Apr 28, 2014
In 1986, Twenty eight years ago at the age of 29 with a 3 month old baby I became widowed.
We had only been married for 4 years. When I met him he was facing 6 months in jail for theft. He was a recovering drug addict. He had also used heroin. I had met him through a mutual friend.
I had used alot of drugs recreationally. I was a older teenager and in my twenties in the 70's. I had never done any opiates or heroin.
He served the time in jail. it was shortened not sure now how long he was there maybe three months.
He was a very nice guy. He treated me well. He had stole for his habit, did his time and I thought all would be well.
We fell in love & We married shortly after. From New Jersey we moved to Florida to start a new life. We were there for a few years.
He was getting more tired then usual.
Having some shortness of breathe, So he quit smoking.
He had a sinus infection that wouldn't go away. He was a chef, worked in a hot kitchen. He got up at 2:30 am and had to be at work by 4:00 am. I attributed his physical issues to this.
I was 6 months pregnant at the time.
My son was born in December 1985.
My husband continued to get sicker. He was running a low grade fever, Having night sweats.
We had been to the doctors many times. He was treated for sinus infections. He began to lose weight.
They did blood tests and nothing significant showed.
This went on for about 9 months.
On March 22, 1986 he woke up with a much higher fever. I took him to the ER. He was well enough to walk in. He was admitted. He was 35. I was 29 and my infant son was 3 months old. He was given oxygen immediately.
They ran a battery of tests. He had infection and they needed to find out where. They called in an infectious disease doctor. They said they wanted to test him for auto immune diseases.
My mom came down so she could watch my son when I was at the hospital.
His breathing became very labored. He was in the hospital for a total of two weeks. He was being treated with antibiotic the whole time and was getting much worse. He had developed pneumonia.
The tests took 10 days to come back. He had hepatitis c along with an auto immune disease.
I also had to be tested, as did my 3 month old son. Because his liver was comprised they wanted to do a a lung biopsy to find the specific bacteria that was causing his pneumonia. His liver couldn't handle the cocktail of drugs they were feeding it. It was shutting down.
They did the biopsy. He had a breathing tube in. He had pneumocystis pneumonia. He was in ICU. His heart rate was off the charts. He only survived about 12 hours post op.
I woke up at 2am April 2,1986 with horrible anxiety. I felt something was terribly wrong. I called the nurses station. My husband had just died within a few minutes of my call.
I called them before they got to call me.
He had a heart attack. They tried for an hour to revive him.
He was 35 years old. I was 29 with a 3 month old baby. I was now a widow.
I remember we had heard about this new disease in late 1985 that had come into America. Up until that point it was killing mostly white, gay men.
This disease was not yet named at this time in April 1986 with the name it now holds.
My husband had died of HIV with full blown AIDS.
It was dormant in his system for at least 10 years. He hadn't used a needle since 1976.
When he died the coroner in Florida wanted to instantly cremate him. They had never had someone with AIDS. We knew a family in NJ who had a funeral parlor. They agreed to take care of his body. It was prepared and flown back to NJ.
What a whirlwind. My husband walked into the ER and was carried out in a box 2 weeks later.
Because the blood test took 10 days to come back at the time I never got To tell him that my son and I weren't
My husband had the dubious destination of being one of the first 23,239 mostly white men between the ages of 30-39 who died from 1981-1987 of AIDS.
It hard to believe that it has been 28 years. Seems like many lifetimes ago.
The most recent estimates from 2010 are that 34 million people around the world are living with HIV/ AIDS.
When I came back to NJ it was more known back here. I started to see signs about the symptoms. Yep he had all the symptoms.
His girlfriend from the 70's also died of HIV/AIDS but not until 2000.
My son and I had to be tested for the next 5 years.
I know this has also added to my anxiety and sadness over the last month. It never failed even if I wasn't thinking about it consciously for the last 28 years, subconsciously it always affected me.
My son and I were given another chance at life. We were not infected.
GOD had his hand on us and protected us.
My son swore to me, from a young age that he would never use opiates because of his dads death. It is his memorial to him.
So far he has kept that promise.
I hope and pray he keeps it.