So I was out of commission for a good while. I got sick and I ended up in bed for about four days. I only left my bed to use the loo, or get something to eat or drink. Otherwise, I was just in bed and feeling like now was a good time to die. It was that bad.
It came suddenly. A big typhoon was supposed to hit and all of a sudden the wind came in with an extra bit of chill and it got underneath my skin and lay the groundwork for the illness there. It happened to me in Portugal as well. It’s what I’m left vulnerable to because I sleep with the windows wide open. I like the fresh air and I don’t use an air conditioner all year round, so I like to keep the windows open. When the climate changes so suddenly and the wind carries that extra chill, it can take me down.
I had a frog in my throat for a good four days. I sounded like Macy Gray. I had a bad cough that ruptured through my chest and I just decided to take a lot of fluids and sleep for four days straight. I didn’t leave my bed. I was just there, gathered amongst my pillows, windows closed, covered in a blanket and sleeping.
I hate getting sick. It drives me up the wall, aside from the nagging feeling like this could escalate into something really serious. But I have to have this presence of mind to really be aware of my body and to figure out if this is something I could handle on my own or if this is something really, really serious and needs medical attention. I have been healthy and I have been getting stronger, but as my CD4 count is still just a bit below 500 and I just got out of the danger zone 2 years ago doesn’t mean I don’t take this lightly. I’m still in a precarious spot and I don’t want to lose it to carelessness or a flippant attitude.
It bothers me, though, to say that I’m sick and people start to worry. I don’t want people to worry. It’s great because it shows they care and they love me and they are concerned but people living with HIV get sick. It’s normal. Not every illness is the big one that’s going to kill me. And it puts everything that I’ve been doing into question.
“You’ve been pushing yourself in your dance class, haven’t you?”
“How often have you been going out?”
“Do you eat well? What have you been eating?”
Everything goes into scrutiny. And I hate that my dance classes is the first to get attacked, as if I’m not allowed to take dance classes. There are people living with HIV who are doing way more strenuous stuff that I am — CrossFit, dragon boat racing, triathletes. I’ve taken two dance classes and all of a sudden I’m pushing myself too far.
I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining but this is a challenge for me to try and to regulate people’s concerns and love with an understanding that everything is going to be fine. It’s my fault, really, since I almost really kicked the bucket in 2010. People don’t want that to happen again. I get it. But if I’m going to get stronger, I am going to have to do things that will test that strength.
If I’m going to live, I am going to have to live a full life or there was no point in saving me at all.
I just have to work on that balance and to accept the concern as love and transform it into something positive.