Instructor’s Note: This student wrote this very moving essay in response to an assignment earlier in the term but wanted to share it with the world here.
A particular man in my life was an alcoholic. His name is [name omitted] and he is my dad. He would leave for days, to go out in the street to drink and do drugs. I would watch him in the hallway just as he would get dressed. He would go into the closet to get a plain shirt and grab these light denim blue jeans, with a crease going down the middle with the little rip on the back pocket. He would spray this Burberry cologne so much that every time, I was left in the house coughing for about an extra five minutes. My dad had these boots that I hated so much. They were black Timberlands so when they looked a little dull he would use some Vaseline to shine them up. They leaned to the side so badly that you thought he was walking on the side of his feet. He would grab his keys and out the door he went. And every time I would say, “Hey dad where you going?” He’d say, “Granny I’ll be right back.”
One hot, Sunday in June — I can recall the degrees being in the upper 90’s — I got a phone call saying that my dad was being rushed to the hospital. When I arrived to where he was I learned that he had been sitting on the front with our dog and had passed out for nearly two hours. The doctor walked in and told my mom, brother and I that my dad had been diagnosed with HIV.
I started to wonder where it came from. How long did my dad have it and did he know? Was he going to die, I thought. We were all shocked and then I started to cry. I knew that only the worst could happen next. I was always embarrassed to have my dad around whether it was at home when I had friends over or daily visits at school. I was afraid one of my friends had seen him previously out on the streets. Now I thought I had wished I shared the company of my dad with others; for this may be his last years here on earth, I kept thinking.
My dad had to stay in the hospital for an extra couple of days so they could run some more tests. Before he was able to leave the doctor had prescribed my dad several medications and explained the side effects. I knew that we were in for a surprise. He had to take 5 pills a day and needed help with everything. Between my mom, brother and I, we all helped out with feeding him, bathing him and just making sure all his needs were taken care of. My dad went through this phase where he would forget who we were and where he had lived. For a while he thought he was living in this little shack at home with his mom back in DC and that I was his niece and my brother was one of his nephews.
The doctors still were not able to tell how long he had been infected but they did said that it was possible that he wouldn’t do that good. About every two months my dad had to get regular checkups and see an infectious disease doctor. After a while we started receiving good news that my dad was responding to the medications in a way the doctors never seen before. The disease is not noticeable in his body .At that moment I thanked God because prayer changes. Things were soon back to normal and my dad changed his life around.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks the immune system. This disease invades and destroys white blood cells called CD4+ cells. If too many CD4+ cells are destroyed, the body can no longer defend itself against the infection. Your body makes antibodies to destroy the virus. HIV to progress to AIDS takes 10 to 12 years. . Many people don’t know they are infected. Some people have a flu- like illness within several days of exposure to the virus. An antiretroviral medicine is given to slow the rate at which the virus multiplies. With treatment, many people are able to live long and active lives (WebMDnewsletter).
Although we never found out where he got it from, I know in my heart that it wasn’t from another female. It was drug abuse. This doesn’t matter to my family because my mom doesn’t have it and neither does my brother or I. My dad lives to tell his story of what he can remember. The doctors and I are proud to call him the Miracle Man.