Saturday, January 17, 2009

Angels I Don't See PART IX

Parts I-VIII here

It was Monday morning, December 29th and as I drove my car stuffed full of clothes and other belongings to a friend’s house, I was confident that my letter would shake Ric out of his state of denial and snap him back to reality. I really believed that once he woke up and read what I wrote he would immediately call me to say that he was willing to get treatment for his HIV as well as find a way to pay our bills and rent.

Three hours passed and Ric had not called. I wondered if he had even seen the letter. Worried that he might have hurt himself I called him and much to my relief he answered:

“Just checking to see if you got my letter”

“Yes I did. Thank you. It was so sweet. It made my day” Ric said in all seriousness.

“Thank you? Thank you !?!?! It was so sweet!?!?! What are you talking about? The letter said I’m leaving you. Do you understand what that means?”

“Yes and it was very sweet”

After a long pause he continued “On your way home would you pick up a London Broil that we can make on New Year’s? I’m going to have a party. Can you also pick up wine and beer and some snacks?”

He was dead serious. Even though we were broke, and even though I wrote him a letter stating that I was leaving him, and even though I was (and am) a recovering alcoholic, his alternate reality was as strong as ever. In his world it was not even possible for him to comprehend we had no money, much less that I was leaving. It was also impossible for him to see why asking me to pick up alcohol was a deadly request. His mind was incapable of discerning anything.

At that moment I realized that the possibility of him getting help was slim. Why would he get help? He did not even see that he was sick. Therefore, in his eyes, help was not necessary.

Though it was evident to everyone except Ric that he was probably suffering from HIV dementia, there was another matter at hand that morning that needed attention. It was the day of my HIV test. For some reason, I was not nervous at all. Like everything else in my life, that quickly changed.

“So you’re here because you think you might have been exposed to HIV? Is that correct?” the doctor said in a heavy, yet easily understood, French accent.

“Yes. My partner has HIV, did not tell me for many months and is refusing to get help even now. I just found out last week when he was in the hospital for what I thought was a undiagnosed neurological condition. It turns out he probably is suffering from dementia related to HIV. Also I have these bumps on my hands and I don’t know what they are”. I spit my words out in rapid fire.

These “bumps” had formed on the tops of both my hands and they were worrisome. I did not know what to make of them and everyone that looked at them thought they could be the manifestations of stress.

“But doctor, there is a strong possibility that I don’t have HIV. I mean, he found out in August and we haven’t…”

“Let me see your hands” Dr. M interrupted. “I may take a biopsy of these bumps. They concern me. As far as you not having HIV, I have to be honest with you. You would be the luckiest man alive if you test negative”.

With that, he took five vials of blood and whatever remaining hope I had left.

“Come back next Monday for the results and we will discuss what we need to do next”

As I left, I noted three things I learned during my visit:

I learned that five vials of blood is enough to put me on the brink of unconsciousness. I learned that I have close to perfect blood pressure.

And I learned that there was no way in hell I was negative. Why?

The previous three weeks proved I was anything but the luckiest man alive!

Part X here

1 comment:

alan said...

As hard as this is to read, I cannot imagine how hard it is to write it all! A cathartic perhaps, in some ways, but agonizing I am sure!

My heart aches for you in all of this!


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