Stickman Readers' Submissions September 4th, 2002

Life Catches Up With You

Life Catches Up To You

I have procrastinated long and hard about typing this out as it has been in my head everyday since it began so if anything this process should prove cathartic. At the very least it should serve as a warning to all those who think that life won't catch up with them, as I can assure you one day it will and most likely when you least expect it.

He Clinic Bangkok

Now I am sure there will be those of you out there who label me a fool for letting myself get into such a situation and believe me I am my own harshest critic. I know what I did was foolish and it is a lesson I have learnt and one that I hope to pass on to anyone who cares to listen.

Before I begin I will just give you a little background about me, I am your Mr. Average mid 30’s un-married, no dependants, no-obligations, no hassles, professional with a decent head on his shoulders living in Farangland. I have travelled to Thailand several times and enjoyed the naughty night life and most of what the country has to offer. I was no virgin to the naughty night life before I visited Thailand having spent time in Farangland enjoying the services of the local knock shops.

In my many visits to the local establishments I had met dozens of girls, frequented several of them throughout my time but never had I given thought to starting a relationship with one. Sure I had considered how nice it might be to take them home for a while and it’s the basic male dream, chef in the kitchen, and a whore in the bedroom. We always want the moment to last a little longer than time generally allows. Then reality checks in.

CBD bangkok

I met Lisa in November last year, it was the first time I had visited said establishment and she was the pick of the bunch. She was stunning and looked out of place compared to her sisters standing in line. I couldn't resist her, bright smile, pale skin and a sweet voice that still echoes in my head. She was from Chang Mai and had been in Farangland only 1 month, her English was good, she was educated and could hold a conversation. Well when the time was up and the Olympics were over she jokingly said to me can I come home with you, my immediate response was “no” making up some excuse to not appear so harsh. She was surprised. Really who was I kidding I would have happily taken her home but not tonight. So she then asked for my number, which I supplied and two nights later she called and asked me out for a drink.

Fate, I believe in it because everything in life happens for a reason. So we met two nights later and talked for hours about anything and everything. She did not have a bad story to tell just a girl who wanted to make good for her family who had made good for her. No abusive boyfriends, no single parent families and no sick buffalos. She was great, positive vibrant and full of life. She knew what she wanted how long she wanted to stay and where she was going. Impressive as most of the women I have met share few if any of these qualities. So things progressed.

We went from meeting up for dinner or a drink once a week to staying over one or two nights and within 2 months it was pretty full on. Now you are probably wondering how can a man let the person they care about take part in such a profession without feeling the least bit sympathetic to the cause. I won't take the moral high ground here but I will say the relationship was not without a few problems. Dating working ladies is difficult and fraught with headaches but at its very core are still two people who care enough about one another to see it through. Everybody needs to feel loved. Now I wasn’t in any position financially to offer assistance and I wasn’t about to stand in her way, as that would have only distracted her from the ultimate goal. So we continued on in our live in boyfriend / girlfriend roles.

Four months later things were going along nicely, time was ticking by and the conversations had turned from the basics to commitment and the like. I do really love this woman so I was not averse to discussing our future and life after the job. Talk of family ensued, children, life outside of Farangland etc. I was warming each and everyday to spending the rest of my life with this lady. So as I began to warm I also started to drop my guard. We enjoyed life from every aspect, intellectually, emotionally and sexually she was wonderful. So given she was responsible and caring and knowing that she took all the precautions I began to use protection less and less. In hindsight it was careless but I justified it in my head by stating that we had talked so many times about safe sex, her profession and testing and she had assured all was well.

wonderland clinic

This continued on for another couple of months and as I fell deeper in love with her I became less and less concerned about the risks. Finally it came to a point where I felt I wanted to do something for us, I was tired of the merry go round and wanted her to stop working and consider starting a family. So I suggested we both go and get tested and following this look at marriage and having a child.

So I immediately went to the clinic, and 3 days later a negative result just like I had expected. She unbeknownst to me she had already been to the public clinic the week before and was awaiting the results the day after I got mine. The next 24 hours will remain etched in my memory as a reminder of the pitfalls that life can have in store for us. I got home from work as normal; she had cleaned the house from top to bottom and had prepared dinner with all the trimmings. It was fantastic. We talked during dinner but it was obvious from her conversation that something was up. Following the meal I pressed her about the uneasiness and after several attempts she finally revealed that she had been to get tested. Ok.

At this point I am becoming a little disturbed as she is not revealing anything and my mind is moving towards the worse case scenario. After a tense 30 mins she tells me that she has tested positive to HIV. My self defence mechanism kicks in and I stupidly assume she is playing a game with me just to test and see if I would push her away and not tell her I love her. People are prone to playing games at times but this was a somewhat serious topic to dabble with. So after a little more pushing and prodding she pulls a letter out of her purse and shows me, what it reveals is a CD4 count and a request for a specialist mantoux test.

Ok so now I am at the point where I feel my life has just been up ended and is about to dissolve in front of my eyes, the woman that I love is HIV+, there will be no life with her following this, no children and I myself am at risk having had unsafe sex with her over the past 3 months. What a fool. So many things were racing through my mind, disbelief, regret, fear, and anxiety. Death loomed large. You never quite know what life is until death stares you in the face. Well it may not have been visiting me on that night but I sure as hell felt like my place in this world was about to disappear. Needless to say I lost my dinner several times and I could barely sit still. Its very hard to imagine how anyone would react in such a situation, we are all so different but I guess nobody, really nobody, wants to face the fact that their life may be taking an irreversible course of self destruction.

My reaction was unsavoury, I couldn't believe it was happening, more so I felt deceived cheated, robbed and I didn’t give a second thought to how she felt. We had talked so many time about safe sex, testing etc how could this be, how could she have not known, why would she lie. So many questions so much anxiety. It was truly the most disturbing time in my life. So I pushed her away, rejected her mentally and emotionally. The next day I packed her things up and asked her to leave, she didn’t want to go and why would she? She had a handful of friends but no one she could turn to, I had my family but what would they think of me.

It was ugly, I didn’t like who I had become but I felt I had to be this way in order to purge the problem from my world. The problem however wasn’t her it was me. I had created this through my own stupidity and I had to face the fact that I was at risk of falling victim to this disease. We separated immediately, I confided in my family and a single friend who I knew I could trust. Following that I went through all the procedures testing for STDs and follow up blood tests. It was harrowing but it meant nothing for the blow was two fold, I had lost the one I loved and I had put my own life in jeopardy.

However I couldn't remain angry, I didn’t like who I had become and as fate loomed larger I began to consider her and my feelings. Within a month I caved in, I loved her too much to leave her alone and I realized what she meant to my life and I wanted to help through it. It was an agonizing twelve-week wait. The emotions were like a roller coaster and not a day went by when I didn’t consider the implications of testing positive and living life with HIV. It’s funny how things change when mortality is questioned. Life takes on a different meaning. Work, friends, family problems seem trivial when your life is in the balance. You live each day with the hope that everything will be okay. This is all very personal and maybe not everyone would react in the same way but it’s hard to imagine the situation until you are faced with it.

We returned to a semi normal routine and as our relationship continued on, I learnt as much as I could about HIV, treatments, CD4 counts and viral loads. She took all the follow up tests and still has a quality of life to look forward too. My tests came back negative. Which after twelve harrowing weeks was a relief in some regard. After questioning my mortality daily I had come to terms with many things I knew life would continue on even if I tested positive to HIV. I guess the result was met with a small amount of disappointment from her. Of course she wanted me to be well so that I would have a chance at making a life, a family and having children but deep inside like I she too had wondered if the result was positive what life would have held for us both.

We are still close, but we are also both very realistic about what the future holds. I will hold her in my heart forever but realize that there can never be a life outside of the space she retains inside of me. If we are to take the positive from the negative it is not to judge some one for their mistakes for we all human and life sometimes isn't fair.

Sad but true. A lesson to all those who want to listen.

Stickman says:

I really hope people learn from this.

nana plaza