Mount Sinai | Chlesea | New York City
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This post is less about a reflection on 2013 and making promises to myself into 2014 and onward, as it is acknowledgement of the past year, it’s difficulties, and the progress that I have made in the last couple of months.
Somewhere in the month of July I met a man named JR and to say the least, I wish there was not a gap in my life for him to squeeze into. It was a rough year and I was holding little to no respect for myself and allowing others, not just him, to take advantages of certain situations - not to get too much into detail. The first evening we met we had unprotected sex and afterwards he informed me that he was HIV positive. My heart sank.
I had heard previously about a drug called PrEP if taken with 72 hours of exposure could help in preventing the transmission of the virus. I was working the following two days and for whatever reason at the time, back seated my health. After 48 hours I went to the health clinic to tell them of my concern. I was almost in hysteria at this point. I met with the doctor and she informed me that they did not have the drugs on site but would have to refer me to the hospital for treatment. Considering the amount of time that I had possible exposure, the doctor at the health department of NYC wanted to get me to the hospital as soon as possible. At the same time, she wanted to check in with my mental health. We had a very heart to heart. She was genuine and honest and I opened up. I told her how little I valued myself and how I had been so unhappy for almost two years at that point and how I was constantly having unprotected sex. I admitted to her that I wanted to just get HIV and get it over and done with. She nodded. She said that it is not rare for people to ‘wish’ this upon themselves. I felt as it was an inevitable life for me, living with HIV. She sat there with me for quite awhile and I expressed my truths, as I knew them, and sobbed.
I went to Mount Sinai with my referral letter and was given an examination and all my blood work was handled very swiftly. I had to go over week for a month for treatment and examination. Every week I went and sat in that waiting room was a reminder of where I was heading if I didn’t pull myself up soon. I didn’t feel sorry for anyone in that waiting room, quite the opposite - compassion. I didn’t tell anyone with the exception of my mother and my friend Laura. Not in fear of disappointment or embarrassment, but not to worry anyone until I was sure.
After a month of treatment and follow ups, to this day, I am HIV negative and extremely grateful. I cannot fully express in words how dark I have been the last two years here in New York and where I have allowed myself to go - places I never imagined. I can only speak for myself but I felt so at the bottom of the barrel that I felt that how could it get any worse. I saw no hope or end in sight. This experience was the beginning of change in my life. I speak as if I am in a wheelchair attempting to learn how to walk after a car accident, but it feels like that. I am pulling myself back to where I was more than 3yrs ago and I am being very hopeful for 2014 and well beyond.
<photo taken from hospital on first day of treatment>