Monday, August 26, 2013


But this is not allowed
You're uninvited
An unfortunate slight

I don't think you unworthy
I need a moment to deliberate 

~ Alanis Morissette

Just the other day, a patient looked me intently, eyes glistening with fat tears dangling on long, black eyelashes. This patient was getting used to a newish diagnosis of HIV and now AIDS.

"Will anyone love me?" my young patient asked. "Will I always be alone now?"

"Is that your fear?" I asked.

"More than dying or being sick, it is."

I held that haunting gaze and, for some reason, we laced fingers--an action more intimate than my usual handholding but one that somehow seemed appropriate. "You know what I think?"

"What's that?" my patient asked.

"I think that a lot of us have that same fear."

"Do you?"

"On some days, I do. Maybe not in the same way you do today, but I think in some ways, yes."

"Would you love somebody who has HIV?"

I knew what my patient meant. Love. Like love-love. So then I actually thought about it. Like, I tried to imagine any circumstance that would make me not love Harry. Like love-love him. As far as that goes, I know I'd still want to be with him.

But de novo love? From-scratch, from-the-start love? And subsequently the love-love that comes with it? I didn't know. I want to believe that I would be strong enough. I also want to believe that what I know about HIV transmission and treatment would allay any fears I'd have of not love-love-ing the right person. Especially since I am certain that, at some point, I have made a choice in my young adult life that could have put me on the other side of that conversation.

But I think, because it's hypothetical, I don't really know.

"I want to believe that love can help us overcome even the scariest things. I think that's what it would take. And I believe in love."

I left it there. My patient was okay with that.

But me? I thought about that question for the rest of the day.

Happy Monday.

Now playing on my mental iPod. . . . .


  1. Having worked in an HIV clinic, I can say that many patients found "love-love" even after their diagnosis, so it is definitely possible.

    Of course, I'm a 36-year-old HIV-negative female who is still looking for "love-love", so it isn't guaranteed for anyone.

    1. Solitary--

      Let me be clear. . . I've been at Grady for nearly 14 years so you don't have to convince me that "love-love" exists for many people living with HIV. I know that it is possible and happens often. But that wasn't the question posed by my patient. The question was whether or not I--or YOU--could enter into "love-love" with a person living with HIV. Perhaps an even more poignant query for one who is HIV-negative and still looking, too. Deep, right?

      This, my friend, is Grady.

      xo, KM

    2. Ha ha . . .reread this and thought it read kind of snarky. Not my intention. Was just morning stream of consciousness. . . .you know? Forgive me if it came out wrong. I am glad to know that love-love is there waiting somewhere for my sweet patient.

  2. Guess we never know how we'll really behave until the hypothetical becomes reality. It's wise to ponder, though.

  3. I think that's a common question that anyone with a chronic illness struggles with. The disease(s) that I have are not contagious and there isn't a risk that a future spouse would get the disease from me. Still, there's that inherent fear that no one is going to want to risk being that special someone when I already come with the whole chronic illness package: probably will never be able to work full-time, may not be able to have kids and/or those kids are at risk for both the disease(s) that I have and complications arising from a difficult pregnancy, and will always have a million medical bills and visits and limitations to work around.

    No matter how much people assure me over and over again that the right person won't find all these items to be a deal breaker or that everyone has something that makes them less than perfect, it's hard. That fear your patient spoke of is real. It's really scary. No one wants to be alone for the rest of their life.

    What really has helped is one person in my life, a doctor actually, who just saw me as a creative & determined young woman with a sense of humor. The illness part was a secondary piece of information. That helped me to see myself in a way that wasn't defined by illness.

    But, yeah, that fear is real. And stereotypes are scary. As are social tendencies.

    Just some thoughts,


"Tell me something good. . . tell me that you like it, yeah." ~ Chaka Khan

Related Posts with Thumbnails