Thursday, February 21, 2013
I was going through some old military things and came across a video of me in Basic Training of that was back in 1999 when I was just 19 years old. This was during the era of the policy of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. Also since it is dated it was on a VHS tape. I thought to myself, “Wow I’ve grown a lot since then.” My foster used to express interest in the military. He said, “Dad I want to be a Marine”. Of course his father and I tried to persuade him to join the Air Force or the Army, since I’m prior Air Force and my husband is prior Army. After that discussion I think my foster son decided to change his mind about even going into the service, but who knows, he is a teenager and may change his mind later.
Looking at the tape I see myself as I was egotistical, stubborn, and so unfit for the military. I did so many things in the military that I got into trouble for. For example I got speeding on base and my driving privileges were revoked for about 60 days on base. I constantly woke up late for work because I was taking my medication for my thyroid disease. I had a mean supervisor at one point and she hounded me every chance she got until one day when I had cursed her out and got an Article 15 for it. I was raped while in the military and because of DADT I couldn’t tell anyone, because I feared of being kicked out dishonorably. I was a bad person I just wasn’t mature and even though basically my whole family is military I still didn’t have the discipline. But with the help of friends and those who I still call family I made it through. I was able to be discharged honorable with decorations and awards. I made three really good friends who I call my military brothers and we were all gay and I loved them and still talk to them to this day. My joining the military I was able to take advantage of the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIBILL) and since I was active duty during 9/11 I am about to us the 9/11 MGIBILL. I earned my Associate’s in Communications & my Bachelor’s in Political Science with the MGBILL, now I’m going to earn my Master’s Degree in Public Health with it as well; I only have 7 more classes to go. Also I filed for disability because of my thyroid condition and I’m considered a 10% disabled 9/11 Veteran.
The Air Force taught me a lot and helped me a lot even through the rain, the dark and troubling I stuck in there. The military changed my life for the better; I had more resources than ever when I left the military. Now I’m thinking about going into the National Guard, my husband and I need to have that discussion later. I’m a 1st Lieutenant in the Maryland Defense Force right now and I love it. But we will see how this will pan out as far as me going into the National Guard.
The military isn’t for everyone, but for me personally I wanted to serve my country and also follow the footsteps of generations before me. My family history is that every War this country has been in my family was there to fight, yes I said every War and I wanted that tradition to live on in me and maybe in the generation after me. I just know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the military. On a personal note I wanted to say Thank you and RIP to my friend Derrick Grigg for making the ultimate sacrifice while overseas, you will and always will be missed. This log is dedicated to you, brother.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
So I’ve decided to take my doctor’s orders seriously. When it comes to HIV it is really important that one keeps their stress levels down and unfortunately it has been harder for me than not. I’ve decided to not let anything or anyone stress me out and if that mean cutting people out of my life completely or putting them in another category so be it. I also emphasize to always look after your own health. I’ve decided to go to bed earlier, drink less, and really try to quit smoking.
I had a situation where I accidentally made a mistake and was persecuted for it. The one person that I thought would believe me didn’t and I got upset but this time it wasn’t a normal upset. Some of the things that he said to me started making me have physical reactions. First I started to breathe irregularly, sweat and my chest started to hurt; I didn’t know it at the time but I was having an anxiety attack. I was with friend’s when this happened but I was clever enough to sequester myself in a room in the house because I didn’t want anyone to see me at this time. After that moment I decided NO MORE STRESS.
So my son and I had a SPA/SHOPPING DAY and that was a great way to distress.
Even more recently there was a situation that happened at home with our son and I stayed calm and didn’t fly off the handle:
My husband and I have a rule for the house that NOBODY is allowed to be in the house without permission or us being present. We both had Maryland Defense Force Drill last night when I get a phone call. It was another Foster Parent named Paula. Paula asked me if had seen her foster daughter Jade. (We noticed that whenever Jade and Londyn hang out together she badly influences him to stay out late when he is suppose to be home, hangs out at our house without her parents’ permission etc.) I said to Paula, "No why?" "Jade said she was going over your house after school and I haven't seen her my husband even went to your house and knocked on the door and nobody answered" Keep in mind school is out at 2pm and it was about 7pm when I got the call. I immediately called my foster son Londyn. Londyn didn't pick up after me calling twice so I tried one more time. His butt picked up the phone before he did. His phone was in his back pocket and he didn't know it had picked up the call. I could hear Jade and Londyn in the background talking. I put it on speaker and l my husband listen to make I was not going paranoid. I then called back a 4th time and Londyn finally picked up the phone. "Hi Dad, how are you?" He sounded out of breathe I asked, "You sound like your outside what going on?" He said, "I was just walking Jade home" I said, “From where?" "The house" He replied. I said, “Okay You know you're not supposed to have anybody over when we are not there and without permission, you could've either called us or texted us to ask if Jade could come over, right?" He said, "Well yeah" "Okay I'm happy that you are ok and that you didn't lie about her being there, BUT you will be disciplined. When we got home the house was a mess. He is home today from school GUESS WHAT TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE, ROOM AND BATHROOM ESPECIALLY. Also the broken light will be coming out of his allowance AND NO X-BOX for a week. He is not allowed to hang out with Jade. So I’ve decided to make a little list. It’s like a Bucket List if you will
2) Bungee Jump
3) Become more active in HOPE DC
4) Climb a Mountain
5) Take more trips out of state alone
6) Horseback Riding alone
7) Indoor Wall Climbing
8) Act in an indie film/series or move short.
9) Camping for a weekend alone
10) Go on more spiritual retreats (Non-Christian Based)
11) Monthly SPA treatment
12) Be more serious about Yoga
This is short list and I will add to this after scratching some of them off as I go. I have to learn new ways and tools to calm myself down. I am a bit of a thrill seeker an adrenaline junkie and I now have to exercise that more than ever. It tends to relax me more often than not. It’s what I call a good type of stress.
Recently I went to my doctor’s appointment and saw that I was borderline Hypertension. He also said that my T-Cells dropped as well. This is NOT good. But I’m still undetectable which is good. All my vitals were goo except of course because of hypertension. I’m only 33 and someone has told me I’m much too young to have this diagnosis. Since I’m in school for my Master’s Degree, Activism, Writings, and having a kid on top of that stress has been at its highest I’ve ever had in my life. After my appointment my doctor has told me that my cholesterol is under control and everything seems to be doing well. He has recommended I go back on Fish Oil and Vitamin D.
To learn more about Hypertension read here
Hypertension; HBP; Blood pressure - high
Last reviewed: June 10, 2011.
Hypertension is the term used to describe high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is a measurement of the force against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood through your body.
Blood pressure readings are usually given as two numbers -- for example, 120 over 80 (written as 120/80 mmHg). One or both of these numbers can be too high.
The top number is called the systolic blood pressure, and the bottom number is called the diastolic blood pressure.
- Normal blood pressure is when your blood pressure is lower than 120/80 mmHg most of the time.
- High blood pressure (hypertension) is when your blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or above most of the time.
- If your blood pressure numbers are 120/80 or higher, but below 140/90, it is called pre-hypertension.
If you have pre-hypertension, you are more likely to develop high blood pressure.
If you have heart or kidney problems, or if you had a stroke, your doctor may want your blood pressure to be even lower than that of people who do not have these conditions.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Many factors can affect blood pressure, including:
- How much water and salt you have in your body
- The condition of your kidneys, nervous system, or blood vessels
- The levels of different body hormones
You are more likely to be told your blood pressure is too high as you get older. This is because your blood vessels become stiffer as you age. When that happens, your blood pressure goes up. High blood pressure increases your chance of having a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, and early death.
You have a higher risk of high blood pressure if you:
- Are African American
- Are obese
- Are often stressed or anxious
- Drink too much alcohol (more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men)
- Eat too much salt in your diet
- Have a family history of high blood pressure
- Have diabetes
Most of the time, no cause of high blood pressure is found. This is called essential hypertension.
High blood pressure that is caused by another medical condition or medication is called secondary hypertension. Secondary hypertension may be due to:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Disorders of the adrenal gland (pheochromocytoma or Cushing syndrome)
- Pregnancy (see: preeclampsia)
- Medications such as birth control pills, diet pills, some cold medications, and migraine medications
- Narrowed artery that supplies blood to the kidney (renal artery stenosis)
Most of the time, there are no symptoms. For most patients, high blood pressure is found when they visit their health care provider or have it checked elsewhere.
Because there are no symptoms, people can develop heart disease and kidney problems without knowing they have high blood pressure.
If you have a severe headache, nausea or vomiting, bad headache, confusion, changes in your vision, or nosebleeds you may have a severe and dangerous form of high blood pressure called malignant hypertension.
Signs and tests
Your health care provider will check your blood pressure several times before diagnosing you with high blood pressure. It is normal for your blood pressure to be different depending on the time of day.
Blood pressure readings taken at home may be a better measure of your current blood pressure than those taken at your doctor's office. Make sure you get a good quality, well-fitting home device. It should have the proper sized cuff and a digital readout.
Practice with your health care provider or nurse to make sure you are taking your blood pressure correctly. See also: Blood pressure monitors for home
Your doctor will perform a physical exam to look for signs of heart disease, damage to the eyes, and other changes in your body.
Tests may be done to look for:
- High cholesterol levels
- Heart disease, such as an echocardiogram or electrocardiogram
- Kidney disease, such as a basic metabolic panel and urinalysis or ultrasound of the kidneys
The goal of treatment is to reduce blood pressure so that you have a lower risk of complications. You and your health care provider should set a blood pressure goal for you.
If you have pre-hypertension, your health care provider will recommend lifestyle changes to bring your blood pressure down to a normal range. Medicines are rarely used for pre-hypertension.
You can do many things to help control your blood pressure, including:
- Eat a heart-healthy diet, including potassium and fiber, and drink plenty of water. See: High blood pressure and diet
- Exercise regularly -- at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day.
- If you smoke, quit -- find a program that will help you stop.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink -- one drink a day for women, two a day for men.
- Limit the amount of sodium (salt) you eat -- aim for less than 1,500 mg per day.
- Reduce stress -- try to avoid things that cause you stress. You can also try meditation or yoga.
- Stay at a healthy body weight -- find a weight-loss program to help you, if you need it.
Your health care provider can help you find programs for losing weight, stopping smoking, and exercising. You can also get a referral from your doctor to a dietitian, who can help you plan a diet that is healthy for you.
There are many different medicines that can be used to treat high blood pressure. See: High blood pressure medicines
Often, a single blood pressure drug may not be enough to control your blood pressure, and you may need to take two or more drugs. It is very important that you take the medications prescribed to you. If you have side effects, your health care provider can substitute a different medication.
Most of the time, high blood pressure can be controlled with medicine and lifestyle changes.
When blood pressure is not well controlled, you are at risk for:
- Bleeding from the aorta, the large blood vessel that supplies blood to the abdomen, pelvis, and legs
- Chronic kidney disease
- Heart attack and heart failure
- Poor blood supply to the legs
- Problems with your vision
Calling your health care provider
If you have high blood pressure, you will have regular appointments with your doctor.
Even if you have not been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it is important to have your blood pressure checked during your yearly check-up, especially if someone in your family has or had high blood pressure.
Call your health care provider right away if home monitoring shows that your blood pressure is still high.
Adults over 18 should have their blood pressure checked regularly.
Lifestyle changes may help control your blood pressure.
Follow your health care provider's recommendations to modify, treat, or control possible causes of high blood pressure.
- Goldstein LB, Bushnell CD, Adams RJ, Appel LJ, Braun LT, Chaturvedi S, et al. Guidelines for the primary prevention of stroke: a guideline for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2011 Feb;42:517-84.
- Kaplan NM. Systemic hypertension: Treatment. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 46.
- Victor, RG. Systemic hypertension: Mechanisms and diagnosis. In: Bonow RO, Mann DL, Zipes DP, Libby P, eds. Braunwald's Heart Disease: A Textbook of Cardiovascular Medicine. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 45.
Review Date: 6/10/2011.
Reviewed by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Copyright © 2013, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Hi Justin: I just have to say, I love you! I’m writing because my son was in a two-year relationship, but they broke up this past May. After that, my son was dating a few different guys. As a mom, I kept giving him the talk about being careful and wearing protection if he had sex. My son is very open with me, and he did tell me he wasn’t always wearing protection. Since October I have been on him about getting tested because he was putting himself at risk. On November 7, he got a call from the doctor telling him he was positive. I have been asking my son to go to the Web site, thebody.com, and watch your videos, but he won’t have any part of that. He just keeps telling me he is fine. My son thinks he does not have HIV. He did have a Western blot done, so I know the test isn’t wrong. I am just worried that my son will go into a depression soon. He won’t go to any support groups and he doesn’t want to talk about it unless he brings it up. My son has support from me, the family, and a few good friends that he did tell. I am worried about how he really is feeling inside, though. What can I do to help my son? Also, my son wants to stay on dating sites and meet people. I am scared that he is just going to get hurt more. I know if he meets someone and he tells them he is positive they won’t want to be with him. I did ask him to join an HIV dating site, but he says he doesn’t think there are any and he doesn’t want to date someone that is poz. Is that normal to think that way at first? And how can I get him to connect with other people who are going through the same thing he is? Thank you for your time Justin and thank you for being there for so many others…you are an amazing person! —Christine First let me just say that you are a good mother. I love that you felt open and trusting enough to send me this letter. My mother also was scared for me and gave me the talk about protected sex and being careful. But, as adults, we are in charge of making our own way and making our own decisions. Finding out that you are positive may be jarring when you first hear it. One might go into denial or a state of numbness to where you will think nothing of it. Or even going as far as forgetting you even have the disease because the emotions of being scared, feared, and unloved are so impactful that one will say, “I’m fine,” when you are really not. He sounds like he is going through deep depression and is not snapping out of it anytime soon. He will have to let it out some way. I’m most worried about that he will find another way, a more dangerous way, to let out his frustrations. In my life drugs and sex seemed to cover up a lot of pain and sorrow. He will need to find a way. I would also check to see if he is suffering from low self-esteem. There are many poz dating sites on the Internet. Before I met my husband I met a lot of guys off dating sites that didn’t care about my HIV status because they liked me for me. Depending on his age a lot of young people do like going through the Internet to connect to other people that are going through the same things they are. Ask him why he wouldn’t want to date someone who is poz. It is a case-by-case basis about the feelings one has about being poz. There is no feeling that is normal or abnormal. You need to just be there and reassure him that you will always be there. Justin B. Terry-Smith has been fighting the good fight since 1999. He’s garnered recognition and awards for his work, but he’s more concerned about looking for new ways to transform society for the better than resting on his laurels. He started up in gay rights and HIV activism in 2005, published an HIV-themed children’s book, I Have A Secret (Creative House Press) in 2011, and created his own award-winning video blog called, “Justin’s HIV Journal”: justinshivjournal.blogspot.com. Now, with this column, Justin has found a way to give voice to the issues that people write to him about. Visit his main Web site at www.justinbsmith.com. He welcomes your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read this article in our digital edition on our site by clicking here (or off-site by clicking here.)