Morning Musings – Fret not, all is well.

As most of you guys know, I was considered disabled. I won my case a few years back and the check and Medicare were a godsend. I used all of the resources that were offered to me to recover.

I battled my immune system, my body always in pain. I battled my mind, always in the worst places, believing I was worthless. I battled my vision loss and how that made me feel so trapped in a world inside my own head. I dealt with the stigma and the shame.

When the government said they were reviewing my disability I freaked out. If my benefits stopped how was I to pay my bills, or see doctors I needed? Would I end up on the street, homeless again? How would I keep my standard of living that I fought so hard for.

It wasn’t easy to get disability. Many find it impossible, but I had a lot of help. I called a great lawyer and I have a decent case manager who assisted me in compiling the information they needed. I gave up on being able, and I succumbed to the fact I would never be the same again.

HIV, blindness, and bipolar took so much from me. I lost friends, my freedom, my independence. All these damn disorders owe me a debt that almost cant be repaid.

And then on my birthday, I get this big envelope with 15 pages of questions reviewing my disability. I saw my doctors, as I was recommended. They all said “don’t worry, you’ll stay disabled. You will never be better.”

In January, I received the last letter I would receive from Social Security. It said after review, my condition had improved and I was now not disabled. I had three more months of benefits and then no more. I was, to say it bluntly, blown out of my soul.

I have since had to move into a place I am not taken seriously. I live with people who are so much worse off than I am that I have to hide in my dark places so that I don’t feel their misery.

Never ending applications for employment then ensued. I count as of this post over 20 different places I have applied to, and I have had only one response. That is good. I only need one fish to feed me. I don’t eat that much.

Of all places it is McDonalds that seems to be taking me seriously. I have an interview on Monday and I hope that they will see I am totally able now to do anything they need. Hell, I’ll take a cut in the base pay and clean their toilets with a toothbrush if it means a steady paycheck. I am ex-military so I can do anything.

So I put on my smile, that great big beautiful smile, and I press my trousers crisp. I want to look like the sharpest man on the planet. I need this job. I need it to feel worthy, and to feel like I am a productive member of society again.

I do some volunteer work, and I am constantly on here helping people so I always have something joyful to do, but that don’t pay the bills. Money pays the bills, and I need to make some.

I aspire to be recertified as a CNA, and I am working on specializing as much as I can to care for the newly diagnosed HIV patients. I have been there, and I know it takes a lot to stay in care, and to recover. The protocols for success are rigid, but totally worth it.

My viral load has been undetectable for years now, and so I know that I am in no danger of transmitting this virus to anyone else. But to get there took time and patience. It took hard work and love. To be able to type this to you took years of doing things that my doctors laughed at me for.

For instance, video games helped me to strengthen my good eye. Walking up dangerous highways and taking the bus everywhere challenged my fear of the world. I got into some good mental health treatment so my bipolar is managed. My doctor says I am a miracle. I say I am a trooper and a man of steel. I can do anything I put my heart into.

So this morning’s message is, don’t give up. When they say you can’t, and you know you can, then do it. When you feel lonely, there are thousands of lonely people out there, so find one. When you are in need, there are even more then you, who need. Give to them.

Let life pass through the molecular machine that God made you. If you don’t believe in a God, that’s good because nothing I just said above is religious or spiritual. It is the law of life and of living. It’s the sacred law of attraction. Give to the world what you want in return. Prove me wrong!

“Fret not, for it only causes harm.” Put your trust in your higher power and let the work begin. It’s up to you to make your life, so make it joyful. I promise you will reap great rewards.

And in the meantime, I am your friend. I will be here through the ups and the downs. I know you are a beautiful creative force. I’ll believe in you when you can’t believe in yourself.

That’s my job.
Unconditionally loving you,
Your Friend David

Joy Thief – A message from Your Friend David

Hello my lovelies,

Tonight I am not blogging about HIV or dementia. I want to talk about your personal mental health.

I have been around some of the most miserable people. I am kind of worried that I might not find paying work, but I have filled my days with things to do that will improve my chances of landing a great job.

I have appointments and obligations that have been agreed to for months now, and I have the added appointments to see all of my doctors before my insurance runs out and I get switched back to ADAP. I literally have only hours to sleep before I have to get my day started and moving.

And I like it that way. I love filling my world with exciting new adventures, whether I get paid or not. So when I agreed to lighten my mother’s load at work and help her client I jumped at it. It shows I have the ability to be a CNA and could give me a good reference.

But I work for my mother. Never make business deals with family. They always think that you will give them special treatment, or some cut rate discount. We all have to make money, and we all have to keep our promises. I promised to care for her client, she agreed to a payment structure.

Not only does she not keep track of when I am working, but once she paid me it wasn’t what we agreed on. I just let it go, but deep inside I know what my next move is.

I can’t work for any boss who cares so little about their employees as to not keep track of their hours so that they are paid at the rate that was agreed upon. I have never asked anyone to do something for me and agree on a payment plan that I won’t follow through with.

Misery loves company, and I wont be a friend to it. I meditate daily to keep my mind sharp and to clear the frustration of having to watch this. I will be fine. The idea was that all this was temporary anyway.

I want all of you to self care as much as possible. Maybe you are stuck around a negative person and that is now infecting your mood. Meditate and center your being. Take care of your mental health because you are no good to anyone else if you aren’t good to yourself.

Sorry to vent but this is a big blow to me to not be a home health aide right now. I will, if there is some emergency, be more that eager to help, but that will now be between the clients family and me. My mother is using me, but I won’t be used for much longer.

So it’s off to a burger joint, or a greasy spoon to make a little cash on the side to stay comfortable while I wait for the application for CNA testing to run its course. Everybody is hiring in places like McDonalds, and restaurants. It’s coming on spring break too so a lot of places will need temporary help. I am able, and I have the drive.

Never let a miserable soul steal your joy. Instead understand that while you over flow, the thirsty will be jealous. They want what you have. They can’t take it from you so stop giving it away.

 

With Unconditional Joy,

Your Friend David

National Women and Girls HIV Awareness Day – Your Friend David

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day is a nationwide event to promote HIV awareness, prevention, testing, and treatment to lessen the burden of HIV in women and girls.

 

HIV owes a huge debt to us. Especially women who live with HIV.

 

Your sexuality has been hijacked. You already are limited access to birth control, and to legal abortion. You have been used as a sexual being, but never allowed to choose it for yourself. Men of power in the entire world are being ousted as predators, and rapists. We see it everywhere, but HIV was the most insidious.

HIV didn’t steal anything that wasn’t already stolen. It stole your ability to feel. Every single time you felt something from a person, all of a sudden the fear that you could somehow put them in danger, or you could be in danger yourself crept in. It kept you from loving. It kept you from feeling.

On National Women’s and Girls HIV Awareness Day, I call you to take your sexuality back. It is now time to understand that if you take control you can be a force for change. You can prevent HIV.

Get tested, and know your status. This is key. Once you know you can get into care, and once you are in care and it is effective you are at no risk of transmission. You can prevent the spread just by knowing your status.

Stay in care. By following your doctor’s orders and maintaining an undetectable viral load, you are preventing the spread of HIV and protecting your loved one. Staying in care ensures you have the right to a full sexual life, and you are in control.

Spread the word. Take your sisters to get tested. Help them to stay in care. Be there for their ups and their downs. HIV is still a scary thing, so getting involved in support groups, or online groups will help you to connect to others. You are not alone, and you are your sister’s keeper.

We are the Undetectable Generation! We will defeat HIV, one sister at a time.
To all my Ladies! Take back your Sex. Take back your Love.

 
With Unconditional Love,
Your Friend David

A pretty bad tumble – The Seven Stages of Dementia

She hurried me out that day. She had things she wanted to do, an outing with her sorority sisters and dinner out. They would be there a little later.

All day seemed off though. After a serious call from her daughter she just seemed off. She had a time with her medicines and then she wanted to sit in her chair a while before a shower. She never sits in the chair before her shower.

I remind her of her outing, and that cheers her up. She becomes excited and lucid again. She slips off to the shower, and I run around like a mad man straightening the house out. Paper everywhere, little notes, and store flyers to sort and make sense of. I am so happy she’s back if only for now.

I set her pill box up like normal, and she emerges from her room, clean and fresh. She begins to carry on about her sisters and how she loves to be social and wants to never lose that. I promise to help her keep it with everything I know. Shoes now on, she wants to watch her show before she needs to go.

My time is done, and its hurry hurry out. She wants to get herself together for her girls. I am joyful feeling that this is the thing that brings her back to us. Independence through society.

Later that night I get a call. She has taken a pretty bad tumble. I need to be with her overnight and through the next day. I pack a bag, and I pull myself together.

I’m scared. I bet so is she. It’s going to be a long night.

My poor Mary.

 

The Seven Stages of Dementia:

From: https://www.dementia.org/stages-of-dementia

“By identifying the earliest stages of dementia as they occur, you may be able to seek medical treatment quickly and delay the onset of later stages. Though most cases of dementia are progressive, some may be reversible, and sometimes dementia-like conditions may be caused by treatable underlying deficiencies or illnesses. The more aware you are of these stages, the quicker you will be able to react and seek help, either for yourself or for a loved one.”

 

There are seven distinct stages of dementia. They are progressive and do not happen all at once. Most cases of dementia are treatable, but are not curable. If we can identify the people who are in the earliest stages of dementia, we have a better chance of slowing the progression, and extending life spans.

The Seven Stages of Dementia are:

Stage 1: No Cognitive Decline

Also known as “Normal Functioning Stage” Patient shows no cognitive impairment at this stage. Stages 1-3 are often known as “Pre-Dementia”.

 

Stage 2: Age Associated Memory Impairment

This stage is where there are occasional lapses of memory. These lapses could be mistaken as normal age related cognitive decline. Most often patients forget where they left their keys, or forgetting names that were once very familiar. Very mild cognitive decline, resembling normal age related decline.

 

Stage 3: Mild Cognitive Impairment

Clear cognitive problems begin to manifest in stage 3. A few signs of stage 3 dementia include:  Getting lost easily, noticeably poor performance at work, forgetting the names of family members and close friends, Difficulty retaining information read in a book or passage, Losing or misplacing important objects, and Difficulty concentrating.

Anxiety and frustration are common at this stage. Patients should seek a medical consultation at this stage.

 

Stage 4: Mild Dementia

At this stage the patent will start to become withdrawn and show changes in personality and mood. The patient may be in denial, as this is very common in stage 4.

Behaviors like decreased knowledge of current and/or recent events, difficulty remembering things about one’s personal history, decreased ability to handle finances, arrange travel plans, etc., disorientation, difficulty recognizing faces and people are common.

In stage 4 patients have no problem remembering familiar faces and familiar places. The patent may begin to withdraw from situations that take them into unfamiliar experiences.

 

Stage 5: Moderate Dementia

At this stage the patent may need help with activities of daily living. The main sign for stage 5 dementia is the inability to remember major details such as the name of a close family member or a home address. Patients may become disoriented to time and place, and forget basic information about themselves like their telephone number.

At this stage patents usually do not need help with elimination or eating and may still remember their own names and close relatives, though the cognitive decline is severe.

 

Stage 6: Moderately Severe Dementia

At this stage patients begin to forget close relatives, caregivers and familiar faces. Commonly, they can be unaware of their surroundings, cannot recall recent events, and can have skewed memories of their personal past.

Caregivers and loved ones should watch for: Delusional behavior, obsessive behavior and symptoms, anxiety, aggression, and agitation, and loss of willpower. Patients will wander and have problems sleeping. Patients will now need full time care.

 

Stage 7: Severe Dementia

At this stage the brain seems to lose connection to the body. The patient will lose the ability to speak or verbally communicate. The patient will need help walking, eating and elimination. The patient needs full time qualified nursing care. This stage is commonly the most painful of the stages as the patient slowly withdraws completely.

 

She will be ok. And so will I.

Is it time to talk about a night shift? Maybe some assistive devices? I think once she visits her primary care physician we will find out.

Until then, Mary, you got arm candy girl!

U=U My story about HIV treatment

I was diagnosed HIV positive in 2012, well after the scare of HIV being a life sentence. I acquired it from a partner that I trusted and loved. I have a few lifelong issues that put me at a higher risk of being infected. I believe I had HIV from 2004 onward. I was completely sick, all over my body and scared for my future.

I walked back into my apartment, after the long trip out of town to get the test, terrified of the future. I had a new life partner at that time, one who I infected because I did not know my status. I felt like I put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. I was a criminal in my own mind and I felt that cold hand of death on my shoulder. I knew I was going to die, I just knew it. And I knew he would too.

So, we soon got into treatment and soon we recovered. We learned about “viral loads” and “CD4 counts”. We were educated that if the medicine were to work, that the virus could be killed from our systems and our immune systems would begin to recover. We were never told exactly what that meant, other than the medicine was working.

Years went by, I recovered well, and so did he. We became undetectable in about 6 months. It was a miracle to me, I survived! That cold dark death was off my soul. I could try to be normal as I could.

I was told all my life that once you were HIV positive you would never have the same kind of sex life, you could never be a healthcare worker; you were never going to be truly well again.

It’s like being told all your life that bunny rabbits were evil, and would kill you on sight. That they were the worst things on the planet and you should never be in contact with them. You could die, and your family could die. When that is what you hear all the time, you begin to believe it. No one said otherwise and so I completely believed the stigma.
So we tracked our progress, and celebrated the success, but I never felt like I could be with him again. I could reinfect him. I could cause a super infection and just the thought of human contact became a trigger for panic attacks and depression.

I am an internet savvy guy. I researched how to help the ARV I was taking work better. I learned about diet and exercise, I learned about meditation and behavior modification. I assisted in my recovery in every way. It paid off, I’m healthy now, but somehow I was still scared. My lover became distressed and the relationship fell apart. I couldn’t even hold him anymore. I was truly terrified.

So when one day I begin to hear on the interwebs that being undetectable was not just the goal of treatment. Undetectable could mean that I might not pass it on to another person ever again. As long as my treatment was successful, I was now safe. I didn’t believe it.

Rabbits are the enemy and they will kill you, but they are cute and they may not all be evil. Some may even be friendly and might just love you back…. Blew my mind.

The noise became a cacophony of science. Countries started to disseminate information that I thought was quackery. Could I be safe now that I was undetectable? Was it time that I embraced this notion and move on? Was this the good news I needed my friends and my family to know, that they were never in any danger, and now even less danger?

Effective ARV treatment means bringing down the viral load in your system. This I knew and trusted. More and more countries were adopting this Undetectable = Untransmittable message. But the US had not just yet got there. I chose to believe in the science from my own country, a world power, the forefront of medicine.

And then one day, years later in 2017 I was scrolling through my Facebook groups and blogging and researching and I saw the most amazing thing.

The CDC posted new information. They now knew the Undetectable meant I could not transmit this virus anymore. As long as I kept up the protocols, I would never have to deal with that fear again. I printed the information and took it to my doctor. I needed him to tell me this was true.

He initially didn’t. Initially he was a skeptical as I was. Now he treats all STI infection so he will always say that I need to use protection, but he continued to worry about confection and risk.

I kept researching and I kept seeing more and more countries accepting the new facts. Those damn rabbits were being elusive and maybe they might not be as dangerous as we all thought.

This brings me closer to now. Just about 6 months ago I walked into my doctor’s office, and sitting there pinned to the scale to measure my weight was a sign.
U=U was all it said, but it said more to me than anyone knew.

The discussion changed. The exciting news was overwhelming. I fell into tears. I could love again! I could have a happy and meaningful sexual relationship with a partner and I could lose the fear that my allergy to latex and my choice of enjoying sex without a condom only meant that I could catch something else, or pass something else on. NOT HIV!

I needed to tell the world! I started to tell my HIV community, where I was met with their fear. They were more than skeptical of this info even though the source was sound. They refused to believe the medical staff, and the many advocates that brought all the info they could read to educate themselves.

I believed now. The rabbits are harmless, it was all a lie, and I bought it. You bought it. We all bought it. And well it was totally and completely wrong.

When you are told that something will kill you all your life, you will learn to believe it and it will take much time to change that opinion. This post will not be enough to change some of your minds and I know this, but I am a rabbit, and I am cute, cuddly and an herbivore. I don’t want to kill you and I never did.

Being undetectable means you can never pass the virus to another partner no matter how you choose to love.

This is my story. This is my new life given back to me. It’s your story tooNever choose fear over science. Never give up on the facts for the stigma. Bust the stigma and spread the word! We are FREE!

So, today I need you to convince your friends that those vicious rabbits are not what we were told. We need to focus on testing and treatment, not continued fear and stigma. It’s a win! And we need to celebrate it!

I encourage you, if you are in the Central Brevard area to come to the Central Brevard Sharing center. Twice a month they offer confidential testing to anyone who walks in. Once you are tested and you know your status you can begin treatment, and once you begin treatment you are on your way to freedom. You will soon be undetectable, and then you will be untransmittable.

Science not Stigma, Facts not Fear! We are the Undetectable generation. We are stronger than HIV.

If you need more information or you want to talk about this please comment and share this post.

You can find me on Twitter @CrimsonAdvocate, or on Instagram @CrimsonAdvocate. Check out my Facebook page @CrimsonAdvocate. Shoot me a message and I will help you to understand.

With unconditional love, and no fear in my heart!
Your Friend David

HIV Testing at The Central Brevard Sharing Center – Your Friend David

Another beautiful day!

Today I will volunteer for the Central Brevard Sharing Center again. Thursdays, they need office help and I am eager to learn the processes and procedures. As always, if I am too overwhelmed or it just isn’t what I expected, I have been asked to just wander and find a place to work.

This day, Project Response, a local HIV/STI organization will be there to administer anonymous HIV testing. This makes me so excited. I specifically asked if I could somehow be involved in the process, and as long as I just let them work, I can rub as many elbows as I need to.

This is where I need to be, on the front lines, with my people. I really hope that today turns into a win for me in some small way. I just want them to know I am here and I want to know what I can do to help their cause.

I have a separate application for volunteerism with them directly, but I haven’t heard back. This way I might actually meet someone and explain what my goals are.

Today The Crimson Lifeline will be promoted in person. The revolution will be televised!

With the effectiveness of proper ARV treatment, people living with HIV are starting to live normal lives. The medicine will take the virus out in close to 6 months. Once you are undetectable to the blood tests, there is no way to transmit the virus anymore. The onus is on testing now.

Many people live with HIV and don’t even know their status. It literally takes longer to wait on your coffee and Starbucks than to wait for results from an HIV test. Once you know, then you can do something about it. Care is available and very effective.

Being newly diagnosed brings terror and loneliness. I hope to soothe the fears of the ones who walk out with a burden that they can’t understand. I know where they can get the help, and I know how it feels to be helpless.

So come today to the Central Brevard Sharing Center to get your free HIV test today. Don’t go on more day not knowing what could be killing you. I say again, there is help and there is effective treatment. You can have a normal and full life. Just get tested.

Please call: 321-631-0306 for details on when and where they will be on the property.

Come to the office at: 113 Aurora Street Cocoa, FL 32922

We will be happy to help you in any way we can, and while you wait stop into the community kitchen, and check out the thrift store. Many other services are available for you.

Tell them “Your Friend David” sent you!

See you there!

Your Friend David

Another Message on Addiction – A clarification

I want you explain my last post on addiction. I am not only a current victim of someone else’s problem; I have had my own problems.

I have been addicted to many different substances. When I accepted my life was no longer under control I decided to completely stop all use. I went through wild withdrawals. The only things that helped were my brothers and sisters at NA and constant meditation. I prayed to God, and I roughed it out. It was tough, but I learned my lesson.

So when I wrote my last post about my current issues with addicts that are orbiting me, I came a little too hard. As a victim and a survivor I know it takes real straight talk to get the point across. There comes a time where you cannot let another person steal anymore of your precious joy.

Because you love them, you enable them in ways that you are sometimes just not aware of. You could actually give them drugs and be that kind of enabler. You can also allow the addict to lie, cheat, and steal from you, without consequence. That is just as bad.

There comes a time where everything needs to be on the table. You need to demand that your loved one seeks treatment. You have to let them know how you feel, how much you love them and how this hurts. Some treatment professionals call this an “intervention”.

It’s just a coming of days when it comes from just one person.

And you will hear every excuse in the world. Don’t lose any ground. Stand your ground and demand a better way. They will insult, rage, even panic. It’s ok; they don’t know how to live anymore so they are frightened by the sudden reality check.

Addiction is a disease. I have all empathy and sympathy for the recovering. But that is if you are actively recovering. If you are just blowing hot air, and getting high again, that deserves no sympathy. The user needs to know you love them but you will not deal with this one more minute. No sympathy.

Addiction is a disease, and just like any other disease if untreated it will become dangerous. Quit enabling this behavior and offer to help. But if they refuse, then you need to cut them loose. Losing it all and hitting rock bottom is the best place for a raging addict to come to. I hit rock bottom in the brig, and I actively sought treatment and needed it for many years. But I actively sought treatment.

Help is available.

My name is David. And I am your Friend.