Saturday, June 04, 2011

One man's experience: living with HIV for 30 years

In today's New York Times, Mark Trautwein shares his experience of being infected with HIV for the last 30 years. From the early days of uncertainty, fear, and death and the years of juggling complicated pill regimens, Trautwein has learned some lessons about life:
The dead don’t have problems, so I was grateful for mine. I was alive and my deathly companion less insistent. AIDS and I have been together for almost 30 years now. My relationship with AIDS is one of my most enduring ones, and has both enriched and beggared my life. It robbed me of friends and loved ones, and with them memories we would have had and repositories of my own history. It ended a career I loved. It cost me a marriage. My intimacy with health care in America has been costly and exhausting. I know these are small prices to pay for life.

What I’ve gained is precious. Above all, the constant companionship of plague has taught me that life is about living, not cheating death. Fighting disease is required and struggling with life inevitable. But I accept the outcomes now, whatever they are. My disease does not make me special, nor does my survival make me courageous.

On that day I walked from the hospital knowing I had “it,” I was given a great gift: the realization that we all dangle from that most delicate of threads and that the only way to live a life is to love it.

I haven’t died on schedule, and I’ve been learning not to live life on one either

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