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In 1986, 28 years ago.

Apr 28, 2014 - 6 comments

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.

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by ariley13, Apr 28, 2014
What a heartbreaking story. It's a miracle that you and your son weren't infected, especially back then when no one knew much about this horrible disease. You both must have had much more to do in life. I'm so sorry for your loss and all of the heartbreak that you continue to experience. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. Sending a big virtual hug to you. Take care of yourself.

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by VICourageous, Apr 28, 2014
Yes this is a very Heart Breaking story.
Deb I look at it like this, his death got you to go one a mission. You have become very active on helping other Addicts, you walk so much closer to your God and you have grown up with such inspiration and lots of wisdom to share with others. It is hard for me to understand the "WHYS" of death since I have lost so many at a young age and just lost the last 4 in a 90 day period from the end of Nov to Feb this year . For me I have to take these deaths and turn them over to God. I still get mad and ask WHY??? But in the long run I take it and turn it around to where I know this had made me Stronger..As I was reading this I was thinking back that I was 29 and got married in 1985. I was living in Lake Tahoe and my lil brother died in 83 which lead me back to the creek I am from. There I ran into Craig who was my Lil brothers friend but a bit older. I had road the school bus with Craig since I was in grade school..Did not talk to him but I was close to his older bother & sister. The Death of my Bother had me go back home where I ran into Craig and have been married for 28 years now. SO I look at it like my Brother Death brought me my SOUL Mate.
I am so Glad to hear that You & your Son are not infected..Yes it was not known to much back then, but how you describe it. I remember it really came out when Rock Hudson died of this awful disease.
Keep the Faith, which I know you you share this so much with others. lol
Bless U & Your Family Always!

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by jugglin, Apr 28, 2014
Your story is very heart-wrenching. I can't even fathom. Not one bit. You are a very strong woman.  I can't imagine how you managed at that age as a widow with a child. God bless your son for his tribute.  God bless you for being a strong woman...a strong mother. Prayers for you today.

Avatar universal
by weaver71, Apr 28, 2014
Some things change us forever, so it's good to know that God uses all things to His benefit. It doesn't make it easy or feel great, but it's good to know some good will come. Always appreciating you and praying.

Avatar universal
by msdelight, Apr 28, 2014
Deb my heart and prayers go out to you. No one could have anticipated something like aids back in the 70s. So many casualties, such a horrible tragedy. Perhaps the path God has planned for your son requires that he never ever touches an opiate. And you're other 3 wouldn't have been here. You sure have been dealt a tough hand and you are one strong woman. A rock.

Avatar universal
by Yesidid, Apr 29, 2014
Debbie you have so much to give this world through your experiences and words. God created a masterpiece through your pain. Thank you for being part of this community and thank you for being my friend.

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