Life is What We Make It!

Posted by Pozziepinoy on 1:19 PM

Life can be tricky. With a sudden twist of fate, an unexpected turn of the wheel, we become out of focus, we are distraught by disorderliness, and the path ahead becomes shrouded with a mist of fog. 

The diagnosis of HIV can bring this fear in us. The 'REACTIVE' word on the HIV result document that was handed to us is like a dark cloak that befalls on our human figure. It feels like the brightly lit sky has became a pitch dark night. We feel like our envisioned dreams have been snatched from us. We feel numb, helpless and confused.

But there is hope even with HIV. There is a light at the end of each of our own tunnels. Life's magical glory is still there, and still within our reach and all we have to do is to brush away the dirt on our feet and start standing up and walking towards it.

Challenges During the Phases of HIV and Treatment

Having HIV is difficult at first. 

The acceptance phase, the phase when you first get diagnosed, is heart crunching and gut wrenching as you don't know what will happen and who you will tell. It's like your future becomes obscure and clouded because it was so painful and you start fearing the unknown. You become anxious of what others may feel and think about you, and become scared of their level of understanding and quality of love for you.

The evaluation phase, the phase where you get all your baseline tests done, once you are referred to the HIV/AIDS Treatment Hub, is past paced as you need to follow the requirements by the hubs as you go from one to another, from drawing of your blood to the X-ray machine, to the sputum tests. The situation becomes such a blur, and hard to fathom the events happening during the day while you are still in shock and awe with your diagnosis, as you are being led to these tests without understanding everything, without someone giving you the specifics and details, when you haven't absorbed all the terminologies of each medical procedures.

The challenges during the treatment phase, the phase where you already have been prescribed with the antiretrovirals (ARV) are strongly felt during the first 2 weeks of treatment, called the trial period wherein clients and doctors are monitoring the ARV side effects. If there are no issues, beyond this phase, the only challenge will be the quarterly visits to the hub for refill of ARV's, the bi-annual CD4 testing and blood work and the annual viral load and blood work tests. This will continue for a lifetime, until, of course, a cure has been discovered.

Personal Challenges

The chronic dilemma of having HIV is by far on a personal level. What life has to offer while having HIV is the greatest question each person living with HIV (PLHIV) asks. Usual questions come up, like, "can I still have a job?', "will I get fired?", "can I have a partner?", "can I work overseas?", "can I have children?", "how long can I live?",  "will I have friends?". Because of HIV, even the most educated become confused as there are a lot of long term personal things to consider: health, financial stability, dreams and aspirations, and relationships. 

Breaking the Barriers

However, hard it may seem, like any individual with no HIV, life continues. The barriers that block a PLHIVs from getting the life they want, can be overcome. They all can be pushed away and be beaten.

Education is the most important. Knowledge is power and as long as each of us understands the gravity of this power, then and only then can we break each obstacle before us. Reading HIV books, articles, stories of a PLHIV journey, watching movies with HIV success stories, talking to families and friends with a PLHIV relative and getting the wisdom from the HIV doctors and HIV peer counsellors are ways to educate ourselves about HIV. Extraction and absorption of each successful experience and emotion that come with it will somehow gives us fervent hope to believe that there is life even with HIV. 

Positivism is another powerful tool in overcoming these barriers. Having a positive perspective despite being HIV positive breaks down all wrong perceptions and doubts. It clears up the path towards a successful HIV journey. It pushes away all hindrances to treatment management. Positivism makes one not look at a rock in front as an obstacle, but a platform for one can attain better heights. 

Developing positivism is difficult at first but definitely can be attained even with HIV. Equipping oneself with the proper knowledge leads to positivism. A strong support system can build up one's positivism. A sound mind and spirit clears up the clouded mind and paves the way for the energy of positivism to come out. Mind and body exercises, like yoga, tai-chi, meditation, religion and prayers, support group talks, physical fitness can all contribute to positivism.

Strong faith is another powerful gadget in breaking down the barriers that confronts one because of HIV. Belief in oneself, that he is going to get well is the strongest of these beliefs. The power from within one's self creates a shield and an armour of protection. The strong belief in oneself creates a powerful wrecking ball that can destroy any edifice of doubts and fear. Belief in the HIV doctors is another tool in breaking down any barrier. Trust in the doctor is the greatest ally in the success of any treatment management of HIV. Belief in the power of the ARV's, the belief that they the PLHIV's lifelines, will trigger a domino effect, the energy of which will make one to move ahead. The belief that he is not alone in the battle with HIV is another strong determinant of a successful treatment. A strong support system and knowing that even strangers can care for a PLHIV, opens up the pandora's box where the energy from within can start flourishing again and start pushing away all negativities.

What Life Means

Despite HIV, we can all make our lives successful, productive and worth living for. The essence and meaning of life depends on how we live it on a day to day basis. Even with HIV, a good and colourful life is possible if we break down all perceived barriers, early on, on our new HIV journey. Even with HIV, we can paint a new life's canvass of what we like, of what dreams we aspire and what relationships we want to have, if and only if we can start doing it with vigour and enthusiasm, if we start standing up and walking towards the path that we are born and dreamed to walk on.

It matters not how straight the gate, 
how charged with punishments the scroll. 
I am the master of my fate: 
I am the captain of my soul

-William Earnest Henley-

NO PLHIV is alone with his or her struggle with HIV!"


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