24 December 2010
Last April was one of those overwhelming emotional times of living with them. Grandma was admitted to the hospital, after I took her to the ER. She had her gallbladder removed and finally recovered, while maintaining her spit-fire attitude. Now I watch on a daily basis, both of my grandparents steadily growing older. I know they are ready to die; Grandma tells me every single day. This thought makes me sad, but sometimes happy. I think about how happy it would make them to be out of their pain. The hardest part about watching all of this, is to see how frustrated they get about the challenges of aging. Grandma thinks she is lazy and has a hard time with the fact that she can't get up and do everything she wants to, everything that makes her happy. Grandpa never seems to openly express the frustrations like Grandma does, but I am sure he gets frustrated that he can't see very well...or that he can't hear (at all...tv is full blast and I can hear it when I pull into the driveway sometimes).
While Grandma was in the hospital this last spring, she would call Grandpa (and yes, I would eavesdrop on their calls...I know, I am a horrible human being, but I am so glad I did it) and beg him to come to the hospital and pick her up so she didn't have to be in that miserable place any longer (this was after about 4-6 days of being there). She would threaten that if he didn't come get her, she was going to call a taxi to get her out of that "damned place". They would both laugh and then her laugh would turn into sobs. Grandpa would comfort her over the phone, telling her how much he loved her and how he wished he could come sit with her and hold her hand. He would then tell her to remember all the good times they have had together and to think about their wonderful children. It was the most precious conversation.
Sigh. I know it's life. I know they are OKAY with dying. But why does it have to be so hard for those of us that will be left behind. The thought of losing them is hard, but it is even harder to watch Grandpa with the way he is now. It makes me so heartbroken and sad. I don't like it, not one little bit!
23 December 2010
09 December 2010
02 December 2010
Image thanks to sandhu
"In this new world, you and I make it up as we go along, not because we lack expertise or planning skills, but because that is the nature of reality. Reality changes shape and meaning because of our activity. And it is constantly new. We are required to be there, as active participants. It can't happen without us and nobody can do it for us."
01 December 2010
As many of you may know, Dec 1 (today) marks World AIDS Day. Two decades ago this was a mysterious disease that we knew very little about. Over time, AIDS has become a disease that is widely spread and has a tremendous amount of research being done on it. There are many misconceptions about HIV/AIDS and all aspects of the epidemic. As an HIV instructor and educator, I find it very important to break down the stigma and be as open as possible when talking about this sensitive topic. I find many it is a difficult topic to address, given the taboo of talking about sex and the activities related, but one that is extremely important to address.
I have taken a little excerpt from a site I came across that gives some great basic information. It is always best to be informed with the correct information. The following questions were answered by Dr Elaine Leader, who is in private practice in Los Angeles after extensive work at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Teen-Line, a youth hotline where teenagers can call anonymously to talk about the problems facing their lives, from family situations to sexual questions. She is a true wealth of knowledge on the many issues facing teenagers and young adults in today’s world, AIDS just being one of them, but one that is incredibly important to understand, so that everyone can protect themselves.
What exactly is AIDS?
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) is a viral syndrome where the immune system fails, and leads to many life-threatening infections.
How is AIDS contracted?
The majority of HIV infections are a result of unprotected sex – oral, vaginal or anal or through shared needles or contact with infected blood.
What is the difference between HIV and AIDS?
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a retrovirus that causes AIDS. It may not lead to AIDS, particularly when treatment is instituted early and consistently whereas AIDS is when the HIV has invaded the system to the point where it fails to fight off life-threatening infections.
Can you get AIDS from sharing a drink with someone that has AIDS?
Can you get AIDS from giving or receiving oral sex?
Yes. You can get AIDS from any form of sex which produces an exchange of bodily fluids. Prior to people’s misconceptions, oral and anal sex are, in fact, sex.
Does a condom protect against AIDS?
It is best to use a condom and spermicide every time you have any kind of sexual activity. Knowing how to use them properly will decrease the chance of condoms leaking or tearing. However, there can always be accidents, nothing is 100% effective, other than abstinence.
Does birth control protect against AIDS?
The Pill, Foam, Vaginal suppositories, the Patch, the Vaginal Ring, Intrauterine devices or birth control injections DO NOT protect against AIDS. Only abstinence or safe sex practices mentioned above can protect against contracting HIV through sexual activity. It is still possible to contract it through blood contacts that are contaminated with the virus, e.g. needle sharing.
What can you do to prevent getting HIV?
Of course abstinence or practicing safe sex. Also, do not share needles.
Is there a cure for AIDS? Can it be treated?
To date there is no cure for AIDS per se. However, there is treatment particularly if it is begun before a life-threatening infection has taken hold. It is very important to follow the regime rigorously that is prescribed by doctors who specialize in HIV treatment.
What about PEP, the vaccine for those that have been infected with AIDS within the previous 72 hours?
Studies of PEP have demonstrated the greatest reduction in HIV transmission when antiretroviral medications are administered immediately after exposure to HIV-infected blood and body fluids. The efficiency of PEP is diminished after 36 hours and is minimal after 72 hours.
How can you tell if you have been infected with HIV?
You need to get tested as soon as possible after suspected contact, but wait at least 3 months after contact, to allow your body to build up enough antibodies for the test to detect. Please visit http://www.aidsinfoutah.net/ for testing locations near you.
Are there other ways that you can get HIV/AIDS, other than through sex?
Yes, through sharing needles (i.e. IV drug usage) as there is likelihood of blood exchange from someone who is infected. Many people were infected through blood transfusions prior to screening of blood donors. AIDS is transmitted again, through an exchange of bodily fluids, blood being one of them.
Is AIDS only in the homosexual community?
No. In fact, in recent years there has been a great increase in the heterosexual community and in adolescents. In Africa, it is primarily a heterosexual disease. It can also be transferred to newborns from pregnant women who are HIV positive.
If you find out you have HIV/AIDS, what are your options? What can you do? Do you have to tell anyone?
After being tested and a positive diagnosis is confirmed, as with any STD it is important to inform anyone with whom you have had sexual contact. It is extremely important to seek treatment with a knowledgeable physician as soon as possible to discuss your options. Also, take care of your body and basic health.
How can you tell if your sexual partner has HIV or AIDS?
You can’t tell by just looking at someone. You need to ask if they have had a recent test.
Are there places where you and your partner can go to get tested together, where your parents won’t find out?
Yes. Visit http://www.aidsinfoutah.net/ for testing sites near you (in Utah) and for sites that are anonymous. All testing sites are confidential and will test anyone over the age of 14, without parental consent.
Do you have to tell your parents if you find out you have HIV or AIDS?
Of course it is always best to have parents help with any kind of medical issue. However, be guided by whether you believe they will be supportive and helpful. If you fear they might be punitive or kick you out of the house, please get help from a trusted adult. You do not have to tell them.
Will people be able to tell if you have HIV or AIDS?
Not unless you are in the advanced stage of AIDS in which case people would know you are ill but perhaps not the cause.
How long can somebody live with HIV/AIDS?
This depends on the treatment received.
Does everyone that has HIV/AIDS die from it?
The mortality rate was very high for AIDS up until the past few years when new treatment regimens have been instituted. Nonetheless, since a person’s immune system is impacted this varies with individuals. Many people do not die directly from AIDS, but rather from the diseases that then are able to affect their immune system, which is weakened.
Can you have children if you have HIV/AIDS?
Yes, but it is important that your doctor be advised and you follow their guidance.
If you have children, will they contact HIV/AIDS from the mother? Father?
Yes, it is possible for the virus to be transmitted during the pregnancy but not all pregnant women who are infected pass it on to their newborn.
Can you get AIDS from kissing/hugging/touching?
What is the demographic of HIV/AIDS victims?
Anyone who practices unsafe sex with someone who has been tested positive for the virus or who uses IV drugs or shares needles is vulnerable. The demographics are constantly changing, AIDS has become a worldwide epidemic.
If you are raped, how can you find out if you have contracted HIV/AIDS?
If raped, it is important to be tested to be sure you have not contracted any STD including HIV. After you are tested, you should be re-tested in 3-6 months.
How can someone get involved in HIV/AIDS prevention/research?
You may contact ME if this is something you are interested in getting involved in; I can send you to the right people, at least in Utah.
Protect yourself; be one less person at risk for HIV/AIDS! Today, let's remember all of those that are suffering physically, mentally and/or emotionally from AIDS. Let us also remember all those that have passed from this virus.
Please be aware of what is going on in the SLC, UT community and get involved!