Category Archives: Taking a Stand

It’s Me Again

I was diagnosed in October 2009. I was given my test results in Jan. 2010, my CD4 was 12 and my viral load was over 157,000. I was started on Isentress twice a day plus Truvada once a day. Three months later my viral load was undetectable (under 75) and my CD4 was 57. I have posted my continuing growing results on LTAI’s Blog before. Now on Jan. 9, 2017 my CD4 is 445, my CD8 is 473, and my helper cells are at 28% (CD4-CD8 Ratio). My health continues at a pretty good condition for an old gal of 65 years young. My health issues, which I had before HIV, have not
worsened, such as my IBS, acid reflux, etc. I have some heart issues (at 11-12 years old and had rheumatic fever) and suffered a mild silent heart attack 18 months to 2 years ago. I suffer some mild-hard chest pain and have been on continued long- acting nitro med (Isosorbide). I take blood pressure medicine and anxiety meds and both are said to be related to my HIV and other meds. However at 65, in today’s world, I think I would be on both even without HIV. It’s always important to see our doctor, take our meds and try to stay positive and active when we can.              

I attend my “Let’s Talk About It” support group monthly and attend other advocacy meetings whenever I can. I talk with my support and advocate friends often, and I send Pen Pal letters to 5 other women living with HIV who I help to advocate for. I
also have a special email pen pal in Croatia, who is also living with HIV, that I email and have for almost 7 years. I feel this support and advocacy helps not only me but the other women as well. I am a member of a newly formed Leadership group for women of our communities. We have to remember that if we don’t advocate and fight for ourselves, we may get lost in the shuffle. Today’s political world is crazy and we must not be forgotten or pushed aside. We can’t allow someone else to make choices for us, without us!

Remember the words of Elizabeth Taylor:
“I Will Not Be Silenced. I Will Not Give Up. I Will Not Be Ignored!”

 

Supportive When You’re Not Feeling It!

How can we be supportive/inspirational to other family and friends when we feel so…. lost ourselves?

Image from inextremiss

I have never been a what I call the “in your face type” with “things are wonderful and just smile”.  I am a realist and like to face obstacles head on with truth.  I can be supportive when someone is down and needs immediate support but I wonder later was that the right approach.

I am not a “Debbie Downer” but I believe in telling the truth when someone needs it. Some of the fake support others dish out doesn’t faze me nor does it help in the long run.

Facts, not fairy tales, I guess is what I believe is best. I know, I know “some” can’t handle the facts but I feel they need truth and facts head on to ditch the fairy tales.

How does everyone feel about that or how do you give support for the doom presently approaching us?

 

 

 

Conquering Your Inner Enemy

We all feel at timpics-for-natalie-blog-2es that we are defeated by our past mistakes or past experiences, but we have to believe that we are overcomers! And, no matter what happens and comes our way we will defeat it.

  • These are some things that help me to overcome my inner enemy.
    Changing my mind to what can go right instead of wrong

    1. If I am thinking that am going to fail at something, I tell myself I will pass.
    2. Expecting the best will happen when my family and I get together.
    3. He or she will accept me, as I am, when I tell them my diagnosis, and if not, it is not the end of the world, there is more life to live. They’re missing out, not me, I understand that rejection is God’s protection.
  • Using affirmation:
    1. My self-esteem is high because I honor who I am.
    2. I am grateful for my healthy body. I love life.
    3. As I forgive myself, it becomes easier to forgive others.
                                      – Louise Hay  
  • Affirmation:
    1. I am beautiful.
    2. I will succeed
  • Using humor and fun around someone that makes me happy.
    1. Laughing
    2. Skating
    3. Shopping
    4. Going out to eat.
    5. Fishing

Remind myself that the negative thought that I’m thinking is only negative; it has no power other than what I give it. When I give it power, it controls my destiny.

Watch your thoughts, they become words.
Watch your words, they become actions.
Watch your actions, they become habits.
Watch your habits, they become your character.
Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
                                                              -Lao Tzu

I surround myself with positive people, who are headed in the same direction as me, or who are already there. Don’t be afraid to jump into something new, live outside your comfort zone. Enjoy life!

Ways That Help Me To Be Free From My Inner Enemy

confidence-wordsI battle with low self-esteem because of things I have been through in my life, or things that have been spoken or done to me.

I never knew how to break free from it, I always felt less than anybody around me because of the way I looked or how I spoke and all I wanted was to feel love. I was finding love in the wrong places or things. I was looking for a way out, wanting to know how to escape everything within me and learning how to love me.

These are ways that help me to be free:

  • Taking responsibility for my own life and decisions, which can be hard at times, but I have to do it.
  • Forgive, which is a choice, not a feeling. Never give a person or something so much power over me that I choose not to forgive.
  • I no longer rely on someone else’s validation to feel good about myself. When I started taking responsibility for myself, it began to build my self-esteem and stability within and gave me hope. I started feeling good about myself.
  • Self-esteem problems can damage many important parts in my life, like relationships, ambitions, achievements, and health when playing the victim role.

I never want to be powerless and helpless another day in my life. I lost many years of my life by being powerless and helpless. I was giving someone else command over me, and allowing them to have control of my responsibilities and relinquishing my God given power and will.

I replace a negative with a positive by:

Changing my mind to what can go right instead of wrong. I learned the mind can only think one thought at a time.

  1. Using affirmation.
  2. Using humor and fun or being around someone that makes me happy.
  3. Reminding myself that the negative thought that I’m thinking is only negative, it has no power other than what I give it.

Most of all fall in love with me!

 

 

 

At Let’s At Let’s Talk About It- we stand up and speak out against gender-based abuse!

reprinted from:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shannon-weber/women-hiv-and-trauma-towa_b_10489298.html

Women, HIV and Trauma: Toward Resiliency & Healing

06/17/2016 02:52 pm ET | Updated Jun 18, 2016
  • Shannon Weber Love note writer + public displays of affection + mapping the end of HIV transmission
  • Co-authored by Karishma Oza, HIVE Program Coordinator. 2016-06-15-1466025254-1904082-LoveNoteHeal.jpg

    One in four U.S. women have experienced gender based violence. Among women living with HIV, one in two has experienced intimate partner violence, and more than 60% have been sexually abused – 5 times the rate of the general female population.

    For over twenty-five years, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital & Trauma Center-based HIVE clinic, has provided compassionate, expert reproductive and sexual health care to women living with or affected by HIV. The impact and consequences of violence against women, particularly women living with HIV, is magnified through the lens of women’s reproductive health. Reproductive health highlights the intersection of violence and reproductive justice at the individual, community and institutional level.

    • Trauma is associated with: increased HIV vulnerability, higher HIV incidence, faster disease progression, more hospitalizations.
    • Unaddressed trauma is associated with twice the rate of death among women living with HIV.
    • The aftermath of violence and/or trauma ruptures women’s relationships with themselves, their partners, family members and the medical system.
    • Women living with HIV have higher rates of tubal regret – meaning more women second guess their decision to have a tubal ligation, for some this decision was made for them.
    • Partner contraception sabotage increases rates of unintended pregnancies.
    • 33 U.S. states with HIV criminalization laws enforce long histories of systemic oppression, further stigmatizing women.

    Pregnancy, contraception, trauma and HIV vulnerability intersect in ways that dramatically impact women’s lives. Even in the face of these overwhelming statistics and devastating outcomes, there is hope. Our collective resilience is cause for a standing ovation. We can seek solidarity in our advocacy efforts and heal through relationships even as we continue efforts to create systems-level change.

    Progress at the national level to integrate trauma-informed care into the primary care setting and specific references to trauma-informed care in the updatedNational HIV/AIDS Strategy, shifts institutional approaches. We share strategies for operationalizing these guidelines at the clinic and individual level with a lens toward healing and resiliency-oriented approaches for working with women living with HIV who’ve experienced trauma.

    1. Shift our focus from “What is wrong with you?” to “What happened?” Moving away from blame, allowing space for her story, staying curious, seeking to understand her worldview creates opportunity to meet women where they are and understand their lived experiences.

    2. Commit to self-care and resiliency oriented approaches to our work. More than just practicing what we preach, this integration of trauma-informed principles become the touchstone for truly becoming a trauma reducing, healing system. This begins with a commitment to heal ourselves.

    3. Include women. Ask women for feedback on provider and program approaches, integrate women’s lived experiences when designing new programs or crafting policies, hire women for important roles. Create space for women living with HIV to lead.

    4. Use trigger warnings at the beginning of emotionally intense meetings or online content. Those with primary or secondary trauma are among us. Invite self-care. Create awareness and respect with an overview of what to expect. Respect the self-care measures others take.

    5. Universal screening for intimate partner violence, with counseling and referrals. Preventative education about the intersection of intimate partner violence and health can be provided to all patients, not just those who have disclosed a history of violence. Ask questions in non-triggering, nonjudgmental language with the goal of patient empowerment and safety.

    6. Rape and other forms of violence remove women’s sense of power and control. The medical system is inherently hierarchal. However, medical visits should not create more pain, violence, or humiliation. Turn commands into questions, create space for her response, provide opportunities for women to be in control.

    7. “Difficult” patients may have experienced sexual trauma. She isn’t difficult; she’s had a difficult life or experienced traumas that are difficult to integrate. What might be difficult is the system she’s trying to navigate. Reframing allows space for the experience she is living, invites you to meet her where she is today.

    8. The body of a survivor remembers traumatic experiences. We are somatic creatures; this is our vulnerability and our strength. Through our interactions with survivors, we can change the way we see her, then change the way she sees herself.

    Toward resiliency and healing, we share this poem.

    beyond compassion
    By Silvi Alcivar, The Poetry Store

    the gates call you
    to move forward,
    to pass through thresholds
    that make you able to sustain you,
    the work,
    that make you able to sit in service,
    to model dignity,
    to recognize trauma,
    to take care of community,
    self,
    to live your intellect through your heart
    and be wise.

    the wise one asks:
    what’s the beauty of what we attract?
    what’s the beauty asking me to heal?

    the wise one remembers the breath.
    the wise one drinks the waters of nourishment and release.
    the wise one works with the shadow knowing the shadow means
    there’s always a source of light.

    the wise one asks:
    what are you teaching me?
    what isn’t being seen, held?

    oh, the gates call you, wise ones,
    to move forward, to attend
    to what needs attending, what wants attention
    in ourselves and our inheritance.

    call in your support. breathe.
    honor the spaces between.
    hold intention. clear. release.

    put on your golden cape.
    heal. and be healed.

    Fear of Making a Presentation: National HIV Testing Day:

    First, I want to start off and say, I am not a presenter. I never have been. Getting up and talking in front of people seemed to be the worst kind of torture to me. I hated it and I never could remember all I was supposed to say or do. They say the only way to conquer a fear is to do it often and repeatedly.hiv-testing-day-468Recent events have allowed me to put this theory into practice. I have had to come out of my shell and actually speak to people. At first I was terrified about speaking in front of people and having all their eyes on me, it was a nerve-wracking feeling. Well, I gritted my teeth, buckled down to practice and got through it with a lot of help and support from others. Now I have been making presentations on a pretty regular basis, and this mostly involves talking to people about living with HIV and how it has had an impact on my life. Wanting to help other people living with HIV is what gave me the push to tackle more public speaking. I wanted to educate others on the disease, those living with it and those who are not.

    Being able to help and educate people was important to me. It’s important that the word get out there that living with HIV is not a death sentence anymore, you can live a long and healthy life. I can’t say I still don’t get nervous before a presentation, but once I’m warmed up it’s usually a piece of cake. I usually practice what I’m going to say the night before, and it really helps when you have a partner to practice with. That way you have somebody besides yourself listening to your presentation, and they are able to give you feedback on it.

    I would say you can really start speaking out anywhere, but probably keep it small at first. As long as you have the passion to educate, inform and help people you will be able to speak up anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you have the experience or not. Your passion will shine through.

    June 27th is National HIV Testing Day. As we observe this day, take time to create awareness and encourage testing. So, I challenge you to take the first step as well and speak out.

    Here are a few sites for additional information:

    aPositiveLife.com

    https://www.aids.gov/news-and-events/awareness-days/hiv-testing-day/

    Share with us the steps that  you take in observing this day.

     

     

     

    Don’t Cheat on Yourself

    As human beings, we automatically are taught to nurture others and that makes us start on the road of learning to”cheat on myself.” I never thought about that until today. I should be on the path to help myself when it comes to things like bubble bacalmness photo for blogths, going clothes shopping, getting my hair done, etc.  I should be open to learn how to see the positive in everything and learn how to enjoy everything that I am doing. If not, I am“cheating on myself.”

    Sometimes I have family, friends, or significant others who try to take all of my time away and sometimes it feels as if I am being taken advantage of. The time that I have set for myself should maybe be marked as an important appointment on the calendar and even put it on the phone with an alarm. When I do this, I will make sure to tell others that I am going to be busy and stick to it because I deserve it and so do you. It’s just as important to do this for myself and makes me just as important as someone else is. If I stand up and say “NO” or just saying that I am busy, that should be enough. I don’t feel guilty because this is me that requires rejuvenation.

    Just because I learn to say “NO” doesn’t mean that I don’t love others, it’s just that I have decided to do things for me as a women with HIV and it makes me learn about myself, then I will be better at helping others. As a matter of fact, it makes me stronger and maybe I have learned not to “cheat on myself.”

    I decided to write about this because I have been letting others dictate my choices and that is not going to continue because it will stress me out and cause me to be sick. “Cheating on myself” makes me forget all of the little things that make mehappy.

    Get back to doing you, and stay on track, so that you will be able to have strength to show others why you are so happy, maybe it will catch on.

    What makes you cheat on yourself and what would you like to do for yourself that will help you stop? 

     

    I Can Do Something