Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's World AIDS day and nearly 9 months since my diagnosis....

My Story  - the shorter version. The longer video version can be found at the end....

On March 3rd, 2010 I learned that I was HIV + and the next month with follow up labs that I had also contracted Hepatitis C. 
On the day I walked out of my physician’s office in NYC learning of my HIV diagnosis; I was frightened. I didn’t know where to turn; I had nobody on a peer to peer level to talk to about my new diagnosis, and I was upset with myself and at the World around me.  It was a tumultuous time in my life, because at the same time of learning of my diagnosis I was also dealing with a substance abuse issue.
I was at a stalemate in my life, and the dual diagnosis crippled me more emotionally than physically. So, on March 3rd, 2010 I began to set in motion the steps I needed to take to get my life back on track. I immediately took a leave of absence from my job of  7 years with American Express to address my substance abuse issue, to address my HIV and Hepatitis status, and to really examine myself, my life, my job, and those around me. 
I self-admitted for 32 days (inpatient) to the Pride Institute in Minnesota. In this caring environment I was able to come to grips with my co-infection, learn about my substance abuse issue and further set in motion the needed steps to get my life in order.
On March 3rd, 2010 and throughout my stay at the Pride Institute I began what would be nearly a year long journey “designing the rest of my life as best as I can” and decided that “I was not going to squander my life living under a cloud of impending doom” (quotes from the inspirational piece called “The Awakening” – by Sonny Carroll). This inspirational piece that I first read at the Pride Institute profoundly spoke to me, and inspired me to set in motion the rest of my life.
Since moving to NYC I kept questioning if it was the right move and whether my career would take me in the direction I wanted to go.  In the end, I decided NYC was not the right move, and my career was not taking me in the direction I wanted to go in, nor what I was doing the right fit for me.  In September 2010, After 7 years working for American Express, I resigned my position.
My higher power had a greater mission in store for me.  That mission was to move closer to my Family, and especially my ill Mother awaiting a lung transplant, to go to Graduate school for my Master’s Degree in Public Health, and to help those newly diagnosed with HIV or Hepatitis C, and dealing with a substance abuse issue; who are frightened, not knowing where to turn, advocate on their behalf, and create a greater awareness and understanding of HIV and Hepatitis C. 
My experience above and the strength I found within me to overcome my addiction, and deal with my dual diagnosis inspired me to create my own foundation....

The details on this Non Profit Foundation will be out soon.........

The longer video version of my story can be found on you tube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jJpyqs_NGw

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