I don't quite remember when I fell in love with tea but I do remember the most special moments of me drinking tea. I was eighteen years old and I went to live with my biological mother for four months. I had just met her months earlier and it was awkward for both of us. She and her ex-husband lived a very quiet life in Boulder, Colorado. He was a professor at one of the universities and she was a housewife. After years of drug addiction and being in and out of jail, she deserved the break. I was homeless so she and her husband agreed to let me come live with them. Each evening my mother and I would find a spot in the living room with a cup of tea and a book.

Now, years later, I'm a self proclaimed tea expert. I start each day with a wonderful English Breakfast tea to get me going. As the day progresses, who knows what wonderful tea I will crown queen. But for sure, I have at least three cups of tea a day. And yes, when I can, I have tea everyday at about 3:00 P. M. I love to invite my friends over for tea and cupcakes and so far everyone thinks it’s a delightful experience. I am always in search of the best blend of tea. Yes, I’m a tea snob, I prefer loose tea but I do like some bags also. I have learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. Some bags can be quite nice. And yes again, any Diva knows, what you drink your tea out of is very important.

Tea for me is a way of life. It's wellness for the mind body and spirit. Here, I will explore every expect of tea possible, with a high concentration on wellness. I will review the best teas, the best places to have tea, the best ways to brew tea, the best tea accessories, what tea goes best with what foods, and the list goes on and on. I plan to share my passion for tea with you. And I've been told, nothing I do is ever boring so be prepared to go on this tea journey with me.

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

Until recently I had never drank Peppermint Tea made with loose leaves. And Honestly, I will probably never go back. The freshness of loose Peppermint Tea cannot be denied. When I open the can of Mint Medley, From The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, I feel as if I stepped into a garden of peppermint leaves. It is a perfect blend of organic peppermint and spearmint leaves grown in the US.

Mint Medley has become a favorite and I find myself reaching for this tea tin almost everyday. It is great for on-going nausea. The health benefits and endless. It relieves muscle aches, headaches, migraines, stress. And now that it feels like someone is sitting on my chest and I have a mean cough, I'm sure it will help to relieve some of this congestion in my chest. Mint Medley has been in my tea cup more than any tea as of late. It has really helped with my winter cough, congestion related to this bout of pneumonia. You can read my full review on The Persimmon Tree Tea Company Mint Teas.

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

Welcome to my world of books! As an pre-teen books changed my world. I fell in love with the writers of the Harlem Renaissance period and the more I read the more I wanted to read. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It spoke to my own degradation and gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

I love to read! Inside a book I escape into someone else's life. There is something wonderful about turning to the next page of a wonderful story. Something intoxicating about the smell of the book and the story it brings to life. Reading brings me joy, and these days with my health in the balance, I find solace in my books.

I spent hours in my bedroom sequestered with the door closed reading the classics from the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes, Larsen, Hurston, Wright and Baldwin. Books became my escape and my salvation. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

Reading is the one thing that the pain of my life could never take away from me. It was the thing that helped to make it better. And even today, living with AIDS, books continue to be the safest place for me. It’s the one thing that belongs to me that AIDS cannot take away from me.The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS.

The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS. I have read hundreds of books from many different genres and I will pick the best of my reads over the years. I warn you, it will not be exclusively white or black, male or female, fiction or non fiction, it will be all of them.

I’m so excited and I’m grateful to everyone who wants to be a part of this venture. We already have 110 Book Club Members. You can email me @ RLTReads@raelewisthornton.com. The Twitter hashtag is #RLTReads. We can make this book club as wonderful as we want to make it. Who says that Oprah has to have the only ownership to a wonderful book club?

This Month We are Reading In My Fathers House by E Lynn Harris

Read along and join our discussion July 19th at 7 pm CST

For more Tea with Rae "Vlogs" Click here to visit her youtube channel

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hospital Drama!

Terror came across my face as I looked down and saw the warm blood oozing from the insertion area of my picc line. I have never seen a picc line really bleed other than the first day it is placed in my arm and never that much blood.

I jumped from the bed, holding my arm to catch the blood, but as I grabbed the phone blood made it's way to the floor, drop, drop, followed my every move. I heard my nurse's voice come over the phone, "Kee Kee, this is Rae Lewis-Thornton. Blood is coming out of my picc line. He didn't pause, "Go to the ER right now!" And that was the end of the conversation.

I grabbed the cloth napkin from he counter and wrapped my arm as I made my way back to the bedroom to change clothes. Blood was seeping through the bright yellow napkin and I tried to keep calm as best as I could, but I was scared.

I grabbed my coat and made my way to the ER.  I could feel the warm blooding running down my arm into the lining of my mink coat. "This is crazy I mumbled," to myself.  I pulled my arm out of the one side of the coat and instantly I was a hot freaking mess walking down the street. One arm in my mink coat, the other side hanging with a bright yellow napkin saturated in blood tied around my arm with blood running down my arm.

This wasn't the kind of scene you saw often in my neighborhood and I wanted no reason to not be picked up by a taxi, so I swung the other end of my coat back over my bloody arm.

I explained to the taxi cab driver I needed to get to the hospital ASAP. He took the outer Lake Shore drive to avoid Christmas shoppers and in a matter of 4 minutes I was walking into ER.  I went to the counter and I knew I needed to be calm. I swung my coat from around my shoulder so that the nurse could see. "My picc line is bleeding like crazy," I said. As my blood began to drip on the floor, I added, "I also have HIV."

Blood was dripping on the counter as the nurse looked up and looked back down to the key board rather calm and unbothered by my freaking mess. I spotted a big pad behind him and I asked the security guard could I have it. He said, "The nurse has to give it to you." Huh? "WHAT THE HELL!" I thought. "I'm bleeding all over the place and you cannot give me a pad?"

Until that moment I had been so calm.  I said to him,"I have HIV and I really don't want my blood all over the place." And at that moment I resented having to give this information in the lobby of the hospital ER to the security guard no less. I resented the security guard and the freaking nurse who thought my bloody ass arm was no big deal. But mostly, I resented HIV. How dare it embarrass me, right now at this time and place.

I reached to the side of me and grabbed a ton of Kleenex and pressed them against my bleeding arm and after I did that the nurse, handed me the pad to press against my arm.

When I was sent to the next station to sign the hospital papers my hands were so bloody I didn't even want to take her ink pin. Yes, I know you CANNOT transmit HIV in that way, but I tend to be protective of my blood and the people who come into contact with it for any reason. So I squirted some hand sanitizer in my hand and wiped the blood off before grabbing her pen.

After that they rushed me right along.  Of course I repeated it two more times before I was taken to the back. Once to the EKG Nurse as she connected be to the machine. My chest was hurting like hell, so they wanted to make sure my heart was ok. As she connected me and blood dripped into the pad, I explained to her, "I have HIV, so be careful of my blood."

I hated every moment of it. EVERY single moment of it! Having to say I have HIV in the half open area. Crazy right?! Right! Here I am one of the must public people on the planet with my HIV status still caught up in the shame of it all. My mind racing, when I should be focused on my health; Why the hell is blood coming out of my arm like someone cut me open? Instead thinking, "What do these people think of me?"

 There is no other illness on this planet in modern times that carries this kind of shame and stigma. The weight of it all is more than a notion; More than anyone should have to deal with.

Yet I know I have to fight though the shame, if only for the benefit of my health. I cannot lie, give half truths or misleading information because my health is on the front line. They need to know everything. This is especially true when you have an undiagnosed health issue. So I press forward. Do what I must for my sake.

Finally, the triage nurse calmed my nerves; She taped my arm and it both slowed the bleeding and contained the blood. Once in the back, another type of fear comes over me, one for my life.

In an instant the shame that I felt seemed silly, compared to a possible blot clot. The first round of tests said that I had a blood clot, and they ordered me a bed. I went straight to Twitter and asked for prayers. Crazy, I could tell over 5000 people exactly what the doctors were saying, but I was nervous about telling a few about my HIV status.  Maybe it's that my Twitter followers already know and there are no judgements. OR maybe, I was talking about blood clots and not HIV/AIDS per se, or maybe both.

 Whatever the case, I did and people started praying and encouraging me to hang in there. I understand at my core that prayer and kind words can go a long way. Seven hours later and with additional tests they sent me home. No blood clot after all. They never were able to explain why I started bleeding. The speculation was that there could have been some trauma to the area when the line was originally placed. Maybe a blood vessel was somehow damaged.

That seems crazy to me, since I started bleeding two days after the line was placed. Any who, I left the hospital beat up, but at least I was going home and it seemed that I was out of danger. In the end I know each time I say that I have HIV, it helps to break the shackles and challenges the shame that has tainted the ability for an infected person to get proper health care and to live with dignity.
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