Archive for the ‘Quality of Life’ Category

As of 10/29, there are 4157 on ADAP waiting lists in 9 states!

Posted in General, News, Quality of Life, treatment on Monday, November 1st, 2010 by Kelly - 2 Comments

  

What a headline! For the first time in history, our waiting lists have exceeded 4000 people who are waiting to receive life saving HIV medications.

Here is latest ADAP Watch from NASTAD:

http://www.nastad.org/Docs/Public/InFocus/20101029_ADAP%20Watch%20update%20-%2010.29.10.pdf

Now I would like to switch gears here just a bit and share something that I read last week. Brown University has won a $7.5-million, five-year federal grant to study how drinking alcohol affects people with HIV.

The money, from the National Institutes of Health, will establish the Brown Alcohol Research Center on HIV which will conduct several studies on how alcohol affects health and behavior. Peter Monti (professor and director of the new research center) said both alcohol and HIV weaken the brain and the liver. Alcohol use can also make a patient less likely to follow his or her medication regimen or to abstain from unsafe sex.

In other words, we know that alcohol is not good for you if you are HIV positive. You might not take your HIV medication. This research will look at how much if any you can safely drink. We also know that if you don’t take HIV medication, the vast majority will progress to full blown AIDS and face disability and/or death.

My point here is not to discourage research. It is to say very clearly that we have to get our priorities straight. What good is it to have a National AIDS Strategy if we can’t even have a strategy to allocate federal funds to the highest priority issues. Issues of how to fund the shortfall in ADAP are being debated in Congress with nobody denying it needs to be funded but disputing how it should be funded.

I realize that the federal government allocates money from different pots and it seems none of those pots are even on the same stove…

Furthermore, it has taken the intervention of NASTAD – National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors to get cost containment agreements with major pharmaceutical companies like Gilead, Boehringer Ingelheim and ViiV for ADAP.

So it seems we are still waiting for a comprehensive and workable National HIV/AIDS Strategy from our leaders in Washington.

While we wait, 4,157 people are waiting to receive life-saving medication.

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25 Things You Should Know About HIV (And Probably Don’t) – Day 7

Posted in Awareness, Information, Quality of Life on Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 by Kelly - Leave a comment

We are back with the 25 things you should know about HIV (and probably don’t) over 25 days. Today is #7.  These 25 things will impact what you do and the choices you will make.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.  ~Anaïs Nin

#7: Smoking makes symptoms and side effects of HIV disease worse.            

Smoking weakens the immune system. When you smoke, you get sick more often from HIV and it makes it more difficult to fight off serious infections.

Smoking is a pleasure for many of us and we often use it to help us cope when dealing with stress. The only problem here is that you will experience more stress (both physical and emotional) when you have to face getting sick more often.

Smoking makes the side effects of HIV treatment more severe. It is has been shown that if you smoke and take antiretroviral drugs, you are far more likely to suffer side effects like nausea and vomiting.

Some of the other long term side effects of treatment like osteoporosis (weakening of bones) and cardiovascular disease (heart attacks) are made worse by smoking.

Why is this important to you?

Smoking is like a big road block in your fight with HIV. It has been shown that smoking can even interfere with how your liver processes your HIV medications.

HIV is going to put many demands on your body. You will be asking your body and your immune system to step up and fight every day for the rest of your life. Smoking can take you out of that fight or make the fight more intense and stressful.

It is no longer a question of quitting smoking somewhere down the road because it could be a problem for your health. Smoking is a problem for your health today if you are HIV positive.

How does this affect your path?

There are many choices to make when facing an HIV positive diagnosis.

If you have already made the choice to fight this disease and live your life without limitations, please make the choice to learn all that you can about HIV. A fighter knows the rules of the game.

One of those rules is that you must choose whether to smoke or to make your life with HIV easier. It may seem a simple choice to someone who doesn’t smoke, but it is very difficult to quit smoking. You are probably going to need some help and the first step is to talk to your healthcare provider about medications or support groups to help you quit.

You can also go to http://smokefree.gov or call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to find out about support in your area.

HIV means facing a new reality and making some tough choices. Your choice to stop smoking is a choice to live the best life possible with HIV.

“There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it’s easy.”~Unknown

The power is yours. What path will you choose?

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25 Things You Should Know about HIV (And Probably Don’t) – Day 6

Posted in General, Information, Quality of Life, treatment on Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 by Kelly - Leave a comment

    

We are back with the 25 things you should know about HIV (and probably don’t) over 25 days. Today is #6.  These 25 things will impact what you do and the choices you will make.

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.  ~Anaïs Nin

#4: One of the biggest predictors of how well you will do living with HIV is a fighting spirit.            

Studies have shown that you will get sick less often if you have a good strategy to cope with HIV. When you are first diagnosed, it is an absolute shock and a life changing experience. Your life will never be the same and that can be stressful and overwhelming.

HIV is a life long condition that is often associated with severe stress on both your mind and your body. How you learn to deal with that stress (or have a strategy to cope with it) is going to play a big role in your life.

After you are diagnosed, you will need to work on living in this new reality. It is important to acknowledge that things have changed. The stressors that come with HIV impact the way you view your world, how you are able to deal with day-to-day situations, and the direction of your treatment. You may feel forced to confront illness, disability and death.

It is completely normal to feel fear, anger, guilt and maybe even denial.

Why is this important to you?

It is well known that a diagnosis of HIV can be very socially isolating. If you find yourself withdrawing from friends and family, feeling disconnected with your life, and perhaps being afraid of the stigma of HIV, it is more important that ever to make the effort to find a circle of support.

Long before the demands of HIV make a huge impact on your immune system, they are changing your emotional health. Only you will know when it is time to disclose your status to your family and your friends.

An HIV support group can be especially beneficial when you are trying to figure how to cope with HIV. To find an HIV support group near you, please use the AIDS Service Organization finder at http://asofinder.com.

How does this affect your path?

Are you going to fight or are you going to be defeated? This is a choice you will have to make that will impact the quality of your life and how often you get sick with HIV. It may also impact how well you do with HIV treatment.

If you have already made the choice to fight this disease and live your life without limitations, please make the choice to learn all that you can about HIV. A fighter knows the rules of the game.

HIV means facing life changes and losses. Your strength in coping with HIV means that there can also be wins.

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.  ~Ivy Baker

The power is yours. What path will you choose?

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Using sleep in your fight against HIV.

Posted in General, Quality of Life on Friday, October 1st, 2010 by Kelly - Leave a comment

    

When we sleep, our bodies heal. In general, it’s recommended that people get eight hours of sleep each night. The amount of sleep differs to some degree by person and can also vary based upon other things going on in a person’s life. When you are fighting a chronic viral infection such as HIV, your body demands more rest.

Sleep disturbance is a common problem related to HIV disease. The frequency of sleep disturbance in those of us who are HIV positive has been reported to be as high as 73% of patients. These sleep problems are also showing very quickly after diagnosis even if you are asymptomatic. And they tend to get worse as HIV progresses.

The amount of sleep you get is directly tied to other issues surrounding HIV including depression, anxiety, complications and side effects from some medications.

Importance of Sleep

Having sleep is very important to us. It is very essential because sleep gives us the required energy to live another stressful day. It also gives us the time to rest, relax, and forget our worries and anxieties. Sleep also helps maintain our body healthy and keeps our immune systems working. It is as important as good nutrition and exercise so we should give extreme attention to our sleeping habits. Without sleep, our body will not function well.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t get enough sleep. Some of us experience lack of sleep due to too much work; stress, depression and anxiety, while others have sleep disorders or side effects that keep them from getting enough sleep.

As new anti-retroviral therapies are providing a life expectancy that is close to normal, long term adverse impacts on quality of life become increasingly important to those of us who are HIV positive Sleep disturbance and fatigue have a huge impact on daily life and disease progression.

Infection increases the need for sleep, and sleep is known to be a vital factor in keeping your body and your immune system healthy. Ample evidence exists that the quality of your sleep is significantly related to your immune system cell counts. Good sleep is part of an overall health maintenance strategy that will improve your ability to fight HIV on a daily basis.

Common complications of advanced HIV infection, such as peripheral neuropathy, can also be a source of sleep disturbance and make fatigue symptoms worse. Some findings suggest that symptoms of sleep disturbance and fatigue are independently associated with long term survival among those of us who are HIV positive.

It is really important to address your sleep issues to not only improve your quality of life, but improve your longevity as well.

Here are five things you need to know about improving your sleep with HIV:

Medications: It is widely known that several of the antiretroviral medications can contribute to or cause insomnia. Efavirenz – a common antiretroviral – has been well-documented to cause insomnia and other sleep disruptions, especially during early weeks of therapy. Long term uses of benzodiazepines like Xanax and the use of anti-depressant drugs may also contribute to sleep disturbances.

Stress: There is no question that the most common causes of temporary or longer term insomnia is stress. Worrying about something and having an your mind working at night can impact our ability to get a good night’s sleep. Combating stress takes some attention on your part and it goes hand in hand with learning to relax and coming to terms with HIV.

Relaxation:.When you are on the go and dealing with HIV, you might find it hard to relax when it comes to bed time because your mind is still working overtime. Wind down in the evenings by reading a book before bed, taking a warm bath or even practicing slow stretching and deep breathing exercises.

Exercise: Working your body is a great way to help you sleep because using  your muscles and making them tired you can make you sleepy by increasing your body’s need for rest. If you find it hard to sleep and relaxation isn’t helping, try taking a brisk walk or going for a bicycle ride in the early evening. Raising your overall level of physical activity will help you to sleep in the long term as well as improve your health.

Caffeine: Avoid caffeine, not just before bedtime, but also large quantities during the day. Not only does the stimulant effect of caffeine in drinks such as coffee, tea or energy drinks keep you awake for longer, but caffeine also reduces your ability to get good quality sleep. Tossing and turning in your sleep is almost as bad as not having any sleep at all.

It is important to talk to your doctor about your sleep before trying anything new.

To learn more about sleeping and HIV, please check out my new eBook series HIVantage coming very soon!

Also, please make sure that you have joined my mailing list. I will be giving away a complete set of my new HIVantage Point eBooks to five people in the month of October.

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What makes a long term HIV survivor?

Posted in General, Quality of Life on Friday, September 10th, 2010 by Kelly - 1 Comment

    

We have been hard at work here at MyHIVAIDSAwareness.com doing research and creating new materials on quality of  life issues for HIV.

I am most concerned about our ability to effectively use the knowledge that is available right now about how to live with HIV. It’s not that we don’t know what we should do – there is no shortage of great fact sheets and pamphlets about HIV and how to treat it, live with it, and minimize its effects. So why do so many really struggle with HIV and don’t have a good quality of life?

Terry Wilder from TheBody.com wrote an article last year that shared the eight characterists of long term survivors. I think that her work bears repeating so we can understand more about what we all need to do to both lengthen and improve our lives.

Here are her eight characteristics of long term survivors:

♦They are realistic and accept their diagnosis and do not take it as a death sentence.

♦They have a fighting spirit and refuse to be helpless/hopeless.

♦They have changed lifestyles.

♦They are assertive and have the ability to get out of stressful and unproductive situations.

♦They are tuned into their own psychological and physical needs — and they take care of them.

♦They are able to talk openly about their illness.

♦They have a sense of personal responsibility for their health, and look at the treating health care provider as a collaborator.

♦They are altruistically involved with other persons with HIV.

It seems to come down to the concept of mindfulness or a calm awareness of one’s body functions, feelings, and consciousness itself.  You’ve got to know what it going on within you, around you, and because of you. And you’ve got to own it.

Now the question becomes: How do we help ourselves and others make changes in both behavior and beliefs to increase the odds of long term survival? We have some ideas here, but I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Feeling stuck in your life with HIV? Take ten minutes to change it.

Posted in General, Information, Quality of Life on Thursday, August 12th, 2010 by Kelly - 1 Comment

     

You’ve got 10 minutes to change your life with HIV in 50 ways. Get to it!

Here is an exercise I tried because I was feeling stuck in life after finding out my son was HIV positive. I wasn’t sure what was wrong, but the daily grind I had fallen into was not satisfying that voice in me that insisted there was something else out there for me. There was something more that I could do.

After trying desperately to understand what was going on, reading HIV books, searching the internet, and working with doctors and counselors, I was given a suggestion that became a catalyst for some pretty big personal changes.

Here is how you can change your life in 10 minutes, step by step:

Clear all distractions. Turn off the phone, the iPod, the laptop. Close your door, and go to a peaceful place.

Sit down at a desk or table, with a blank piece of paper and a pen in front of you. No typing on your laptop this time.

Set an alarm for 10 minutes.

Go. Write down 50 things you want to do, know, or change about living with HIV. The sky is the limit.

Don’t be realistic. Don’t put limits on yourself. Dream big time. Write down the craziest things you can think of, as well as the things that you don’t even think are worth mentioning because they are so wild or so simple. Write ’em down.

Work quickly. 10 minutes isn’t very long, and you have 50 items to come up with, if you can. Don’t think about whether or not to write down an idea – just do it. Write everything that comes to mind, even if it doesn’t make sense because there is no cure or your not in a relationship or whatever. Just keep on writing.

Something happens after about 5 or 10 minutes if you really get into this exercise. You stop worrying about exactly what the ideas are, and you start to get down to something in your gut that may have been locked away for a while. In an effort to get through 50 things in 10 minutes, you start to write things down that you aren’t even really sure you want, but that come from somewhere down deep inside of you.

Leave the list for a day. Try not to look at it, and certainly don’t change it. The following day, sit down and look at your list. How many of the items on it are something you can do? Can you see your way to making it happen?  Anything that surprises you?

The point of this exercise is not to create one more list of things that never gets done. Not one more set of dreams that don’t come true. Instead, it is simply to open up your mind to what you really want in your life with HIV. Now we can start talking about getting there.

Stay tuned.

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Getting Knocked Down, But Not Knocked Out by HIV – Part 4

Posted in Family, Information, Quality of Life on Tuesday, August 10th, 2010 by Kelly - 6 Comments

              

“I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong” ~Benjamin Franklin

I started this series with the words we all get knocked down once in a while. Its part of what makes life interesting and it keeps us on our toes.

And I am going to end with a few simple words, “A good life doesn’t just happen. Get up and fight for it!”

Close and meaningful relationships, a fulfilling career, a healthy life, a sense of satisfaction and gratitude—nothing just happens.

Rather, everything in our life is in direct proportion to the attention, effort and importance we give. We’ve got to fight for it.

We all experience failure, setbacks, disappointments and obstacles. There is no denying that a punch hurts and it can knock us down. We are human. Bad tests, side effects and stigma hurt us. It’s part of the deal of being positive.

But in the same life, there are happy times, accomplishments, and a sense of belonging.

How will you fight for the good things?

It all comes down to this one thing—what you give your attention to becomes the reality of your world.

Give your attention to solely to the fear and uncertainty of HIV and that will shape your life and your world around you. If the blows from this disease are what you think about, dwell on, and live with each day, it will limit your life.

Instead, focus your attention on what’s good, amazing, abundant, wonderful and possible in the world. Focus your attention on ideas, information and knowledge that can help you grow, stay healthy, create and contribute to making a positive difference. Going down for the count doesn’t work here.  Turn OFF the count… it will change your world and your life!

Here a couple of suggestions for turning your focus around:

Get knowledgeable about HIV and understand what you can do to make a difference in living a healthy life. We have done a lot of research here at MyHIVAIDSAwareness.com and have found many ways that you can directly impact your disease progression. It is not out of your control.

Go SUPERSONIC and get past the naysayers. Don’t listen to the negative voices and stay on your path to wellness. To get past something you have to be moving forward.

Understand Karma and reaping what you sow. Doesn’t matter what your religion is or even if you are religious. It does matter that for every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first. Step in and take control.

Use your personal power to help others. Giving feels good, but there’s more to it than that. When we direct our energy and focus on meeting others’ needs, we push aside our concerns and negative emotions. We open up our world.

Nothing is more challenging than facing a life long illness. There are no tomorrows where the battle with HIV will not be part of your life. But there are many more tomorrows that can be wonderful and fulfilling if you focus on finding them. We are here to help you do just that.

In the coming weeks, my team will be announcing the results of our work that focuses on your tomorrows.  We worked to find simple solutions to improve your daily living with HIV and make a positive difference in your life. Stay tuned!

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HIV & Anxiety… It’s normal to worry when you have HIV.

Posted in Information, Prevention, Quality of Life, treatment on Friday, July 23rd, 2010 by Kelly - Leave a comment

          

There are times when fear is good.  It must keep its watchful place at the heart’s controls.  ~Aeschylus

Have you ever experienced a situation similar to the one described below?   

HIV treatment at the doctorYou are set for your monthly doctor visit. You have been feeling good, taking your meds, working out, and eating well. You stepped into the office and then backed out. The mere sight of it gave you the creeps. After a short while, you tried to step back in and couldn’t. You felt light-headed and your heartbeat started to go crazy. It sent chills up your spine. You felt the urge to run but you couldn’t — your difficult breathing left you immobilized.

What can we do about our fears? Can we stop them? Is there a way to use them to our advantage?

Fear is really designed to warn you. It is your body’s security alarm to keep you from stepping into unknown territory unprepared. If you re-discover the true role of fear in your life, you will find there are ‘good fears’ that lead to a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach or vigilance in dealing with your HIV status.

Fear is not meant to stop you, it could be used as a  means to warn you to be prepared. Fear tells you to think twice before you step out and do something you will regret later. It gives you time or another chance to think so that you can make better decisions and take fewer risks. This is the correct perspective on fear.

For instance, it is perfectly natural to fear getting an HIV test. It is not the test that is the real fear – it is the chance of the positive result. This fear can make you extra careful about the choices in your sex life.

We are also programmed to fear becoming ill or injured, especially the unknown factor in being able to take care of ourselves. This is not to stop us from living each day, but to keep us from doing things that could hurt us. This natural self-preservation is a huge motivating factor in choosing a healthy lifestyle and limiting the risky behaviors associated with HIV infection.

Here are just a few normal fears associated with HIV:

Fear of the unknown – If you don’t know much about HIV and what happens in your body, you might be afraid.

Fear of changes in your status – When your tests are good, you are doing great. But your viral load could go up on the next doctor visit and you worry.

Fear of disclosure – Could somebody at work find out? Will that make a difference with your boss? It is nature to be concerned about what others might think, say or do if they found out your status.

Fear of symptoms – You might get obsessed with each and every twitch or minor illness that you experience because of what it might mean  to your HIV. You spend a great deal of  itme taking your temperature, checking your lymph nodes and searching for signs of infection.

Anxiety starts with persistent worrying and causes a disturbance in your mood and emotional life. Mild to moderate anxiety is nothing unusual after a major life event like becoming HIV positive. But fears and anxiety can get out of control and take over your world if you don’t deal with them.

Want to know more about fear and how to use it to your advantage?

Please make sure you get on my mailing list by putting your email address in the box to the upper right or go to http://myhivaidsawareness.com.  I’ll have some more information about HIV fear and anxiety coming your way very soon!

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Getting Knocked Down, But Not Knocked Out By HIV – Part 2

Posted in General, Quality of Life on Thursday, July 1st, 2010 by Kelly - 4 Comments

Part 2 of 4 Part Series

 “Through my illness I learned rejection. I was written off. That was the moment I thought, Okay, game on. No prisoners. Everybody’s going down. “

~Lance Armstrong

In the first part of this series, we shared that we all get knocked down once in a while. Its part of what makes life interesting and it keeps us on our toes.

In this second part of this series, I want to talk about knowing your opponent. You need to see your opponent to understand their game plan. You need to know all about HIV and how it plays the game.

I know that you might say that living with HIV is no game, but what is a game anyway? Isn’t it some form of contest where there are opponents and rules that decide the winner? It is no different when your opponent is HIV and winning means living the healthiest life possible.

What is HIV’s strategy to win? It is a simple strategy of finding the CD4 cells in your immune system and using them to replicate. By destroying the ability of the infected cells to do their job in the immune system, your body then loses the ability to fight many infections. HIV is tricky and it changes its attack over time by mutating.

But your opponent has a weakness that can be exploited. If HIV is not able to replicate and mutate as often as it would like, it can be put into the corner.  A combination of HAART drugs creates problems for HIV replication, keeps the HIV offspring low, and reduces the possibility of HIV mutating.

HIV also doesn’t like healthy living, good nutrition and a toned physique.

For every person in this fight, there is a unique game with its own special set of rules for your body.  Your strategy to fight HIV requires you understanding your opponent and how it fights in your body.

Here are five ways to give you the edge in fighting HIV and in life:

Be real, be authentic, and be yourself. There is no way you can face your opponent with blinders on and no way to win this battle without being in focus. Too often people spend incredible amounts of energy trying to bend themselves into something they’re not or hide from the truth.

Shower your HIV team with honesty. Your team is your lifeline and they deserve your honesty in sharing this battle with you. Tell your HIV doc the truth about your habits and experiences so they can craft a strategy that can win. Be upfront with your support team about how you feel and what you need.

Take a sincere interest in HIV. You have got to understand it to fight it. Take the steps necessary to be the expert on your body and its response to HIV. Be the first to know what is happening and what your next steps should be.

Always be positive. Positive is more than a diagnosis in your life. It is easy to pile on to a complaint fest or add to the chorus of negativity on living with HIV. But you can be the standout who is focused on the positive outcome. It doesn’t just make your life easier; it makes your immune system healthier.

Recognize others. Don’t forget that you aren’t in this battle alone. Your team is with you and this includes caseworkers, doctors, therapists, family and friends. Let them know how much you value what they do for you and the sacrifices they make for you.

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Father’s Day for the Dad of an HIV+ Son

Posted in Community, Family, Quality of Life on Thursday, June 17th, 2010 by Kelly - 2 Comments

    

“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” ~Robert McCloskey

Contrary to what many might think (and do), the most important job of a parent is not to speak, preach, direct or yell.

The most important job of a parent is to listen.

If you were to listen, you would hear that your adult son or daughter becomes very much the child when talking about what their parents mean in their battle against HIV.

As I have spoken to HIV+ adults around the country it has never ceased to surprise  - and sometimes distress – me to see the reaction when I talk about being a dad. Somehow it has become okay to not be a dad if your son or daughter has a lifestyle that you don’t approve of. I have seen first hand the pain it causes when you lose your parents over being gay or having HIV.

We don’t get to pick who our children are anymore than they got to pick who their parents were.

I know that people are afraid of HIV and don’t like to think about the lifestyle choices of their kids if they are different than their own. But we parents can make the ultimate difference in our child’s life with HIV by providing what parents do: love and support.

I created “My Child is HIV+” – A Living Guide for Parents for Father’s Day. I wrote it for the parents of HIV positive adults who need their moms and dads to be on their team.

Inside the pages you will find basic information about HIV/AIDS and some of the things that a parent needs to know to fully support their HIV positive child. I want to thank both the parents and adult children affected by HIV for providing valuable insight for me in writing this guide. It was hard sometimes to find the right words.

The guide is the result of asking questions and seeking the answers to allow those with HIV to live a full life without unnecessary limitations. It is about cutting through the “nice to know” and providing the “need to know”.  I hope you share it with your clients, friends and family.

You can get your copy right here by putting your name and email address in the form on the right column of this page.

My final word to parents: If you want to be a person of great importance in your child’s life, if you want to teach your children, motivate them, inspire them and lead them, then learn to listen.

1. Talk less. Listen more.

2. Make fewer statements. Ask more questions.

3. Make it your mission to understand HIV.

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Getting knocked down, not knocked out by HIV.

Posted in Community, Quality of Life on Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 by Kelly - 7 Comments

 

“I never thought of losing, but now that it’ s happened, the only thing is to do it right. That’s my obligation to all the people who believe in me. We all have to take defeats in life.” ~Muhammad Ali

We all get knocked down once in a while. Its part of what makes life interesting and it keeps us on our toes.

No one on this planet is going to dispute that getting told you are HIV positive is going to knock you down. Does it have to knock you out?

The life cycle of HIV is a series of challenges not too far removed from a boxing match. (I am a big fight fan so bear with me on this one.)  Maybe you don’t want to think of your life as being in the ring, but help me to answer a few questions…

Why do some of us take that first big punch and go down in the ring never to get up?

Why do others take the killer jab and get up to shake it off? Its not like we don’t know another punch is coming.

We all experience failure, setbacks, disappointments and obstacles. There is no denying that a punch hurts and that is okay. We are human. Bad tests, side effects and stigma hurt us. It’s part of the deal of being positive and being in the ring.

The difference is how long you let it keep you down.

Here is something I learned and recommend for you. What used to knock me out for 2 weeks I eventually brought down to 2 days. Then I got it down to 2 hours and then 20 minutes. Now when I am knocked down, I give myself about 2 minutes to lie in the ring and then I shake out the cobwebs and get back to the fight.

That referee is going to be counting me to a knockout no matter what I do. The difference now is that I know what a knockout really is. I have seen first hand what can happen if HIV disease progression is not controlled. If I am not in the fight, the people I love can be hurt.

I look to replace the hit with something positive. I never allow myself to end the round or the day with a defeat. I will keep in the fight until I can gain some kind of victory – some kind hit back at what I am facing. It may be small, but it is my victory.

And yeah, I do my strut around the ring with arms held high…

Here are a few things you can do to deal with the knockdowns:

Focus Your Vision. Where you focus your energy determines where you will go. If you focus on the setback and the challenges it brought you, you can’t move forward. However, when you focus your vision on what you want your life with HIV to be, you’re using the setback for what it really is: a transition.

Make a Decision. Both success and failure are decisions. So once your vision for your life with HIV is in place, you need to decide you’re going to win despite the setback. The truth is people who successfully overcome obstacles choose to be successful. They understand that decision and choice are important parts of their plan to live with HIV. No matter what setback they encounter, they decide to overcome it and prevail.

Take Action. A decision without action is simply an illusion, and an action without a vision is just confusion. Your vision plus decisive action can change your world.

Keep the Desire. Desire is the degree of energy you’re willing to exert in order to reach your goal.  In other words,  how badly do you want your life with HIV to be positive and what are you willing to do in order to achieve it?

In my next few blog posts, we are going to talk about facing off against your opponent HIV. I look forward to hearing about your matches and how you face off against HIV.

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