ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

HIVINE is written by HIV positive women but still with a sense of humour

Archive for February, 2009

Goodness Gracious

sea-sirens-square-bit-bigger  picture:seasirens:©adrienneseed                                                       

Goodness gracious – great balls of what?                                                                  

My son in traditional male fashion bought me a load of balls for Christmas and by balls I mean those things that fizz in the bath. As things haven’t been going too well of late, especially financially, I thought a long hot soak in the bathtub might do the trick and like Archimedes before me, help me find a solution to my various problems. So I tossed a handful of the said balls under the running taps and tentatively climbed in, but it was a bit like being on a firing range as the fizzing pink cannon balls shot across the surface of the bathwater like bouncing bombs then spiralled under the surface and disappeared without a trace. Typical, I thought disgruntledly; like all the best things in life, they only lasted for a couple of seconds. Might just have well chucked in a couple of Alka-Seltzers, it would have been a much cheaper option and one could always drink the bath water if one was suffering from a hangover, or an upset stomach, which thanks to the meds one invariably was.

But like Archimedes with his scientific ruminations, instead of ruminating about my financial problems I set about ruminating on what chemical concoction actually makes for a fizzy ball? Well, the answer to that, I later discovered, is a combination of citric acid, cornstarch and baking soda and you can easily make your own fizzy balls according to the website by adding vegetable oil, fragrance and a touch of colouring. But be mindful what colour you choose, or how much, if you don’t want to come out shocking pink, which I do after a hot bath either with or without colouring, or end up bright orange and looking like you’ve been tangoed like Dale Winton. Mind you, on the same website there were also instructions on how to make your own gun powder, so try not to confuse the two issues unless you want to blow yourself to smithereens. There was also a kit you could buy called, “The Bath Bomb Factory,” which hardly seems politically correct in these troubled times but which also included a pair of safety goggles – so say no more.

But how to make your balls round you may ask – well, it’s easy, apparently, all you have to do is wrap them in cling film, but I would advise not to try this at home chaps. Alternatively, if you don’t have any cling film you could place them in a mold instead, then after letting the molded ball sit for a minute or two, tap the side of the ball firmly with a tablespoon then repeat this on the other side. Once again chaps, unless you are of a masochistic nature, this particular practice is not to be recommended. “Even with your mixture perfectly balanced,” the instructions read, “you’ll occasionally get a ball that will crumble. No problem,” they say, “Just crush it up, put it back in the bowl and remold it.”

Ouch! I’ve heard of the credit crunch but that sounds particularly painful.

Most people like to soak in a hot bath when they need to chill out, which seems like a bit of a contradiction in terms, but as far as I can see having a bath these days, especially for women, is hard work and anything but a relaxing experience, because there is so much you feel pressurised by women’s magazines and places like the Body Shop and Boots to do in there. Detoxifying the skin for example; gone are the days when a rub down with a humble flannel and a simple bar of soap would suffice. Now we are encouraged to rid our bodies of toxins by scrubbing them from head to toe whilst wearing a pair of sandpaper like gloves using various products which contain crushed grape seeds or avocado nuts which feel like the equivalent of bits of gravel in order to rid ourselves of free radicals. But these products, unlike our radicals, are not free; in fact they are very expensive and to my mind an outright rip off. The alternative of course, if you don’t happen to have a gravel drive or a nut crusher would be to use a brillo pad and some Ajax.


Applying a face pack whilst in the bath is yet another added complication, because aside from the tortuous pain as it starts to tighten up, a face pack will also prevent you from singing. When I am not depressed, which is rare these days, I am one of those annoying people who like to sing in the bath, but as my favourite sing a long tune at the moment is “Run” by Leona Lewis, when I get to the bit where she sings – light up…. light up…. the only thing I can think of is lighting up a camel and as you know I am trying to give up, or at least cut down, on my smoking habit. There’s one good thing about having a bath I suppose, at least I can’t smoke in there, although it has been known.


The most traumatic thing about having a bath, especially if you are HIV positive like me and taking medication, is witnessing the awful body shape changes that are taking place on my once lithesome form, the evidence of which is usually concealed under my clothes. Getting naked for me these days is not a pretty sight and I think I could do with a consultation from that creepy GOK fellow on his programme ‘How to look good Naked’ and thereby become one of his Gokettes – I don’t think. Perhaps this is where the goggles from the bath bomb making kit would come in handy, so I wouldn’t have to look at myself, or even the gunpowder.


It is only when one has finally completed all the supposedly beautifying tasks whilst bathing that one can finally relax and lie back exhausted to ponder on the current problems that are troubling one. Oh dear, I keep referring to myself as ‘one’ this and ‘one’ that and fear I’m starting to sound a bit like the Queen. I’ll be mentioning the royal ‘we’ next – but never in the bath of course.


But the problem is that when you do eventually have that eureka moment in the bath and inspiration strikes, there is nothing to write it down on. You could always carve it on the bar of soap I suppose, that’s if you happen to have such an outdated item immediately to hand. Soap carving is a real art in some countries, especially in Thailand where they fashion exquisite sculptures of flowers and birds out of soap. There are other carvers of a more historic frame of mind I read about on the web who have taken up Gargoyle carving. The only gargoyling I would be taking up however was with TCP to ease my poor sore throat. The golden rule about soap carving, or any carving for that matter, according to ‘top tips for soap carvers’, is to always remember you cannot put something back once you have carved it off. The same rule applies to cutting your own fringe, which is not advisable to do in any circumstances and least of all in the bath when the hair is wet, because once it has dried, it will rise up like a bride’s nightie and end up on top of your forehead, which is obviously any new bridegroom’s intention.


Of course, I shouldn’t really moan about baths as I count myself lucky to have one, as I can remember all too clearly the days when my mother used to force me to stand in the kitchen sink and be swabbed down with a wet flannel. Thankfully, I was only a child at the time and would hardly fit in a sink these days, although I fear it won’t be long, as thanks to the meds, I am losing weight at an alarming rate, albeit mainly on my arms and legs which have taken on the appearance of chop sticks. At the rate it’s going in regard to weight loss, I’ll have to take care not to pull the plug out whilst I’m still in the bath incase I disappear down the plughole. Remember that song by Cream, A Mother’s Lament?


Your baby has gone down the plughole

Your baby has gone down the plug

The poor little thing was so skinny and thin

It should have been washed in a jug – in a jug


I don’t think I was ever washed in a jug, but I can recall the days of the tin bath, which are making a comeback apparently, at least according to an advert for tin baths which boldly proclaims, “As seen on the Alan Titchmarsh show. ” But probably only for use in the garden as in the poor man’s Jacuzzi perhaps? If you still have one hanging around in your garden shed you can always use it to enter the ‘World Tin Bath Championships,’ which takes place annually on the Isle of Man. But nothing really surprises me about that island and I think you would have to be quite odd to live there in the first place as they chop off the tails of their cats, failing to take into account the golden rule of soap carvers around the world that you cannot put something back once you have chopped it off. But they do what they want on the Isle of Man as they are a self governing island and their emblem is a man with three legs – a bit like Jake the peg, diddle diddle diddle dum, with his extra leg, diddle diddle diddle dum. Although the three legs have nothing whatsoever to do with a man called Jake, or Rolf Harris for that matter and relate directly to the island’s motto, which translated from the Latin means, “Whichever way you throw it, it will stand.”

I don’t know about in the Isle of Man but in England this rule I have found does not always necessarily apply, especially in relation to hurling whatever it is at your loved ones in a fit of pique or temper.


Anyway, in regard to bathing, at least living in England we don’t have to feel obliged to beat ourselves with birch twigs like the Finns, or jump in a frozen pond, or roll around naked in the snow after taking a sauna or hot bath. I dread to think what my neighbours would think of me should they perchance look out of their windows to witness me rolling around naked in the garden. Some Finnish women even choose to give birth in the sauna, which would finnish most English women off I would imagine.


My good friends Anne and Derek are getting wed in Bali next week. How romantic is that? In Bali I believe they scatter rose petals in your bath. If you are reading this Anne and Derek, congratulations and I wish I could be with you – but not in the bath of course


My current problems prevented me from going down to London this weekend for the ICW POZ-FEM meeting, so to all the inspirational and hardy women who have made it, sorry to everyone, but as you all know only too well, sometimes life gets in the way. As positive women we have to juggle life and HIV and often they are not happy bed (or bath) fellows.


The origin of the term eureka, which derives from the Greek word heureka (I have found it) dates back to Archimedes the great mathematician, when he found what he was looking for, whatever it was, whilst taking a bath.


Well on this occasion, I didn’t exactly find what I was looking for, which was a solution to my problems. But eureka – no I don’t actually, thanks to the fizzy balls.  

My Funny Valentine



A very happy Valentine’s day to all Hiviners even if the only HAARTS you are going to see today are your meds. But do not despair if you don’t receive any flowers or cards. I’m not expecting any as my horoscope, which presumably applies to all Librans, informs me that Jupiter, the planet of luck and creativity, has finally re-entered my chart after twelve long years – but as the expression goes, lucky in cards, unlucky in love!

If you are single and hate Valentine’s day because it is a painful reminder that you are on your own, don’t worry because you can celebrate SAD instead, Singles Awareness Day which is also celebrated on February 14th and is the day on which single people gather together to celebrate or commiserate their single status. A common greeting on this day is, “Happy Sad!” –  which is a bit confusing for the likes of me and a contradiciton of terms and perhaps the reason why these singles are still single.

Failing that you can become a “Quirkyalone” person, in other words a person who actually enjoys being single but is not opposed to being in a relationship. International Quirkyalone Day is also celebrated on February 14th and was started back in 2003 as a ‘celebration of romance, freedom and individuality.’ The Quirkys are annual awards similar to the Oscars in such categories as, best Quirkyalone movie, Lifetime Quirkyalone Achievement Award etc. Examples of people who are Quirkyalones as listed on the website include: Cher, Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Oprah Winfrey, Oscar Wilde, George Clooney and Morrissey – athough I don’t know about you, but I think that Morrissey is taking his quirkyaloness a bit too far these days.

Some claim that the first recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love was Chaucer’s love birds in “Parlement of Foules”, but this claims the website may be the result of misinterpretation. Sounds to me more like he was talking about the House of Lords, especially after I read the verse.

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day, whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

A verse which makes about as much sense as some of those Lords do – when they are awake that is.

Unrequited love can be the most painful kind of love and also has a long cultural history. The 1st century BC Roman poet Catullus wrote about his unrequited love for Lesbia – but you would have thought he’d of gathered he was barking up the wrong tree by the object of his desires name.

Abraham Crowley wrote of unrequited love –

“A mighty pain to love it is, And ’tis a pain that pain to miss, But of all the pains, the greatest pain, It is to love, but to love in vain.”

Valentine traditions vary greatly around the world, for example in South Korea women give chocolate to men on February 14th and men give non-chocolate candy to women on March 14th. On April 14 (Black Day), those who did not receive anything on the 14th of February or March go to a Chinese restaurant to eat black noodles and ‘mourn’ their single life.

If you have an aversion to noodles, in particular black ones and happen to be in Las Vegas, performers from Las Vegas’ biggest shows will apparently be getting ‘naked’ this Valentine’s Day to raise money for people with HIV/AIDS. This year’s bare-as-you-dare event takes place appropriately enough on the Strip.

Shame we don’t have anything like that going on in Blackpool which is supposedly the Las Vegas of the north – but then again, it’s too bloody cold.

Hope you’ve got your love to keep you warm this Valentine’s Day, but if not, don’t respair, because as the sign in my local hairdresser’s said –


Article for Positive Nation



It wasn’t as if one day it just happened, I didn’t wake up one morning and suddenly notice that my body was starting to change shape, or maybe I did, but it was too terrifying a thought to contemplate. I probably put it to the back of my mind and got on with things like you have to do when you are HIV positive. It must have crept up on me gradually, sneakily, like the furtive, lurking monster HIV is and it’s true that in these last six roller coaster years since I was first diagnosed, my body is something that I view differently. I don’t feel the same way about it, I am wary of it, it is no longer something I flaunt or even cherish. In fact, I’m a little bit scared of it to tell the truth. I don’t really know what’s going on in there. Something else is in control. HIV and the meds of course, although it’s debatable as to which of my bodily dictators is causing the most damage.


The first major sign that something was going drastically amiss and lipodystrophy was starting to set in was when my apron or ‘pinny’ as they’re called up north kept slipping off. Not that I’m a typical housewife type, far from it, I’m an artist, although I do wear an apron sometimes when I’m painting or when I’m cooking. But no matter how tight I tied those proverbial apron strings, the dam thing kept slithering down to my ankles and tripping me up, which can be quite a health and safety hazard especially when wielding a hot chip pan. The same thing kept happening with my M&S knickers, guaranteed to last a lifetime, so it was hardly a case of faulty elastic, although aside from the sheer embarrassment factor, losing control of your knickers, especially in my condition could also be considered a health and safety hazard.


No, the fact was I no longer seemed to have any hips, but when had that happened? I can’t pinpoint exactly when the dreaded ‘lippo’ as it’s known in the trade set in. Before HIV lippo to me was something I kept in my makeup bag. However, I do remember noticing the veins starting to stand out on my wrists, but I’m a bit squeamish, I don’t like veins, so I took to wearing long sleeves. Quite the opposite had occurred with my bosoms, which had taken on monstrous page three girl size proportions, a double‘d’ cup the assistant informed me reverently when I was forced to invest in a new bra. But it was the day I looked in the mirror and noted with horror that my head was starting to shrink and my cheeks were getting that caved in look, as though I’d had sucked too many sherbet lemons, that I decided the time had come to change my medication. When I mentioned this to a friend, who is also positive, she said it was a timely move because I was starting to lose my feminity. Whatever did she mean, I’d asked her aghast, being a woman who had always taken pride in my looks. The thing was, I knew there was truth in what she was saying, my neck had started to thicken up, but as for losing my femininity – what about the monstrous bosoms?


It took some courage to change my meds, as anyone who has suffered from the debilitating side effects they can sometimes cause will tell you. I had been on Trizivir for five years, which according to my specialist is not as lipid friendly as some of the newer anti retroviral drugs, but he’d felt there’d been no point in changing me as I’d  been doing so well on it. Anyway, I’d never asked – and if you don’t ask you don’t get.


Six months into my new regime and do I notice any difference, unfortunately not, as the damage has already been done, but hopefully it won’t get any worse. I’ve grown accustomed to the yellow eyes, the possibility of kidney stones and according to the latest reports on abacavir, the added risk of a heart attack or stroke, but what can you do? Swings and roundabouts – hopefully not a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire.


So where ‘lippo’ is concerned, there is no magic wand to take it away, so inform yourself of all your options and don’t let your specialist gloss over the facts.