Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mistress HIV and I

Viramune, Combivir, viral load, T-cell count, antiviral therapy, protease inhibitors, undetectable....just a few of the words spoken on an early date with my husband.

Doctor, post-exposure prophylaxis, family, pregnant, friends, wedding, future...these words spoken a few months later.

Work, CD4 percentage, lunch, Walgreens, pets, side effects, bills...all words spoken on any given day now.

You'd think my husband and I would talk about his HIV in an in-depth and serious manner, but truth be told, we rarely speak of it. "HIV" is a curse word in our home. If it is uttered, it is accompanied by an inconspicuous full-body cringe. And yet, its always a veiled ghost dancing in our midst.

My husband and I have our individual relationship with his HIV, but its not a threesome. I once heard my husband refer to his HIV as "the HIV monster." I imagine his relationship with HIV is hostile and forced and earnest at the same time. My relationship with HIV has evolved over time...

In the beginning, the HIV was frightening, stifling, and unrelenting. I read everything I could get my hands on about it, but I seemed to always come up with books or articles on "care taking", "health advocating", and "supporting." It was suffocating. The only breath of air came when talking to my husband's doctor. She was my calm and matter of fact about it. She could actually smile and say "HIV" in the same sentence! Could there be a different perspective????

Later, his HIV became the Harley-Riding Bad Boy I obsessed over. I was understanding the disease, the treatments, medical terms, and flurry of information. I could handle disclosure to close friends and family, I could plan a future with him. At last, the highly anticipated exhale. I was breathing on my own, without the doctor. We got married and life with Mistress HIV began.

For the next five or so years, the HIV was a concealed third party in our relationship. I became angry and indifferent. I stopped searching for information, and stopped disclosing to people. I knew she (HIV) was there, just didn't want to deal with her. I became frustrated with my husband for being apathetic. Didn't he know I was dealing with her too?

She became my enemy. She knew the intimate thoughts and fears he wouldn't share with me. She affected his body in ways that I couldn't. She could "out" him if he didn't attend to her. She was IN him and ON him...all the time, everywhere...constant, adamant, incessant.

She keeps him a minuscule latex condom distance away from me.

Slowly, this relationship is changing. Her and I have a new found respect for each other. She's not going anywhere, and I'm not either. We're trying to figure out how this is going to work (a difficult task when you don't talk about it). I use this blog as a way to "out" her, and I'm back to researching and learning. It will be a toilsome and tangled relationship, but as Mistress HIV and I navigate this obligation, there is one thing I am assured of.

She has his body, but I have his heart...and that's one thing she'll never get her hands on.


Anonymous said...

That was beautiful and so well put. I'm negative and my boyfriend positive. I've been struggling with thinking about our future as we also are considering marriage. It's so good to hear a voice like yours.

Anonymous said...

This post truly describes my marriage. I was married in 1986, two years into the marriage and after the birth of my child my husband learned he was positive by trying to donate blood. Thanks to God,I was negative, with such a young child I didn't have the heart to leave. HIV then was thought to be a death sentence.
My child now a healthy 20 year old. My husband just started taking his med this year.I have remained negative these past 22 years,so take heart in knowing your marriage can work. My husband too don't talk much about the disease,so it's very agonzing when there's no one to talk to. We chose not to tell family. Also, even after 22 years there are times we both are nervous I may become positive,even though we use condoms each time and always have.
I think that's normal and takes time and pray to work thru.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this Blog. The man I have loved for 20 years is now back in my life and is HIV positive. We are talking marriage and having a child. It's funny because I'm not afraid at all and GOD has blessed us with a second chance and I'm thankful for that chance. So thank you.

Anonymous said...

I thank you for starting this blog. My fiancé and I just found out he is positive and I am negative. Well I still have to keep being tested for the next 90 days. But we have been together for going on two years. I am trusting God will continue to bless me with a negative status. It is only week three of us knowing and I feel like a skyscraper feel on top of all my dreams. I can't even sleep at night...I am so stressed. The close family and friends I have shared this news with want me to run and leave him. Especially my mom who I am very close with. I regret telling anyone. People are so ignorant when it comes to HIV. But I can't blame them i am scared... I really want to get married and have a baby. I mean we were actually planning for our wedding and baby. I am going through so many mixed emotions right now...your blog is helping to keep me sane. I actually think I might start a blog it might be therapeutic considering all the crazy emotions I am feeling. Thank you!!!!