Over 30 years ago, a doctor handed me a pack of blue and white pills, told me to take at least 12 of them a day and get my affairs in order. I had six months at best.
He also told me that all the alternatives that I might think of seeking - macrobiotic , homeopathy, herbs and remedies from the rain forest, alternative medicine, meditation and trial vaccines were useless.
But I had already dealt with friends with GRID. His diagnosis didn’t shock me. I had done my homework. I knew the poison was all he had to offer. But I didn’t believe the little he knew was either the answer or the endgame.
So I handed doc back the daily overdose of AZT he was offering to assuage his own helplessness and said his option was not for me and not to bill me because as far as I was concerned we had never met at all. Not only would i reject his verdict, but he was officially dead to me.
So began a journey of discovery of survival and of discovery that scared, shocked, excited, educated and evidently saved me. I met geniuses and quacks, angels and frauds, swallowed, injected, ingested, rubbed on, infused and inhaled countless options. Which one worked? All? None ? I will never know. It could just be lucky genes. But, as Celie sings, I’m here.
I would never have chosen this adventure, but somehow I regret none of it. I didn’t just learn how to survive.
I realized how to live.
For those of us with HIV, it is World AIDS day every day, because awareness, immediacy and focus is now second nature. While I don’t wish the route needed to get here on anyone, the world would be better if others had discovered this connection to the power they have over their lives and to help others.
Thank you to everyone guided and advised me, who bolstered my bravery and foolhardy belief in myself, god bless those who were able to find strength in my story and resilience, and I can and will never forget the scores of wonderful, funny, valiant, handsome and beautiful friends and loved ones I have lost.
Today we are faced with a tax bill that will inhibit and harm those faced with multiple forms of life challenges. If you believe that the best part of life is loving being alive then you need to contact your senators whether you love or hate them and remind them that there are children, elders and vibrant men and women whose lives they are about to impact in a bad way.
It’s a long shot to stop them. But it was a long shot for me to be typing this today.
It is worth the effort.
I’m living proof
Call Maine represenative Susan Collins. She is last holdout on tax bill. Her number is 202-224-2523.
Hal Rubenstein was one of the founding editors of both POZ and In Style Magazine, as well as the Men’s Style Editor of The New York Times Magazine. He is the author of five books on style and consults for fashion brands, restaurants and hotels.