met on Saturday again tomorrow.

As one of them said we would not have met if it was not for HIV and she has met lots of great people through it. There are silver linings ( positives) in everything and this is one of them.

And it helped me to see that both are well and one is working full time in a very pressured job, has older children some of whom are still at home and is the breadwinner and doing really OK!! The other still works part time now and then and does Art

This helps me to see that once I have got over the early side effects of the HIV meds this could be me and there is a good life out there even if you have HIV.

The woman I met at the weekend has been ill in the past , but not through HIV but because where she lived she could not get the modern drugs, so the HIV meds made her very ill. But she is fine now she is on the latest antiretrovirals...........

In fact both women looked healthier, attractive, younger than many over 50s I know here in my Cornish community or me.

Sorry that his is a real value judgment, but it seems true as both looked much younger than their years, Caja said of both that she thought they looked much younger than me!!

..................................Caja thought in their early 40s or less - and one is older than I am !! Neither are overweight - yet I am - and so are most of the women over 50s I know here - and both looked very healthy and fit and both said they felt very healthy. In fact one said that she has never been healthier!!

For a start every single health aspect of yourself is checked out and dealt with when you have HIV. At a level it never would be if you did not. For instance one woman before HIV had psoriasis, as I do too. And she has had this dealt with due to being HIV positive .

And funny enough I have this too and it has been very irritating for years. But since I have had HIV I have been referred to a dermatologist been given treatment and now for the first time in years I do not have psoriasis at all. And all my other niggling health problems are gradually being looked into and being ironed out - without HIV this would not have happened.

One of those I met even felt that the HIV antiretrovirals even helped her to shake of colds and other bugs easier. I can't comment on this as this seems a bit too much to hope for.

However it could be that with a good t cell count due to the meds she is now well and able to shake off viruses better, when before her T cells were right down and she was feeling run down tired, and getting every little bug.

Well if this is so I am looking forward to my HIV meds kicking in fully as for a long time - up to 5 years - I have felt just so very under par, no energy, tired, getting every little bug etc - cant wait to feel like theses two women

i.e have energy again, feel better, be less tired and look younger - god I hope this works like this for me too!!

I so hope that I feel the same as these two lovely woman on the meds as it has really given me a boost to meet them and know how positive they both are and how well physically they are doing and how proactive and positive their attitude to life is.
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