Would I, should I, if I could?

     I am often asked if I wishd I could go back in time and change my diagnosis, become HIV free.  If there was a time machine and I could go back to before I was infected with HIV and stop the infection or go back and be diagnosed before I went from HIV positive to having AIDS, would I?  I have spent much time thinking about this and yet I cannot give a definite answer.  Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes, no.  But since I have no access to a time machine, I guess I will never need to make that decision.
     Of course, I would love to be healthy and strong.  Yes, without pain and without all the health issues that have come with my AIDS diagnosis would be wonderful.  To continue to work in a job I loved, to travel without limitations and to not worry about having to take19 pills a day would be heaven for me and I am sure that Jim would prefer this life for us as well.  To be healthy would be my best reason to go back and change my future.  There have been many times when I didn't think I really wanted to go on with this life.  There are times when death almost seems like a better option that living with the agony of AIDS.
     Then I think about my life since my AIDS diagnosis.  I have been honored to meet many wonderful and inspirational people.  They have become friends who either are living with HIV, AIDS or work with those who are living with HIV.  Every day I am inspired by the courage and strength of these people.  And I realize that I am not alone, there are many of us throughout the country who deal with life and all the symptoms that HIV and AIDS brings.  We live, we love, we work, we travel and most of all, we survive. 
     I also think often about the person I have become since my AIDS diagnosis.  Since returning from the hospital in 2002 I have learned many important things.  I have learned to listen to my body.  I have learned to take care of myself.  I have learned to fight for the things that matter the most in my life.  I even fought my terminal shyness to become a public speaker and HIV prevention educator, speaking to young people and their parents about my life and how to prevent HIV.  I learned to enjoy my life even with the hardships that AIDS brings.  And when I am really down and depressed about my life, I have a large box filled with thank you cards and letters from students who listened to what I had to say and who learned that a life with HIV/AIDS is not easy and can be horrible.  Reading the cards and letters gives me strength to carry on and to realize that my life with AIDS can be a teaching experience for others.  The people who hear me speak can learn and can spread the knowledge of life with HIV and AIDS and how they can prevent that from happening to them.
     Most of all, since my AIDS diagnosis, I have learned to be grateful for what I have and what I have accomplished.  I have a beautiful home, I have family and friends who care about me.  I have a cat who gives me purr therapy and makes me feel loved and warm.  And most of all, I have a wonderful husband who cares deeply for me and our life together.  Jim is my strength, my life and my love.  He is my caretaker, my nurse and my pill reminder.  He is my chauffer, my biggest fan and my best critic.  He is the love of my life.  And I think that even though our marriage is not absolutely perfect, we still disagree from time to time, we are stronger because of what we have been through together.  It seems that my AIDS diagnosis made us stronger and we know that together, we can handle what ever life sends our direction.
      So, if I could go back in time and change the circumstances that led to my HIV infection and the development of AIDS ravaging my body, would I?  Good question.  What do you think would be best for me?  Would my life be better without AIDS?  Would I be better off without the pain and suffering?  Would my life be better because I was not infected with HIV?  I can make guesses but I will never know.  Unless, of course, you know someone with a time machine.
     What do you think?!?

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