Sunday, December 19, 2010

Early Care

I have been posting a lot lately about "knowing your status" which everyone should know but I have not been talking enough about what to do if you test positive.  A friend reminded me of that today and asked if I could share what she is currently going thru to express the importance of seeking care if you test positive.  Finding out that you just tested positive for HIV is life changing to say the least but it starts a whole new chapter in life.  You know must put that knowledge to use by beginning you long term health care.  Find a doctor and start educating yourself on what you need to do to stay healthy.

Here is what she asked me to share:

I was talking with my friend and asked him if I could share his story with you....
I've known him since I was 10 and he was 11. He got into drugs around age 16. He had a rough upbringing and once Meth got ahold of him, it rarely let go. He's been in and out of prision his whole adult life. On one of those trips to prison when he was about 19, he found out he was HIV positive and HEP C positive. It took him many, many years to acknowledge that the docs in prison weren't lying to him. His head was so clouded with Meth. He didn't get the care and treatment that he needed and he didn't quit drugs for any extended period of time. He's now 31 years old and he's in the hospital and it doesn't look like he'll ever be coming home. Many of us have stuck by him despite the drug use and it breaks our heart to see him like this. He's finally acknowledged that "all the bad things I did to myself finally caught up with me." Yet, he doesn't want to face facts and start planning for what seems to be inevitable. His T Cells are zero so the dr's have decided against removing his gallbladder. He's down from 200 to 119 pounds.
I'm sharing this with you because I think that as important as it is to get tested and know your status, it's just as important to do something about it once you do. I am proud of you for being proactive and getting the word out there.
I am going to miss my friend.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Holidays

Back in December 2005 I had a really difficult time with Christmas.  Having just found out that I was HIV Positive and being out on a cruise ship and away from home at a time where I wanted to be at home.  Here I was stuck on a ship hiding this secret from pretty much everyone and trying to research and get information and educate myself on HIV.  I had told one person at this point then I told my long time best friend Shannon and then I told my adage partner, best friend, fiance, you name it she is it to me, Valerie.

At one point on the ship Valerie came to me and let me know that someone had told others about my status and people were talking about it behind my back.  That was all finally cleared up and brought to light and thank god for Valerie and her always having my back.  One day after a rehearsal two on the ship two people came up to me and told me someone was still talking about it and sharing my status with others.  (just so everyone knows it is never okay to reveal someone status without their permission that is for them to share not you) I had reached my limit at this point and blew up and it was a scene straight out of every diva movie you could imagine.  I decided at this point it was time just to bring it all to the table so people would stop talking about behind my back and told cast members that were still there.  I then went and confronted the person that was supposedly telling everyone.  I blew up at this person and we didn't talk to each other for a while.  Unfortunately this all happened but it helped me to start talking about it and building my support system and my friend and I have a stronger and better relationship than anyone could ever imagine.  He is such an amazing friend and rock in my time of need.

The point of this blog is that you need a strong support system to get thru the rough times.  There were times when I just wanted to crawl in the corner and cry my eye out.  I was scared to tell people about my being positive mostly out of my own embarrassment and shame actually not because of how someone else was going to react to me.  Once other people knew about my status I had a support system and it was so much easier to get thru the day.  

I have been talking to others recently about being newly diagnosed and they struggles they have face so I wanted to share my story because I was stressed about keeping my secret when there was no need to keep it a secret or be stressed about it.  If you are reading this and looking for a support system talk to someone close to you or start building a new support system.

Monday, December 13, 2010

5 Years

on December 12, 2005 I was working aboard the NCL America Pride of Aloha and I received a phone call informing me that I needed to schedule an appointment to go in and speak with a Doctor at the Maricopa County Public Health Clinic.  Seeing as I was in Hawai'i for at least six months this was not an option and I spoke with an HIV counsler and he broke the news to me.  The whole story can be read in a previous blog.

5 years later I am doing wonderful.  I am healty and on medication that is keeping the virus under control.  I am currently undetectable and have a great CD4 count. 

Please get tested and know your status.  Most importantly keep the conversation going

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blood Work Results

Today I had my follow up appointment today with Dr Parks and received the results of my blood work. 

My weight was 211
Temperature was 96.4
Blood Pressure 130 over 61
Viral Load is undetectable
CD4 Count is 612

Viral Load refers to the number of copies of the virus per milliliter of blood plasma. An undetectable generally means that there are less than 50 copies of the virus per milliliter.  Doctors look at your viral load and CD4 count to determine if treatment is needed.

CD4 or more commonly referred to as T-Cells give an idea of how healthy your immune system is.  A normal CD4 count is 500. 

The reason my doctor placed me on a treatment program was because of my low CD4 count after my Achilles re-attachment surgery.

The next blood draw will be in March to ensure that my body does not develop a resistance to my current treatment.

Keep checking back for more and don't forget to go for regular testing.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How a friend is affected by HIV.

A friend emailed me this story asking that share it for World AIDS Day.  Please share your story and the strength and courage behind sharing this story encourage you to share yours.  

PART I – November 18, 2000 and the days that followed

In those next days, I went back to Brigham and Women’s Hospital, but this time I had to go to the Infectious Disease clinic - I almost couldn’t do it!  I felt so alone.  Dr Leobowitz told me he was sorry when I met him - I hadn’t remembered that until right now, but I wonder what exactly he was sorry about.  Then he explained the HIV drug regimen and testing schedule I would have to undertake for the next 6 months - I threw up in his office.  I threw up the blue pills I had taken that morning – and that would not be the last time.  I began taking HIV meds – I could never have imagined that I would need to take HIV meds.  I took blue pills and white pills around the clock – I was sick around the clock.  My sister took me to Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and I was alone and I was scared - I wanted to die.  I can’t look back now and find the point at which I no longer wanted to die, but even now I sometimes wonder how I chose to live.

I really tried to get on with my life!  But I felt like I was going at it all alone – and it didn’t feel like my life anymore.  The woman I knew died in a car on the streets of Boston and a different woman fell out of the car.  I couldn’t pray – I was too ashamed to tell God what I had done – I am afraid that maybe this is too much and that this is as good as it gets for me.  My friendships were getting weirder by the day.  It was almost as if we needed a script, some words that would keep our friendships moving forward – keep us all safe from the rape.  But there was no script, no customary way of living with rape - so we just kept moving along and even I began to think that maybe it was all over.  I have thought a lot about this over the last few months and I believe if any of us knew what to say we would have, but instead we just said nothing.  I hate to admit that I questioned my friends and their reactions.  There was only reality of the rape – and at the time I think I was too afraid to really remember it – to speak out loud the words that would have made sense. There seems to be a lack of social conventions to ease the awkwardness that always seems to follow rape – kind of like an emotional illiteracy.  We seem to have words and actions for so many of life’s other tragedies – why not for rape?   Maybe because rape, to most people is inconceivable, it also almost always makes it unspeakable.  I guess there is more of a taboo about talking openly about trauma, about violence and about sex.  The conversational gridlock is so painful!  To have lived the joys and sorrows together with my friends has been a gift, albeit a difficult one.

PART II – Birthdays and Anniversaries
Written on my 3rd Anniversary: November 18, 2003
            It’s been over six months since I wrote and read this story – and what a time it has been.  I walked out of my therapist’s office for the last time in May and I was afraid to think it - but I felt good!  Three years ago today I thought my life was inextricably changed and for quite some time no matter what I attempted to do I believed that to be so.  And until not too long ago I wondered if I would ever really be at peace with how one night had changed me, but then something happened a few weeks ago - almost like a light switch going on.  And once again I have quiet in my mind and heart!
            But what a journey it was to get here - just short of unbearable, but worth the travel ten times over. I remember when this change happened - I wanted to call everyone.  I wanted to scream and laugh and cry all at once – but, I thought I would wait and share it with my friends on this anniversary, because this indescribable sense of peace is theirs as well.  It’s autumn - the leaves have turned and are just about gone, and winter is trying to break through.  It has actually been nice this year to see the changing of the seasons – it has been such a good reminder of how some things must leave so that other things can come.
            I don't really know how my rape changed my friends’ lives, but something like this doesn't come into the world and leave without having some effect and for that, I will be eternally sorry.  But what I do know is how my friends changed my life - how each of them were part of the reason rape did not destroy me, and there were definitely days when I felt destroyed and couldn't imagine a day like today.
               But here I am on November 18, 2003 - and I wanted not just to remember this day, but to celebrate it.  It will be part of me forever, an anniversary I have to bear.  But I think now, I would rather concentrate on celebrating the day I was really born – August 12, 1974.

PART III – Case Closed
Written on September 14, 2006
               Right after the rape, my fundamental assumptions about the world were shattered, and for a while it severed the sustaining connections I have with other people – with any sense of being human.  But I had to make a wager one day – that even in a world in which nothing was certain and the odds changed every day, I had to believe that life, for all its unfathomable horror, still held some undiscovered pleasures.  I think looking back on it – that was the day I got justice.  I got a life back – an imperfect life, but one full of potential.  That is the strange beauty about being broken – the rare opportunity to truly rebuild one’s life – the opportunity to leave behind the pieces of yourself you know can be so much better.  But that also requires that new pieces be added and sometimes I forget that there are pieces of me I am only still getting to know.
               I don’t think I need to see a face anymore – in some way it doesn’t matter who raped me.  It mattered for too long, it made me angry for too long and I know I lost part of my soul to that anger.  I can honestly say now, that I got justice the day I forgave him.  Case closed.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Conversation I had about testing..

This is a conversation I had this morning on FaceBook chat with a friend.  If you can relate to what he is saying please go get tested and save yourself the worrying.  I sent him a link to the Maricopa County Department Public Health Clinic which does anonymous STD testing. 
important question
yes sir
ive never had an HIV test
Im really scared to go get one
why are you scared
Because Ive been stupid and had unprotected sex
have you been sick?
alot actually
i never get 100 percent better
im always ache
what kind of sick tho?
like my stomach hurts and i dont wanna eat and im really really tired all the time
that be caused by a million things tho. Bad diet not enough sleep stress
the list goes on and on
I know
Im prolly just being a hypochondriac
you probably are but you need to go get tested you can put your mind at ease
Where do i go and would you know how much the test is?
I believe at the County Clinic it $20 and they test for everything and it is completely anonymous 
Ok thank you
Thank you nathan, i really appreciate it
of course
I'd go with you to get tested but I am not in Phx.. 
:):), Im just really nervous that its gonna say yes. my mom would be so disappointed in me
no she wouldn't. 
I lied to her and said Ive gotten them before
so.. go get tested and make it right.
I will today after the dentist... Thank you again
when you go ask them for a rapid test so you can get an answer in 20 min. They probably will still do a traditional test but at least you will have an answer before you leave
may I share our conversation on my blog without your name?
I feel there are more people out there like you and your story will help them
call me after your test and let me know how they go

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Share Your Story

As we approach World AIDS Day on December 1, 2010 I want to hear how HIV/AIDS affects you.  Comment on this blog and tell us your story.  Are you positive or negative?  Who do you know that is positive?  Are you getting tested regularly?  Are you too scared to tested? 

Lets get the conversations started everyone.  If you are want to share your story but haven't told anyone yet just email me directly to me on FaceBook!/nathan.wise1
I want to hear your story.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Today's Blood Test

This afternoon I had my blood draw for my routine blood work.  My appointment was at 1:30 in the afternoon and I was fasting all morning preparing for it.  (Come to find out this doctor doesn't make you fast)  Ops.  It was actually a light draw today since they only took 6 vials.  The draw amount really depends on your doctor and what tests they order.  I currently go to the county clinic and they are funded by the Ryan White Act so they don't order as many test as my other doctor did.

Below are pictures from today's blood draw and yes it shows blood.

First picture is the vials empty...

The blood draw in progress...
Band Aid Time...

Vials ready for testing..

In just over two weeks I will have an appointment with the doctor to get the results of my blood test.  This test should have an "undetectable" ready.  The viral load is measured in number of copies of the HIV virus in your blood by a set amount of blood.  The point in which doctors begin to worry is when there are more than 75,000 copies and an "undetectable" means there are less than 50 copies.

Stay tuned for the results of my blood test. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Blood Work

Tomorrow afternoon I have to go in for my routine blood work.  They will draw any where from 8 to 14 vials of blood to run a battery of tests on.  They will check my t-cells (CD4) and my viral load to track how I am responding to my medications.  Every morning I take 3 different medications (4 pills total) and luckily I have not experienced many side effects.  However in the morning if I want my cholesterol test to be accurate I will have to fast.  Anyone who knows me knows that I do not do well with out food.  Here is a picture of a daily dose of my medications.

I will be posting photos and possibly videos of the blood draw so check back soon. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

PF Chang's Rock n Roll Marathon

On January 16, 2011 I will be running my very first 1/2 Marathon along with my sister, Jena, and Holly.  I have been trying to get 3 runs in a week to build up my endurance for the 13.2 miles we will run that day.  Some of my runs are much harder than the others and I do feel pretty amazing after my runs.  The one thing I really don't like about my runs is that I can't stop and play with all the dogs I see along the way.  :(  I will be running by someone out walking their dog and to see how sad the dog looks when you run by without petting them is really just sad.  They give that irresistible puppy dog face that no one can refuse but you just keep on going.

Anyways...  For anyone who is the Phoenix Area on Jan 16th and wants to run with us or come out and cheer us along let me know. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The "Facing AIDS" Photo Campaign

Help reduce the stigma surrounding AIDS by putting a face to it and tell people what you are doing to Face AIDS.

Follow these easy steps to make a difference....
1.) Download your sign (PDF) of the "FACING AIDS"
2.) Write your message on the sign and take a photo with the sign like mine below.
3.) Share your photo on your social networking sites.
4.) Add your photo to the Facing AIDS Flickr Group

Help start the conversation and start talking about HIV/AIDS.  Encourage your friends to get tested and go get tested yourself.  Post your comments on here and tell us how AIDS affects you. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Free Carnival

For those of you in the Phoenix area if you are looking for something fun to do this weekend check out the Carnival at my nieces school.  My Sister (Kirsten Wise Erickson) has put a ton of work into the event and it is a huge fundraiser for the school.

Above is a link to the schools website and below is a link to their Facebook Page.

They have rides, games, and vendor booths.  (Make sure you stop by my moms while you are there and give her a hug and a kiss for me, and buy a few things as well)

It is located in the Northwest Valley off Lake Pleasant Parkway between Happy Valley and Pinnacle Peak.  You can even stop by the Midfirst Bank on Happy Valley and Lake Pleasant Pkwy and tell them I referred you and open a new account. 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Why I'm Wearing Purple Today

Today I am wearing Purple in support of Pancreatic Cancer and November is Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.  Denise Swartzman a dear friend of mine (Valerie my fiancees mom) is battling Pancreatic Cancer.  She is one of the few to have survived the original diagnosis.  Pancreatic Cancer has the highest mortality rate and is the lowest funded form of cancer.

I have included a few links with more information for everyone.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Preparing for World AIDS Day on 12/1/10

What are you doing this World AIDS Day?

When was your last HIV/AIDS Test?

Below are a few links that will help you plan your World AIDS Day and information on how to get tested.

Spread Awareness..  Tell someone about your status whether you are poz or not.  Lets get the conversations started.  

Saturday, October 30, 2010

December 12, 2005

I felt it was important to share this again since World AIDS Day is around the corner on December 1, 2010.  I originally posted this on my Myspace Blog.
Originally Posted on December 9, 2007

December 12, 2005 I received a phone call that forever changed my life.  If you have read any of my other blogs you probably already know that was the day I found out I have HIV.  I am very healthy and plan on staying that for a very long time.  I am very fortunate to have such a loving family and friends.  My family knows and I don't keep my status that close of secret anymore.  I feel I should tell people about my experience so they don't make the same mistakes that I did.
It saddens me every time I hear of someone else testing positive because this is such a horrible disease and I don't want anyone to go thru it.  Lets face it I don't want this disease and I certainly don't want others to have it either.  People are so judgmental and ignorant when it comes to HIV.  Battling the disease itself it getting easier and easier thanks to advances in medication and treatment, however battling the social aspects of it are not getting much easier.
I hope that in writing these blogs that maybe next time everyone will take a few extra seconds to protect themselves and that everyone will take an hour out there busy schedules to go get tested.  There are no good excuses for not getting tested.  Everyone should go every 6 months to get tested regardless.  There are free test available pretty much everywhere and if they aren't free they have really cheap tests available.
Get out there and get tested.  Talk about it before you have sex.  Don't be stupid because our decisions truly do affect us for the rest of our lives.
I wish there was more I could do and I plan on finding on more ways to make a difference.  So now I am asking you to make a difference.  Bring it out in the open and talk about it.  By ignoring it you are not keeping yourself save you are putting yourself at a higher risk.
I can't not thank you all my friends and family for their love and support and I appreciate everything they all do for me. 
If you are reading this and are positive and you still haven't found your  support system I encourage you to find one and find one fast.  But then again you always have me.

***This one was posted on December 30, 2006

I have decided to enter 2007 with no more secrets.  In December 2005 I was diagnosed as being HIV Positive.  Many of you already know this, most heard it thru the grape vine and some are reading it for the first time.  I am sorry that I was not to tell each and everyone of you but please do not take it personal that I have not told you personally.  I attempted to keep in to very few people until I was able to tell my family and know they know so I will tell everyone.  It has become too exhausting and emotionally taxing having this conversation on an individual basis.  I am not telling everyone this for your sympathy, rather I am telling everyone so people can learn from my mistakes.  I am very healthy and plan on staying that way for a long time to come.  With simple lifestyle changes it is easy to stay healthy and off of any medication.  I had to give up drinking but those of you who know me know I am not a very big drinker so that was not difficult and my workouts have become even more important to my health.  I just need to give up crap food now.  :)  If you have any questions about HIV feel free to ask and I will answer them the best I can or if you want to pass on any information to help me then please do that as well.
Now that this is out in the open we don't have to pretend that no one knows anymore and we can about our conversations without dancing around the subject.  If you are not sure how to bring it up to me just say "I know" that will work just fine but please don't pretend like its not there cause it is and it is not going anywhere.
I love you all and wish you the very best in the New Year.  Go get tested, there are a million free places to get tested.  Take a friend, take a lover, take a CareBear just go get tested and do it every 3 to 6 months.