Funny the World...


May 20

"So in all the driving you did today, did you remember to get toilet paper," Walt asked me tonight.

Gulp. Uh. No. But I will! Really!

It's been a busy day. At 9:15 I left the house to pick up Priscilla. We had a different sort of experience today. She kept laughing and saying "Girl, we’re having adventures!" First we went to the clinic for her injection. The clinic had an unusually large number of folks hanging around this morning, some pretty sad looking characters, including one guy who did a lot of twitching and talking to himself. It’s always a new experience to sit in the car and wait for Priscilla to come out.

Next we drove to CARES, the Sacramento AIDS clinic. Her appointment lasted longer than expected and afterwards, since she had some food vouchers, we stopped at the supermarket so she could pick up some food. She has no appetite and is painfully thin. She keeps thinking she can find something that will allow her to eat. I felt sad for her because she had a $20 voucher but because the mainstream supermarket costs more than the discount store where she usually shops, the groceries cost more than the voucher amount, and she had to take some things back. I know this hurts her pride. But she was mainly concerned about putting me out because I had to wait for her. I assured her it was no problem at all.

On our way home we encountered big traffic SNAFUs in downtown Sacramento, due to an overturned car, and so we went out of our way and went in directions she hadn’t been before. She was like a little kid trying to figure out where she was.

After I dropped Priscilla off at her home, I had half an hour to kill and tried to meet Ned for lunch, but he wasn’t at his office, so I just picked up a sandwich, wandered around a party goods store came across (I should have found a supermarket and bought toilet paper!) and showed up at the appointed time to get Terry. He is living in a clean and sober house that’s a bazillion miles from everything. We had a nice "getting to know you" drive back to CARES, where he had his own appointment.

He was born and raised in Berkeley. I didn’t ask him what brought him to Sacramento, but I know he has been in the house for 3 weeks. Prior to that, he did some transportation for elderly people, pretty much doing what I am now doing for AIDS and HIV+ clients. He also had a sister with full blown AIDS who died several years ago; Terry does not yet have full blown AIDS, though is HIV+.

His appointment at CARES was scheduled for an hour, so I waited inside the building this time, since it was bloody hot outside. I found an article in POZ Magazine (a magazine for HIV+ people) which asked "What is the Lazarus Syndrome?" As Steve refers to himself as a "Lazarus person," and sings a song called "Lazarus," I was curious to read the article. Unfortunately, the only copy of the magazine they had was in Spanish. Spanish is a language I never studied and never spoke, but I know a smattering of Portuguese and studied French in school, so I decided to try to decipher column--and was surprised at how much of it I could understand without much problem.

Terry was back in the waiting room after an hour, but there was a problem. They discovered that in addition to being HIV+, he also has Hepatitis C and this would necessitate more blood tests. He also was hoping to get a cane to help with the painful neuropathy he’s developed as a results of the AIDS medications he takes...he says they have determined the condition is irreversible. Like Priscilla, he accepts his condition as the result of his own foolhardiness and gives thanks for each day that he is able to function. He didn’t want to make me wait around for another hour or two and said he’d find a way to get back to the house on his own. I know this was a big sacrifice for him, since it is a 2 hour bus trip, if the bus even runs at that hour. But he was adamant, so I told him goodbye and came home.

By the time I came home, I’d been on the road for nearly 6 hours and had driven 100 miles. This is probably the busiest day I’ve had since I started volunteering for Breaking Barriers. I should have stopped at the supermarket on the way home to get toilet paper, but it was starting to be rush hour there, so I decided to wait until after dinner. We have a big stock of Kleenex to hold us until then.

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created 5/20/00 by Bev Sykes