Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Is HIV Beautiful?

I first heard my husband talk about his HIV status in passing to a mutual friend. That's how I found out he was positive.  Long before we dated, long before we were even friends...barely just acquaintances, and he was so open with disclosing his status.  I found out last week that prior to telling my parents about his status, he was quite open about it with everyone he came in contact with...and then when my parents found out, he completely shut down.  He stopped telling people, and started living under a blanket of shame from that point on, to this very day today--going on 12 years now.  Amazing how a small moment in time can be so defining for a person.  Equally amazing, how such a tiny cellular thing can cause such a reaction in people.

I want to see this tiny cellular thing. I want to see HIS HIV with my very own two eyes. I want to see what it is that requires him to take these powerful medications, and causes him to feel ashamed sometimes. I want to see what I'm protecting myself against when we use a condom to have sex. I want to know--what does it look like?  How does it move? Does it have a color? Shape? Is it ugly? Is it beautiful?

Its so microscopic and yet so big between us that I feel this sense of wanting to see it, to understand it.

I've done a lot of research about it.  I've talked about it. Cried about it. Worried about it. Written about it. Lived with it...and now I need to see it for myself.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Nanny Fears

We hired a nanny this week to care for our little one while husband and I work...our schedules no longer allow for one of us to be with her every day at home.

As we were prepping for the nanny to start this week, we cleaned the house and put away some personal items such as mail, bills, etc.  As we were cleaning, it occurred to me that maybe we should hide my husband's HIV meds (they are in an area near the kitchen counter), just in case the nanny sees them, googles them, and freaks out!

His "meds area" looks like a small pharmacy.  He takes the HIV meds, but also arthritis meds, psoriasis meds, headache meds, fish oil capsules, vitamins, and general pain meds. There are many more than what is visible in this photo...

I left it up to my husband to decide whether he's comfortable with his meds out in the open like this....he didn't remove them or hide them.  I'm proud of him, but am still struggling myself...fearing that if she googles the names of these meds, she's going to stop being our nanny.  I know that if she does quit on us for this reason, we're better off without her, but its just the realities of our situation. People treat you differently when they know you're HIV+...its unfortunate, but true. 

It took us months to find this nanny. She's great with our little one, she cooks, cleans, and drives! We are comfortable leaving our daughter with her. We've known her for almost 15 years, but she doesn't know his status.  I guess she will now!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

All-American Truvada Family

My husband and I are thinking about having another baby.  So,  I will need to find a doctor to prescribe me Truvada. But this has got me I want to start PrEP indefinitely regardless of if we're trying to get pregnant?

I don't know. I keep going back and forth between Me on Truvada, and Me Without Truvada.

Me on Truvada: I think I'd feel uneasy about using Truvada alone for HIV prevention purposes. And I'm not sure how my husband would feel about it....probably more uneasy than me. We have both felt very safe and secure using condoms...and we've been very responsible to use condoms since Day One.

Me on Truvada: The thought of not having to use amazing that would be! There have been times we weren't able to have sex because we were out of condoms, or couldn't afford condoms. They aren't cheap you know. (I know we can get them for free but I usually don't feel like asking, and I don't get to pick my favorite models and brands--and there's usually someone holding out a basket watching me pick through the pile...its just not ideal) But thinking of the new level of intimacy...without a condom between us is so tantalizing. We could just be "in the moment," have sex with more spontaneity and romance...I know they say you can make applying a condom part of the foreplay but who are we kidding, applying a condom takes away from the moment.

Me on Truvada: What joy to think about a surprise positive pregnancy test, 9 months of preparing for baby (and hoping for a boy this time), labor and delivery...another little baby. So sweet and such another little miracle.  With both of us on Truvada (my husband currently takes it as part of his regimen), and two babies conceived using Truvada...we'd be the All-American Truvada Family!

Me Without Truvada.  Condom use is much safer for me in terms of medical side effects and additional toxins in my system.

Me Without Truvada: We wouldn't have to get his lab work done monthly...not an easy thing to schedule with a full-time job and toddler, and not an easy thing to pay for either.

For now I think I'll just try to find a doctor that will prescribe it for me and go from there....we don't have to decide right now.  Stay tuned!

Monday, September 1, 2014

What's Most Important

After a few posts of processing things that were making me angry and bitter, I decided today will be a day that I come back to what's most important.  My husband and my little girl, and how having a little family was all made possible by many people who are fighting a fight who do not get enough recognition, pats on the back, gratitude, publicity, or understanding.

I am just amazed by all the people who fought and paved the way for me to take Truvada (PrEP) and get pregnant...Shannon Weber, BAPAC's Dr. Cohan, all the doctors that I'll never meet, who made it their life's work to learn about and treat HIV and more importantly, who keep working to find a cure for HIV. The HIV advocates who bring HIV awareness to the forefront when we all start to forget.  The journalists, like Heather Boerner, who found enough interest in this subject that it inspired her to write a book and many articles about HIV and PrEP (Positively Negative...Read it!)

These people were fighting for ME. They had my face and my name on their mind when they felt discouraged and defeated...they kept pushing and challenging the status quo, that I could hold my baby in my arms.

And then there's my husband.  For 14 years he let me fervently chase down my dreams, went to the many doctor appointments with me, rejoiced with me when a door opened, and mourned with me when that door shut.

It is his voice in my ear, telling me to keep pushing, encouraging me as I labored, and crying so sweetly when our baby was laid on my is his voice that was the loudest and for that I am most grateful.  He really is the love of my life.  He is my heart and soul.  He is everything.