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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Nest





When I first began writing Red Ribbon Diaries, my children were small. I was a new adoptive mom, juggling life, kids, and a career without so much as a compass to keep me pointed in the right direction. But you know what? There is no one right direction when you're a mom. You have to take a multitude of turns, some of them hard lefts with your foot mashed on the gas in front of oncoming traffic! But no matter the road, you do what's in the best interest of your kids. Am I right? That's just what moms do.

We fix things. We kiss bruises. We do our best, always, and sometimes our best falls short. Maybe the prom dress needs a stitch or two, or the lunch money gets left on the counter, or how about the time you washed the boy's white football uniform with his sister's red pajama pants? Sorry, Yonas. But  hey, your kids love you regardless, and you love them back. After all, you're a family, be it through adoption or some other miracle, it doesn't matter. The common denominator we all share is love, and love moves mountains, love grows kids into exceptional adults, and if we're lucky, love even brings them back to the nest every once in a while, after they're grown.

I am a lucky mom. I've been blessed with chocolate face kisses, sticky high-fives from a jelly-fingered two-year-old, bleacher-butt, gray hairs, late night, teenage hellion, God-loving, walking down the aisle, tears in my eyes OMG that beautiful bride is my daughter...moments. Thank you, God, for those moments.

Should your path lead you here, you'll find many stories, some happy and some sad, about my family and about my life.  HIV isn't an easy disease to bear at any age, let alone grow up with, and this blog became a wonderful place for us to share our story. This blog gave us a voice--a place to laugh, and even cry if we needed to, but perhaps most importantly, this blog became a source of inspiration to so many people. The letters and support that have poured in over the years have meant so much to our family. Thank you!

I hope you enjoy the stories I share here and find within them something to take with you on your own journey of love and miracles.

Sincerely,

Suzan




Tuesday, July 5, 2016

To Test or Not To Test...THAT is the question.

My husband took an HIV test today. 
Testing Guidelines 

This coming March my husband and I will have been married for twenty-nine years. This isn't his first test. To err on the side of caution, I ask him to take an HIV test every few years. In case you didn't already know, I'm HIV positive and my husband is not. I often say that it's not the people with HIV you need to worry about, it's the ones that don't know their status that are cause for concern. Why? Because not only is knowing your HIV status vital but also the best way to prevent the spread of HIV.  In fact, HIV is totally preventable. 


It gets better. Did you know that taking an HIV test can be as easy as going to your local drugstore? 

It's true. It's never been easier to test yourself for HIV and you can have your results in as little as twenty minutes, in the privacy of your own home. Really. READ DIRECTIONS, SWAB GUMS.

AND Twenty minutes later...
My husband's result is NEGATIVE!

So what if your result comes back positive, you ask? A positive result is not the end of the world. Today, antiviral medications drive the virus to undetectable levels. I'm proof that with good medical care you can live a normal, healthy life and pose no risk of infecting your partner. Yes, you can have sex. You can even have a healthy child, if you choose. The only thing better would be a cure, and even that's not as far fetched as we once believed. So be brave. Take the test. 

To learn more about mixed status couples, HIV prevention and pregnancy visit: https://www.avert.org/learn-share/hiv-fact-sheets/mixed-status-couples





Wednesday, March 16, 2016

God's Plan + Cardio


I counted the years yesterday and it's mind-blowing. I've been a mom for over half of my life! And the real kicker? I'm almost fifty and have a fourteen-year-old. Enough to make your gills quiver, isn't it?  

But seriously, every child needs a parent, biological or adopted, to love them unconditionally, and I knew I could do that. I've always loved being a mom, and a wife. That's what makes me the happiest in life. 

The thing that makes me the most unhappy is the worry that came with being a parent. Even before I was diagnosed with HIV, I remember feeling this sense of urgency that I just HAD to survive, HAD to be there to raise my children. Then there were the dark years, after my children and I were diagnosed, where I just hoped to live long enough to see them through--whatever God's plan.

HIV was quite the curve ball. Good thing I have the husband, family, and friends that I do. They carried me through those difficult days and for that I'm forever grateful. 

So what do you do when life throws a curve ball? I'd like to think that I'm an expert by now. I'm not. But I am a good study, and I have picked up some valuable tools along the way. They are:

1. In all things be brave, honest, and kind.

2. There is no substitute for prayer. 

3. A little laughter goes a very long way.

4. Love will conquer everything.

5. Don't sweat the small stuff. 


Today, I aspire to see my children through to a cure and science is backing me up. I will, one day, see my babies (now 25, 20, and 14) HIV-free! This calls for a high round of cardio, am I right? 

So long for now. Putting on my snazzy Nikes and off to conquer a hill or two... Whatever it takes.