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Author Topic: my own experience with HIV  (Read 1554 times)

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Offline hazemm

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  • Posts: 3
my own experience with HIV
« on: February 16, 2009, 02:41:21 PM »
How did I finally have a permanent soul mate at the age of 36?
After real real hard search see how I got” lucky”:

Dubai, Thursday 18 September 2008, 10:30 AM

I was in my office having a very busy day at the office-as usual-, when I called the hospital after a routine blood test was done for the university as an admission requirement for the MBA I was planning to do.

“Good Morning Dr Ziad, can I pass by and take the results of Saturday I’m really busy today?”
“Well, Mr. Hazem, actually we’ve been trying to call you since yesterday, we need to come down to the hospital for a test retake”
“I’m sorry, but what kind of test is that, anything serious?”
“I’m afraid we have to redo the HIV test for you! Kindly pass by the lab today to allow them to take a new blood sample”

I hang up the phone, with my heart beating faster that a high-speeding car, totally bewildered and confused. It took me seconds to leave everything in front of me and run to the hospital, praying the whole time and saying to myself this must be some kind of mistake and therefore can’t be true. I was lucky enough to find a parking since the hospital was in a highly congested area, minutes later I was waiting for the lab director which took like an hour to come to duty which contributed enormously to my nervousness(the idiots had written a wrong digit in my mobile number, hadn’t I called what would have happened?). My mind was racing, could it be true? I was always afraid of HIV due to the fact that at some instances I used to have unsafe sex. My mind was saying no, this can’t be. Finally, when Mr. Bilal was there, I told him there must some kind of mistake; my residency visa was renewed only couple of months ago and HIV was recorded negative.
The guy actually told me not to worry, so I urged him to call me as soon as he gets a result (so as not to wait till Saturday), which he promised to do so. I went back to the office with my face literally blood-drained, still under shock……my assistant-lady friend came up to me to know what was wrong. We had a huge telepathy and a strong tie and we always used to support each other in our mutual difficult times.
“What’s wrong? You don’t seem ok at all “ 
There was no point of lying to her, I’m not an expert in that field and anyways she would only be satisfied by the truth: “I had to redo the HIV test and I’m very very scared”
She replied while hiding her worries “I ‘m sure it’s a mistake isn’t it? I ‘ll go with you to the hospital after iftar “
I wasn’t able to work or concentrate for the rest of the day although I had tons of duties to finish and finally I was able to go home and crawl under the sheets as if the problem was going to vanish in this way! Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity we were able to go to the hospital in the evening and there…… surprise: the lab man wasn’t there and the message was clear, the results are with the treating doctor!

No arguing or shouting could do anything to persuade the man behind the desk to let us talk to the lab director, finally I was able to get the mobile number of the doctor himself who said that he had no access to results before Saturday. I was literally stuck! I had arranged a meeting with a married man in Abu Dhabi, we were talking for some time and our sex plans where great and were planning to start a monogamous relation, I even informed him that I had my HIV test and that we’re both clean because of his insistence on having bareback sex. I told myself, let me meet the man at least I’ll get to know him closely, needless to say that the meeting was a total failure(luckily, since the last thing on my mind was sex or a relation) I was rejected as not “his type” although he had seen all my pictures over the net.

That Thursday night was the first of countless sleepless nightmares filled nights, I stayed in bed, unable to move or eat for the whole Friday till the evening when my lady friend dragged me by force to have a lunch/dinner –u name it-, we went to the mall afterwards…..i still had little hope which was diminishing by the minute, we went to IKEA to check on some new furniture, I promised myself to get a new red couch-since red is my favorite colour- if everything was ok and was still hoping for the best…..

That Saturday morning, I woke up as usual, and while getting dressed, I caught a glimpse of my parent’s picture on the bookshelf and remembered my mum’s words” always do good things for the needy and whenever you can, you will be shielded from harm”. We both did that and then I said harm has come to me and I wept………..

My lady friend and I were both tense until I could get the doctor over the phone”Mr X, I am really sorry but your test is positive, we confirmed it three times, you do know the rules and regulations don’t you? We have to inform the health department and you would get deported, I’m sorry to tell you this”, Suddenly, I remembered how tired I looked during the month of august and how my friends would comment on my weight loss!
I sat lamely on one chair in the conference room and looked at my lady friend; she understood immediately, I was planning to move to a new job with a double salary and so much improved conditions and to join the university for my masters. I had also proudly arranged for a loan to cover an old debt for my parents and a celebration night for the new job and even a hotel membership as a gift for my lady friend(who supported me a lot) All went into water, when the time had come to collect the fruits of four years of hard labor. Suddenly all came back to me, my first coming to the UAE, how I did everything by myself, from finding a house and furnishing it and getting a driving license and buying a car, the numerous job interviews/offers I had/got all this time and effort had gone in vain. I also remembered the numerous colleagues/friends who came to UAE after me and how I used to go patiently to help them around………

That Saturday, I went back to the hospital to try to convince the doctor not to send my documents to the health department since I was luckily in the end of the one month notice period before moving to my new job and hence can leave quickly as requested. As I was waiting on the hospital desk to request an appointment with the doctor, a man came from nowhere and requested the file of Mr. Hazem, at first I thought I misunderstood till I heard my name again, “sir, I believe you’re talking about me, who are you?”
 It turned out that the guy was from the health department and was going to collect my file and send it there-wow how fast and effective these guys can be!- I explained to him that there is absolutely no need for publicity and that I had finished my notice period with my old job and we can manage a smooth exit.
 The guy was extremely cooperative, ironically to my best of luck! And consequently I was offered a two week notice to “arrange” my departure.
This country is amazing, from a manager i was transformed into a criminal just because I had this thing in my blood just like in fairly tales, luckily I wasn’t going to wait till midnight to be transformed into a pumpkin!. I had to inform my parents of my comeback(and invent some lies accordingly) and also our family doctor of my new “wonderful” situation to arrange the matters accordingly, which was done successfully that same night. The last days in the office were lame with everybody wishing me luck for the new offer and asking when I was about to join. The cherry on top of the cake came in one iftar for the whole staff where nearly everybody expressed both gratitude and sorrow for my departure, as their words came as knives tearing my heart, I could barely talk or smile: “we’ll miss you”, “too bad you’re leaving” or even “stay with us please”, what am I to say? I’m now different from you, I’m HIV +. The next thing was a call that came from the health department to go and redo the test again; I thought I wasn’t going to go through this again, so I had to re-explain the whole story to that man again regarding the ban of publicity and my departure. I was still hoping the test would come negative as I was informed that my positivity was low?!(So I was told by these clever people) I was coordinating with the other man too who reassured me of the confidentiality of the process; a lebanese guy was supposed to do the test but was replaced by an Indian lady. I had put the new job on hold so as to keep little hope. The final verdict came before the eid”you’re positive, please get us a sponsor from your job, arrange your things and leave!” Since we had a one week holiday, I stole a couple of days and came to Beirut (presumely for the eid, but in fact for the lab tests), and I was kind of at ease that my infection is new and that my CD4 count was good and the viral load was low. Afterwards, I had to go back there to take my lady friend as a guarantor to sign that I was going to leave after one week!, cash my indemnity(and borrow money to arrange my cash flow!), ship my car and my furniture. Could you please tell me:how would you explain and make people believe that you’re coming back only for family reasons (ironically speaking, that was true!) and leaving the wonderful job offer you had and a stable life? Deep down inside and even now while writing these lines I felt frustration like hell, taking tranquilizers to sleep, crying all the time, having panic attacks at any given point of time, hiding under the sheets like little children that have done something which is really bad, even fear of death. Do you really want to know what could have happened if I went to the new job and accordingly would have applied for a new residency visa? I was going to work for the government so the very “pleasant” procedure goes like this: you would be notified to leave your job desk with no further explanation, taken to the health department where you would be photographed and finger prints taken just like criminals and given a one day notice as your job Public Relation Officer would accompany you to the airport where you can sing “adieu, farewell, its time to say goodbye, adieu to you &you & you” as in The Sound of Music for the whole of the gulf countries. As organized as I am I honestly tried to wrap my things up but wasn’t able to. I cried and wept while trying to pack my nice apartment.
My vision and mind were both extremely blurred that at the end I ran away on a Wednesday as I couldn’t take it any longer, without saying goodbye which would be a torture for me. The irony of it is that I kept on receiving calls from both my customers and other banks and employment agencies for job offers…..
I remembered my enthusiasm when I got the latest job offer, where I was praised by both my direct manager and the HR manager for my skills and personality, do you really think these qualities got affected by HIV? I kept the offer letter and wept every time I read it.
I was furious against UAE, what about the HIV+ people who are there on a visit visa? How would they control this? Are they going to handcuff them too?  One more thing I need to add here, I should consider my self lucky since everything went so quietly and smoothly and that no public humiliation was there and all the circumstances were for benefit . The irony of it all is that I’m not that sexual maniac; I’m just a regular person looking for some company. Off course I ran away to Lebanon, penniless, to the unknown, uncertain future, with no job in hand with no clue whatsoever of what to do next with a feeling of “before” and “after”, the fact that I do have a permanent black spot on me………

So I arrived on that Wednesday night leaving everything behind me, my apartment, my friends, my good and bad memories; everything I had built there in four years was passing through my mind as if in an old movie, all was there in my head when I first stepped out of the plane to meet my mother who had come to pick me up from the airport. Earlier, I was able to arrange for my car shipment and pack the most important documents I had in my possession there, I had also browsed for shipment companies for my furniture on which I had spent a fortune ! just when I thought everything was complete and that I was about to start living properly and up to my standards in addition to making some savings (because I hadn’t made any) I lost it all. I had in mind that all will be fine once I’m in Lebanon with my parents close to me and work can be arranged since most companies don’t require this kind of test. I had slimmed 5 kilos every since I knew, I had lost all appetite and I hadn’t eaten properly in weeks and my face was pale and I prayed that all of this would go unnoticed but I was wrong……
The first night went sleepless out of my fear that I would be required to do that test in the process of job application. I had also nobody to talk to, to share my fears and anguish because I had agreed with our family doctor about not telling my parents, and she was always busy so I was left completely alone weeping and crying in silence whenever I was left alone. Everybody noticed that something was wrong, and I attributed it to the abrupt change I had made and to the country lag after all these years. On my first weekend here in Lebanon, I went with my family to our village house which I used to like so much, everything seemed meaningless to me without any value whatsoever, I walked alongside the olive trees and wept in silence, everything has changed and there is no turning back, I just couldn’t accept it…..the first thing that had come into my mind is that how I was going to have a child, maybe I can’t do that, I didn’t have answers. It is true that the concept of marriage was a little bit hard for me since I had no sexual desire for women whatsoever, but enjoyed their company. I had dreams of finding a nice soul mate to fill me with love and compassion and warm up my nights and I spent all these long cold years helplessly trying to find him, instead I had another permanent hideous boyfriend called HIV.
I couldn’t but wonder how come all these gay couples I knew were happy and compatible and I couldn’t find anyone. I had worked on myself for quite a while in psychoanalysis to sign truce and accept myself, as it had affected my studies, work and life in general and it helped a lot, I became a different person with a successful career, a powerful love of life and high self-esteem, but then came HIV to disrupt everything.
My mother was felt something was terribly wrong as I was depressed the whole time, couldn’t get out of bed and had no interest in doing anything whatsoever, for a whole month I stayed home, called nobody except close family members and switched off my emirates mobiles, couldn’t talk to anyone especially none of my gay friends or even browse the net. I even had dues to pay for the medical tests I had done earlier in addition to some other expenses and was afraid to ask for money; luckily I had few dollars in an account here to settle them. This situation revived old dishonoring memories of previous work experiences in addition to really hideous and humiliating sex experiences. I had no idea from whom I got my new boyfriend.
The point is with that with every new encounter, (every beep of an online message used to give me stability hope because this is the way encounters are usually made there), but there was always something that went wrong, especially in the UAE, everybody was interested in my body while I was trying hard to explain that I’m a human being, not a pleasure giving machine!
So here I was, completely on my own with no one to talk to(except for my lady friend which was calling me everyday, god bless her), jobless, luckily enough I had bought a house while I was there but couldn’t go and live in it, on the contrary I was afraid to go there, felt like a complete stranger although I was the happiest person on earth when I first bought it and got it renovated….still, I had to do something about this situation and then one day and after a job opportunity on which I had big hopes was declined, I collapsed completely in front of my mother and then I came out to her about HIV. She was shaken but answered in a soft, reassuring voice that I was her son and that she would love me in any case and inquired about the medical status. It was hard on her, I knew it but she still managed to support me in all possible means. I went to my psychoanalyst and talked about the problem, went on to take some anti-depressants to help me face my days in addition to consulting another doctor to have a second opinion about the medical situation. Meeting people to talk about it was also part of my target and after three weeks of pills, meeting the very nice and supportive people from SIDC, life was finally smiling back at me, hope and positive energy were there again. Positive energy is there pushing me to write about my whole life experience that lead to this hideous result which I’m planning to do soon.

Guys please, be extremely careful since I noticed that most Lebanese youth have high sexual drives, play it safe and if you catch it don’t be afraid or ashamed of it, we are all there to help you and share experiences and I have learned a lot from mine, believe me !

                                                                             
                                                                                                                       Hazem M.

Offline Inchlingblue

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Re: my own experience with HIV
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2009, 03:28:21 PM »
Thank you for posting your story, I really enjoyed reading it.  You're fortunate it was caught so early. You can now monitor your immune system and go on medications at the appropriate time. Find a good doctor that you trust and who has experience specifically with HIV. You should be fine ;)

Offline aztecan

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  • Posts: 5,429
  • 29 years positive, 57 years a pain in the butt
Re: my own experience with HIV
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2009, 07:45:39 PM »
Hello Hazem,

Your story was very moving. I can only imagine facing such draconian attitudes as you did in the UAE must have been very frightening.

I am happy you have moved forward and have begun to build a new life for yourself.

Keep us posted about how you are doing.

HUGS,

Mark

"May your life preach more loudly than your lips."
~ William Ellery Channing (Unitarian Minister)

 


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