HIV+

It was time to face reality, but this would be a reality that could change my life forever. I knew that he had moved on and had started a new family. Based on my calculations, this new affiliation commenced before I had even left him. It followed that he had been cheating whilst we were married. The question was how many women and for how long? Betrayal is the perfect bomb to any relationship. It blows the union apart leaving it in shreds. God would have it that I had at least started to move on emotionally when I was given the information about his infidelity.

It was time to do some blood work. It was a heavy load that I’d been carrying for a while; suppose I had a sexually transmitted infection? Suppose I had HIV or Aids? I didn’t want to be a woman living with either of them, or anything else for that matter. My bestie whom I shall name Jada was a medical professional. I picked up the phone and called her. Jada wears many hats. She often only needs to wear her friendship hat when we speak. Occasionally she wears her medical hat. She switches between hats so effortlessly and always knows which one to wear and how to wear it. Everyone needs a ‘Jada’ in their life! We agreed to do the routine tests with my doctor and the Aids test at her office.

Now the anxiety kicked in. If I had an infection which could be treated with a dose of medication I could live with that. Suppose I had one that would mean treatment for life? I had never been on long term meds for anything. I’m not even sure I’ve even managed to take multivitamins for a month without forgetting a day here and there. How was this going to affect a future relationship? My head was noisy with clashing questions.

The day of my appointment came. I remember feeling melancholy. I don’t drink alcohol but I felt extremely sober. We embraced and then I sat down. I found it hard to concentrate on what Jada was saying that day. I know that’s because of the storm that was brewing within. I remember just one thing she said; “With testing comes responsibility.” Yeah responsibility. Responsibility to myself to keep up with my meds, responsibility to inform any future suitors. Do I tell them from day one or after they propose? How do I tell my folks? My friends? My cousins, some of whom were baying for his blood for what he had put me through. RESPONSIBILITY. After the consultation I walked across to the clinic and waited my turn for the blood test. As I sat my mind went blank, and though the place was noisy with people all waiting for various services, I blocked out Every. Single. Sound.

I climbed the stairs of the portacabin and took a seat. I was still uneasy and barely holding it together. The nurses were trying to make me feel comfortable by making chit chat but it wasn’t working. I began to feel nauseous and light headed. I could barely breath. Then they came. The tears came. The nurses gave me tissue and tried to console me. They said I was in the right place and doing the right thing. But I shouldn’t of had to be here at all.

I sat on the outside until my results were handed to me in a sealed envelope. Patients were expected to return to the main office where they would be given the outcome of their test. I considered opening the envelope but was I ready to see that my results might be positive? Suppose I passed out in the street? What then? I walked back to Jada’s office. It felt like there were more steps to climb than I remembered. I handed her the envelope and sat down. She carefully opened it, browsed it and lay it to one side. She was talking to me again, wearing the professional hat but I heard nothing. I slipped away in my mind, back to the cacophony of endless questions.

“Byooti, are you ready for your results?” I nodded.

“They are negative.” I slumped in my chair and wept. All I could manage to say was “Thank you God!” For the second time that day I was given tissue. The tension slipped away, I was suddenly starving since I had been unable to even think about breakfast that morning much less eat it. I was jubilant.

Jada put her friendship hat on. “I knew you would be negative.”

“Jada, how can you be so sure? If he did it once, I’ve no idea how many times or how many women he slept with. I don’t know what he picked up out there and brought back to me.”

“I just know that God had you covered Byooti.”

I smiled at her faith. Mine had skipped on down the road. I went in search of a much needed breakfast.

Even when the way goes through

    Death Valley,

I’m not afraid

    when you walk at my side.

Your trusty shepherd’s crook

    makes me feel secure, Psalm 23:4.

The Message Bible

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