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A Dead Tree in a Field of Green Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Sebastian St.Troy, United States Apr 2, 2008
Media , Culture , Health   Short Stories
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“Scared, nervous, sick to my stomach. Afraid people would see me differently and not treat me the way that I should be treated.” This comment isn’t unusual for those who fear disclosing something personal, something fearful that makes us feel different. Sometimes, we feel like a dead tree in a field of green. Trees go dormant during the cold, blistery, often lonesome winters of time. During these quiet seasonal periods the tree may appear dead, however, it is very much alive and growing. Its growth is internal and underground, unseen by the naked eye, developing strength for the spring, that new beginning. Some of us often go through this time of internal growth, unseen by others, as we accept, understand, rediscover ourselves, and re-evaluate the import things in our lives when we discover we are HIV positive. Maria, who commented above, is 29, married, has two children, lives in Minnesota, is involved with the Minnesota AIDS Project and the Aliveness Project, and is HIV positive.

Maria discovers she’s HIV positive and shares this about her experience, “I am pretty sure that I contracted HIV in July of 2006. I was working in a group home and while hooking up an IV I was stuck by a needle. I never gave it a second thought until October 10, 2006 at 10 AM. I found out that I was pregnant on October 1, 2006. My fiancé and I were elated, as we knew that it was limited time for his mom to be alive. I went in for doctor’s visit immediately since I had several miscarriages previously and knew that I would need help medically to support the pregnancy. While at the free clinic the doctor asked if I was okay with a HIV test. I said sure. I had one previous to my fiancé and that was negative so what did I have to worry about. I called the nurse to find out how all my labs were and she said to make an appointment. I figured this was routine. So the morning of the appointment I loaded my son up into the car and off we went. When I got in to see the doctor she said she had some bad news. She then looked at me and said you have HIV. I remember just sitting there for a few minutes saying over and over that I was going to die.” That feeling of dieing, that feeling of dread, that moment of discovering we have HIV is different for everyone. Some of us, especially us gay men, have been aware and educated about HIV from its early beginnings; however, some sectors of society didn’t believe that it was something for them to be concerned about. They were wrong! Now everyone should be concerned about HIV. Not only concerned, but educated and acknowledge it is something everyone should talk about freely without fear or social and religious dogmas.

Having come from “a very strict Baptist home” Maria has overcome such dogmas now to the point that she feels that disclosing her HIV status is “a positive way to spread a little HIV education.” She further shares, “I am finding that people in their 30’s, in white suburbia, think that this will never happen to them. They are in monogamous relationships, drug free and healthy. Never would they think that their partner could betray them. If they are single they think that even now it is a gay and drug abuser disease. Rarely do I hear that people use condoms to prevent STD’s. He is too cute for HIV etc. seems to be the mindset. He told me he was clean. I usually follow up with I thought I was clean.” Such beliefs, lack of knowledge, and dangerous behaviors only lead to the spread of HIV; however, we can help change that by learning to be such as that dead tree in the field of green, slowly growing to the point we can spring forth and freely share and grow to the point we are providing shade, comfort and beauty to those around us.

Terrible things happen, most of the time we don’t understand why the universe has allowed it, but they happen and usually can alter our life’s path. Having someone, that shady, comfortable tree for us, to share our hearts with when these things happen can help us learn to grow. However, some of us don’t have such and find ourselves alone in that field of green. Maria had several comfortable trees to rest under, but not knowing how they would respond, and says, “The first thing I did when the doctor left the room was call my dad. I told him that I had HIV, and there was no judgment at all. He was the first to tell me that I would not die if I controlled the disease properly with medication and diet. I called my fiancé from the doctor’s office and asked him to meet me at home. He thought there was something wrong with the baby I am sure. When I pulled into the parking lot he was there. I just got out of the car and cried while he held me. I told him I was HIV positive and he said, ‘we will get through this.’” Such positive support isn’t something everyone receives, perhaps because people don’t understand or have some set dogma that prevents them from expressing genuine love, caring and concern for what a person might be going through.

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