Thirteen years: Questions, Questions, Questions

AIDS was… an illness in stages, a very long flight of steps that led assuredly to death, but whose every step represented a unique apprenticeship. It was a disease that gave death time to live and its victims time to die, time to discover time, and in the end to discover life.

~ Hervé Guibert

Questions, Questions, Questions

Continued from… In Hospital Again

On Friday, Annie sat down to write Isaac another long e-mail. She fired many questions in his direction of which one was yet again, whether he was back on the HIV medicine. She wanted to know how he was feeling, since she was worried about his stomach hurting so much. Annie emphasized he should follow his doctor’s orders, even though she doubted whether the doctor really did all she had to do for Isaac.

Date: Sun, 14 Feb 1999 14:01:03

Hello my dear, dear friends,

It is a real scorcher on this Valentine’s day. It’s a beautiful day, so I got up. Maybe it was the best thing to do; otherwise, I would have had to change the sheets and the duvet cover. Maybe I should have stayed in bed to sweat out this germ or infection or whatever I have in me.

My mother called me last night only to ask how I am. Annie, she told me she received a long letter from you. When did you get the time for that? A short letter would have been enough. Speaking about mothers, did yours get my e-mail? I know she’s a hardworking woman. I only want to know. Annie, regarding my mother’s letter, I’m only joking. She really appreciates it and you will definitely hear from her again.

So, this morning I decided I should get up. Staying in bed is not good, even though I think it helps. I cannot even cough or yawn without feeling the pain. When I feel a cough or yawn come up, I crawl with pain even before it happens. I think I will go to Doctor Bailey tomorrow.

I went to the shop to get some groceries. On my way home, I realized I had left my bag there. I don’t know where my thoughts were. I didn’t have the energy to go back. When I drove into the gates, I saw Billy and I told him about the bag at the supermarket. Just now, the phone rang. It was Charlotte. She was at the supermarket and she wanted to know what the number of the till was where I had paid. Now I have the bag with groceries. I wouldn’t have made the effort.

Incredible!!! You phoned me. It sounded like you were just around the corner. I wish I could just get in my car to come and see you. It would have been so nice.

Annie, I’m not on any medication at all. I don’t know what the doctors are going to do. I’m too afraid to ask them, because I don’t think that they know either. My hair is still falling out. I cannot remember if Freddy’s hair fell out too. If so, I guess I have to accept the symptoms are starting. I will have to ask the doctor about it. I have lumps all over my body and they itch. I don’t know if it is fleabites or something else. I will show the doctor.

I am going to rest now. Enjoy your day.

Lots of love.
Longing me.

In her letter the next day, Annie yet again had a million questions for Isaac. She was so worried about him and she hoped the doctor had answers to all his questions. She told him how much they all had enjoyed hearing his voice the previous evening. After some more trivia of their daily life, which she knew Isaac enjoyed reading, she ended the e-mail by telling him how much she missed him. Sometimes the longing to have him with them was like a physical pain deep in her chest.

Then Isaac went quiet.

On Thursday, 18 February, the day Isaac was supposed to go to the doctor to get the results of various tests, Kathy called them. They had admitted Isaac to the hospital with chicken pox.

All they could do now was to wait for more news from South Africa — good or bad. Nevertheless, Annie didn’t just sit still and wait. She wrote Isaac a long letter and faxed it to Jane, an ex colleague who was still her friend. In her letter, Annie asked Isaac never to give up, always to keep on fighting this thing inside him. She said she understood he was tired of being in and out of the hospital, but he should keep on fighting. Yes, she begged him to fight.

Then she got the best birthday present ever!

Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 14:04:57

My dear friends,

Yes, I’m home again. Annie, I hope you have a wonderful day. I bought you a card two weeks ago, but because of circumstances I couldn’t post it to you. I hope you enjoy your day and evening. I will write a long e-mail tomorrow, I promise. I’m going to write your mother now.

Happy Birthday!

Take care.
Much love,

Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1999 17:33:20

Hi there dear friends,

I promised you a long e-mail, so here it is. I actually don’t know if it will be that long, but I can tell you a guy with a blond-reddish color in his hair is writing it.

I’m losing a lot of hair now. All over my head, there were tufts of hair and it really looked terrible. This morning I went to the hairdresser at the hospital. She cut my hair and put some color in it.

Now for the part you’re waiting for. The chicken pox wasn’t that bad. Only half of the symptoms were the same as that of normal chicken pox. What was worse was they had isolated me for a week. Some people ignored the warning. However, I could not leave my room. I’m not at all impressed with my week and a half stay in the hospital. My bed has not once been made. As far as I know, that’s one privilege of the sick, no matter how sick you are.

Last week Thursday, I really wished I had a cell phone so I could talk to someone. Doctor Bailey visited me to give me the bad news: they can’t do anything for me anymore, regarding the AIDS. No medication. Nothing. All they can do now is to treat me for any opportunistic diseases I might develop. That is like a cold, pneumonia, or whatever.

She explained the virus adapts to the medication, and that’s the reason one builds up a resistance. Other viruses change back to their original form, but not AIDS. On Tuesday, she spoke about three or four remedies she wanted to try. Then on Thursday she said all the remedies she thought of, had something in them that some of the previous medicines I had used had in it too. Therefore, they won’t help.

Dear friends, there you have it. I was healthy for long – very long – and I guess this was bound to happen. This doesn’t mean that I am going to stop fighting. I believe He makes everything happen. So if you had stopped praying, please start again.

So, that is that. Give everyone a hug.

Lots and lots of love,

To be continued… The Aftershock

Note: This series is a rework of a self-published book (2009), rewritten for this blog, and in loving memory of a dear friend who suffered from and passed because of AIDS. Keep in mind this story happens in the late eighties and throughout the nineties. Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy.

© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay

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