Definitely “ No!”. I carry it and many of its kind every other day and for those that look at it, a few beautiful words is all they may see and maybe for those that have an understanding of HIV, the red ribbon on the bag may catch their eye.
For me though, its more than just a bag but a reminder everyday that nothing I have been through has to keep me from my destiny as long as i have the right attitude.
These precious shoulder bags have encouraging words that give me hope, that let me know that because I have HIV I don’t have to sit around all defeated. They help me to take control of my fears instead of letting them control me.
I remember about 2 years ago while pregnant with my then second child. I was just a few days away from my expected date of delivery (EDD) when I started experiencing sharp abdominal pain. I thought I was in labor and decided to go to hospital. At the hospital the nurse did some check up as we waited for my doctor to arrive. I noticed her uneasiness and my answer came when she said “ I can't hear the fetal heartbeat”. She immediately left to get someone for a second opinion which was no different. I knew my life would change in a moment but had to make a choice in which direction I wanted it to go. I told myself that I would be strong and silently prayed and started singing praise and worship songs. You can never know how much strength and courage you can gain when faced with a difficult experience and you choose to stop and look fear in the face. I said to myself that all will be well no matter what happened I had lived with HIV and I knew I could take anything that came my way.
I was immediately rushed to theater for an emergency C-section. The doctor wanted to put me to sleep but I asked for an Epidural. My pressure was checked and it was normal which was a surprise for the doctor and Nurses. A few minutes later into the surgery my doctor exclaimed “oh, no!” I inquired whether it was a still birth to which he confirmed. I told him he had done his best so he had to save me and not lose two. All those present in the room where amazed and remarked that they rarely saw such courage after a still birth. While I was being stitched I asked to see my beautiful daughter Nkwanzi and said my good bye.
My recovery was fast and amazing because I helped myself. From that experience I realized that our lives are not determined by what happens to us but how we react to what happens and the attitude we bring to life when faced with it.
And so with my HIV I have decided to focus on this journey with a positive attitude and not think of the destination. I know the value of time and so I snatch, sieze and enjoy every moment and not procrastinate.
My bags and decorated affirmations which I hang all over my house help me to release my fears and doubts for I daily remind myself that these only keep me from experiencing life to its fullest.