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October 9, 1998     Cape Gazette
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October 9, 1998
 

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CAPE GAZETYE, Friday, October 9 - October 15, 1998 &apos; 37 The journey of aging with AIDS: support key "From the onset of this health crisis people living with AIDS and HIV...embarked upon a jour- ney that brought us into new and uncharted territories." - Michael Shernoff, CSW, PWA Newsline By Scan C. Venable In my 30s, my mother would make me promise not to tell any- one my age when we went to a so- cial gathering together. Her think- ing was that if people didn't know how old I was, they couldn't fig- ure out how old she was. She was so sensitive about her age that she even made me promise that when she died I wouldn't print her age in her obit; I respected that. So I get my age sensitivity hon- estly, and as I approach the time when I have to check off the last age box on questionnaires - you know, the "49+" box - I pause to give some thought to us long-term survivors of AIDS/HIV. Frankly, I never thought I'd get this far - still alive 12 years after being told I was HIV positive. In fact, at the time of my first oppor- tunistic infection - PCP (pneumo- cystis carinii pneumonia), PCP was still running wild in the com- munity, and I fully expected to be gone by 1994. But hey, it didn't happen, and life moves on - but not without the same freakiness and pain, I find. Although I neither think con- sciously about the virus all the time nor about getting older, the merger of the HIV environment and the concept of age makes me crazy - certainly uncharted territo- ry. For an empowered person such as myself, confusion is one of the freaky new things with which I have had to deal. For example, I walk into a room to get something and go blank as to why I walked in there in the first place. Or I keep dropping things and bumping into things. "Oh, I know!" I utter out loud. "I've got AIDS dementia." Of course, my good friends, think- ing they're reassuring me, say: "You're just getting old." Thank you so much. Eeeeek! Yes, I know that some people have called AIDS the "premature aging disease" because of the sim- ilarities of symptoms, but I don't think I was ready to deal with nor- mal symptoms of the aging process - aches, pains, slowed re- sponses - combined with the pe- ripheral neuropathies, cataracts Mammography of Delaware will be available in the Cape Region as follows: Oct. 20 Delaware Teeh campus, OcL 22 Delaware National Bank, Georgetown To schedule an appointment, call 800-654-0606 and diabetes that were brought on by my AIDS medications, specifically the protease inhibitors or miracle drugs. The fact is VENABLE that those of us long-termers on highly active anti-retroviral treat- ment are throwing a lot of highly toxic chemicals into our systems and have done so, I might add, for many more years than those in- fected just a short time ago. So beyond the usual fear of the unknown that we all experience, these drug regimens have con- ti'ibuted to very real fears: can our systems, including our livers and pancreases, handle this? Keeping in mind that these very same or- gans processed a lot of cocktails in our barring days, how much more of a beating can they take? In addition, since long-term sur- vivors of AIDS have oudived the majority of their friends and close associates - a condition that only 15 years ago was associated with our grandparents' generation - loneliness and isolation are un- welcome territories. For those of us who are lucky enough to re- form a social circle and anticipate living longer, the nagging feeling that we'll have to repeat the losses again is unthinkable. No wonder survivors' anger seems to express itself in unexpected ways and sometimes inappropriately. What, then, are the answers to this seeming dilemma? Frankly, I don't think there are any easy an- swers, if there are any at all. However, we can only hope that support from our nearest and dear- est, and support of ourselves by reaching out to others and keeping busy in a field where our passions lie, will see us through the years ahead. But cautious optimism gives way to the reality that nothing can Exercise for Heart! The best exercises for im- proving the condition of the heart are brisk enough to raise the heartbeat and breathing rates. The activity should be sustained for at least 15 to 30 minutes, without any interrup- tion, and should be engaged in regularly, such as at least three times a week. Remember, al- ways consult you physician before starting an exercise program. Submitted by Robert Cairo, licensed physical therapist, Tidewater Physical Therapy, 945-5111. intervene in the aging process, and' nothing can diminish the fact that HIV/AIDS is a royal pain. But hey, life moves on. For more information about long-term survivors, see the fol- lowing: "Thriving Long-Term with, WRKE UP RMERICR! The Oolitt Tongue Scraper is here! Are you exhaling unpleasant mouth odors every time you breathe? THE OOLITT TONGUE SCRAPPER Help eliminate those mouth odors by brushing, flossing and using an effective mouthrinse along with this incredible tool, and gular dental check up. The tongue scraper costs only $2.50. (15% discount on orders of 50 or more) Order yours today by completing the order form and fax or mail to the address listed below. WENDY MILLIS OXYFRESH INDEPENDENT DISTRIBUTOR 1 Malthews Ave. Suite 2 Wilmington, DE 104 Home: (?(Y2) 658.8218 Fax: (30"2) 658-8218 - ORDER FORM - I Quantity. 02.50 each. total cost: Method of Payment: VISA__ MASTERCARD__ Card Number Exp. Date__ IName Phone lAddress: I Check or Money Order payable to Wendy MIIIII/Oxyfreh HIV, Positive Options: A Hand- book for People Living with HIV," Body Positive of New York, or an excerpt by Aldyn McKean on the Internet: <www.thebody.com/bp/thriving.h tml> "Long-Term Survivors of HIV/AIDS" (Revised), Michael Shernoff, CSW, PWA Newsline, May, 1996 on the Internet: <www.thebody.com/shernoff/lon gterm.html>. Editor's note: Scan Venable is an administrator for P.L.Active, an AIDS support organization. N urse Mates Headquarters The Professional's first choice... Make a fashion statement with the finest and most comfortable footwear, sensational looking fashion uniforms and accessories If the blue heart is there -- that's the brand to wear! 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