But I started to get nervous as he stood there with this poker face that I could not read, so I decided to quit while I was ahead. I finally said, "Can you help me?" and took a deep breath and waited. Ron said to me, "I'm so sorry Rae, but we will take care of you." I exhaled. I didn't know what that meant but the compassion in his eyes said that it would be ok. He said, "I want you to call Mardge Cohen, she's Gordy Schiff's wife. You know Gordy, just get there number off the list." I did know Gordy, he was a member of the board Physician For A National Health Program and another good man with a commitment to what was right and fought for it.
She wasted no time and interrupted me before I went any further. "Come see me on Wednesday at the Women and Children HIV Clinic at County, Ok?, "ok," I said. "I'll see you Wednesday," and before I knew it she was gone.
I went to the clinic on my lunch hour that day and after I registered I stood in the corner so no one would talk to me. My infection was none of your business. I couldn't image why Magic told the world. "That's his shit," I said to myself, "I will not become the talk of anyone's town or beauty shop."
That day Mardge told me that I had AIDS. She is always so matter of fact. "You have AIDS, and you need to start treatment." And then she said to me, "You are depressed and I'm gonna get you on an antidepressant." I looked at this woman like she had lost her mind. The balls that she had for such a little woman. She was so freaking bossy and matter of fact. Who the hell does she think she is all I thought, as she talked to me.
After I got my medication, I went home and went to bed and I stayed there until Monday morning. Yes, I didn't go to work the rest of that week. I didn't answer my telephone and I didn't leave the house.
I have AIDS... was all I could think about. I thought I was never going to get AIDS. I wondered what was Magic's T-Cell count? Did he have AIDS to or was he just HIV infected? That day I was forced to live in a new reality.
So for me, Magic's HIV status started to have more questions than marvel. I wasn't impressed with everyone's new understanding that HIV was a non-discriminatory disease. Shit, I had been living proof of that now for 8 years. I wanted to know what would keep me alive. I wanted to know if his infection was in anyway different from my infection. If his medications were different from mine and if I could possibly get my hands on what he had.
But all that I wanted to know became a well-kept secret and honestly I resented him for that. How dare he become so public with his HIV status yet remaine so private. I felt betrayed. While he had brought attention to HIV and the need for prevention on one hand, on the other hand, as a person living with HIV, he left so many unanswered questions.
It went something like this....
To Be Continued.. Part Three Next Week...
Part One Click Here
Post Script: Mardge Cohn is the founder of the Women and Children HIV Clinic at Cook County Hospital. She remained my doctor for 19 years until she and Gordy retired from County and moved out of state. To read a blog about our special relationship click here Part One Turning Point... Part Two Turning Point
Ron Sable was one of the founders of the AIDS Clinic and AIDS Ward at County Hospital and the first openly Gay person to run for Alderman in the City of Chicago. What I didn't know that day, was Ron was also living with AIDS. He died a couple years later. His work and commitment to social justice will never be forgotten.