Wednesday Reads: Something Else Beyond Denial

f439b0d8b79ea9da013188b573a9599bThere must be a thing, something beyond denial, that people with all sense and reason experience. Beyond comprehension it seems. Beyond explanation. Even now as I write these words…the mind and heart do not move forward and process the thing I was told last Friday.

“…is HIV Positive, he has had HIV for over 11 years…”

My Uncle. My fabulously “gay” uncle. Who is only 18 months older than me.

HIV for 11 years. No. Why couldn’t he tell me. (He did not tell his sister for the first three years.) He is too smart to be so foolish…he knew to take care of himself. No, we’ve already made it past the late 80s and 90s, he got through that fine. (I suppose.) No. He would never get HIV. I knew the truth. He was my secret super hero….

You see, my uncle was on his way to an emergency room, there was something wrong internally. My Aunt was worried, she had to let me know the whole story.

7d45fe82cc4e42b6e3198ac8f8449978Sigh…

My Aunt told me this on Friday, even she said her timing was shitty. She felt that it was something he should’ve told me on his own, face to face, but with the emergency situation at hand, she thought it was best I knew everything.

It was during a big lunch that included ten of my kids’ friends…my friend Cindy, my daughter’s boyfriend’s mother (it was our first meeting) and his two younger brothers and the rest of our circus of a family…but I could not react like I wanted to.  The boyfriend caught my aunt holding me up near the Honey Baked Ham…he knew something had happened. He told Bebe, but she saw how well I hid everything and didn’t think anything was wrong. When the shit hits the fan as much as it does, you get used to the splatter.

Well, that crowd finally left, and I could act like a normal human being and fucking cry and sob uncontrollably, it still did not seem real to me.

JD could not have HIV, we 0169fa3d747a227943a11d45e7201e87were beyond the point of concern. I thought he was safe…I mean…The idea that he could even get it was out of the question. To me he was like “Super Fag” (and I don’t mean that in any derogatory way).  He was invincible, and impervious to any disease. Like his t-cells had some super human power to withstand any viral attacks from evil outside forces.  All he needed was a little super “Fagsuit” with a rainbow cape and a catchy theme song or memorable send off line…

You must understand this. JD is wonderful, funny, talented and loving. He is such a special, good person.

He is still invincible to me because even now I can’t get past this.  I cannot process this information.  My mother, father, husband….they all said it was something they expected…no surprise.

But for me, it fucking hit me out of nowhere.

Still.

How do you describe this feeling? This emotion…I am not in denial. I know that he has HIV. But the words do not register in my brain, and they certainly do not register in my heart.

After a weekend of worry, waiting for a diagnosis, it turns out to be an abdominal abscess. He does not realize how bad this thing really was, he had some special type of IV that pumped the heavy duty antibiotics directly into his aorta.  Scary stuff.  He went home yesterday evening. I am so thankful for this.

Next step is talking to JD on the phone, he is glad that I know and sorry he did not tell me himself when we saw each other the last time 5 years ago…during my Nana’s memorial. But I can hear the tears in his voice on the message he left me today.  What can I say to him? All I want to do is hug him and make him laugh…like he always makes me laugh. I love him so much.

Boston Boomer told me that writing about this might make me feel better, I don’t know, it is all still numbing to me. Don’t take offense to the cartoons, I needed something funny to contrast what my return post was focused on, my humor is a twisted sort of way…but then you all know me so well.

Now for a quick group of links.

Thank you BB and Dak for covering for me these past couple weeks. I love you both so very much. ;)

Jake is still all over the place on his sugar levels, but yesterday he started his first job. I only hope they are more supportive of diabetics than this employer out in California.

Walgreen’s tab for ADA violation: $180k and a bag of chips

Josefina Hernandez worked as a cashier at a California Walgreens store for 18 years. About five years into her tenure, she was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, a condition she reported to her employer.

In the 13 years that Hernandez worked for Walgreens after being diagnosed with diabetes, Walgreens allowed Hernandez to keep candy nearby in case of low blood sugar, keep her insulin in the break room refrigerator and take additional breaks to test her blood sugar or eat because of her diabetes.

In that 13-year time period, there was only one time when Hernandez asked to take an additional break to eat food because of low blood sugar. Apparently, the accommodations provided by Walgreens were working out just fine.

But then came the famous Chip Theft of 2008.

Hernandez was returning items in a shopping cart to shelves when she noted she was shaking and sweating from low blood sugar. She didn’t have any candy with her and was in the magazine aisle, so she opened a $1.39 bag of potato chips that was in the cart and ate some of them.

After 10 minutes, when she started feeling better, Hernandez said, she went to pay for the chips at the cosmetic counter (where she had been instructed to pay for store items) but no one was there. Hernandez put the potato chips under the counter at her cash register and returned to restocking items. She later paid for the chips when her cashier duties were finished.

Seems reasonable right? However, her manager sounds like he votes Republican.

An assistant store manager spotted the chips and asked whose they were. Hernandez said the chips were hers. The assistant manager reported Hernandez to the store manager for taking the chips.

After meeting with store management,  Hernandez was suspended and then terminated for violating the store’s “anti-grazing” policy.

According to court testimony, Walgreens officials said the company incurs significant losses from employee theft, estimated at exceeding $350 million per year. In order to combat the problem, Walgreens has a strict policy against employee theft in the form of “grazing” — eating food merchandise without paying for it first — that applies to all employees.

The store manager testified he was “absolutely certain” about terminating Hernandez because she took the chips in violation of company policy, and that he believed there was no “gray area” or “discretion” under Walgreens’ policy.

You can read the details of the settlement here:  America’s Largest Drug Store Chain to Pay $180,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – JDSupra

Drugstore giant Walgreens has agreed to pay $180,000 to a longtime employee with diabetes and to implement revised policies and training to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

[…]

Terminating a qualified employee because of a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The law also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship for the employer.  After an investigation by EEOC investigator Carlos Rocha, and after attempting to resolve the case through pre-litigation conciliation efforts, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Walgreen Company, Case No. CV 11-04470) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

On Apr. 14, U.S. District Judge William Orrick noted that “Walgreen has failed to allege any misconduct that is unrelated to her disability,” and denied Walgreens’ motion for summary judgment.  At this hearing, Walgreens’ own legal counsel acknowledged Hernandez as a long-term valued employee with a very good track record, and described her termination as a “harsh result” perceived by the EEOC as unfair.

“Not only was this harsh and unfair, but it was illegal, and that’s why the EEOC sued to correct this wrong,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo.  “People may think this case revolves around theft, but the real issue is how a company responded to a valued 18-year employee, whom it knew for 13 years to be diabetic, and who attempted to pay for the chips after she recovered from her hypoglycemic attack.”

Wow, good for Josefina! At last some good news about the “little” guy beating the big company assholes.

The rest of today’s links in dump fashion:

Tom Petty is stepping up to the mic:

Tom Petty Isn’t ‘Playing Dumb’ About Church Sex Abuse Scandal on New Song | Billboard

Tom Petty Talks Religion: ‘No One’s Got Christ More Wrong than the Christians’ | Mediaite

Over in Britain they are asking why here in America are there so many Hot car deaths: The children left behind

Sticking with children for a bit longer.

The brown babies are getting a brown senator worked up: (But I guess Cuban is the “good” sort of brown?)

Rubio: U.S. Cannot Admit All Children Seeking Asylum : The Two-Way : NPR

Anti-Immigration Activist: Public Execution Would Be ‘Too Good’ for Obama | Mediaite

Rick Perry to Send National Guard to Stop Child Migrants – COLORLINES

The child migrant crisis is not just a border issue: Blue states need to step up.

But hey, if the Christian right wing assholes aren’t trying to send the immigrant children back to the hell they are escaping, they are trying to save them from Hell by teaching them “Jesus” saves!

Evangelical Group Aims to Convert Children as Young as Five at Portland Parks and Pools

Fucking religious people piss me off.

And it works all ways:

Right-wing professor: Raping Arab women is ‘the only thing that deters suicide bombers’

Ohio limits probe of charter school where teacher allowed boys to grope female classmates

Ladies who don’t use contraception have had it with you 99% that do, you dirty girls.

This is something too:

Airlines Suspend Flights to Israel After Hamas Rocket Falls Near Main Airport – NYTimes.com

On the “I don’t know karate, but I know…”…crazy front: BBC News – ‘Eighty new genes linked to schizophrenia’

And last bit of news, those off-shore wind farms are like an all you can eat buffet for seals: Seals forage at offshore wind farms

By using sophisticated GPS tracking to monitor seals’ every movement, researchers have shown for the first time that some individuals are repeatedly drawn to offshore wind farms and pipelines. Those man-made structures probably serve as artificial reefs and attractive hunting grounds, according to a study published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on July 21.

“I was shocked when I first saw the stunning grid pattern of a seal track around Sheringham Shoal,” an in the United Kingdom, says Deborah Russell of the University of St Andrews. “You could see that the individual appeared to travel in straight lines between turbines, as if he was checking them out for potential prey and then stopping to forage at certain ones.”

Russell and her colleagues tagged harbor and on the British and Dutch coasts of the North Sea. Their data showed 11 harbor seals within two active , Alpha Ventus in Germany and Sheringham Shoal in the southeast UK. At both sites, some individual seals regularly entered the wind farms and, in some cases, showed these striking grid-like movement patterns as they appeared to forage at individual turbines.

The researchers also observed both gray and harbor seals associating with subsea pipelines. Two seals in the Netherlands encountered a section of pipeline and followed it on multiple trips for up to 10 days at a time.

There is a video illustration at the link.

The researchers now hope to continue their research to understand the population consequences of the massive planned developments. For instance, no one knows yet whether wind farms increase the total amount of prey available to or simply concentrate prey in a new and man-made location, making the prey particularly vulnerable to predation. The researchers say it will be imperative to resolve this uncertainty so that anthropogenic structures can be designed and managed to reduce adverse and increase any positive effects of these structures.
Well, what is up in your world this morning?
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25 Comments on “Wednesday Reads: Something Else Beyond Denial”

  1. janicen says:

    JJ, I’m sorry about the shocking news you’ve had to process about your beloved uncle. I can understand your reaction because I’ve experienced something similar in my lifetime and I remember the sense of betrayal I felt for being left out. But you have to remember this is about his wishes and how he needs to maintain some control over a devastating diagnosis. He honors you by wanting nothing to change about his relationship with you because of his illness. I know right now you’re thinking, “But nothing would have changed!”, but it would have. You feel things hard. You react. He wants and needs his loving niece to be exactly the same for him and continue to see him without the veil of HIV over him. I really am sorry about the shock you have experienced. Take care of yourself. Peace and love.

    • Oh, if he would have told me the day he found out I still would feel this way. I am not at all feeling betrayed….the strange thing is this overwhelming sense that he could never get sick. I guess I just can’t explain it well enough…but maybe I am just dealing with so much now. I don’t know.

      • RalphB says:

        JJ, sometimes people just get overwhelmed for a time. Hang in there and it will surely get better.

  2. ANonOMouse says:

    JJ. I’m so sorry about your uncle, but please know that most of the treatments in use today are very effective. Most people tolerate the treatments well and live long lives. Also, I perfectly understand why he was reluctant to share this info. There is a terrible social and professional stigmatism that comes with HIV and I’m sure your Uncle wanted to spare those he loves the pain of dealing with that for as long as possible.

    I lost friends to HIV in the 80’s. In 1993 I lost a cousin to HIV. The women in my family were very loving, supportive and kind to him, but the men, out of their ignorance and fear wouldn’t even shake his hand. Even though he died 21 years ago and the advances in the treatment of HIV have been tremendous in the years that have followed, unfortunately the attitudes of society toward those with HIV/AIDS has changed little. All you can do is love and support him. He’s lucky to have a niece who loves him so much. Hang in there JJ.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      Note…..This will be my last comment for awhile. I have a corneal disease that’s impaired my vision to the point of corneal transplant surgery. The surgeon is doing one eye at a time and my first surgery is scheduled at the end of the week. I don’t know how long it will take to recover functional vision, because it varies by patient, so I will return when I can SEE. Y’all take care and I’ll talk to you all later. Peace!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Wow, please take care of yourself mouse, I’ll will be thinking about you and sending good thoughts your way. xoxoxoxoxo

      • RalphB says:

        Keeping you in very best thoughts Mouse! Get well soon!

      • bostonboomer says:

        Oh no. I don’t know what the disease is, but my mom has Fuchs Dystrophy, and she had to have her corneas replaced. It has been a long struggle, but the surgery was successful. Her main problem now is keeping glaucoma at bay.

        Take care, Mouse. We will miss you!

      • Delphyne49 says:

        All the best to you, Mouse, for a successful surgery and a full and swift recovery! We’ll all miss you while you’re healing! xo

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Thank you all for the well wishes, I appreciate everyone here and look forward to being able to read here again. You are all the best

      • Sweet Sue says:

        Best of luck, Mouse

      • janicen says:

        Good luck, mouse. I will miss your insight and wisdom but I know you’ll recover and be back to share your experiences with us. Sending healing thoughts.

      • NW Luna says:

        Mouse, take care, and may all go well. Corneal surgery is so much better than it used to be not so long ago. Yeah, definitely you want just 1 eye done at a time! An extra day or two or three, while frustrating, will pass.

        Gentle hugs, and keep us posted on your recovery.

    • Yes, you are right mouse…love you!

    • Fannie says:

      You are a very special skydancer mouse! We appreciate all the companionship you have offered us, and it has filled us with goodness from your heart. If there is anything we can do, your know we will be there for you. I’ll look up to the sky and think good thoughts of you during this time.

    • Sweet Sue says:

      What ANonOMouse said. I, too , lost a dear friend to AIDS in the 1980s. Thank God, HIV is not the death sentence it was, then.
      Good luck to you and your beloved uncle, JJ.

  3. janicen says:

    Tom Petty hits it out of the park with his song and his views. From the link,

    “If I was in a club, and I found out that there had been generations of people abusing children, and then that club was covering that up, I would quit the club. And I wouldn’t give them any more money….It seems to me that no one’s got Christ more wrong than the Christians.”

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Thanks for a great post, JJ. I’m so glad you and your nutty sense of humor are back!

    Things have a way of working out. I’ll bet Jake will be stabilized pretty soon; and, as Mouse said, there are good treatments now for HIV. It sounds like your uncle doesn’t have full-blown AIDS, so that’s good. I hope you two can talk soon.

    It really does help to write about problems–there is research to back this up. Sharing them with supportive people works too. I think you expressed your feelings beautifully in this post.

    That Walgreens story is awful. I’m so glad that Josefina won in the end.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Bob Cesca: Someone Replaced Benjamin Netanyahu’s Wikipedia Page With a Huge Palestinian Flag

    http://thedailybanter.com/2014/07/someone-seriously-trolled-benjamin-netanyahus-wikipedia-page/

  6. Fannie says:

    JJ, I think your Uncle made a wonderful breakthrough with his family, with you. He seems to have been uncertain about himself, his condition, and feeling pressures from those around him. That’s understandable. You keep that love, that trust alive.

    My daughter in law, lost her Dad when she was a young teenager to HIV, in the 1980’s. I hope I have helped her to remain strong, and to be tough, and carve love onto his stone, and to do so unconditionally.

    We heart you and feel those emotions, those fears. You are a wonderful soul, keep looking to the sky, and dance, and dance.

  7. dakinikat says:

    JJ: When I was diagnosed with cancer, one of the things that took my off guard were the responses of my friends and family to me and the situation. I just wanted to be normal, treated normal, and live as normally as possible whatever the outcome. That became difficult for me because so many folks that were close to me had to really deal with my illness on a level I never had considered before. My sister couldn’t stop crying so my mom told her not to call me until she could get it together. My friends either were treating me totally different or ignoring me or offering to be helpful with sad eyes. It seems that when some one is viewed as near death’s door, there’s a lot of stuff folks suddenly have to deal with that up close and personal. So, what you’re going is really normal in my limited experience. The good news about cancer and HIV diagnoses these days is that a lot of it can be cured or managed as a chronic illness so there are just some lifestyle changes but no absolute death sentence. I have close friends that have been on the cocktail for at least two decades and are just fine and expected to live mostly normal lives. You’re just going to have to sort through everything that’s going on emotionally and in your head and determine what’s at the cause so you can sort it out. I know you have the inner strength to do it!

    Love you!

    • janicen says:

      That was totally the point I was trying to make. But you did it so much better. Thank you.

      • dakinikat says:

        I still vividly remember all that. I spent as much time managing people’s reaction to me as I did dealing with the illness if not more so.

  8. cwaltz says:

    He’s still your superhero uncle JJ. The fact that he’s sick just means he’s a human superhero. Hopefully this means you two can spend some quality time talking and make sure that neither of you never take for granted that either of you will always be around forever. *hugs*

  9. NW Luna says:

    JJ, as you probably know, HIV is not the same thing as full-blown AIDS. People can carry the HIV virus and be pretty healthy otherwise, with the meds in use over the last decade or two. It’s not the automatic early death sentence it used to be. That doesn’t mean people with HIV are immune to other stuff happening to them, such as that abscess. Central lines (the invasive access ports for IV antibiotics & other stuff) are standard for efficiently getting meds in to the system in instances that could turn serious. We just usually don’t see these things.

    Some people don’t talk about their health conditions because, well, there’s usually no real need to tell others your medical diagnoses, or because it’s possible to end up being limited and defined as “that guy with HIV, or MS,” or whatever their condition may be. And your uncle is so much more than one of his diagnoses. Gentle hugs to you, too, JJ.