07 September 2012

~ Answers To Your Emails About Phil ~

Everything I address in this post
was asked in an email by one of you.
If I have missed any of your questions,
please feel free to leave it in the comments.
Thank you!

~ ~ ~

Yes, when Phil was first diagnosed,
he was asked to speak at various functions
by his physician and the local health clinic.
Being such a quiet, shy, introverted person
this job fell on my shoulders.

And it was OK.
I wanted people to understand that 
HIV/AIDS could affect anyone.
I studied more that year than ever to educate myself
and become of service to others.
My motto was.
"You're Eligible Too".
Meaning it just has not happened to you 
Even though Phil contracted HIV/AIDS
from a tainted transfusion, 
in 1994 our country was still at odds with
what was standered protocol in 
making sure people knew how to protect themselves.

Anyone remember
Alison Gertz

For many, many months
several times a week, Phil, Yancey, and I headed to some
very recluse region of north Georgia to give a talk.
City Halls, little churches, basements etc.
It wasn't easy.
HIV/AIDS was still considered a "gay man's" disease
in those parts of very rural north Georgia.

Even after Phil passed, I continued. 
There was an importance I felt in continuing
to educate the under-educated in this area of the country.
And then one day, I just burned out.
In fact, I flew to my parents home in Ohio
to recooperate for 10 days.
I was tired. I was stressed. 
I don't think I had even mourned the passing of Phil yet.

 Yancey was finally getting 
long-term treatment in Minnesota.

And in 1998 I left my very difficult farm position in north Georgia
and started over in Florida.
I took care of me.

Historical Advances of Antiretroviral Therapy in 1995-1996

  • *In 1983, the Institut Pasteur in France discovers the HIV virus and links it to AIDS. This is followed by a similar claim made by U.S. doctor Robert Gallo in 1984.
    *In 1985, the FDA approved the first HIV antibody test, allowing blood supplies and individuals to be screened for infection.
    *In 1987, the first FDA-approved antiretroviral drug AZT debuts. It also marked the year in which latex condoms where found to be effective in preventing the transmission of the virus through sexual intercourse, an important step in lowering infection rates.
    *1991-93 saw the introduction of transcriptase inhibitors, drugs that helped suppress the transcribing of viral RNA into healthy cells.
    *By 1995-96, a new class of drugs termed protese inhibitors were approved. These lowered the amount of viral load within the blood stream, helping to minimize the onset of AIDS.

          *In 1994, Phil was given Protese Inhibitors.

Even though he was already full-blown AIDS,
his physician was looking for anything to extend
quality of life. And it did.
He lived for exactly one year after his diagnosis of AIDS.

Yes. Phil had good days and bad days.
Phil also had the "Aids Wasting Syndrome"
due to the meds he was on which induced
 nausea, vomiting and basically a 
lack of appetite.
Although none of this really began until he got his 
diagnoses and began treatment.

Current Treatment and Effects in the late 1990's

  • The advent of further protease inhibitors in the late 1990s, led to the "triple cocktail" method of antiviral treatment that combines up to three antiretroviral drugs according to the particular stage of infection in order to suppress HIV. Unfortunately, the combination of drugs and the potency of the drugs themselves can cause moderate to severe side effects such as diarrhea, loss of sensation in digits and muscle soreness.
    Still, with the proper access to drugs, many people infected with HIV are now able to live for extended periods of time without every developing AIDS and the life threatening complications that go with it. Even for those already experiencing AIDS, antiretroviral therapy can extend life expectancy beyond the average of one year.
The "Triple Cocktail" was too late for Phil.
Phil's physician was astonished he had lived
with HIV as long as he had with no symptoms.
The fact he was a very healthy person, 
in all respects, eating a good diet,
no drugs/alcohol, and working out
kept Phil a very fit person!
He also did manual labor which contributed
to using his body in good ways.

In 1994, after he was diagnosed and went on
                   disability, Phil moved into my home.
I didn't make that clear in my previous post.
His family would not let him live with them.

No. Phil never considered suicide as was asked
in one email.
There was always Hope for tomorrow.

After Phil's doctor gave him 3 months to live,
how long was it before he died?

*Within 24 hours of that visit, Phil became jaundiced.
I knew his liver was shutting down and so did he.
He died 48 hours after that appointment
with his doctor.

The video tape we made of him saying goodbye
to family and friends was shown at his party.

I have it in an old wicker trunk with a few of his 
favorite shirts and other odds and ends that
were important to Phil,things he left for me.
Including his death certificate.
In his late stage of AIDS, 
I was made his Legal Guardian.
His memory was beginning to fail and he understood that.

No. I have never watched the video it again.
And I will never make it public,
meaning it will not be shown on my blog!

Did his family attend his funeral?
His father and sister did.
His brothers did not.

~ ~ ~
And lastly...
 asked in one very sincere email someone asked,
"How did HIV/AIDS begin?"

Do you really know the origin of HIV and AIDS?

Out of Africa: HIV Was Born

Aids, the worst pandemic of modern times which has claimed over 30 million lives, is thought to have begun in the rainforest of west central Africa as a result of the bush meat trade.

*The earliest known case of infection with HIV-1 in a human was detected in a blood sample collected in 1959 from a man in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. (How he became infected is not known.) Genetic analysis of this blood sample suggested that HIV-1 may have stemmed from a single virus in the late 1940s or early 1950s.

*We know that the virus has existed in the United States since at least the mid- to late 1970s. From 1979–1981 rare types of pneumonia, cancer, and other illnesses were being reported by doctors in Los Angeles and New York among a number of patients. These were conditions not usually found in people with healthy immune systems.

*In 1982 public health officials began to use the term "acquired immunodeficiency syndrome," or AIDS, to describe the occurrences of opportunistic infections, Kaposi's sarcoma (a kind of cancer), and Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia in previously healthy people.
 Formal tracking (surveillance) of AIDS cases began that year in the United States.

*In 1983, scientists discovered the virus that causes AIDS. The virus was at first named HTLV-III/LAV (human T-cell lymphotropic virus-type III/lymphadenopathy-associated virus) by an international scientific committee. This name was later changed to HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

*For many years scientists theorized as to the origins of HIV and how it appeared in the human population, most believing that HIV originated in other primates. Then in 1999, an international team of researchers reported that they had discovered the origins of HIV-1, the predominant strain of HIV in the developed world.

 *A subspecies of chimpanzees native to west equatorial Africa had been identified as the original source of the virus. The researchers believe that HIV-1 was introduced into the human population when hunters became exposed to infected blood by eating the chimp meat., being scratched by a chimp, or having an open sore that was 
then exposed to the blood of a dead chimp.

  Thank you so much for caring
about both Yancey and Phil.
And educate your children.
No matter their age.


I am no saint.
Just a person given certain 
circumstances that I chose to deal with
the best I knew how.



TexWisGirl said...

thanks, misha. the history of this disease and the medical advancements are important to remember, too, as well as the souls that deal with it and have been lost to it.

Donna said...

I feel blessed to call you my friend.

Gaelyn said...

Great info and thanks for sharing more.

Bianca said...

I'm still suprised about how many people still don't know a lot about HIV and Aids. Maybe because here in the netherlands it's freely talked about, gay's and lesbienes are quite 'normal' here... I don't know.
I think you are a good cristian, in the best meaning of the word. Taking care of someone who needs help. I think, given the chance,all good people would do the same. I know I would.
I'm proud of calling you my friend.
Big hug, Bianca

Samantha said...

You're a good soul, Misha.

Lynne said...

Thank you Misha . . . Information is one of the keys to understanding. It is very sad that Phil's brothers didn't care enough to learn and understand. I can't imagine the feelings of judgement and rejection Phil must have felt from his family.

In my work life I was invited by my local United Methodist Conference to attend a Global Aids Ministry conference in San Franciso. This was in the mid eighties. It was a phenomenal learning experience . I like to call it one of the "hilltop moments" of my life. It meant even more to me because my brother in law was dying from HIV/AIDS.

I agree with one of the commenters . . . "You are a beautiful soul" and caring is at your core.

Elizabeth Edwards said...

i read Bianca comment & i do wonder why Americans are so shy about certain topics?... it would really help if we were more honest or up front about issues. thank you for your post misha ... i learned some more info. because of you. i still remember "Ryan White" ...seeing that movie in school was so hurtful because of how folks treated him. hurt me. guess we need to look to the children of the world... innocent & love all. (: