13 February 2008


It has always seemed a little strange to me to think of mourning the loss of something that is not actually dead. I have found myself doing that on so many occasions over the last ten years of living with AIDS that you would think I would be getting used to it by now. No such luck.

After a whole lot of time, energy and even money invested in getting there, I resigned from the Bar in 2001. That was one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made, but it was really the only choice I had at the time. I was working where I am now, in a community organization, not earning a whole lot of money and not particularly using my status as a member of the Bar in my work. In my previous community job, I had at least needed the status for one of my tasks — teaching people how to prepare their own non-contested divorces — and even did some of that for people as clients. But when I got to where I am now, I was not even doing that, and it became difficult to swallow the cost of remaining a member of the bar (up to $1,000 in fees each year, and always the possibility that the compulsory insurance would again resume costing that much as well). I resigned in order to preserve the possibility that I could regain the status, but I know it is really gone.

Imagine being in your early forties and being unable to open one of the paper clips pictured above because of the severity of the arthritis in your hands. According to a neurologist I consulted recently (regarding carpal tunnel syndrome), there's a strange confluence of factors at work. If my HIV meds weren't working, I wouldn't have such a problem with my psoriatic arthritis, which contributes to the effect of the carpal tunnel syndrome. Ah, what to mourn?

A few years ago, another such confluence of factors, combined with a degree of vanity and some harshness and self-doubt on my part, contributed to the loss of most of my social life (and my sex life). Factors? Quit smoking, got less active, aged (slowing my metabolism) and arrived at the end of more than seven years of taking a combination of HIV medications that people don't tend to prescribe anymore. Result? Gained about 60 pounds, became extremely self-conscious and unhappy about my body and began isolating myself rather than braving the reactions of others (or my perceptions of them).

A few weeks ago, the nipple I had pierced many years ago, and in which I have always had either a ring or a bar, became seriously infected. This to the point where I became worried about the long-term impact of the infection. So I did that thing that I hadn't pictured myself doing: removed the ring and decided to let go of the piercing. That might seem trivial in relation to some of the other things I have given up, but it was as much a part of my whole identity as many other things. It had been a part of me for a good fifteen years. And now it's gone.

This brings me to my latest loss. I had been trying to work on some problems with the help of a psychologist, trying to get past how I feel about myself and trying to get past what has been stopping me from doing something about it (the content of this is probably enough for its own post, so I won't elaborate much here). My plans went off the rails and I found myself unable to even meet the minimal goals I had set for myself. The pressure I was putting on myself and my own disappointment in not reaching goals I set for myself was becoming more of a problem for me, bringing me down rather than helping me solve problems. I decided that I wasn't ready for this counselling and ended it, at least for now.

Now my challenge will be to see whether I can move forward on my own, or get to the place where I'm ready for some help.


fuzzy said...

How about moving forward, allowing the help of others. You can do both!

Brent said...

My friend is having the same problems with neuropathy and is worried that it might be ALS like Stephen Hawkings has. Test showed that there were no antibodies for it. He worries about the fat sheath that covers nerves might be depleting. Having cancer in 07 helped me lose a lot of weight but it is coming back fast. I also did the therapy thing for a bit and the antidepressant drugs for a while. I am good now I think. Chin up there buddy.