my reflection

we had a huge mirror downstairs. it was right above the living room couch. its position was hella convenient. as i came down the stairs to leave the house, i got a glimpse of what my outfit looked like—actually, you had no choice but to get a look at your reflection because it was right across from the stairs.

it was in this mirror that i caught a glimpse of my thinning body. i had the inkling that i was losing weight, although i wasn’t dieting, for about two months. but i told myself there wasn’t anything to worry about. one day, as i was rushing to an appointment with my barber, i saw my reflection. i was shocked at what i saw – i was wasting away. it was my worse fear – AIDS was catching up to me. i canceled my haircut appointment and sat on the last step and tried to life coach myself, “it’s ok. no one dies anymore. relax.”

a few weeks later, my health deteriorated and i lost more weight. i visited my primary care provider and was told to take this or that pill and wait it out. i remember visiting my provider on a monday and then wednesday and literally losing 4 pounds in-between those visits. i remember thinking “what does she see that i don’t?”

a few days after that last visit with my doctor, i woke up from a nap and the sheets were soaked. i told my son’s father to take me to the hospital. when we arrived, i was immediately rushed to the ICU. i had fuckin’ pneumocystis pneumonia!

over the next few days, i went in and out of consciousness. when i was awake, i would muster up enough strength to walk myself and that damn I.V. pole to the bathroom, so i could see my reflection. i was so gaunt. my eyes were so wide. i thought “i am going to die of AIDS just like my father.” i would then walk back to the bed, lie down and coach myself, “it’s ok. let’s not die in shame. we ain’t gonna do that louie.” it worked – most of the time.

i eventually recovered – physically.

this picture was taken by a friend a few weeks after i was discharged in late october 2008. i am smiling but i look exhausted. this is one the few times first time speaking about this period in my life and the first time posting this picture here. i have no inspiring lesson to share – just this story and the picture (of my reflection).

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