I woke up this morning and the Minister of Health was talking on TV, reminding us to wear a mask correctly in public places. This struck a chord reminding me of the time I used to tell people to wear condoms properly to avoid HIV/AIDS and/or pregnancy. Those were trying times.
My story begins when I started working for a company after my mother and brother passed away one after the other. I had been doing chemical engineering but had to leave school and work to put food on the table. I had to grow up fast to support my family.
After the probation period I applied for a life insurance policy. They took my blood and the results came back positive! That was in 1996. My world crumbed in front of me. My dreams and ambitions evaporated, the value of life was no more. Worse, there was a poster and a mural of a skeleton inside a coffin, and three people with black hooded clothes, ‘HIV/AIDS’ written with blood-red paint. There was another skeleton holding a sickle-like tool; I think he represented the devil. This made me feel like I was dying on the spot.
How could I tell my family that I was also dying after I had just lost my mother and brother? Financially, how were we going to survive? I needed to grow up fast. I was angry with God. I could not physically hold or throw fits at Him, so I shouted at Him. But one day something happened that I cannot explain scientifically.
I went out to empty my urine bucket and buy myself two bottles of Oude Meester and cigarettes. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I did not lock the door when I came back. My daughters came running, laughing and giggling saying, “Come, Daddy, come and see!” They went out again.
Their innocent shiny eyes never noticed my state of affairs. My room was filthy, I myself has not washed in days; everything around me was quiet except the giggles and laughter of my children. To me, that was my purpose, to live and be productive once again. Emotionally, a spark was ignited. I started by cleaning my room, then myself. I went to other doctors for a second and third opinion. All results came back positive. I needed to learn more about HIV.
I became active in NGOs dealing with HIV/AIDS. I knew there was no cure but I was motivated not to give up. I started my treatment on the 13 January 2017. At present my viral load is undetectable, my CD4 count is high. There are challenges from time to time e.g. food being expensive. All I’m saying is: look after yourself and don’t take things or people for granted. Wash your hands; keep your distance and you might live longer.
Tell us: What has the author taught you about following rules when it comes to your health?