ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

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

Jennie’s Story

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laboda©adrienneseed

I feel very privileged to be able to share this story with you about an amazing woman who has been through the most horrendous time and come through it like a shining light – her courage and determination in the face of overwhelming odds will surely light the way for other positive women, all women in fact and give hope and inspire us all. I would like to thank her for sharing her story with us and I’m sure that like me all hiviners will wish her a continued happy future and health and happiness in the years to come.

Jennie’s Story

I was diagnosed with HIV in June 2006

I had been a single parent for six years and had recently started a serious relationship things were going great, I hadn’t been this happy for a long time. I soon found out that I was pregnant this was fantastic news for both my partner and I, we were so excited…little did we know what was about to happen.   

The day of my first appointment with the midwives arrived, we attended the appointment and everything looked really well, we came away very happy and excited, a couple of days later I started with an itchy rash on my neck which was really irritable so I decided to make an appointment with the doctor. I walked into the doctors room and he asked what was wrong, I told him about the rash and he looked at me inquisitively and said ” well im glad you came in today as some of the tests the midwives did have come back extremely odd” I asked what he meant, he replied one of the tests suggests that you might be HIV positive. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing what did he mean? Apparently the test had come back inconclusive so I would have to be tested again. I felt numb I couldn’t really take all the information in. I had another test done and was sent home. 

I really didn’t know what to do I needed to tell somebody, I decided to confide in my mum, I was truly devastated, my mum was really supportive and comforting, how do I tell my partner the father of my unborn child that I might be HIV positive I felt as though the first bit of happiness id had in years was about to be swept from under me. 

I finally got the courage to tell him, it was one of the hardest things iv ever had to do, he was so supportive and optimistic he assured me not to worry and that everything would be OK and that it would all is a big mistake, but deep down I had a terrible feeling. 

I had to wait two whole agonising weeks for the results of the test, id continued with normal everyday life for the sake of my son who was totally oblivious to everything that was going on around him, I was still going to work everyday even though I couldn’t stop worrying, I rang the doctors everyday to see if my results had come back but every time I was told no. Then one late afternoon my phone rang it was a midwife from the hospital making me an appointment for ladies like me, what do you mean ladies like me I asked and she went on to confirm the devastating news. 

Nobody from my doctors had even bothered to ring me to tell me my result had come back positive, I later spoke to my doctor who confirmed this and had made me an appointment the following day at the local GUM clinic. 

I was a wreck, my partner was really supportive and strong the whole time. We attended the appointment together and were both tested again, we left with lots of literature and a bag full of condoms. At the time I felt like I never wanted to have sex again. 

My partner’s results came back negative, but he remained supportive, we still had a baby on the way and we had been assured that with the right treatment throughout my pregnancy our baby would be well. 

In the meantime I decided that I wanted to be signed off work as it was all too much for me, work wanted to know what was wrong, I then went on to make the mistake of telling them and this was the first time I encountered discrimination, I was made to feel extremely uncomfortable at work, I was already going through enough at that time without the added stress of people treating like a leper at work so I decided to leave my job. 

My pregnancy progressed and I started treatment, it made me feel ill but I coped. On the 14th December 2006 our son was born who is negative. 

We gradually started to accept that I was HIV positive although life was very difficult for a long time; I lost all my confidence and use to find little things like leaving the house difficult, I had counseling which helped a little and with time things started to get easier. 

In 2008 more heartache was to come. Just as life was starting to get back to normal I found out that there was a problem with my heart, at one of my HIV checkups the doctor had picked up on a heart murmur and referred me to a specialist who confirmed after numerous tests that I had a large hole in my heart that was life threatening and it would have to be operated on to correct it. 

This put things into perspective for me, for so long I had been worrying about the HIV, worrying how long I would live for and when I would have to start proper treatment, I was only 26 years old I had a family I was HIV positive and now on top of that I was on a waiting list for open heart surgery. 

The months leading up to my operation were agonizing, I was terrified of dying and never seeing my children grow up, I knew people were terrified of HIV and I worried that this would affect the treatment I received in hospital. 

The day I had to go into hospital arrived, I said goodbye to my two children, a one year old and an eight year old, I was terrified.  We arrived at the hospital the night before my operation where the doctors prepared me for the op. They asked questions “do you smoke”? “When did you last eat”? Etc. Then one doctor asked me about my HIV he asked me to confirm my status and then went on to ask me if I had any other stds or syphilis, this made me feel extremely uncomfortable I told him “no” and he left and said he would see me in theatre. 

I didn’t sleep that night; I lay awake all night worrying. The day of my op arrived and they wheeled me down to theatre, I cried.  The next thing I remember is waking up in intensive care I was so relieved I’d made the operation. 

I was wheeled back up to the ward in a wheelchair I felt awful, I had chest drains in which felt really uncomfortable, a nurse came to transfer me from the wheel chair to a bed, she couldn’t manage on her own so shouted to one of her colleagues “can you help me with this lady, you will need to wear gloves she is HIV positive” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing she had just broadcast my HIV status across a whole ward. I was heartbroken, I could hear people whispering, a nurse came over and instructed the nurse putting me into bed to give me some more pain relief, she thought I was crying because of the physical pain, but I wasn’t I was crying because of what the nurse had just done. I had never felt so uncomfortable in my whole life. 

A week later I was allowed to go home, I was relieved, I was better just in time for Christmas and we had the perfect family Christmas. I soon returned to work, and now I live my life to the full and I realize that being HIV positive isn’t the end of the world, if I had never been diagnosed HIV positive I might never have found out about my heart condition and I might not have been here writing this story now. My partner and I got married two months ago and are happier than ever, I know we have a tricky future ahead but together we are strong and will continue to be.

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18 Comments»

  Veritee wrote @

All my love to Jennie who I have met as you know.

It is inspirational that she got through all this and gives me strength to carry on as what I face is nothing compared to this. In fact all the women I meet through Pozfem give me strength and it is a privilege to know you all.

  Radio activist- Viv wrote @

Hello Jennie

I’ve just read your moving story and am full of admiration for you.

Life’s strange isn’t it? You never know what’s waiting for you around the corner. I believe that we humans are like onions and that as we go through one challenging experience after another, we grow extra layers of courage which add to our strength and ability to cope.

I’m so glad you decided to write it down. Did you enjoy doing that? I know sitting down and writing can be hard and demanding but when you do it. it can really help you to deal with stuff and sort it out in your head. I hope you carry on writing because you have important stories to tell and you have written well.

I’m outraged at that bitch of a nurse that chose to humiliate you in the ward that day. Some people feel the need to bully others – it makes them feel big.

You are a brave lady and you have lived to tell your tale. Well done. I look forward to your next piece.
Viv

  Veritee wrote @

Apparently you are not the Jennie that I have actually met !

But this does no matter as Jennies story above is so truly inspiring and it is stories like this that gives me the strength to carry on
Love from me to all women who live with HIV
We are so strong

Veritee

  Willo wrote @

Hi Jennie

Inspirational stories abound on this blog and now yours is added to the list. Like so many of the people here you have risen to the challenge and taken it on the chin, brave lady. Not only that, I admire you philosophical approach of ‘if I hadn’t been diagnosed with HIV, I may not have known about my heart condition’. A cup half full, not half empty. I believe that if I hadn’t have been diagnosed with my numerous cancers I would still be
stuck in an oppressive marriage and would never have met the love of my life.

As for the nurse you mentioned, sadly there are too many of them with that attitude. I have had enough experience of many hospitals to know that there are really good, caring nurses. However, there are many who enjoy being in a powerful position, dealing with very vulnerable people and these bring shame to the ‘caring’ profession. Rest assured her callous remarks will not have gone unnoticed on the ward and may well come back to haunt her. You, on the other hand, can hold your head high and go from strength to strength. You can be proud of yourself as I am sure your family is. My 13 year-old grandson wrote at school earlier this year, that I am his hero. When your children are old enough to realise all you have endured, you will be their hero too – that is, if you aren’t already!

My very best wishes to you, your husband and family.

Love, Willo

  Jennie wrote @

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to all the people who have left me such lovely comments, i am so honoured to be able to share my story with so many special and inspirational people.

Although i found writing my story a challenge, i enjoyed doing it, and as for the comments i have recieved they really make it all worth while. So thank you once again for letting me share my story with you.

Love
Jennie

  Sue wrote @

Hi Jennie

Thank you for sharing your story with everyone. You are an inspiration to us all with your strength of character. Your children and partner are lucky to have you.

I hope you have a perfect family Christmas this year too.

  Jennie wrote @

Thank you Sue,

I’m really glad i decided to share my story, the comments i have recieved mean so much to me, i know that i get a lot out of reading other peoples stories, it’s reassuring to know that you are not alone.

and i hope you have a lovely Christmas too.

  Jennie wrote @

Thank you Sue,

I’m really glad i decided to share my story, the comments i have recieved mean so much to me, i know that i get a lot out of reading other peoples stories, it’s reassuring to know that you are not alone.

and i hope you have a lovely Christmas too.

Love
Jennie

  mark wrote @

i am jennifers husband and i’d justt like to say how proud i am of her, and how very lucky i am to have found her.

love you babe
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  Veritee wrote @

AWWWWE Mark

You are a star!!!

  alivenkickn wrote @

Hi Jennie
while reading your story my serenity slipped twice. 1. when your doc informed the midwife without informing/talking to you that it would be important to inform the midwife about your hiv status asking your permission – for your ok to do so, and 2. about how that nurse behaved.

my knowledge of the english language isn´t that good as to know the use of decent words for a situation like that, so i´ll use my street slang: i would kick ass that the nurse thought all hell broke loose, literally speaking.

unfortunatelly there is the second generation of medical personal . as others as well – after 25 years of hiv in europe who are exceedingly unaware and insensitive concerning being discriminating people with hiv and aids.
here in germany we have anti discrimination laws just for situations like that. filing a complaint with the director of the hospital and the head of the nursing sector in that hospital would be appropriate and necessary to do because this seems to be one way that we people with hiv will be treated eaqual on the long run.

writing which is “sharing” with others which means that you carry only half of whatever load is setiing in motion a healing process . . . . .

and yes, hiv isn´t the end of the line. after 25 yeras of biing hiv positive i´ve come to the conclusion that i don´t have a problem with hiv but with life . . . . 😉

love alivenkickn

  hivpolicyspeakup wrote @

Hello Jennie,

Thank you so much for sharing your story it takes a lot of strenght and courage to do so.

I am appalled by what happened to you in such a recent time. The way you were tested and given your results, how people at your job treated you, the awful way that doctor asked you all those judgmental questions before you went into the operation theatre, and to top it all that rude and unprofessional nurse who disclosed your status to the whole ward!

I can not believ that all those things are happening in the UK now. It is important that we do not keep them in our chest but let the world know about them.

I am glad that in all of this you have at least the love and support of your husband and family.

The injustices you have faced and the courage you demonstrated motivates me to keep campaigning for the right of all women living with HIV to be treated with dignity and care. But it saddens me that we have still such a long way to go.

Once again thanks for sharing your stroy. Unless we don’t say what is happening we can not start to change it.

A big hug from a fellow HIV positive woman.

Lots of love.

Silvia XXXXXXX

  Janet Lightfoot wrote @

Hi Jennie,

An absolutely gorgeous, honest and inspirational story.

It must have taken an awful lot of courage and pain to put pen to paper and write down your thoughts and feelings. I am so glad you did.

Lots and lots of love to you all for a long and happy future together.

Janet xxx

  kat wrote @

hi jennie

you are a truly remarkable person, and have a wonderful fella so hold on to him, i was diagnosed a bit similar 9 years ago now while 6 months pregnant and although things were planned for the birth the ignorance and stigma i received after was diabolical down to the point of a midwife disclosing to my gp my status and what medication i was on, i was moved to a side room as i cleaned up after myslef in a shared bathroom. 6 years later and a few more ignorant professionals one as far as disclosing to a student without even asking my permission, there are some good ones out there but we need to educate a few to pass the message on, i have 3 children and sadly my fiirst wasnt given the chance my other two had, but through tough times our family has remained together fighting stigma i hope to meet you one day.

hugs to you and yours hoping this christmas is better than ever!

  jennie wrote @

I would just like to say thank you to everybody who has left me comments since my last comment, it is so nice and reassuring to know that there are so many caring inspirational people out there.
When i was first diagnosed i felt so alone, but no longer do i feel this thanks to all you people who have taken the time to read my story and leave comments, hopefully some day i will meet some of you.

Take care
love
Jennie x

  alivenkickn wrote @

@jennie . . . .

vienna 2010 is a nice place to meet . . . specially here
http://www.sacher.com/de-cafe-sacher-wien.htm 🙂

  Sharon Vegoe wrote @

Hi,

1 in 4 sexually active teenagers become infected with an STD every year, in the United States alone. Now, more than ever, we need to join together to fight this growing issue. As I read through your website, it is clear that you share the same passion for STD/STI awareness. We here, at Disease.com, understand the importance of STD/STI prevention and treatments. If you could, please list us as a resource or host our social book mark button, it would be much appreciated. We can not reach every teenager, but together we can try.
If you need more information please email me back with the subject line as your URL.

Thank you,
Sharon Vegoe
Disease.com

  Carmon Gata wrote @

Nice post! You truly have a wonderful way of writing which I find captivating! I will definitely be bookmarking you and returning to your blog. In fact, your post reminded me about a strange thing that happened to me the other day. I’ll tell you about that later…


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