Positive – is not Really Positive
When I got those test results back, I felt like the world dropped out from underneath me.
I was completely lost. Honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that Luke was my only contact for heroin, and I refused to speak to him, I probably would have gone home that night and overdosed. I thought about going down to the club where he took me on our first “date,” and trying to score there. But I knew it would only stop the pain for a little while, and I would always associate heroin with Luke, who I wanted nothing to do with now.
When the clinician at Planned Parenthood gave me the results, I started hyperventilating. She offered me referrals to doctors for treatment to manage HIV. I looked her in the eyes and told her about the heroin, and said I needed help.
That clinician, to this day I wish I could remember her name, was my angel. She helped me find a rehabilitation facility that would accept my insurance. She reassured me that work would give me time off for medical reasons, and said she’d be praying for me and that she knew I was going to get better.
And she was right.
It was a tough road, though. I had to detox in rehab before I could even attempt any therapy. It was the worst pain, physically and emotionally, I had ever experienced. The doctors at the facility were able to give me some medicine to make it easier, though, than if I’d just tried to detox on my own at home. I know with absolute certainty there is no way I would have been able to get clean and sober on my own, no matter how bad I wanted it. Those first few days without heroin felt like torture, and I was dying for a hit.
But I stuck with it. I figured I’d come this far, and if I left rehab before I was ready, my options would be the same as they were when I came in. I wasn’t equipped to face the reality of my HIV and knew I needed help not only to get sober but to figure out how my life was going to be with this diagnosis.
The short version of the story is, I cleaned up, moved into a new place for a fresh start, started teaching myself graphic design at night after work instead of getting high, and was able to build my own freelance business. I managed my HIV symptoms, and it’s possible I could still live a long life. I met Jamal at a concert I went to with some work friends. He is sober too and was HIV positive before we met. We are a great support system for each other.
If I can get out of that dark place and turn my life around, you can too. I promise. It’s hard work, but it’s so worth it.