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.

Volunteer or Donate today to the Central Brevard Sharing Center

Visit the Central Brevard Sharing Center: sharingcenter.org

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of starting my first day of volunteering with the Central Brevard Sharing Center. And it was so wonderful to be there.

 

The Central Brevard Sharing Center provides many services to the underserved and homeless in the Central Brevard area. People come to take advantage of their food pantry, to get needed medicines and first aid kits, hygiene products. They operate a soup kitchen and a thrift store.

 

I was hired to do office work, but I decided to work all over the center. I helped people get food, sorted donations, helped load trucks and cars with thrift store finds. I was in heaven.

 

I love being able to help my community in any way I can. This is a great experience builder and networking tool. I was originally asked to volunteer just one day a week, but in about three hours the staff understood I am an all purpose volunteer.

 

So instead of just Mondays I will be there in the office on Thursdays as well. I want to be there on Thursdays because Project Response comes to offer anonymous testing on those days and I want in on that action. I am an HIV advocate and a strong supporter of all HIV/STI treatment and education. I need to find a way to slip on in. I’m sure I will.

 

Now that I have talked about how it felt to give, now I need to ask you to give too:
The Sharing Center is in desperate need of donations of all kinds. From baby diapers and pull ups, to toothbrushes and deodorant. It only takes 5$ to give and individual the chance to be clean and fresh. This may be the difference between getting a job, or being judged.

 
There are showers on site for the people who need it, and laundry you can use. Both have limits to use so please call before hand or stop into the service office for cheerful and useful advice.

 
Please consider either donating money or product. Both will help many children, mothers, and homeless.

 
For every 1$ you give to the pantry, our partners give 9$ to match. That is 10$ of food for the price of 1$. Give 10$ and you have 100$ worth of food.

 
The Sharing Center needs volunteers as well. Here are links that will help you to find what needs to be met and how you can be a part of saving the poor and underserved get the help and the love they need in their hard times.

 
To donate:
Please visit this web site for more information on donating any items. Needs are food, hygiene items, and they also take lightly used furniture.
They accept:
• Nonperishable Foods
• Clothing & Shoes
• Furniture
• Books, CDs, DVDs & Magazines
• Toys, Games & Sporting Goods
• Home Décor & Linens
• Kitchen items such as cookware, dishes & utensils
• Small appliances such as, coffee makers, blenders & toasters in working condition
• Flat Screen TVs in working condition
• Electronics such as lamps, MP3s, iPods & clock radios in working condition
• Computers & Cell Phones in working & non-working condition
• Tools & Lawn Equipment if gas has been removed
• Personal Hygiene Items
• Baby Supplies

http://sharingcenter.org/programs/donate

You can also donate your time in many areas of interest. If you have a special skill or you think you would be a fit for any of the services that they provide you can visit their volunteer page for more info.

 
“Volunteers are the heart and backbone of our agency. We are always looking for volunteers to help us out in the following areas:”
For a volunteer application please visit:

http://sharingcenter.org/volunteer-application

Current needs are as follows:

·         Community Kitchen
Food preparation, Serving meals, Clean up, and Cafeteria Monitor

·         Food Pantry
Provide Emergency Groceries, Stock Shelves

·         Drivers
Pick up donations. (Must have a good driving record.)

·         Thrift Store Help
Sorting Donations, Client Assistance, Cashier

·         Office Work
Answer Phones, Data Processing, Client Assistance, Filing

“We welcome individuals and service clubs a like so come join our group of volunteers and help make our mission a success.
Please fill out and submit a volunteer application or print and bring it to our office.”
Please contact us about volunteering and/or donating.
Sharing Center of Central Brevard
113 Aurora Street
Cocoa, FL 32922
Phone: 321-631-0306

Any and all assistance with donations and volunteerism would be more than appreciated. Besides you may just get to meet “Your Friend David” in person. I’d love to see you there.

With love and even more love,
Your Friend David

 

Addiction and Substance abuse help – A moment with “Your Friend David”

I come from a long line of addicts. Those addicted to alcohol, drugs, food… I have seen every vice turn people into disrespectful fools. I know this isn’t the accepted response to a “disease” but hear me out. I know what I’m talking about.

 

I received a letter of Accomplishment from the US Navy for my work with service members who had substance abuse issues. Generally once they were in my care, they were either waiting for a Court Martial, or so ordered to submit to treatment. This was a direct order, and I had the full power of a full bird Navy Captain as my direct supervisor. If you didn’t submit, you were committed.

 

I have heard every excuse. From the age of about 3, I have heard it. I have had to resuscitate my mother more than once for an overdose. My brother continually steals and pawns everything he can get his hands on. My father, who is addressing his issues, has always been a drinker, a functional addict.

 

However functional you think you are, you are still not respecting anyone and anything you have around you, including yourself. Why should I have any empathy or sympathy, if you won’t respect the doctors, your family, and yourself? It’s beyond me why an addict wants to drag people into their problem.

 

Is it just plain misery? I know that misery loves company, and in my particular case, I’ve been drug into this problem. I am not going to stand here next to miserable for long; I have far too much to do.

 

About a year ago, she was arrested for DUI. She fell at home and took herself to the hospital. She called me, messed up and insisting she was ok to drive. I begged her to stay home and I would be there in the morning. Talking sense to an insane person is a waste of time. On an opiate, she tried to drive, and bumped another driver.

 

The police were called, and she was arrested. The courts took a long time to resolve this. Many continuances and many meetings with lawyers, and she pled No Contest. She pled that way because she knew, and her lawyer knew she was guilty, but a no contest plea is not a guilty plea. She threw herself at the tender mercies of the courts.

 

They sentenced her to a year of probation, drug tests, and a litany of other obligations. She showed up to all her probation meetings, never failed a test. I thought maybe she had learned her lesson. Not so. Now she is awaiting a court date because she did not complete her court assigned probation terms.

 

Mind you, this all happened in 2014, and today she is still not clear. She avoids talking about her case, but she requires me to attend to her every need. She is still using, and there is nothing I can do to stop her. That is a personal decision.

 

Addiction, while dangerous to the addict, is more threatening to a bystander. I was here to give her some respite from her home health care she is attending to. I enjoyed taking care of her little lady, but just giving her that much time was putting her over the edge. Idle hands are the devils workshop. She needs wall to wall responsibility. She works for her 6 days a week, and then when she is off, she cleans the house, all the while bitching and complaining.

 

I have only one thing to say to an addict of this caliber…
I have no respect for you, as you won’t even respect yourself. You are a monster and you need help. I am not your son today. I will put your ass in jail so fast you won’t have time to blink. I have had just about enough of your bullshit and as I am an adult and you are too…. Get off the cross honey, we need the wood. Until she actively seeks help for her problems, I am not her son. I am sad, but also I know this is the only way to rock bottom.
Rock bottom is the only place an addict can be that will cause them to begin to choose better life choices. You can either choose to change, or die alone. That is that. Once an addict hits rock bottom, they immediately begin to thrash about, looking for someone to care. NO ONE CARES NOW. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN.

 

I really just want to go to the court next week and testify that she still has a problem and she did not complete her probation, which means she deserves jail. Thirty days would hopefully be a wakeup call. Then again, it’s been 35 years of this, so I’m sure it will never change.

 

This is addiction, it is not a disease, and it is a weakness. A weakness of resolve. Shut the hell up, and do something about your problem. If you are actively seeking help through a rehab program that includes therapy to assist in behavior modification, I might have a little more empathy. Not just substitution therapies like Suboxone or Methadone only. That is just a legal way to get high.

 

If it is unsafe for you to quit your addiction because of withdrawals, you need inpatient treatment. I regularly admitted hundreds of Marines into the hospital for weeks on end so be sure that they were safe. I don’t know if that is her issue, but the active part of the rehab process is just not happening.

 

So in closing I say this, and I only will say it one more time. I will not put up with an addict stealing any more of my happiness, or my love. Yes, this is my mother we are talking about, but I don’t remember a time when she wasn’t a raging pill addict. I hope they put her in the jail to prove to her this is not sustainable. The first step in the 12 steps it takes to break an addiction is to recognize that your life has become unmanageable and the you have no control.

 

Been waiting all my life. I won’t wait another second.

________________________________________________________________

LINKS TO HELP AND CARE:

Please seek help by finding your local NA/AA groups, going to regular therapy, and if you are unsafe and you know you won’t make it, admit yourself into the hospital. But DON’T DRAG ME THROUGH IT. A lack of moral fortitude on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

Get to know and respect your sponsor. They have a real understanding of the perils of addiction. They are the most qualified to assist your efforts. Sponsors are available for every craving. All you need to do is go to the meetings, meet other recovering addicts, and make friends.

The friends you make could mean the difference. I know because I have been there too.
Please seek help:
NA National search and information: https://na.org/
AA National search and information: http://www.aa.org/

 

With all the love and respect in the universe,
“Your Friend David.”