ADRIENNE'S HIV BLOG – Hivine's Weblog

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

Archive for Real women's stories

Jennie’s Story

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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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Positively Girls Aloud!

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Positively Girls Aloud!

How many positive women does it take to change a light bulb? Unless you can think of an answer to the age old joke there isn’t one, but if you take out the words light and bulb, then ask, how many positive women does it take to change the UK’s attitude in regard to policies affecting HIV positive women, the answer is simple. The ever growing number of positive women who are members of POZ FEM UK the National Voice of Women Living with HIV who are totally committed to making a change especially in relation to stigma and how the UK views our role in society.

I have just returned from the northern regional coordinators meeting in Newcastle where I had the privilege to spend the weekend with this amazing group of brave and inspirational women. The bond that we share and the strength we derive from each other’s company and shared experiences is totally empowering and gives us the strength to carry on fighting the good fight. In between meetings we all go on living our separate lives but when we get together we are a force to be reckoned with and I for one feel very proud to be a member of such an inspirational group of women.

Newcastle is a city buzzing with life and I’ve never seen so many people out on a Saturday night intent on having a good time. Hordes of revellers thronged the busy streets, packs of men on the prowl, shivering groups of girls dressed in the latest fashions tottering on ridiculously high heeled shoes, stag parties dressed as nuns, hen parties resplendent in fluorescent pink fairy dresses. But everyone seemed happy enough. Maybe the Newcastle Brown had something to do with it. There was a lot of rowdy singing going on, although some of the songs contained lyrics that should not be issuing from the mouths of fairies or nuns.

“Oh I’ve got a great big willy, yes I have,” to the tune of, “She’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes.”

We’d heard from various sources that ‘Take That’ were supposed to be kicking off  their UK tour that night in the town, but no one could actually tell us where. Stories differed according to which taxi driver you asked and at one point it was ‘Girls Aloud’ and not ‘Take That’ who were supposed to be playing. It turned out that neither group in fact was playing but we did find a bar with a lively blues band where we danced the night away to ‘Hoochie Koochie Man’ and the likes. At one point everyone deserted the crowded bar and rushed out onto the street to witness the sight of hundreds of Chinese lanterns lighting the sky over the river Tyne. It was a beautiful sight to behold with the millennium bridge with its constantly changing colours as a backdrop. As I watched the lights disappearing on their journey to who knows where I thought about us as group of positive women determined to implement change and how when we left Newcastle we would be those shining lights spreading the message and fighting stigma. Although I had supped quite a few halves of Guinness by that time.

I’d received some good news before I’d left for Newcastle which I’d shared with the group as it exemplified the power we have if we do speak out and make our voices heard. At my local hospital they’d been hosting something called the Star Awards where selected members of staff could be nominated to receive Oscars, so some of us had written heartfelt testaments to the role our lovely health advisor had played over the years in supporting us as positive clients. Anyway, the result was that she was nominated for two awards and at the Gala Ball was presented not with one Oscar but with two.  

What does that mean exactly – well it means that firstly she had received the credit that she so justly deserved, but also it meant that people had listened to us and had taken our testaments as positive people to heart, so we too were the victors. This to me means that having a voice matters, that it does make a difference and that our actions will have a knock on effect by making other people view HIV in a different light.

Words matter, making your voice heard matters, stories matter and we matter although we tend to think when we are HIV positive that we don’t.

So let’s carry on being  ‘Girls Aloud’ and ‘Boys Aloud’ of course and continue to make our voices heard on behalf of all the positive women and men who because of stigma cannot speak out.

Talking of voices if you are wondering what has happened to Susan Boyle she has recently been sighted in the form of a vision on my sun lounger!

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