Thursday, April 10, 2014

Matt shares his story of living with HIV #saveryanwhitepartd #nyhaad

I had a fever of 103,  sore throat, sweaty from my feet to my head-achey all over, bed reddened, and exhausted. I took every possible medicine - aspirin, DayQuil, NyQuil, and drank plenty of fluids and just laid their in pain and nothing seemed to help. I went home for Thanksgiving and was still suffering and I still couldn't break the fever. Thanksgiving weekend, I went to the nearest clinic and they prescribed me ZPak and I took every last pill. The fever finally broke but I got rashes and my stomach began to hurt and I got itchy skin all over. I thought I had an allergic reaction to the ZPak. This was a nightmare.
Finally, I went to Northwestern Medical Clinic and the doctor told me to take allergy pills and put some cream on the rashes. Still nothing. I shrugged off the irritated skin and stomach issues and just changed my diet a little bit, cleaned, did my laundry more often, and paid attention more to my daily habits. As much as I paid attention and changed my habits, I continued to have the irritated skin and stomach issues. I couldn't hold anything down.
Soon enough, I gave up and made an appointment with a Physician and had a check up and the doctor asked me, "if I wanted to get tested for HIV?". I automatically said, "No!!," out of panic and nervousness. I was scared that I might have HIV and from all the negativity I hear about it, that is the last thing I wanted to deal with. (I also told myself a long time ago, that if I ever get HIV, I'll have to commit suicide.) Finally, my doctor convinced me, he said, that it has progressed since the 80's and you will no longer die from the virus and the treatment has come a long way. So I got tested for HIV and wouldn't hear back for a few days.
I remember sitting at work with a lump in my throat waiting for a phone call from my doctor to see if I was HIV positive. My voice shaky, barely breathing, and about to have a panic attack and thinking my family can't see me like this - I can't tell them.  He called and my blood work came back inconclusive and I had to schedule another visit to draw more blood. I was a wreck and I couldn't even focus - i was sad, angry, and unstable. I knew, if my blood work came back HIV positive, I had to commit suicide. I was tired of struggling through life and I thought  I couldn't live a normal life living with HIV. I went to the doctor that evening and had 8 tubes of blood drawn from me and soon I would find out if I was infected with HIV. I remember my doctor telling me, I will live a normal life and will live a long life of happiness. Basically, what he was telling me, I will survive and be happy and there is no reason to commit suicide.
On December 28, I went to the doctors office to find out my results and it came back HIV Positive. I put my head down and just cried and cried and cried. This meant more struggles ahead and another huge obstacle in my life. I couldn't believe this, this wouldn't happen to me. Well, there I was crying hysterically as Seth held me and comforted me. My thoughts began to flutter:
what will I tell my parents? What about my health insurance? How will I pay for my medicine? What happens from here? When will I get the medicine? How does all this work? My thoughts fluttered...
After the results, all I could think about was being HIV positive. I have cried every day because I am sad, scared, nervous, and not sure how to tell my family and friends. It has been a roller-coaster of emotions. I've tried to interact with friends and family and it has been hard -  I sit there in silence feeling uncomfortable because they don't know I am living with HIV and my itchy, irritated skin and my upset stomach reminding me that I am living with HIV. I lived in the closet for 25 years and I don't want to go back in there. Even if it means being vulnerable, scared, nervous and getting rejected by everyone because I am HIV Positive. I am who I am and if you don't like me, oh well - I have gone through a lot and I just want to be happy and not live anxiously, depressed and according to everyone's idea of who I should be. I did that majority of my life and that didn't work out well. I want to fight and encourage others to be true to themselves and not feel shamed.
As I begin treatment for HIV - I'm scared, nervous and sad. The next few months will consist of giving blood, doctor visits, counseling, and starting medication. This all might be exhausting but I have a plan, a plan to survive all this. In the next few months, I plan on blogging weekly-ish, taking pictures, and coming out HIV positive and fundraising for HIV/AIDS. I hope to raise thousands for the cause and to fight for equal rights, I mean I am human with a virus and I am definitely not hiding.
Today, I am living one day at time. There is no reason to focus on the negative when I will survive this virus and I will fight to the end. I'm not fighting for the virus or for myself but for those that are afraid to expose themselves. Just be you.

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