Kathy Lawless has HIV/AIDS, as does Rob, her caregiver. They were interviewed by Dale Bell.
I was diagnosed with AIDS in 1996 from a rape and I just mentally have a hard time, sometimes we'll be watching things on TV about rapes and I'll just get real quiet and he'll ask me, "What's the matter, do you need to talk about it?" and we'll talk about it. It's moral support, physical support, whatever I ask for, you know, I'll get.
In 1981 I had cervical cancer, and I have no bladder, and I have one kidney, and five feet of my intestine are gone. So there's a lot of problems other than just HIV. I feel I need support, which Rob gives me, on the days that I'm not doing really good, where I have to stay in bed all day, which was three days last week. I was totally in bed, 'cause I was throwing up and diarrhea and the whole bit and he would bring me whatever I needed. It's not only the physical need it's the mental need and support and being able to talk about what we're dealing with.
I need the love that he gives me, also the physical care, emotional care, housecleaning care, 'cause I'm not a very good eater, when it comes to eating I don't want to eat, and that's why I lost a lot of weight; and he's there to give me that, to make sure that I eat correctly.
I think I'm a happier person. I used to not -- how do I put it in words? I've tried to commit suicide, because of all my ailments and stuff and with him in my life I don't even think about it anymore, I mean there's more to life, there's somebody to love and that I know cares about me.
He cares more, gives me caregiving more than I do to him, but there are times when he can't catch his balance or he's falling and I'll help him up. He's got back problems, that's where the massages come in.
Rob: I have what you call peripheral neuropathy in my hands and my feet, I've got bone marrow cancer, I've got arthritis in my lower back and asthmatic bronchitis, I've got just all mixed up, I guess.
I also have a caregiver that lives at the house and he's a nurse. So, when I get out of the hospital or whatever, he is giving me injections, and so is Robert. I take hormone injections, and he is there to give me my injections. He is there all night long; if Robert can't be there for some reason, at least I know I've got somebody if I need to be taken to the hospital. I've been in the hospital eight times this year so far.
I've been going (to support group meetings) since I was -- let's see I was diagnosed in October of '96 -- I went a week later. I thought "a church that has a support group for AIDS?"
It was a big question, but when I got there I got a more hugs, more kisses, more support than I could ever ask for in a group, from strangers that I didn't even know. In the support group there are a lot of church members that are just curious and wanting to learn about AIDS/HIV positive; I mean older people - we've got a 94-year old man and an 86-year old woman coming to our support group.
Rob: At our church they have no discrimination towards gay people, convicts, ex cons, criminals, whatever. They accept everybody there. Everybody is given a second chance. In the congregation they seem to have no problem with nobody. Everybody is welcome at the church.
It's a very positive place to be.
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