Journey: Welcoming Guest Writer Royce Hardin
Editor's note: Royce Hardin is a close friend from Durham, North Carolina. He has undertaken to write a contribution to the International Carnival of Pozitivities because he has chosen to live his life genuinely and HIV is part of his life. I am very proud and honored to offer a platform for him to share his thoughts, words, and love with you all.
Durham, North Carolina
This has been a wondrously unusual past few years for me.
I tested positive for HIV in June, 1990, fairly certain I contracted the virus in late 1988. For some reason I am one of the lucky, in that, until recently, the virus has had little outward effects. Apparently, my body has been very good at dealing with HIV and I have remained basically healthy, with no opportunistic infections, an undetectable viral load and relatively good CD-4 counts.
However, the past three years have presented numerous problems which neither I nor any of the many specialists I have dealt with really have any answers for. I have developed neurological and musculo-skeletal problems that have required my taking additional medications, and this past spring a right hip replacement. I have developed strange spasms in my torso, head and neck, stammering, and painful bursitis that complicates living my life fully the way I wish. I have lost around 21 pounds, not unnoticeable on my five foot six inch frame.
After a great deal of thought, looking at much information and a great deal of listening to my body, the only conclusion I can come to is that these problems are side effects of the many medications I have felt obliged to take since the summer of 1995. For several years I was on AZT and 3TC. Then a couple years ago, I switched to Sustiva and Epzicom for HIV treatment. I also take Keppra and Clonazepam to control my spasms; Wellbutrin and Lexapro for depression and anxiety; Nexium for controlling a hiatal hernia and chronic heartburn, and recently Exelon for cognitive disorder (used to be known as HIV related dementia, as my cardiologist so eloquently put it).
Still, I realize I am one of the most blessed (a word I do not particularly care for, but can think of nothing more appropriate to use) people in the world…I have so much for which I am thankful and grateful.
I am in a sixteen year sero-discordant relationship with my partner David. We love one another deeply and have helped raise three amazing children. We have loving, accepting family members and truly the most gracious, thoughtful and loving friends. All in all, I am living my life the way I like. For all this I am humbled and thankful.
The passing of both my parents over the last three years has allowed me to realize that death is a powerful and beautiful thing. The graciousness with which my mother faced her end, and the tenacity with which my father held on to his have served as inspiration, and helped me realize that what many consider death is only another piece of the puzzle of life.
Recently, I have thought a great deal about what is truly important in life and in particular the things I want to cultivate in myself as a person.
Three of the things I know that mean the most to me are: that I let my spirit guide my life, that I develop and maintain truthfulness to myself and to those I hold dear and, I hold onto the beauty and wonder of my family, friends and self.
I have spent a great deal of time over the past couple years trying to determine the role of religion and spirituality in my own life.
In September, 2005 David and I were able to buy a small home in Maine, near the coast about forty miles south of Bangor. We both love the peace and beauty of Maine, and I spent this October there with one intent being to discover and explore my spiritual “roots”.
After the third day alone there, it became clear that all the things I have always felt that guide and give meaning to my life; the earth, sky, water, weather, plants, trees and animals are what constitute my spirit and religion. I hold my god within me through being present in these realities. I am most grateful for this realization and how it has helped me to know the importance of maintaining the three personal goals I mentioned above.
With all this in mind, I thank those many people who have helped me along my journey, and count on them continuing with me through all our time here on earth together.
They are always a part of my being and I gather strength from that fact. I hope they feel that which is of me within them as well, and know I am always present with and for them.
I thank them for being, thank them for gracing me with their love and support, thank them for understanding how much they mean to me. Now and forever.
Categories: HIV AIDS HIV/AIDS International+Carnival+of+Pozitivities guest+writer Royce+Hardin