Growing up, I suffered from severe asthma, allergies, etc. It was common for me to take medication daily. I can recall the shear panic if my wheezing started and I couldn’t find my rescue inhaler. I couldn’t do what the “normal” kids did and I was bullied, left out and judged. As I got older, my asthma decreased. Under doctor supervision, medications were reduced and now I just have a rescue inhaler. I’ll probably always have one. Today I’m in my 40s and I have witnessed another side of medication that has created new widowed worries and whys. I lost my dad to opioids that resulted in alcohol use. I lost my partner Clayton to a medication that destroyed his liver in 4 months.
I said part of my journey was to dig deep and get into parts of widowhood that are rarely shared so here we go. Here’s something more personal, I am deathly allergic to PREP (Truvada). For those of you who don’t know, this is a medication that reduces the chance of getting HIV. It has become an extremely popular and easy to obtain medication. Friends suggested I start taking it just in case. I was extremely worried but the doctor said it was very common and most people did fine on it so I started taking it. Better to be safe right? I was moving forward and being responsible. After 4 days, I had debilitating pain all over. I had severe kidney and liver reactions and was immediately taken off of it. The doctor said I was not a candidate for that type of drug. I could go into liver failure just like Clayton. Now, it’s emotionally difficult for me to even take an aspirin. Pharmacaphobia – The fear of medicines. Yes it’s a real thing. It’s very real for me and believe me when I tell you that people have shown no respect for my fears.
This dives deeper than just taking medication. It dives into the complexity of grief, dating and even feeling I belong in the gay world. With that “magic med” people engage in dating more freely without all the worry. I’m happy there are advancements but many forget that advancements don’t work for everyone. It’s becoming a norm of the culture and, if you don’t fit in, the discrimination and judgment flow fast and freely. When I’ve shared that I’m not comfortable dating someone positive, I can’t even explain why before I’m accused of being uneducated.
“Ah, hello have you ever heard of PREP you idiot?” (Yes that was an actually said to me)
When I get a moment to explain, I tell them how I lost my dad, lost Clayton and that I’m severely allergic to the “magic” medication they think I know nothing about. That usually ends the discussion on the spot without even an option to be friends. For such a “love is love” and “open and understanding” community, we sure know how to not support each other. I’m just being responsible for myself but it apparently doesn’t matter what you’ve been through if it’s not what others want to hear. For me, medication, side effects, adverse reactions and death are all very real things. I don’t want to be a part of a community that doesn’t want to accept me because I can’t do what the “normal” kids are doing. It’s back to being bullied, left out and there isn’t a rescue inhaler for these social symptoms.
So here I am trying to move forward. Dating is hard enough and I don’t fit in with all the changes, trends and the new “no-worry” pills. I don’t feel like I belong anywhere anymore. Why am I the one who has to be allergic? Why do people have to be so judgmental? Why am I even bothering to try? Why did all this have to happen? I wouldn’t even have to think about any of this Clayton had you not died. Some days I get so mad because you’re gone and I have to deal with all these new worries and whys…