AS I LIVE: 5 (Fickle Hearts)

AS I LIVE: 5 (Fickle Hearts)

I wake up in the morning with that familiar pain. It is called Lymphadenopathy. It basically means the painful swelling of the lymph nodes. It’s a sign that the lymph nodes are fighting off some infection. I am worried, to be honest, because months have gone by and I’m still on the experimental drug. The last tests I ran relatively didn’t give a good sign. “Relative” because, according to the guy in charge, there is to be an initial increase in viral load before the decline begins. The last test I ran had shown almost 100% increase in viral load. The mechanism of action of the drug explains this, yet that development scared the hell out of me. I didn’t talk to anyone about it, not even Jesse.

It’s been months since I saw Jesse and those months haven’t been all rosy. We have had fights and arguments, and during one of those hot moments, he said that the only thing he wanted from me was for me to check up on him once in a while. I wonder how we’ve gotten to this point. Our friendship has changed a lot, and it kills me. I barely know what’s going on with him; most of our conversations are empty. The worst part is there’s nothing I can do about it. I have my flaws and I am not an easy person to be with, but one thing I know is, it takes two. It’s going to make no sense pointing fingers because it takes two to stay together, just as it takes two to fall apart. I am not innocent; I have contributed to driving us apart in one way or the other. But I can only take responsibility for myself.

Anyway, I remind Jesse to check his status, just for us to be sure he is okay.

Me: Hey dear, how did your day go?

Jesse: It was aii, dear. I did the test yesterday.

At this time, I wonder why he didn’t tell me that yesterday.

Me: What did the result say?

Jesse: I’m okay, no worries. I’ll be fine anyways.

Me: You will be? Not that I think you’re lying, but what was the result?

Jesse: It was positive. But I have access to drugs, so I’m fine.

I freeze. And then, a split second later, I burst into tears. What have I done? I haven’t just done it; I did it to someone I claim to love. What I feel at this moment is worse than what I felt when I discovered my status. Through my sudden grief, I hear the sound of more messages coming into my BBM. I know they are from Jesse, but I’m too overwhelmed by my sadness to touch my phone. He keeps texting me. With tears in my eyes, I refocus on my phone.

Jesse: Hun, I know I’m wicked. Don’t mind me. It was negative. Please hope you’re not crying or anything. Expensive joke, I know.

Me: Jesse! No jokes! Just tell me the truth! I don’t even believe you right now. Don’t lie to me. If it was a joke, I will be mad and get over it. But if you’re trying to hide it, that’s just worse.

Jesse: No worries, I swear. Forgive me. I’m just crazy like that.

On any other day, I probably would have appreciated his joke. But at the moment, I don’t.

Yesterday, I met someone – someone who is actually dying from AIDS. I had heard about AIDS patients, but never seen any. Kojo is my friend; I used to see him often, but lately, not so much. I know he was sick, and when I enquired about it, he told me it was malaria.

So yesterday, I went to visit him. One look at him and I knew this wasn’t malaria or typhoid. Kojo was wasting away. I had goose bumps when I saw him. He could barely talk, could barely move. I asked him what the problem was and he maintained that it was malaria. I didn’t probe any further. I was too weak to say anything, I wanted to tell him everything was going to be okay, but between God and myself, I wasn’t so sure and I couldn’t just lie to him like that.

The worst part is that Kojo is alone. Where is his family? I wonder wrathfully. Aren’t they aware of his condition? This could be me.

After visiting with him, I got outside the house and took a deep lungful of breath, to try and clear my head. I was holding back my tears, whilst trying to fight the melancholic thoughts raging inside me. I suddenly couldn’t go home just yet, so I went back inside and sat beside him till it was evening. I promised him I would come back before I left.

Kojo’s condition has been on my mind since then, and even more so now that Jesse tried to pass a joke at me.

Me: Why would you joke like that?

Jesse: I’m so sorry. I was really out of line, I’m so sorry. I wanted to lighten you up a bit, you’re too serious sometimes and that’s why you get upset quite easily. But I should have been more sensitive to how you would have felt.

This is true though. I can be a bit too serious at times. And my seriousness keeps my sour mood in the front burner of my mind. I refuse to be placated, and this pisses Jesse off. There is a brief tense exchange, and then reconciliation. I can’t be mad at Jesse for long. In no time, the bad joke situation is off my mind.

I do go back to stay with Kojo. When I get to his home, I find out he has been moved to a hospital. This comes to me as good news. I find out the name of the hospital and go over there. And he is still alone. I wonder who then brought him to the hospital. And where the hell is his damn family is?!

Kojo doesn’t even know I am here with him. His condition has worsened a bit. I feel such a deep melancholy, that I suddenly yearn for someone to talk to. I call Jesse, but I cannot reach him. He later got back to me, but by then, I do not want to talk to anyone anymore.

As I sit there beside my very sick friend, I stare down at him. I take in the aloneness that shrouds him, and it dawns on me. At the end of the day, after all is said and done, we only have ourselves. As much as we want somebody to be there, sometimes somebody won’t. The earlier I begin to accept this truth, the better for me. There is a chance I may spend my life alone. There’s one little part of me that hopes fervently for this not to be so, for there to be a miracle. But I can’t help the pragmatism I feel; it helps me stay prepared for the future.

A few days pass. And then, I get the news that Kojo has passed away. I feel really bad. And this prompts me to withdraw from much communication. My detachment gets to Jesse, and he begins to complain that I am being distant. I realize he’s right. I care about him a little too much, and that is why I think it is right for me to distance myself from him. This has to do with my health status and other things. I’m the type of lover that invades your space, especially when I care deeply about you. I want to know if your thumb hurts. I want to know how your fart smells. I want to know your dark side. I want to be the first person you talk to when you need to talk. But Jesse…he likes his space a lot. So I think to myself that maybe some space will do our relationship friendship some good, even though I don’t like it. Things are changing between us constantly, and I’m learning to stop holding on to what was and accept what is now. And believe that we will be just fine.

Eventually, we talk. I finally talk to him. I explain everything to him – why I reacted badly to his joke, Kojo’s condition and demise. I opened up to him and he listens.

Like I said, we’ll be just fine.

May Kojo’s soul rest in peace.

And this, in spite of my cynicism – May we never know the circumstance of dying alone.

Written by Bobby

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  1. Dennis Macaulay
    November 13, 06:30 Reply

    It’s so sad about Kojo!

    I wonder what happened to his family? Did he even have a family?

    So sad

  2. Mandy
    November 13, 06:40 Reply

    Nawa o. That he let the HIV graduate to the stage of AIDS… I dunno… I can’t wrap my mind around that amount of negligence for your health.

    • Francis
      November 13, 06:54 Reply

      I wouldn’t really call it negligence. There’s a kind of depression that comes with knowing you’re HIV +ve and time is needed to get past that and then start life-saving treatment.

      Unfortunately some spend way too much time in that depression and by the time they are ready to face the disease head on, it’s too late. That’s another reason why i advocate for peeps to start medication asap.

      • Dubem
        November 13, 07:13 Reply

        This is why they preach the importance of a positive state of mind at the clinic. The mind is a powerful thing. As long as you continue to sink into depression or believe in your mortality, you may be on drugs and not get better.

  3. Max
    November 13, 06:56 Reply

    Great, just great…
    What a way to start your morning.

    • Francis
      November 13, 07:01 Reply

      This series is so not working for you sha. ? but e dey necessary man

      • Max
        November 13, 08:04 Reply

        It’s depressing.

  4. Francis
    November 13, 06:59 Reply

    Bobby pls if you don’t mind the intrusion, I’d like to get some insight into what experimental treatment you’re on as i have patients travelling to places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt for experimental treatments.

    Email perhaps?

  5. bruno
    November 13, 07:55 Reply

    lol. dickish prank by jesse. sorry about the state of things between you and him but the truth is relationships are hard and sometimes, even affection is not enough. oh wait. you are just “friends”.. erm ok.

    and kojo. that terribly sucks. there is a lesson to be learned from this though. if you learn about your status while still healthy, it’s really unlikely that you could possibly die of AIDS. taking an HIV test is not optional, especially if you are an MSM.

    to reiterate, it is extremely important each person knows his HIV status. wishful thinking will not save your life. early detection and access to healthcare would.

    also if i were you i’d probably stick to conventional ART. i mean, that thing is called experimental for a reason. but your health is constantly being monitored and stuff so it’s unlikely for things to go out of control.

    nice post. stay strong.

  6. lonz
    November 13, 08:00 Reply

    I don’t know how to say this but I just will.
    When I came to terms with my sexuality I also came to terms with a lot of things.
    I came to term with being alone, I know I most likely will die alone in my bed and I don’t think that it is a sad thing. Knowing this has invigorated me, I have being more critical of my friendships and relationships. If it won’t give me joy and would cause head or heart ache I pull out.

    I think you should embrace life. If someone loves you, love him back.

    Also I would like to know the drugs you are on if possible. I am an ordinary medicine student with not much knowledge but I have access to big textbooks and I can ask my consultants questions.

    Do not be afraid though. A positive mind set is very important.

    Being gay in Nigeria is hell. It means telling yourself loneliness might be your bed mate forever. But for me I’d rather be lonely and live my truth and joined in an unholy lie.

    Chin up.

  7. Dickson Clement
    November 13, 08:17 Reply

    If it’s only depression that pple encounter when they get their test results then it will be easy! Some folks will have full blown psychosis! There was an actual case of one health worker in my centre that went into psychosis when she was told! Later it happened that there was issues with the test strip! Today test strip reads positive(unigold and determine), tomorrow it’s negative! It was one of the difficult and confusing case! Later we did PCR for her and it came out negative! Her husband went to court and our management saw the horrors of an angry man! The wife got better after 6weeks

    • Francis
      November 13, 08:49 Reply

      Test strips wahala no be small thing. These days when you come to me with HIV + result and you don’t have any symptoms or any history that can explain the result, i jejely advice you to repeat at one or two other .

      Bet wait oh, this health worker i hope say no be doctor or Nurse.

  8. Chizzie
    November 13, 08:35 Reply

    This was so sad. But I think you are an extremely brave person and I’m amazed at how you mostly keep it together ( mostly because, bio terrorism incident of previous day). Some of us (,myself included) go through much less and completely become hysterical and defeated …some of us are even too afraid to check our status.

    Continue to be brave!

  9. Anonymous
    November 13, 09:01 Reply

    Bobby please how much does this experimental treatment cost? I’m weighing my options as my CD4 is still high.

    • Pink Panther
      November 13, 12:26 Reply

      Your CD4 count is high? I thought that was the whole point. For that count to be increasing while the viral load decreases.

      • Francis
        November 13, 14:34 Reply

        From my understanding, Bobby’s experimental drug is meant to be cure of sorts. Oga Anonymous probably has high CD4, isn’t on drugs and is using the opportunity to explore all avenues that promise a cure.

  10. black
    November 13, 09:06 Reply

    All the best bobby, stay strong!

  11. Rapum
    November 13, 09:27 Reply

    “. I call Jesse, but I cannot reach him. He later got back to me, but by then, I do not want to talk to anyone anymore.” This sums up loneliness for me. Stay strong, Bobby.

  12. iamcoy
    November 13, 12:38 Reply

    Sad stuff, HIV should never be allowed to transform to AIDS, it is a collective effort from the patient, health workers and relatives.

  13. Teflondon
    November 13, 12:44 Reply

    My heart sank reading this, i can only imagine what you are going through. The lord is your strength really.

    You know why i love reading Bobby’s ( and other Poz guys) journals. it always give me the impetus to re-evaluate myself (and way living). Kudos to you Bobby, Keep doing your thing.

    OAN; (i want to pretend we are all family yeah?) My name is Teflondon and i am addicted to bare-back sex! Any advises? suggestions? Might submit a write up about this soon.

    • Keredim
      November 13, 15:38 Reply

      Dude, that is so wrong. Now you are really taking the piss??

      In one breath you claim Bobby’s story helps you re-evaluate your life, and in the next breath you say you are addicted to bareback sex and asking “the family” for help.

      I think that is a distasteful thing to say and everytime I think you can’t go any lower, you surprise me with your desire to be the centre of attention and sink even lower.

      Now it’s bordering on Munchasen’s syndrome (yes Google it)

      Becareful what you playfully wish for.

      PS:If you REALLY have an addiction to bareback sex (something I doubt you do, as I still think you are a virgin) take the advice you gave DM: Go and marry and stick with him/her.

      PPS: it’s “advise” and not “advises”????

      • Teflondon
        November 13, 16:01 Reply

        this is what i get for being totally honest? its a sin to be honest on this blog now? I’m sorry if i don’t want to be a party to the pretentious bunch..
        Anyways, you could have just suggested something without actually being a Colonel Blimp. (a silly old man with old-fashioned ideas who thinks he is important)

        • Keredim
          November 13, 16:33 Reply

          “honesty” Isn’t that a strange concept for you to comprehend?!?

          Don’t you get a bad reaction when you try it?!?

          You still need to sort out that Mauchausen’s syndrome, though.

      • Francis
        November 13, 17:57 Reply

        Hmmmm, still trying to figure out where oga Tef went wrong with this his comment.

        • Teflondon
          November 13, 18:24 Reply

          Francis help me ask.. I’m not surprised Tho. He is just another obsessed fan (cum failed blog owner)

    • pete
      November 13, 16:17 Reply

      Tef, the dangers of bareback sex is so much that you shouldn’t even consider it. If you’re bottoming, insist the top uses a condom & if you are going to top, put one on. I know some tops lose their erection trying to put on a condom but practice makes perfect.

      • Teflondon
        November 13, 17:00 Reply

        Thanks Pete. Not that i don’t know about what you just said but i just needed some sort of ‘words of assurances’

        Thanks for being reasonable.

  14. GOld
    November 13, 13:08 Reply

    This is so sad.
    R.I.P Kojo…it is, indeed,rest for ur soul.
    No more suffering and pain.

    Bobby keep being strong and pls,don’t push people away.don’t allow the saying “you never know what you have until you lose it” be your story..

  15. Temi Cole
    November 13, 16:56 Reply

    Your entries blow my mind all the time. Your ability to express our story and struggle is uncanny! Well done! It’s sad but understandable how people fall into depression when they find out of their status. I still have my off days but most days I’m at peace with myself.
    I dunno about experimental drugs, personally I won’t subscribe to anything that is still in experimental phases. I will rather wait it out till we have a globally acceptable cure (maybe in this lifetime) or go on the ARVs but that’s just me.
    I respect and appreciate your journey man. Plenty respect and love for you man!

  16. Dimkpa
    November 13, 19:33 Reply

    Poignant story.
    I hope Kojo has found rest.
    I love your spirit and courage. You stand strong in the face of difficult situations.

  17. Marc Francis of Chelsea
    November 13, 19:37 Reply

    Truly broke my heart. Kojo reminds me of a character in a movie I watched called House of Boys just for watching someone you love die of AIDS. I love how complex this character is. Good chapter.

  18. sensei
    November 13, 23:27 Reply

    Dear Bobby,
    Stay brave. And do not hesitate to pull out of that experimental drug if your CD4 gets too low.

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