Thirteen Years: Time Away From Home

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

Time Away From Home

Continued from… In And Out Of Hospital

Other than normal daily news, Annie expressed a wish in her e-mail to Isaac: we would love to be there with you, to be able to hug you tight and give you our strength. If only it was as easy to do it as it is to write this. Just know we constantly think about you. You are very important to us, and we dearly love you. Please be positive and tell us when you need something. We will do anything in our power to help you. Remember that.

Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 12:13:49

Hi there darlings,

I’m sorry I’m so quiet. It was cold and unpleasant over here and I just couldn’t get myself to get out of bed. Today I’m okay again and I got up to do some things around here.

The rash is gone, so it must’ve been the tablets. It’s mostly on my face that the skin is coming off. It looks strange. It could have been worse, so I am not complaining.

I received a card from Jacques’s parents. I will send them a card tomorrow.

I am going back to bed.
Take care. Lots and lots of love.

Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 14:11:28

Hi there you,

I can feel winter is coming. We had a lot of rain so I don’t have to water the garden.

I guess I’m doing okay. The pain is still there, but I can live with it. I cannot yawn properly, though. It hurts too much when it comes from way down there. I shouldn’t sneeze either. I can’t. It just hurts too much. The fever comes and goes, but it breaks quickly, so I’m not worried about it. The only thing that worries me is I’m feeling strange.

Not sick.

It is difficult to say exactly how I feel.


I’m going to visit a colleague this weekend. I don’t like going for an entire weekend, but it might do me good. I’m amongst people then. So don’t worry if you don’t hear from me. I will write as soon as I am back again.

Love to all I know.

Lots and lots of love,

It took longer than only the weekend before they heard from Isaac again. Annie wrote to him during the weekend and told him about their upcoming vacation, when they would be away from home for a week.

Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 20:27:15

Hi there dear friends,

I stayed there for longer than I had planned. It was very quiet and peaceful there and they took good care of me.

The fever comes and goes, and the pain is still present. Other than that, I’m doing well.

I enjoyed my visit. They want me to come and stay for two weeks. My mom thinks it’s a good idea. So tomorrow or on Thursday, I’m going back and I will only return to my own house on 12 May. I might come home in between just to see if everything’s okay over here.

I hope you enjoy your holiday. I will talk to you again before you leave. I miss you a lot too.

Take care and lots of love.

Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 14:57:26

Hi there you,

I wanted to write to you yesterday, but I did not have the strength to do it. I do not feel good at all, but I guess I have to get ready to leave. I just wished they lived closer by. Fish Hoek is not that far, but still.

So if you do not hear from me, do not worry. Enjoy your short holiday.

Lots of love,

Annie wrote Isaac an e-mail before they left for their holiday.

On their return, Annie called Kathy. The reason she called was regarding their upcoming trip to South Africa, but unfortunately, Kathy informed them Isaac had been admitted to the hospital on the same day he sent them his last email.

He had been put on a morphine drip since the pain had become unbearable. He had pancreatitis again, and was treated with antibiotics. The doctor had said the pancreatitis would come and go and Isaac would be in and out of the hospital until the end.

Additionally, his liver was infected too.

After her telephone conversation with Kathy, Annie sat down to write Isaac a long letter. She faxed it to the hospital, hoping it would reach her friend, since it was the weekend. In her letter, she told him about their vacation and she gave him a day-to-day report of everything they had done, hoping a chatty letter would help him relax.

Date: Tue, 11 May 1999 19:18:40

Hi there you!

I’m back at home and hope it will be for a long time now. I have to go back to the doctor next week, but I guess Kathy told you all the news.

Last week on Wednesday, I had to go for bone marrow biopsy. It didn’t hurt. Kathy, who watched the entire process, said it was good I couldn’t see what they did. The results are not available yet, so what they found in that quick test, I still don’t know. I have to use the morphine patches continuously now, because that’s all that helps against the pain. From tomorrow, I’m going to use two of them, since one is not enough anymore.

Yes, after I wrote to you the last time, I had THAT pain again. It was a similar to the pain I had in the waiting room of your doctor when I was in the Netherlands. I took two tablets, which helped, and I drove to the colleague where I was going to stay for those two weeks. I didn’t really feel better, except that the tablets — which contained some morphine — helped to still the pain a bit.

Later, I asked them to take me to the hospital because the pain was unbearable. We first came here so I could get my pajamas and then went to the hospital. I think they should give me a permanent room now. They started me on injections for the pain, but then they put me on a drip because the injections didn’t help.

Kathy mentioned I’m in phase 4 now and you said you didn’t know what it means. The sickness is graded in phases. You start at phase one and as the sickness progresses, the phases change. Phase 4 is the last of the phases. Apparently, I’m a walking miracle. My CD4 count was only 7 in April. That is very low. I do not have an immune system anymore and if I get a common disease, I will not get the normal symptoms for it.

They have started the process for the medical board. I do not know how long it is going to take.

Many thanks for the long fax you sent when I was in the hospital. I really appreciate it.

Lots and lots of love from this side.
I miss you endlessly.

To be continued… Staying In Bed

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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