I am 28. White. A Female. And a former Peace Corps Volunteer. I am HIV Positive. This is my story of how a few months, a few people, and a few events in Zambia changed me and my life forever. This is the story of how I contracted HIV and brought my Peace Corps Journey to a crashing halt... and how I am working now to pick up and put back together the pieces of my life as a newly diagnosed person living with HIV. This was not the journey I had originally planned... my path has traumatically and dramatically changed... but it is the one I am on now. There is no going back. There is only forward. I welcome you to follow along with me as I attempt to explore this new life ahead of me, whether you are someone from the Peace Corps community, or someone living with HIV. I welcome your comments, questions, suggestions, and opinions. Let us go forward together. To start from the beginning, click here He Gave Me More Than A Bracelet.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

My Trip to Florida

As mentioned in a previous post, I made a trip down to Florida for a few days. This was my first time to return back to my home state in over a year. To be honest, I got a little emotional on the plane ride down. It brought me right back to my most recent plane rides- home from Africa and home from DC. Just being in an airport and on a plane again brought tears to my eyes, making me remember those first days and weeks of diagnosis.

 Tuesday night brought more emotions, as I received hugs from my Peace Corps Recruiter, as well as good college friends. We sat down in a crowded auditorium to hear Director Williams speak. He started by asking those of us who have served as volunteers to stand. Yep, more tears in my eyes. At various time during his speech, the emotions welled back up. Its such an awkward and unsettling feeling- to somewhat feel like a volunteer and somewhat not… to feel like you are a part of this group, but at the same time to feel that something so huge has set you and your experience so far apart… to hear people say “Peace Corps changes your life forever” and to laugh at the irony of how it has changed my life forever.
 After the speech, I had the opportunity to meet Director Williams (even though I was nervous and dreading it). I shook his hand and said “Hi. I’m your newest medical separee”. He said, “Oh, I’m sorry. What happened?” I hesitated, and all I could manage to say was one word “HIV”.  Yeah, I’d say he was a bit surprised to say the least. He gave me a hug and asked how I was doing and whether Peace Corps was taking care of me. I said, “I’m doing okay. And yes, they are trying”. That’s all I could manage. Me and my mom were both crying by that time.

The next night was my big night, my time to meet and speak to a group of future and returned volunteers. It was a small group, about 17 of us. I went through my story and answered questions. It was a good casual event, and I hope that it helped those who were there. Thanks Amy, for having me come down!

1 comment:

  1. Hey! You're awesome and I'm glad I got to finally meet you the other night in Gainesvegas :) Keep on keepin' on - it's all we can do to get through our medical mishaps!