Tuesday, December 1, 2015

World AIDS Day 2015: My Father's Story

This is a story that was written quite a many years ago, before I honed my writing skills, so forgive the grittiness of it. But with today being World AIDS Day, I felt compelled to share my personal experience with the disease with everyone.

My father, Michael Joseph Passmore, passed away from AIDS on March 18th, 2002 at 2:30PM. 
When he was a teenager, he experimented with drugs, and payed the ultimate price.
So AIDS awareness is another cause that I'm very passionate about. I had approximately 12 years with my biological father, my sister, only 9, before he was taken from us. 

It is something that can be prevented!

Dad and I, sometime during the holidays, I assume.

"I'd like to share a story with you all, that I wrote last year, it was for a scholarship contest. It meant alot to share my story with them, and now I want to share my story with you guys

Hey Mike, come here and try this, it'll make you feel really good".
Michael eyed Dave, his friend, shooting up the heroin. All he said to himself was "couldn't hurt", and told Dave to put it in his arm; not at all thinking to use another needle.
Fast forward to June 1992, Michael is married and has a family now. He's working a good job, bringing home a paycheck; everything seems to be normal, ideal even.
But about the third week into June Mike's best friend Dave was rushed to the hospital late one night, and the next morning, they had done blood work on him, and he tested positive for AIDS, not even HIV, he had full-blown AIDS. Soon after this, Mike began to get scared, because he knew he used to shoot up heroin with Dave, and use the same needle. He knew he had to tell his wife about it, and that it wasn't going to be easy.
Before Mike went to bed one night, he told his wife, Robin, that he needed to talk to her about something, and he told her everything, about how he used to shoot up heroin with Dave, and how he would use Dave's needle, and finally, about how Dave was just diagnosed with AIDS.
That's a lot of news for one person to handle, and Robin just broke down and cried after hearing all of this from her husband, whom she had trusted that he had told her the truth about everything, but apparently she had been mistaken. She went into her two daughters' bedrooms and kissed each of them on the forehead and told them she loved them. Then Robin went back to her bedroom, to maybe sleep it off, possibly she'll awake from this nightmare she's been thrown into.

After discussing it with each other, Robin and Michael decided that they were going to get tested for HIV/AIDS. Robin was quite afraid that she would have it because of the sexual relations between her and Michael.

They anxiously awaited the test results, hoping and praying that it wouldn't come back positive. After about a week, Robin phoned the doctors office to inquire about the results of the test. What they told her, she wasn't prepared for; she herself, was fine, but Michael was HIV positive. She and Mike just cried. They didn't know what to do next. The lab told them that Mike had to come back down to the lab to get a second test done, to make absolutely certain that he in fact was HIV positive, and it wasn't a mistake on the test.

After Robin had calmed down, she began to phone her side of the family, as well as Michael's, because he couldn't handle it. When Robin had phoned her parents, they were shocked, but they told her that they would come up to be with her and support her for Mike's second round of testing. When Robin called Michael's mother on the phone, she was shocked and scared. She was also afraid that Robin's side of the family would think that if Mike's test results did indeed come back positive for HIV, that it would somehow be her fault. What Robin had told her was that "You can lead a horse to water, but Mike had Dave put that needle in his arm, it was his decision, and you had nothing to do with it".

The week that followed the second blood test was filled with anxiety, fear and tears. By the end of the week, they had finally gotten the phone call, but they would not talk to Robin this time; they insisted on speaking to Mike, and what he got was news that was horrendous. He was indeed HIV positive. This news changed that family's lives forever.

Robin's task at hand from that point from receiving that terrible news was to inform both sides of the family of what they had already suspected from the first phone call she had given them a week prior.

Many family members could not, or would not believe it, and began to ask questions of how he contracted it. This was probably the toughest job that Robin ever had to do, or so she had thought. She began looking into doctors for Michael; they had to be specialists, an infectious disease doctor that specializes in treating people with this kind of sickness. She had found one through her insurance company, in a clinic down in the city.

They had seen this doctor for about two weeks and decided that it was too far for them to travel each month. They began talking to their primary care physician, Dr. Rosa, through him, they had found a local doctor, Dr. Miller. At times, though, when the insurance company wouldn't pay for a visit to the doctor, Dr. Miller would still see him as a patient and not charge Mike or Robin a cent.

From then on, on a monthly basis they would see Dr. Miller and try out new medications. One such new medication that Mike had tried out, gave him a deathly reaction within the first hour of taking it. He was rushed by the MICU ambulance to the local hospital, where they then determined that they could not care for Mike. The very next day, he was transported by ambulance to the hospital where his doctor was on call. Immediately after he arrived there, there were about thirty different people in his room, trying desperately to save his life. His doctor started by ordering antibiotics to be administered intravenously. For a few days this had helped Mike, and he was breathing on his own. But the next day he had to be placed on life support because his body could not function on its own anymore. Dialysis was also administered for three days, as Mike's liver could not function on its own.

After examining Mike once again, Dr. Miller concluded that Mike had a 97% chance of dying, and a 3% chance of coming out of the hospital alive. Dr. Miller spent all weekend at home frantically scanning his medical books for some sort of medication that would counteract the reaction that Mike was having. After searching all weekend, he finally found one such medication that would do just that. He administered that Monday.

Mike was coherent the whole time he was in the hospital and on the life support. The doctors did however, keep him medically sedated, so he didn't feel too much pain. Mike gradually and slowly improved over the next few weeks, and finally after three weeks in the hospital, he was finally released to go home. Robin was the strong person throughout all of this, she was the one who got Mike up and out of bed to try and teach him how to walk again, when the hospital staff wouldn't, she was the one who fed, bathed and cared for him.

A hospital bed had to be placed in the living room of their home so as Mike could continue the recovery process at home with his family. Everyday, Robin would get him up out of bed, and help him to try and learn how to walk again, because the pill had ravished his body, he was never the same. Little by little he regained his strength and was able to walk, talk and eat again, although he would never be the same person that he was before the medication.

Life went on for the next year and a half, and they still saw Dr. Miller on a monthly basis. At one of their visits though, Dr. Miller pulled Robin to the side and told her that there would be a time that he would tell her that Mike had only a few months to live. She just hoped that time wouldn't be anytime soon. After one of their monthly visits, Mike had had bloodwork done and the results were not good. He called Robin over the phone and told her the news she had dreaded, that Mike had six to nine months to live. Then she had to tell her daughters, and Mike. After she had told Mike, she and him just cried and cried.

After Jennifer and Jessica had gotten home from school that day, their parents sat them down in their living room and told them they had to talk to them. They then told them that their dad had six to nine months to live. Jennifer ran out the door across to her neighbors house, she didn't know what to do. Jessica just sat in the living room with her mother and father and cried.

That summer, when they received the news, they planned a vacation, something they had never done together before, they went to aquariums, and restaurants, carnivals and beaches. They had had more fun that summer then all the past years combined.
Christmas that year, was certainly a rough one, knowing that it would probably be their last together. All tried to make it as happy as possible. Soon after, in January, Mike began to decline fast. Robin had placed him in hospice, so that he could pass away at home, quietly, with the people he loved, surrounding him. Pretty soon, he had begun to show the signs of PCP pneumonia. 

Robin became distraught, not knowing what to do, she and Mike discussed it, and decided to put Mike in the hospital, knowing fully well if they did that that they would know longer be a part of hospice. He was hospitalized for four days, and given medicine and antibiotics.
Although, they still knew that he was going to die, the hospital visit only prolonged his life, so they called hospice and spoke with them and explained how they were so distraught and didn't know what to do, and explained the situation. 

Hospice took him back, but told him that he could not go to the hospital again or he would not be allowed in hospice again.
The next two months were ones full of laughter at the good times, and tears at the bad, apologies of not being the father he should have been, and promises of how his two daughters would never get into the trouble he had gotten himself into. There were hugs, 'I love yous' and goodbyes.

By March he had become completely bedridden and couldn't feed, bathe himself or walk. In the third week of March, on Saint Patrick's Day, on a Sunday, he went into a coma in which he would never awake from. His eyes were open, but he couldn't answer. His breathing became heavy.
On Monday, Jennifer and Jessica went to school like any other day, Jessica kissed her dad on the forehead and told him she loved him and went off to school. Jennifer couldn't bring herself to kiss her dad, she didn't think it would be the last time she saw him. But it was.

Mike passed away on March 18th, 2002, at 2:30 pm. When the kids got out of school that day, their dad's best friend came and picked them up from school, which wasn't totally unusual or out of the ordinary because he did that from time to time, and the girls considered him their uncle. He took them out for ice cream and got them haircuts, then he took them to the neighbors house instead of home, then he told them he would see them later. The girls stayed for dinner at their neighbors house, and around 7 o'clock their Mother came to pick them up, but first had to tell them that their dad had passed away.

The next few days were a blur for them, there were people everywhere, and then there was the viewing, and the funeral. They had to say goodbye to their dad.
Looking down at their father lying there, is the harshest lesson that they'd ever learn. They would never do drugs, because they had learned in the hardest way possible, what it does to you.

My father was the man described in this story, he contracted AIDS from using an unsanitary needle that his friend had used, and by placing that needle in his arm, he ended up dying as the consequence of it. My family has seen first hand what AIDS can do to a person."

The moral of the story here is that AIDS IS PREVENTABLE. Take precautions, and if you're in doubt, GET YOURSELF TESTED. 

It would mean the world to me if you could share World AID'S Day's 

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