Thursday, December 3, 2020

The COVID-19 Era Sparks Opportunity

Even in the midst of a global pandemic, there is always an opportunity. That situation came just as the world went on lock down; as crowded cities were decimated to cinematic post apocalyptic scenes. There was an eerie hush over our inner cities and even in rural communities as families have been forced to adapt to new norms. It's been quite the year, but even amidst the hardship of a pandemic, there's situations where we can provide a ray of hope to those who need it. Such is the case of the journey I've been on the past few months. 

Even in lockdown, and limiting my exposure to public places, I've had to learn to adapt to being home a lot more often. I'm a high risk candidate having an already compromised immune system, I have to take extra precaution just going to the grocery store. But, we must learn, adapt and move forward. With all of this free time, I've been personally challenged with one of the greatest tasks of my life, writing my autobiography. It's a personal goal I've been wanting to do for the past decade but I haven't found the two or three months of free time to complete the task. What a task it is. 

Not only do I have to revisit some of the most trying times of my life like bullying, trauma and pain, but I have to prepare myself for a mental state of mind of true transparency. To tell my story accurately and effectively, I have to be willing to scale back my own inhibitions and just be real about my journey. This idea is something I've personally struggled with my entire life. It's one thing being an advocate for the bleeding disorders community, it's another notion altogether opening up about the horrors of the day to day. 

At the end of March 2020, I began that journey of writing it all out. It felt liberating, freeing even. There's portions of my story that are more spiritual, and dealing with the complications of a hemophiliac with severe joint and mobility issues. The mental weight of this is explored in vast detail as I cope with the loss of loved ones, depression, chronic pain and coming to terms with personal demons. This collection of stories and life experiences will be called, "Bloody Incredible." For the first time in my life, there is no stone of my journey left unturned, as I bring light to all my personal struggles, along with the physical ones as well. This 12 chapter, 80,000 word work is slated for a 2021 release. Currently the book is under editorial review, and my ambition is to self publish early in the year. 

I will have a crowd funding opportunity for those who want to donate the publication efforts, and each person who donates will get a copy of the book and a personalized note of appreciation. The link to that funding option will be made available very soon, so be on the lookout on my social media outlets for more information. 

So many wonderful people have helped to contribute to this book to make it even more special. The co-founder of the world renowned Blue Man Group wrote the foreword to my book, in addition to my hematologist at University of Florida writing a note to close the book. I have the honor to give you a small excerpt from my book below, which is taken from the opening prologue. You will understand the true nature of what to expect from "Bloody Incredible" after reading this. 

    "One day, a series of dark thoughts invaded my mind,
and a single thought germinated, what if I stop my HIV
medications altogether? What if I end the pain and
challenges my parents have faced in keeping me alive? No
longer will I have to live a life of pain from suffering with the
horrendous side effects of hemophilia and HIV. What if I stop
them and allow the virus to consume me, then wither away
as AIDS takes its course? No one would have to know I was
flushing them down the toilet, and it would just appear as a
fluke that I’m non-responsive to medication. What if?

    I wrestled with this idea of simply removing myself
from the equation, relieving the burden on everyone around
me and just fading away like I never existed. I’d be a mere
statistic on the CDC’s handbook of HIV infected
hemophiliacs, and no one would give a damn anyway. It’s so
painful to see yourself as a burden and attempting to find
reason and logic amidst our trials. Not being able to move
forward in life, bound by the laws of the land, rules of
disability and the restriction of not being able to fully achieve
the potential I know dwells within me is the worst feeling of
all. The goals are right there, within reach, but you can’t even
extend an arm because your lifeline would be severed."

I'm doing incredibly well, all things considered. I still cope daily with chronic pain stemming from hemophilia arthropathy, and maintain a coherent regimen of pain medications and holistic medicine to cope. My weekly infusions of Hemlibra are going well, and I'm pleased to inform you that I've sustained the record of no new bleeds since on the drug. I'm nearing my two year anniversary on January 16th, 2021 of being two years, bleed free. Also, my HIV is still well maintained at undetected status thanks to my new regimen on Biktarvy. Stay tuned for more updates as we arrive close to a book release date. Follow me everywhere @istrive2thrive on social media.

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