Thirteen years: Fear, Pain and Meds

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

Fear, Pain and Meds

Continued from… The Aftershock

Apart from telling him about their daily things, Annie also informed Isaac about the amount of the bills they had received. In total, it had been about twenty-five thousand guilders. She yet again asked him not even to consider paying it himself.

Date: Tue, 2 Mar 1999 03:53:09

Dearest friends,

Just look at what time it is. I cannot handle it anymore. I was in bed, watching the time go by. My sleeping tablet doesn’t work anymore.

I had a calm day, not that I really remember when it has been different. I’m scared. It’s difficult to describe, but the smallest change sends an inexpressible fear through me. I know I shouldn’t think like that, but I’m only human. I don’t know how I’m going to handle the rest. I know it’s mostly false alarm, but the fear was and is there. I hope I didn’t upset you. I will go back to bed.

Enjoy your day.

Lots of love.

Annie cried when she read this short e-mail from her friend.

She was glad he wasn’t there to see her despair. When she wrote him back that evening, she had herself under control. Annie said all of them could understand Isaac was afraid. It was his good right to be afraid, but it was also his good right to get angry, to scream, to cry and then trying to deal with what he had been told. She mentioned the different stages of denial, anger, grief and then acceptance. She asked him to promise her he would never get to the stage where he would just give up. Then she ended her e-mail: we love you so very much my friend. Be strong!

Date: Sun, 7 Mar 1999 15:15:27

Hello my dear friends,

I’m back in the air. There’s something wrong with my computer. I will have to sort it out. Many thanks for the phone call. I am doing fine.

I went to the doctor on Friday. I went alone, and again I didn’t ask her to go into any detail. She’s satisfied with my progress. The pain is gone and all I am concerned about now is I get tired quickly. It is frustrating, because I have to rest after everything I do. Sometimes halfway through something I wonder if I ever should have started on it.

The doctor booked me off from work until 19 March. Then I have to see her again. I think it quite surprised her I’m not showing the typical symptoms of someone with AIDS.

Yesterday I had breakfast at the normal place, and in the evening, I went to visit Elaine. She invited me for dinner. Elaine works in the AIDS ward at the hospital.

It is too hot here today. I stayed on my bed under the roof fan most of the time. I guess if I had a nice body, I would have gone out to go for a swim.

I went to visit Devon and his wife today. They had invited me a week ago, but I was not in the mood to go. They are good people, but I guess the time that Devon stayed here had harmed our friendship.

I am stopping now. I will write again soon.

Take care.
Longing me

Since Annie had bought herself a new digital camera, her next e-mail had not only news about this, but she also sent Isaac photo’s of all the people who had supported him while he was in the Netherlands.

Date: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 20:43:59

Hello dear people,

Annie, what a lovely toy you have! It felt like I was there with you again when I looked at the photos. Tip: give your camera to someone else to make pictures of you too!

Everyone over here is doing okay. Kathy is looking for another job. Billy is doing okay. I don’t understand him, but I guess he is trying to keep life interesting. He has so much work again he will never get out of his garage. His psychiatrist told him not to spend so much time there.

It seems to go well between Devon and his wife. That is from what I could see on the surface. What happens behind closed doors? I don’t know, and I don’t want to get too close to them again. Still, I like to be with them, to just sit there and listen while they talk.

There’s not much other news, so I am going to stop.

I miss you!!!
Loads of love,

They exchanged more e-mails in the next couple of days, in which they discussed the photos Annie had sent to Isaac. In these days, Annie also received a package from Isaac, which contained her belated birthday present. In addition, down south Isaac received the package Annie and Jacques put together for him after their trip to Amsterdam.

Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 06:10:41

Dear Annie, Jacques and kids,

All is fine over here. Not much news and I guess it would not have been good if I constantly had something to tell.

The pain has gone, and I hope it stays like this. On Wednesday, I woke up from my drug-induced sleep with the pain. Luckily, I still had one more morphine patch left. I don’t know where the pain suddenly came from. My appointment for next week is only a follow-up, so I don’t know if she’s going to do something. She normally does nothing special unless I complain. At this stage, I don’t.

It was just a bunch of crap when I said I didn’t have the symptoms. I guess I just said it, because it’s what I wanted to hear. There are different symptoms I can suffer from: diarrhea, night sweat, hair loss, skin cancer, pneumonia and if there are more, I don’t want to know about it. I guess I have one symptom: hair loss. I hope this is all I’ll get, because even though I’m not giving up, I’m not in the mood for any other symptoms. I started smoking again, which is not good, but it’s my only vice and it works as a stimulant. I guess I have to stop again. I will work on that.

I’m going back to bed now. It is early and there is no reason for me to be up so early.

Take care. By the way, if you take a day off, we can go watch a movie, get some groceries and some chicken take-away for dinner. How does that sound?

Lots of love,

To be continued… Secret Plans

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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