- HIV test: positive
- Sick body, sick relationship …
- I decided to finish with myself …
- Time to go to therapy
- Life in suspension
- Anyone can get infected
- Few people knew about HIV infection
- I started HIV treatment
- AIDS Volunteers Association "Be with us"
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When my partner confessed that he had taken an HIV test and was infected, his knees gave me a bow. There was no despair or rebellion in me. There was only fear that activated bizarre defenses. I was numb, everything seemed to go on next to me. My life has become thoughtless, emotionless, empty.
Yes, Małgorzata remembers the moment she found out that she wasHIV positive , but now she talks about it without much emotion. He even admits that he does not remember many things. "When my partner confessed that he had taken aHIV testand was infected, his knees gave me a bow," he says. “But when he confessed that he was bisexual and taking drugs, I felt like I had been hit in the head with a truncheon. I was only 24 years old. Małgosia goes silent, her fingers wrinkled as if she wanted to squeeze the right words out of them. After a while, calmer, she adds: - I was working as a nurse in a hospital in the surgical ward, so I had to get myself tested.
HIV test: positive
Currently, you can have a test result on the same day, but then it was up to 3 months. Małgosia could not have contact with patients, so she went to work in the clinic. She did not think about herself then, but rather about the fact that she could infect someone. "Now that I've been working with women infected with the virus for years, I know most of them react that way," she says. - In the mind of everyone who learns about the infection, concern for others is born. It was the same with me. I tried not to travel by public transport, because I could infect someone. I didn't look people in the eye, lest HIV jump over them. It was irrational, but I couldn't do otherwise. I avoided contacts with people, I did not meet friends. - When I received the result, obviously positive, I heard that I cannot have children, I cannot have sex with anyone. I took it without emotion. Only after some time did I realize what this meant - the deferred death sentence. Back then, there was no knowledge of the virus that we have now. There were only speculations about the routes of infection and the possibility of living with the virus. Nobody offered treatment because there was no such possibility. When I read everything I could find on the subject in medical books, I decided that my life was over. I quickly calculated that since the average infected person lives at most 10 years, I still had 9. For two years I lived as if next to each other.
Sick body, sick relationship …
I did not ask the question - why me, I did not accuse anyone. I didn't feel, didn't think, didn't understand what was happening around me. All I knew was that I would die in 1997. We drink tea in silence for a while. I have the impression that Małgosia wants to say something that is hard for her to confess. "We weren't married and it wasn't a good relationship," she says after a moment. - There was a lot of violence, lies, terrible, almost terrorist jealousy. Today I wonder how I endured it. I was with this man because I loved him. And then, after the diagnosis … I was told that I shouldn't have sex with anyone. I didn't want to be alone … that's why I was with him. There was fear in me. I did what I had to do, but I didn't think, I didn't analyze. I was strangely dull, as if everything was happening next to me. I often looked into the glass. But it wasn't HIV that drove me to alcohol. Everything was falling apart around me. It was getting harder and harder to bear bouts of jealousy, constant control. Alcohol allowed me to forget, was a good excuse. Małgorzata was dismissed from her job in the hospital. One day, the superior asked her directly: - Are you HIV positive? "Yes," she said honestly. Then she heard: - I think you understand that we have to part. She left the hospital. She had no idea for a different life, for earning money. "Then my partner, who was already in the care of an infectious diseases hospital, told his doctor that he had a girlfriend with HIV," he recalls. - He asked for a job for me. I was accepted. It started to fall into place somehow, but only seemingly. My partner went somewhere in Poland and got into a street fight. He was so beaten that he died of his injuries. I was left alone. I lost my job again. I was fired because I was drinking at work. I got a wolf ticket, so I could forget about my next job.
I decided to finish with myself …
I was collecting pills for many weeks. There were a lot of them. When I chose THIS day, I sat at home, swallowing pills and washed them down with vodka. I don't know how long it took. I think I came back a day later. There were pills on the table, but the vodka was gone. I just got drunk and didn't take enough pills to make them work properly. But I didn't want to die anymore. Since it failed the first time, I will not try again. Małgosia goes silent for a long moment. There are tears in her eyes. After a while, he starts talking again. - I knew that if I didn't do something specific, I would cave in, lose the rest of the years I had.
Time to go to therapy
This decision changed her life. She came out of addiction. It was 1991. Since then, he hasn't had alcohol in his mouth. She left hershometown, she moved to Warsaw and decided to start all over again. - I was trying to find a place for myself - she says. - I started looking for a job, but in a completely idiotic way. I went from hospital to hospital and said that I am a nurse, I have HIV and I would like to work here. I was politely replied that there were no vacancies now, but they would call you when something becomes available. Finally, I found myself in Monar, where no one bothered my infection. They were open to any otherness. But I remember meeting a certain lady psychologist. I counted on an honest conversation.
I prepared for it, and when I told everything, I heard that I could not count on any support, that I had to deal with it myself. It was another impulse. This unsuccessful advice made me realize that I can really only count on myself and what I will build around me. I realized that I would take my life in my hands or that I would be lost, and then she went to Marek Kotański. After a short conversation, he said, "If you want to work, I have a place for you." Take your pick. - I chose and from that day I have contact with people infected with HIV and suffering from AIDS - he says. - Most of them died. I was there. They were leaving in front of my eyes and I knew what my end would be like.
Life in suspension
I had regular checkups. Subsequent tests showed that my condition was getting worse because the results were getting worse. I also knew that it wouldn't be better, that it was just a matter of time, that I was going one way and there was no turning back. Then I turned to God because I probably needed some reinforcement, maybe a little hope that it wouldn't just end like this.
Despite worse research results, Małgorzata's life was peaceful. She was building herself anew. It took a lot of work and effort. She did not make plans for the future, but consistently attended therapy, completed various training courses, and in 1995 decided to start pedagogical studies. She was developing professionally and spiritually, but a sense of temporariness kept her from replacing the windows in her apartment or buying new shoes for hiking in the mountains. - I did not buy new shoes because I thought that I would not have time to tear them off, so why spend so much money - he says with a smile. - I did not replace the windows because I decided that the old ones, even though they are falling apart, will last me for a few years. I was living day by day, but each of them was worried about what would happen next. There was no answer, so I limited myself in a lot of material matters. But I started studying, so there was no logic in my actions. I can't explain it, but it was like that.Important
Anyone can get infected
- People are aware of the risk of infectionHIV, they know how to protect themselves, but often don't.
- There are three ways of contamination: sex, blood, and the infection of the baby by the mother during pregnancy and delivery. You cannot get infected by shaking your hand, touching or using the same utensils.
- Most infected are among homosexual men. But there is an increasing number of infected women who have had intercourse with only one man in their lifetime, most often with their own husband.
- An employer cannot fire an employee who has been diagnosed with HIV or who has AIDS.
Few people knew about HIV infection
Family and friends had no idea about anything, so she could not count on their support. And it was a time when she had a great need to talk about herself, to talk herself out, maybe even scream out great fear. She was honest only by talking to her therapist. “He once told me:“ You don't have to tell everyone about the infection in order to protect someone. Speak when the truth helps you build a support group for yourself. Honesty is needed to build strong interpersonal relationships, not to create sensations. " At the time, I thought it was good advice because it allows me to get out of my loneliness, bond with people who are willing to accept the truth about me, and at the same time be honest with them and with you. Thanks to this, you can live normally. In the moments of loneliness in my head were the words of a lady from the Department of He alth, who forbade me from intimate contacts. This effectively separated me from the male world. Today, moreover, I cannot imagine any relationship. I found friends and acquaintances in the gay community. These were the only people who weren't numb at the HIV word. Now I'm talking about my contagion if I know people will be able to accept it. If I have any doubts, I remain silent.
I started HIV treatment
The year 1997 has come - the one in which, according to her calculations, Małgorzata was to say goodbye to the world. She felt bad. Her immunity was plummeting. She knew very well what would happen soon. In the same year, however, drugs that stopped the development of the virus were delivered to Poland. Little was known about their effectiveness at the time, but patients were offered treatment. "I agreed to treatment, but I was terribly afraid of the side effects of such therapy," she recalls. - I took medication from the hospital, but did not swallow them. However, when the next results were even worse, I started taking them. After the first doses for 3 months, I felt terrible. But it's all gone. I have been taking the same drugs for 15 years, some say that they are outdated, unfashionable, so definitely ineffective. I feel good after them. Moreover, the studies that are currently available nodetect virus in my blood. But he is. If there were no treatment options, I would not have had the time to receive my master's degree. I did it. I'm still alive and I don't feel like I'm stealing every day anymore. I am convinced that I am not wasting my life: I work, I help others.
AIDS Volunteers Association "Be with us"
Living with HIV is as difficult as living with any other chronic disease. There are fewer and fewer cases of rejection of infected persons by the family, but we are still far from normal. - Bearing in mind our own experiences, extreme behaviors and reactions, we founded the AIDS Volunteers Association "Be with us" with a group of enthusiasts - says Małgorzata. - We have been operating since 1993. For years we have been running counseling centers and special meetings for people living with HIV. And because I am a woman, all activities for women are especially close to me.
I remember what I needed myself, what gave me relief, what traps awaited me and what could pull me out of the bottom. These women experience the same thing, they have emotions they can't cope with. I am now stronger than them and I can help them, Małgorzata is very committed to her work. He does not agree to isolate infected people, he does not want to be decided for them, they are taught how to live.
- HIV is in my life and it will be, she says firmly. "But I don't agree to anyone making decisions for me." HIV is not a reason for the "smarter" to arrange my life. I don't want anyone telling me how things will be better for me, and professional helpers do that. Some of our meetings with women are reminiscent of the old feather tearing. We sit at one table. Once we cry, once we laugh, we get angry, we scream. Nobody gives anything to anyone on a tray, because everyone has to work through this trauma with himself, tear out the pain and find a platform for a settlement. Nobody needs Aunt Frania's joy. The infected person has not become worse or dumber by the mere fact of being infected. So it can't be that you see HIV first and then see a person. HIV does not make up our entire lives. It is an important and unacceptable part of it, but not all of it.
The average person with HIV living in Warsaw is young, 30 years old, has higher education, earns well, usually has never had contact with drugs and has been faithful to one partner. Over 25,000 people in Poland are unaware of the infection. - It is not known who will join us … - says Małgorzata. - You can live with the virus for up to 40 years and you have to make good use of this time. HIV is not a death sentence. This is a turning point. HIV is acceptable. Forget about him reasonably, because you have to take medication, get tested and take care of yourself during intercourse. But the restdoes not change.Where to go for help
The Association "Be with us"as the only one in Poland, it has been conducting regular meetings for women with HIV for many years - support groups, educational, psychotherapeutic, relaxation, rehabilitation, sports and tourist activities . There is also a free consultation with a lawyer, addiction treatment specialist, HIV / AIDS consultant, psychologist. Who would like to support the activities of the association, can donate money to the account: 43 1020 1097 0000 7202 0104 0898. Information about groups and activities aimed at women can be available at: www.swwaids.org and www.pozytywnyswiatkobiet.org or by calling 22 826 42 47 during the association's working hours. The question can be asked by e-mail to the following address: [email protected]. If the interested person does not want to join the association, you can meet on neutral ground, e.g. in a cafe or in a park. If you need help, support, therapy, face-to-face conversation, call us.monthly "Zdrowie"