29 September 2007

Flashback: Who knew...

I came out to my parents in 1981 and for a short time our relationship became strained. We were both trying to come to terms with my coming out, both for very different reasons. At one point I did not speak to my parents for almost two years. Things started to get better slowly and with some concerted effort and a little time to breathe we began to start talking again. I came down with the flu in the fall of 1985. I thought maybe it would pass like any cold or flu, but for some reason it just kept hanging around. I wasn't throwing up and febrile all the time during those four weeks but I knew it was not normal to feel this way for so long. I just could not shake this flu off.

I was working as the General Manager of a local restaurant and putting in around 55 - 65 hours a week. The company I worked for had no health plan, so I could not afford to see a doctor. At the time I got sick the relationship with my parents had gotten better and we had come to a comfortable place. They did not like the fact that I was gay, but they learned that I was still their son just as I always had been, and would continue to be. I promised not to be too "gay" when I visited them as long as they tried to start to understand where I was coming from and give my the benefit of the doubt.

Anyway, my mom has worked for doctors all her life, and actually just recently stopped working but that's another story. I made a call to her one day while she was working and explained that I really needed to see a doctor and asked her if I could see the family doctor. Our family doctor for whom my mother worked for at the time had known our family for over 25 years, but he did not know that I was gay. I told my mom about having this flu and the fact that it just would let go and also suggested that I should probably be tested for HIV. The world was just really starting to talk about HIV/AIDS awareness back in 1985, and I was in a high-risk category. Mom at first disagreed because in asking for an HIV test I would have to disclose my lifestyle to the doctor. At the same time my mom knew I needed to see the doctor because we had to get a handle on whatever was wrong with me. I think at that point my mother had two problems. First, she still didn't want a lot of people to know that I was gay and secondly and most of all I think she did not want to find out the truth that I might be HIV positive. I didn't really want to find that out either. I ended up seeing the doctor without mentioning anything about HIV or about me being gay. The doctor did some routine blood test but not the test for HIV. He started me on some broad spectrum antibiotics to treat my symptoms, but I never really got better.

I kept having to see the doctor on and off every few weeks until April of 1986 and during that time he ran all sorts of test. In fact just about every test except the one for HIV. By April 1986 I had changed jobs and was now working as a manager for a major retail chain, working up to 65+ hours a week. I continued to be fatigued and I was losing weight faster than I could eat. I had also just started my second year of what would end up to be a four year relationship that wasn't going well and would end abruptly, so needless to say stress levels were very high. I decided to tell my mother that this had gone too far and that I really needed to be tested for HIV and that if she didn't want the family doctor to know then I would go to the clinic and have the test run, but I needed to know! My mom said she would rather see the family doctor than going to a clinic, so I did. When I saw the doctor I told him about my lifestyle and about my life in general. I also told him that there was a good chance that I could have been exposed to the virus. He was furious, not because of my lifestyle but because I had not told him earlier, in his eyes we had just wasted six months of my life when we could have tried treating my symptoms from another angle. Although treating HIV was harder then, than it is now, we still could have been doing other things to try and make me feel better. We decided to run the test!

Two weeks passed and finally late one afternoon, on a day that I luckily had off from work, the doctor called and told me he needed to see me in the office first thing in the morning. I don't claim to know everything, but at that point I knew what he had to say, and it would have to wait until the morning. The next day I was at the doctor's office bright and early. My mom was at work and she was in a good mood (I later found out that the doctor had not talked my mother until he talked to me, which is the professional and ethical way, even though as I said our families had been very close). So, I sat in the exam room, you know those cold sterile little rooms, waiting to hear the results of the test, and I already knew the answer. When the doctor came in the first thing he did was shake my hand and asked me how I was feeling. I told him I had been feeling better but not quite up to par yet. Then he said it "Tony the test came back positive." Reality hit I was HIV positive and I started to cry.

Now remember it was 1986 and at that time finding out you were HIV+ was death sentence. Like so many of my friends I didn't know where to begin in relation to what to do next. The biggest thought in my mind was how long would I have before the virus won. Of course the doctor couldn't answer that question, but at that time the thought process was that at most I would have probably five years if I was really lucky. I resigned my self to that fact and started to think what I really needed to do from that point. I never knew that in the end I would be able to say that in a little over a month from now, 2007, I will reach my 50th birthday. Unlike many I am excited to turn 50 and I'm extremely proud of what I have accomplished. I look forward to many more years but I never have and never will take for granted all the years that I have been afforded. Who knew...

28 September 2007

Eye C U...

Well I went to the eye doctor today and all is well except I had to buy new glasses. Now for those who have been reading this blog for a while they will know that it wasn't long ago that I had to buy new glasses. I thought when I got the last pair they would last for a while, but alas that was not meant to be. Since I read a lot of books and work with the computer for at least three hours a day my eyes get a real work out. I have been having trouble focusing after a bout an hour of reading, which is what prompted the visit to the eye doctor.

While I was there we went ahead and did the entire exam dilating pupils and all. This time the exam included imaging of the eyes on the inside. What they do is take a snapshot of your inner eye so as to make a reference point on the health of your eyes as a whole. The photos are useful as they can then compare to photos that will be taken on subsequent check-ups. Anyway, the eye doctor said that my eyes were in good shape from a medical perspective which is important especially for people with HIV. With all the trouble I'm having with the peripheral neuropathy in my feet I was glad to know that the only thing wrong with my eyes are just normal old age wear and tear.

So in a week or so I will have my newest set of glasses and I will share them with you to see what you think. This time I got transition lenses that will be great for going outside in the sun. Until I get my new glasses I thought I would share with you one of the pictures of the inside of my eye. according to the eye doctor this is what a health eye looks like. I'm so lucky, although I'm not so sure how lucky you are looking at this picture. Enjoy...

Side note: Damn glasses are expansive!!!

24 September 2007

A bit of fun...

I found this here and thought it was a bit of fun. Enjoy...

How to make a Tony

3 parts intelligence

1 part crazyiness

1 part leadership
Add to a cocktail shaker and mix vigorously. Serve with a slice of caring and a pinch of salt. Yum!

Personality cocktail From Go-Quiz.com

20 September 2007

One year passes in the blink of an eye

It is surprising how fast a year can pass. Seems like only yesterday that my mum called and told me my dad had passed away. It is one year ago today that I lost my father and there hasn't been a day since that I have not thought about him. My dad was not my biological father. My biological father passed away 20+ years ago. I called the man that passed away last year "dad" because that is what he was to me. He was the man that raised me. I had lived with that man and my mother since my parents divorced when I was ten. He was the man that gave me the values that I carry with me on a daily basis. He is that man that believed in me. He was the man that struggled with my coming out, but over time became one of my biggest supporters, if not the biggest. That man was proud to call me his son and I will forever be proud to call him dad.

I love you dad and I miss you but I know that you would want me to keep living my life to the fullest because it's the right thing to do and that's what I try to do not only for myself but now even more so I do it a little bit just for you.

18 September 2007

Quote & Word of the day...

Quote of the day:

"Censorship, like charity, should begin at home; but, unlike charity, it should end there."

Clare Booth Luce (1903 - 1987)

Word of the day:

\TUR-puh-tood; -tyood\, noun:1. Inherent baseness or vileness of principle, words, or actions; depravity. 2. A base act.

16 September 2007

A lesson learned...

I was about three or four years old when I was first taken advantage of and this is how it happened. (This is not a repressed memory so lift your minds out of the gutter and read on) It was either summer or spring because no snow was to be found for as far as my little eye could see or remember. I had on shorts and a T-shirt. I looked the part of a typical little blond-haired blue-eyed boy. My blond hair was that kind that was almost white and I endured being called tow-head for as long as I can remember. There were relatives visiting us that day, specifically my grandparents and my mother’s younger sister. Now my aunt had been born late in my grandparent’s life so she was only a few years older than my older brother and I. My older brother is three years older then I and because he and my aunt were both older they tended to play a lot together leaving me out of the loop. I was too young to play in their reindeer games. (Nod to Rudolph)

I remember that day was typical in that I was left to entertain myself while my brother and aunt did their best to get rid of me. At some point they decided that they were going to go to the store to buy some candy and soft drinks with the allowance they had saved up. They also knew I would not be able to go with them as the store was to far away. I too got a small allowance of five cents a week which to me seemed like a fortune. I don’t remember if I asked them or they approached me before they left but I knew I wanted to go with them and they were not having any part of that. I pleaded and whined as best a small child can plead and whine, but to no avail. However, they did relent and finally told me that they would bring me back something from the store if I gave them my money.

Now five cents was not a lot but as I said to me it was a fortune and in those days we still had penny candy so I knew I could get five pieces of some mouth watering sugar coated delicacy. Even at that young age I knew full well that they might be lying to me. I knew that they might keep my money and I would never see it or the candy. I eventually succumbed to the overpowering urge of soon having a giant Jaw Buster, a box of Boston Baked Beans or several pieces of bubble gum which my mother would surely take away from me as soon as she knew I had any of it especially the gum, but until that time I would enjoy every sweet morsel. I gave them my five cents and made them promise they would bring my prize. They of course said they would and off they went to the store.

Now you know as well as I do that waiting for a present no mater how big or small can seem like an eternity to a small child. I mean it was like waiting for my birthday to come around or worse yet waiting for Christmas morning to arrive to see what Santa had placed under the tree. Needless to say I was not very patient. At some point I started to believe that my brother and aunt had just taken my money and worse yet they had bought the candy I requested and were eating it themselves. I had to do something quickly if I was to ever see my money and/or my candy.

It was at that moment that I decided I would walk to the store by myself and find the thieves and confront them red-handed, so off I went. Now once again being that young my perception of time let alone distance was not that great. The walk to the store felt like it was taking forever and I knew the longer it took the more time those two had to eat all that was mine. Years later I would go past my old house and realise that the store was not all that far away but at the same time it was still way to far for a child to walk to by them self. Anyway, I continued to walk what seem like forever and finally made it to the store. The two thieves were no where to be seen outside the store so I went inside to look for them. This was a kind of five and dime store which had a little bit of everything; it was the Walgreen's of its day. I could not find the two of them anywhere in the store. I searched the candy aisles where I was easily distracted by the feast that surrounded me and eventually I gave up my quest to find the culprits. At some point I decided that they could no longer be trusted to bring what had been promised and I decide to get it myself.

I started to pick up a few of the tasty item before me and then thought maybe I had should venture over to the toy aisle to see what I could procure. I found a set of army men and even though I had some at home I knew I could never have enough and it would be easier to set up my battlefields with more men to create an even bigger army. My hands were full and I figured I best get going because I knew my parents would start to wonder where I was. I headed for the door and had actually stepped outside when a car pulled into the parking space right in front of the door. That car was our car and inside it was my mother and she was not happy.

My mother got out of the car and asked me what I thought I was doing. So I told her what tragedy my brother and aunt, her sister had done to me. I got the feeling she did not believe me. She marched me inside to the check out counter and told the lady behind the counter that I had something to tell her. The woman asked who had something to tell her and my mother pointed down to me. The woman leaned over the counter and there I was my arms loaded down with my ill gotten gains. They woman was very surprised to say the least and as my mother started to poke and nudge me I told the woman what I had done. It seems that I was so small that no one had paid me any attention and I had almost walked away with my treasure but unfortunate for me I was the one that got caught red handed.

I was taken home after apologising to the lady at the store even though I still thought I had done nothing wrong. I also had to return my precious cargo even though I thought it was unfair because the way I saw it I had paid for those things and it was up to my brother to give my money for said items to the lady behind the counter. Anyway, I came to find out that those who would steal from and take advantage of a sweet naive boy had arrived back at the house just shortly after I left and it was they who made my parents aware of the fact that I was no where to be found. In the end for all of my trouble I was the one that got punished not so much for stealing but for walking all the way to the store on my own. I would have thought that stealing would have been a much bigger crime. The moral of that story is if you want something done, do it yourself.

I wrote this long laborious story based on a recent comment saying that maybe I needed to write something about my childhood or past life experiences. Maybe I’ll do better next time.

13 September 2007

SHHH...be very quiet...

If you listen very hard and you're very quiet you can hear the cobwebs growing in my brain, because that's all I got right now. I'm coming up blank. Well apparently not totally blank because I'm writing this but as for anything of substance I'm afraid you'll have to wait a bit longer cause it's just not happening. Sorry :(

11 September 2007

Round and round he goes...

You are The Wheel of Fortune

Good fortune and happiness but sometimes a species of
intoxication with success

The Wheel of Fortune is all about big things, luck, change, fortune. Almost always good fortune. You are lucky in all things that you do and happy with the things that come to you. Be careful that success does not go to your head however. Sometimes luck can change.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

9 September 2007

I've been here, there and almost everywhere

Summer is over or at least it is in the northern hemisphere. I am extremely bored and lazy today and the best I can come up with is this map of the United States that represents all of the places I've been to while on vacation. I actually ended up living in a few of those states (Texas, Louisiana and Michigan). As if you really wanted to know that. Anyway with out further adieu here's my map:

create your own personalized map of the USA

Of the states that are missing the only ones that I would really like to still visit are, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Maine and Vermont. On the last two, how I spent all that time in New England and never got to them I'll never know. So, where have you been?

That's it for my Sunday. I'll be back later in the week with more riveting, mind-numbing, provocative and extremely well versed posts. (Really I will... Oh hell who am I kidding, look I'll try my best okay?)

Until then take care and stay well...

7 September 2007

...and we're back

We actually got back Wednesday night, but I've been lazy with posting as usual. Anyway, we had a very nice time visiting an old friend. The weather was on our side until we got to Brisbane for the last night and it started to rain. We won't complain because that area of the country, along with a lot of Australia needs rain desperately. As mentioned in previous post we did stay at the Conrad Treasury hotel & Casino. The room was gorgeous. As for the casino we didn't do so well, but we always go into the casino with the understanding that we will probably loose and if we do win that's just extra. We don't go out a lot any more, preferring to be homebodies so we like to go to the casinos every so often for a bit of bells, lights colour and movement. Those of you that have played the machines will know what I mean.

So, back at home and we have already been busy. I had my second set of acupuncture and this time it did not hurt half as bad as last time. I still don't know if it is actually helping but will give it a few more weeks and then decide. on that same note I have a neurologist appointment at the end of November to review the neuropathy situation in my feet especially because I think it's spread which is not uncommon. I'm just afraid that at some point I'm going to have to start walking with a cane. Not that walking with a cane is a bad thing, apologies to those that do. I just know that if I have to start using a cane it will me that the neuropathy is getting the best of me.

We have also had two landscapers out to give us a quote on fixing up our back yard. We have a third one coming out on Monday and from there we will decide if it is doable. On the same note we have a builder in looking at removing some old doors and windows at the back of our house and replacing them as well as rearranging our kitchen area a bit and replacing the old deck with a new one. So it's all happening around here. That's what Spring will do for you. And yes I said Spring as the official start of Spring was the first of September here in the land down under. Also, since it's Spring and all of this remodelling is occurring I guess I'll change the feel of the blog to reflect a more colourful mood. So look forward to that coming soon