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October 29, 2007

Rodney and his story

What does a person dying from AIDS look like?

[This is a long post so please exercise some caution.]

The following videos you are about to see is what I think THE most effective HIV/AIDS-awareness videos ever. Year after year, a lot of money is being spent in order to raise awareness but nothing has changed -- every day, thousands of people around the world are still being infected. I think we need to stop "glamorizing" the image of HIV/AIDS with all these celebrity hoolabaloo nonsense who probably don't know jack shit and the whole "AIDS is no longer a death sentence" mentality but instead, let's show everyone the REAL pain and suffering behind it.

Rodney, AIDS Victim

Have you ever wondered what someone DYING from AIDS looks like? Have you ever seen someone in their early 40s, deteriorate away because of a disease? Have you ever wondered what they are going through, what's inside their head, how they feel and what their message to the world is? Ladies, meet Rodney, a New Zealander who suffered from HIV for 16 years before he passed away last year.

After the jump, watch the videos Rodney and his partner took during the last year of his life. Keep an eye on how he stopped himself from vomiting while he gave a message about the importance of safe sex. Listen to him stutter as he shared that doctors can't do anything any more. Watch him as he moved from his house to the hospital. See with your own eyes how he transformed, over time, into a decaying bag of bones in a vegetative state, waiting for the axe to fall.

Click click click click!

Before we continue, I'd like to request that y'all refrain from making comments how it's someone's fault why they contracted the disease. It's easy to cast the stone, say and point fingers but every situation is unique. Some people are just basically clueless and don't know what they are doing and there are others who know the risks and do whatever it is they want to do. Some people simply don't care. Some think they're invincible. Some would rather chose pleasure rather that pain. Some are lied upon by their partners while there are some who go out there, chase the bug, and deliberately infect themselves (or other people). Have you heard of this 32-year old British HIV poz man in Sweden and how he had sex with over 100 teenage boys and girls and tried to infect them? It really is a big bad crazy world.

We all make bad decisions. We all make irrational, spur of the moment decisions. In this day and age, I'm sure most of us know what we're getting ourselves into. We all lose our morals from time to time. Don't tell me you've NEVER, EVER lost the plot and no, I'm not talking about sex here. No one is perfect and none of us is totally immune from making mistakes. Anyone, man, woman, child, wealthy, poor, brown, black, white, periwinkle, magenta, chartreuse, young and old can catch HIV.

So yeah.

I personally know a few HIV+ people online. Some are nice friends who happened to catch it and some are anonymous random trash-talking trolls whom I could only hope that they perish from the face of the planet soon. I don't blame them though. They're dirty bitches who like filthy sex. Just kidding. Y'all know karma is working well towards your favour when your enemy's CD4 count drops to 10. OMG! I would never wish AIDS to my worst enemy. Oh who the hell am I kidding. I have and I probably will, because I'm a mean and nasty person. Don't y'all want to see your enemies die from a slow and painful death? Oo la la the satisfaction on my face knowing they've got half of their body already in the grave.

However, inside every nasty person is also human being with emotions and videos like the ones you are about to see can easily turn a glacial princess into a softie.

Let's put HIV/AIDS aside for now. The thing that moved me the most is seeing this guy's suffering on "tape" and again, the message he wants to share to the world.

The videos are soo raw and soo intimate, you can literally feel HIS pain poke you where you shouldn't be poked.

Your brain and your heart.

Sooo many things went inside my head.

Are they gonna suffer the same fate as Rodney in the next few years to come? Well, last time I checked, there's no cure yet so basically, the answer is yes.

How do I feel about it?

Or better yet, how do I feel knowing a few people I care about will turn just like THAT?

Many of us aren't strangers to loss and I'm sure many of us witnessed it first-hand.

My grandfather moved to our house for a few months before he died because he wasn't getting sufficient, round-the-clock care in his house. He was well in his mid-90s and he needed absolute intensive care. Although we had an in-house nurse to watch him, it's still different to do things yourself rather than rely on hired help.

I witnessed him go from wheelchair to vegetable. I even spoon-fed him a few times and I sometimes assisted him in things like basic human function. Yes I was there to make sure he points his dick to the hole in the special chair he had in order to pee. I saw him from being able to shower on his own to the point where he couldn't shower while sitting down and he had to rely on thrice-a-day washcloth scrubs in order to be clean. Can you imagine?

Anyway, the difference between the grandfafa and Rodney is that there wasn't really THAT much of a sadness going on.

Errr did I say it right? I don't want to underestimate my family's loss.

It IS sad but it's not like "sad sad oh my god sad" if you know what I mean. It wasn't a hopeless case. No race against time, no desperation.

It's just that we all know -- even he knows -- it's coming. It really was just like waiting for Hades to pop by. My grandfather was 94 or 95 or whatever years old and according to several doctors, he didn't have any fatal disease of some sort. None of those severe heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, pneumonia or any of that crap. It really was just "old age" -- at least that's what I've been told by the familia.

"OLD AGE" eh? I find that hard to believe when people in Japan live well through their 100s but Japanese we are not.

My grandfafa lived a life well-lived and he passed away as a happy, very happy man. Unable to speak, he communicated via smiles and hand gestures, the power of touch, and all his children were around his deathbed when he pulled the buttplug out of his ass.

Rodney's situation on the other hand is gut-wrenching.

Although he had AMAZING support and care of his loved ones till the very end, there's so much pain and fear in him -- fear of losing his loved ones, fear because of the loss of hope, fear of the uncertain, fear of the inevitable, fear of venturing into the unknown (he made the conscious decision to stop medications after x amount of time), fear of death, etc.

Think about it.

We can all die at any time and when it's our time to go, it's our time... getting hit by a bus or any of that crap.

But seriously, what would you do if you know death is around the corner? What sort of legacy will you leave? What's your last message to people?

Enough babble and let's get on with the program. I lost 1,000 calories from thinking/typing already!


Rodney suffered from HIV for 16 years.

2005 was expected to be rough. Options for HIV medications in New Zealand had run out and Rodney and his partner decided not to go off-shore because the isolation would prove difficult if things didn't pan out. Rod already believed that his time was about up and they wanted to enjoy the time they had left.

They had everything they needed: a comfortable home, each other, loving friends, a healthy bank account and all the creature comforts Rodney desired.

His partner started preparing for hard times ahead while Rod engaged monthly visits to St. Vincent's hospital in Sydney for clinical HIV drug trials. He tried to interest him in buying a house while they had the opportunity but he didn't want to. He preferred to live is days in freedom, rather under the shadow of a mortgage. Rodney was also concerned about his partner's well-being in case the worst happened.

It turned out that 2005 was a dream year. In April, Rodney started working as a Tip Truck Driver and for the first time in his life felt the thrill of self-suffiency and independence. His partner had taken a healthy redundancy allowing him the opportunity to spend his time at home, with him, while starting an enterprise of his own.

Exactly one year later, everything changed.

Rodney's 40th birthday marked the end of week one of radiation therapy which continued through the whole month of April. By May, the severity of his radiation burns had taken a terrible toll on his health and the trials in Sydney had both failed, No more could be approved until his cancer had been cleared.

This is Rodney during his "healthier & happier" years. I suggest that you don't watch this in its entirety because there's naked man videos LOL.


This is where deterioration and decay begins...

Rodney's message to everyone: SAFE SEX. USE RUBBER!

This video almost sent me to tears. "The doctors just told me I'm dying and there's nothing more they can do to help." In this clip, Rod tells his family and friends the bad news.

Rodney took up knitting to keep his hands and his senses busy. Radiation therapy screwed his pelvis and his body is giving up.

The last video (on YouTube) of Rodney speaking... he's on his deathbed, all skeletal etc.

Last, but not the least, here's his last video. He could no longer speak, etc. Embedding is disabled so I suggest that you click the link below.

Rodney, Aids victim, death

There's more where it came from so if you have the time, check out this YouTube account for other videos.

And there you have it.

I'll leave it up to you on what to make out of his story.

Let's talk about fashion now.

I love you all, as always!

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