Thursday, December 17, 2015

Another Front in the Battle

I need to "vent."

When I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1996, statistical probabilities suggested I would lose my mobility by 2009 and that I would be dead by 2011 but early next year I will celebrate twenty years of living with the HIV virus.

I have ingested tons of toxic chemicals to send the virus into hiding. Although my blood is virus free, it is likely some viral cells remain alive and hiding in the recesses of my brain or liver but as long as I keep taking my drugs the virus remains dormant or “undetectable.”

People living with HIV, transplant patients on immune suppression therapy and people in treatment for cancer, all of us who live with compromised immune systems, have skin conditions. Your skin, the body’s first line of defense against pathogens, suffers when you are immune compromised.

When the bodies of those of us who are immune compromised feel threatened, our white blood cells are redirected to the defense of our organs. Our most vital organs get all our defensive energy and our skin suffers. And for those of us on life-sustaining drugs, their toxins present a problem for our defense system.

I have lived with a fungus infection quietly for years. Some of my friends new but most didn’t. I would feel a “ping” somewhere on my body. I hated that feeling. It felt like getting pricked by a needle. It lasted a zillionth of a second but that was just the beginning.

Five minutes after the “ping,” I would have a sore the size of an eraser pencil where I felt it. It would be raw, sore and itchy. Ten minutes after the “ping,” the sore would be the size of a silver dollar. Twenty minutes after the “ping” sensation, I would have a sore the size of a pancake.

On April 22nd of this year, therefore, I declared war on my fungal infection. Since then, I have spent thirty minutes a day methodically self-administering a treatment to rid my body of this opportunistic parasite and I am winning.

I also get what my doctors call “hot spots.” They are places on my skin that sometimes feel like a burn, sometimes become extremely itchy and sometimes become starting points for allergic rashes. Poke me and I will bruise dramatically; rub against my skin and it will turn bright red or bleed.

My epidermis is very weak—hence my lung diseases. The organs of our respiratory and digestive systems are all lined with the same kind of epithelial cells as our skin. Yesterday, I began yet another battle. I have a plantar wart on my foot—me: the guy who loves to walk for hours every day.

It's nasty. Because I have Morton's neuroma, I could not feel it at first. Every battle has a defence plan, however, and I am engaged but I am fighting a multi-front war.

Thank you for listening.

Click to enlarge.

No comments: