I’m awaiting delivery of my next two weeks’ worth of medications with a major change in the blister packs. Gone will be Norvir, Prezista, Truvada and Nevirapine, all taken twice a day, and they’re being replaced with ONE pill, Genvoya, ONCE a day containing 4 new-to-me drugs in combination.
What a relief, other pills continuing for diabetes, cholesterol, etc., notwithstanding.
Genotyping revealed I am resistant to NOTHING.
I can’t find too much going on to commemorate World AIDS Day in Toronto this year but it just so happens to be the day my Beyond Surviving group meets, so I guess that’s something.
With ACT’s shift away from surviving AIDS to living with HIV, and the promise of preventing it entirely with an AIDS med, I find myself communing with friends who have had AIDS, or been HIV-positive at least, for a generation or so – no longer affiliated with formal service organizations.
I miss some of the urgency we once felt. But on the occasion of World AIDS Day I especially miss many friends, too many to list.
It’s October 11. In the United States, at least, it’s National Coming Out Day. I know of no such celebration in Canada but we’ve been ahead of the pack in most ways having to do with lgbtq-2 liberation.
For me, Coming Out Day was sometime in February of 1981. I had come crashing out to protest the police raids on Toronto bath houses, so I thought it best to come out to my parents, lest they see me on TV from one of the many protest marches.
I wrote them a letter. I wish I had saved a copy because, if I may say so, it was a model of a coming out letter!
Mom and Dad called me once they had received it, reassuring me that their love had not changed, and thanking me for my honesty. They also revealed that my brother, Craig, had come out to them a few years earlier but he had not disclosed to me, for good reason, ,as I had been involved with an evangelical church while at college.
AIDS was already doing its preliminary work, silently infecting people oblivious to its eventual horror. I was just sowing my oats, wild oats at that.
So most of my gay life has been lived in the shadow of HIV/AIDS, first other people’s, then my own. This has defined my activism and much of my life.
But I was just gay first.
I was on my way for a hair-cut this morning when, at the corner of Sherbourne and Gerrard Streets, I momentarily took flight. Picture Peter Pan on his worst day. While still airborne I thought of Craig, of the 24th of April, 2007. But I was still conscious. I managed to land without breaking my wrist, as had happened in 2003 when I was struck by a cab. I rolled to the sidewalk on my rain parka and didn’t damage my femur,as I had in the same incident. Still thinking of Craig, but recognizing that my head was working, I yelled.
A man dragged me to the steps of the pharmacy and applied an oversized gauze bandage to the right side of my forehead. A nurse practitioner on her way to Mount Sinai Hospital on her bicycle rushed to our side. 9-1-1 was called by a female by-stander. The n-p took my pulse (100). The pharmacist came out and, with the others, helped me into a chair in the lobby of his business.
I laughed when I was asked if I was on any medication. I widgeted out a used blister-pack from my jacket which had labels of all my meds taped to the cover. (Medic-Alert in long form.)
The ambulance arrived, siren silent, and the interviews began anew. Had I eaten? Had I checked my blood sugar (it was now a whopping 24.3!) Where was I going? Day and date? A pain inventory was taken. My head, yes. Skinned knuckles, yes. A bloody knee under torn jeans. My civilian helpers said their goodbyes as the ambulance attendants strapped me into a chair in the back and rode off, again sirens quiet, traffic lights being obeyed like all the other morning rush hour chumps. This underlined how lucky I was.
Another indication that I was a low-priority arrival came as I waited to be seen by a doctor. It was not, notes this enthusiastic lover of Canada’s health system, an unreasonable wait.
I was given a couple of extra-strength Tylenols, when offered, and a tetanus shot was administered (“cuz you never know what was on that sidewalk”.) The attending physician, the son I never had, repeated all the interview questions and examined me from head to rolled up jeans, dabbed my head with a combination disinfect and adhesive.
“So I’m good to go?”
“Yes, pay attention to any lightheadedness, dizziness, nausea – but I think you’ll be fine.”
With the help of two of my own Tylenol-2s I have been.
Grateful. But thinking of Craig.
And I walked to get my hair-cut.
I’m feeling some anticipatory trauma, if there is such a thing, as we approach the tenth anniversary of the mishap which would, soon thereafter, take the life of my brother Craig. Maybe it’s a heightened sense of awareness that this sad anniversary is upon us.
It was April 24, 2007, his partner Claude’s birthday, when Craig fell to the sidewalk,alone, outside their condo in Montreal’s Le Plateau neighbourhood. The extensive damage to his brain immediately apparent, Craig would never fully regain consciousness. He clung to life on a respirator, while his near-zero brain function was evaluated, until one last attempt to see if he could breathe on his own failed on the ninth of May while Claude and my sister Lynn stepped out for a break.
Mom dreads the month of May. (I’m just glad it is as pretty as it is.) It was May 4, five years earlier in 2002, when Dad collapsed and died in his beloved garden, so all the attending rituals were in May. Oh and Craig’s birthday. And Mother’s Day. So it was that on May 13, 2007 – Craig’s birthday AND Mother’s Day that year – that we (my sister Janice, husband Randy and their young family) drove Mom down from Perth to Montreal for her eldest son’s funeral the next day. Followed by his burial in Perth the next evening.
While the rest of us admire her strength and still try to acknowledge Mother’s Day,we understand why she would just rather have May slip by quickly. I’ll never think of May again without remembering Mom’s journey through it.