Alexander Foxworth: 15 years and counting…an HIV story.

Alexander Foxworth

An inspiring Facebook post by Alexander Foxworth. Link back to his post here.

It’s late.
I am watching the clock as midnight gets closer and closer.

Every year on the 25th of May, I get “anxious”, for lack of better words over this date, due to a major event that changed my life forever in 1995.

It’s the words that no one ever wants to hear.

No matter how much one may ponder the subject and think of what they would do when hearing a certain phrase, facing a certain event, or put in an uncomfortable situation, one never knows, truly, how he/she would act when the moment arrives.

It was May 25th, 1995 that I had to learn this the hard way.

I was living in Charlotte, NC and was doing well.

I’ve always been one to try and help others within my means, so I used to give blood and plasma on a frequent basis.

I remember shortly before the 25th, I went to a local plasma center, close to my neighborhood, and went through the “normal routine” of questions and forms to fill out before donating.

The nurse was such a kind-hearted and intelligent lady, who called me “green eyes”, which just made me smile and eased my nervousness, since I had, on occasion, gotten fairly nauseous when donating plasma. She put me at ease and I was all set.

Everything went according to plan and, surprisingly, I didn’t feel any nausea. I walked out, beaming, since I knew that I had “done my good deed” for the day.

Just a couple of days later, I received an urgent phone call for me to come back to the center. No reasons were given. Nothing would be discussed via telephone.

My heart pounded and I felt my world beginning to crumble.

Is she going to tell me…?? Am I going to hear what I have fought for so hard to avoid??? So many things ran through my mind.

The next day, the 25th, I walked into the plasma center.

I knew, then and there, I was about to hear what I had been dreading since the telephone call the day before. The reason being is because the staff were above and beyond courteous.

“Are you ok, Mr. Foxworth?”. “Is there anything that you would like to drink or eat?”. “Can we interest you in a good book or magazine, while you wait?”. I felt like I was at a resort…not a plasma center!

Then, the kind-hearted nurse stepped out and asked me to come into her office.

Deep down, I knew what she was about to say. What is so strange about the human mind is that, ALL the way up to the words coming out of her mouth, I thought I knew how I would handle this.

Boy, was I so wrong.

I sat at a small desk in a small office…feeling quite edgy and just wanting to get this over with.

She grabbed her clipboard that had my file attached, looked at me and finally said the words that I had dreaded for so many years: “Mr. Foxworth, my dear ‘green eyes’…I don’t know how to say this.”. Tears started forming in her eyes and then it came out: “I’m so, so sorry, but you have tested positive for the HIV virus.”.

There are no words that I could ever say or write to describe the flood of emotion that fills one up inside when confronted with those words and one’s own mortality.

Before I knew it, I had collapsed across her desk and sobbed like I had never sobbed in my entire life…and that is putting it mildly.

For years, I had friends and even boyfriends, who were positive and I always thought that if it happened to me, I would be sad, but would be strong and handle it with ease.

Unless someone, unfortunately, walks in these shoes, NO ONE can ever say how they would truly act.

After I composed myself, wrapped in this nurse’s arms, I walked out of the center.

Naturally, as if in a movie, we had a downpour. I had my tears flowing as I drove back home along with the rain on my windshield. I’m actually amazed that I even made it home, considering all things combined.

From that point, my mind went numb.

I went into a “dark space”, which I hope to never go into again.

I slept all day. Drank my sorrows away at night. Basically, ceased to live from that point on.

I just existed.

Then, a few months later, I was going to a small club called Oleen’s, which has since closed, and proceeded to do my nightly ritual of wallowing in sorrow, feel sorry for myself, and get as drunk as humanly possible.

A stranger. Someone whom I had never seen before, approached me at the bar and, without me even saying a WORD, seemed to already sense what was going on with me.

He leant in and just bluntly asked “So, you got ‘the news’,eh?”.

I was stunned!

HOW did he know?

Was I THAT obvious???

I looked at him through drunken tears and just nodded.

He then wrapped his arm around my shoulder and said “I’m going to ask you ONE question that I really want you to think about.”.

Not knowing this guy and being in the condition that I was in, I was somewhat wary, but was SO desperate for any sort of comfort, I just looked at him and said “Ok.”.

Then, with his ONE question, he changed my life forever: “Are you LIVING with HIV or are you DYING from HIV? That is what you need to ask yourself. The rest will fall into place.”.

I was dumbfounded.

Such simple words, yet SO powerful and it felt as if a ton of bricks had hit me in the head.

I WAS alive.

I WAS breathing.

I WAS…here!

Since that night, I have never looked back in self pity.

I appreciate every single day that I wake up.

I appreciate every friend that I’ve made and the ones that I continue to make.

I don’t just look at a sunrise/sunset and think “Oh, that’s nice.”, but actually STOP and look in awe at the beauty in this world that so many of us take for granted.

IN a strange way, HIV helped me to become a better person. To appreciate the little things in life that we see every single day, yet don’t REALLY notice them, unless we are confronted with some type of bad situation.

We are all a work in progress and I am, by no means, a “perfect man”. But, I have become a BETTER man.

With anything in life, one has two choices: to let the situation control YOU or YOU control the situation. It’s all about inner strength and the will to survive.

Yes, it’s sad that it took HIV for me to realize so many things that I should have already learned, but I am thankful that I did, indeed, finally realize them.

All I can say to those out there who may be dealing with the same situation, is to remember that same question: “Are you LIVING with HIV or are you DYING from it?”.

My wish, of course, is that there WAS no HIV or, at least, that there was a cure. I haven’t give up hope and never will, but, until that day, I must continue to remind myself that I am sitting here LIVING and will continue to fight this battle all the way to the end.

So, today, May 25th, 2010, it is now 15 years since that day.

My, how time goes by so quickly.

However, if I have anything to do with it, I will be around in 15 MORE years to continue to tell my tale, in hopes of helping at least ONE person realize that there IS life after an HIV diagnosis.

I am living proof.

So, CHEERS to life.

May The Higher Being bless all of you and, in my heart of hearts, I hope that no one has to go through what I went through that day.

However, IF you do, PLEASE remember that it is NOT the end of the world and life WILL go on. It may not seem like it in the beginning, but, trust me, the light WILL come on in time.

Thank you to all who have read my story.

If I have touched just ONE person from this, then it was all worthwhile.

Much love and best wishes to everyone…
Xander

PS/ WEAR A DAMN CONDOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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6 Responses to “Alexander Foxworth: 15 years and counting…an HIV story.”

  1. Larry Gibson Says:

    Alexander,
    I read your post this morning in the office, and was so affected by it.
    I remember when I found out in February, 93, it was horrible and I know
    when and were I was infected, but of course the source refused to believe
    I got it from him, so here I am now healthy and happy, dating, and
    making plans to walk my daughter down the aisle in September.
    Much love to you my friend and you do look fabulous in the picture.

  2. Dear Jack,
    You have, again, touched my heart and left me dumb-founded with your overwhelming support and love.
    I can’t begin to thank you enough for doing so much to get my message out to as many people as possible. You are truly ono of a kind and I am humbled greatly by your generous actions.
    Cheers to life, my friend.
    Let’s hope that, one day, I won’t have to write “my story” anymore.
    However, until that day comes, I must, along with all those who, unfortunately, have had to face their own mortality, continue to keep the fight.
    Bless you and thank you, from the bottom of my heart!
    xo

    Dear Larry,
    Thank you for your wonderful comment!
    I definitely identify with your words, as well.
    When I wrote my story, I focused more on how I dealt with the initial news and how I got to where I am now, but didn’t go into how it all came about, since I wanted my message to be one of hope and courage, instead of the horrible circumstances that lead me to that day.
    However, I will sum it up to just say that I was also with someone who, basically, lied and mislead me throughout our relationship and decided to let me know of his HIV status when I had finally had enough and was packing my car to leave that unhealthy situation.
    Needless to say, it was not a very good day for me and definitely not one for him.
    But, with your “source” and mine, I truly believe with all of my heart that what one puts out, comes back threefold. (Also known as “karma”. lol)
    So, I take comfort in knowing that he will have to answer for his actions one day.
    I am very glad to hear that you are now healthy, happy and dating!! Good for you!!!
    And I know that you must be SO proud of your daughter. That sounds so wonderful. Bless you both! I hope that is a magical day for her and for you.
    As I said to Jack, I will also say to you: Cheers to life!! Live it to the fullest, my friend.
    Thank you so much for your support.
    xoxo

  3. Thank you, Alexander. You are a great example of what life can be what we make it.

  4. Alexander:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, today of all days, I needed your words of encouragement. I am going to share your story with my son, Michael, he does not have HIV but does have testicular cancer. And today has been a very hard day for him. He is really down, depressed and feeling really hopeless. His live in girlfriend of 3 years left him this morning, he is scheduled for surgery in two days..and now he finds himself alone, far from home, with cancer. As I said a very bad day. I am going to change your words around a little and ask him the question…”Are you living with Cancer or dying from it?” I hope it opens his eyes as it did yours and helps him realize that no matter what, he is alive and breathing and that each and everyday is a gift.

    Again, Thank you for sharing your story, you have touched my heart.

  5. averagejoe1977 Says:

    Just read this and was very touched. I can relate to how you were feeling back then. Take care.

  6. this was one of the most encouraging things ive read in a long, long time. thankfully i dont have HIV but there are all kinds of other things that can take my life some day besides that. thanks for reminding me the beauty of being alive and the importance of seeing things in a positive light

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