Wednesday, March 29, 2006

A Birthday Reflection

Twenty-five years was a young and naïve age to learn that I was infected with HIV. That this happened to me in 1985 made it even more difficult. At that time, AIDS was a definite death sentence. The social stigma associated with it was stifling. No one talked about their infection unless they were near death or in a large city where anonymity could protect them from the type of vigilante attitude that saw homes of victims being burned and infected children having to change school districts because of intolerance. Bless Michael Jackson and Elton John for stepping in to take the hand of Ryan White to show their compassion and to deflate some of the negativity associated with HIV and AIDS at that time.

When I found out, I never expected to live to see my thirtieth birthday. On Sunday, I observed the forty-seventh anniversary of my arrival in Clinton, North Carolina, as a newborn of the Hudson family. It has been an amazing life so far, and I hope to continue living it until the day I die.

I did not exactly celebrate this birthday. I came down with a bug over the weekend and had to start antibiotics. Also, my mom is still in the hospital and my focus was more on her than on what seemed an artificial “holiday”. She is doing pretty well and we are lucky to continue to receive relatively good news about her various tests and procedures. She is remarkably strong and is feeling much better since she was re-admitted last week.

I have not felt well since I caught this bug, and I took my fourth day’s dose of my antibiotic while eating my egg substitutes this morning. Almost simultaneous to my having swallowed today’s dose, I heard on television from the “corner of my ear” an attorney’s advertisement warning of the use of the particular drug I had been given. It referenced dangers in patients with diabetes! I went online immediately and determined that the drug had been contra-indicated in patients with diabetes and renal insufficiency, conditions both of which affect me. A flurry of phone calls later, I learned that I should immediately cease taking this drug and will start a new antibiotic tomorrow.

The issue here seems to be that I am in a town where I am not able to see my own doctors, and the ones that I can see and the pharmacy that fills my scripts are less informed of my health issues than my regular doctor and pharmacy. There is a lesson here to make sure to remember all of your meds and all of your conditions when you see a doctor who is unfamiliar with you. The same applies to your pharmacy, even if you are temporarily in a new place.

Today, I sit here typing and am closely monitoring my blood glucose level for both surges and plunges. I had just started glipizide about three weeks ago and have been adjusting my diet to bring my sugar levels into order, but it turns out that the antibiotic I was taking also can cause both a drop and an increase in blood glucose. In some cases, there is a chance of coma and even death, but I hope to catch any changes before anything that drastic. I am wearing my mom’s lifeline necklace just to be safe, especially after having had a conversation with my sister yesterday morning that I do not recall in any detail at all.

Eventually, my family and I will sit down and celebrate my birthday, but for now, we are focused more on healing our mom and making sure I don’t end up sicker than I am.

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