I have been trapped inside a T-cell for 30 years and I am tired. During those thee decades something amazing has happened; I have aged. I am now an old man with HIV and I am reminded of what St. Theresa said about being careful what you pray for since you might just get it. St. Theresa was spot on.
I was diagnosed when I was in my late 20’s and fear ripped through my mind and body. It was the time of “everyone died from HIV”. There wasn’t any wiz bang med combos. There was AZT and luck. Both sucked. But I survived long enough to be benefit from the new HIV treatments and much to my amazement I am now old and living with HIV. I got what I prayed for and now am living it.
Being old is a hard road that no one understands fully until they travel it. In the societal mind there is some magic number that flips people from middle age to old. People make jokes about it. A friend signs you up for AARP. You laugh. You hit the gym and pretend nothing has really changed, but in reality everything has changed. Guy I use to work out with have moved on to younger training partners. Others guys say “You have a great body FOR A MAN YOUR AGE!” How I haven’t decked the last Bozo that said that to me is still a mystery.
I have been on antiretrovirals for decades and my body aches with that slow unrelenting pain. I take medication so I can stay on other medications. My concerns are sometimes swept away under the “age carpet”. After all what do you expect for someone your age? I have actually have the answer to that question. I expect NOT to feel like crap everyday. Stop telling me that I am getting older and these “things” happen. My T cells may be damaged, but I am not. I’m still a man and stop treating me like bad news.
Richard S Ferri, PhD, NP, CARN-AP, FAAN