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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Here's to Doctor's Keeping the Care in Health Care!

Today on National Doctor's Day and I started thinking about my own doctors. Honestly, in those early days of HIV I didn't even tell a doctor. When I finally told my gynecologist at the HMO in the middle of the exam, he said to me, as he was looking up my vagina, "You are to pretty and to smart to end up with HIV. What did you do?" I felt so small in that moment, and that caused me to shield my HIV status for another year. Then I only told my internist at the same HMO because the doctor who was in charge of the HIV study that I was in at the National Institute of Health wanted me to take AZT. It was a big mess and I was just praying to stay alive.

The doctor patient relationship is so very important.  Having had doctors on both end of the spectrum, I know this to be true. After my first year with Dr. Cohen, I realized that all doctors were not equal and most importantly, you have to advocate for  yourself.  When a doctor does not feel right, then find someone who does. 

Years ago when I had just starting to speak a woman told me that her daughter had just been diagnosed with HIV and the doctor told her she only had two years to live. This mother wanted to know what advice I had for she and her daughter. My response was matter of fact, "Get a new doctor." When your doctor only sees your illness and not the person with the illness the relationship is already at a disadvantage. 

I fundamentally believe the relationship that you have with your doctor can either add value to you're healing or add to your demise. At the top of the list for me is mutual respect. If your doctor does not respect you, they cannot hear you and if they cannot hear you then that cannot truly heal you. Shit, if you don't hear me, then you are not treating me. #Fact!

I remember a girl told me that her sister who was HIV positive kept complaining about low abdominal pain. After the usual "female" round of test the doctor dismissed the problem. Over and over she kept complaining and over and over the doctor kept dismissing her eventually suggesting that she was exaggerating. The woman finally found a new doctor who heard her loud and clear. When it was all said and done she had CMV of the uterus and death followed. They missed this diagnosis because CMV an AIDS related infection typically occurs in the eyes with people living with AIDS.

Stereotypes and or the doctors opinion of the patient is important in the treatment of the patient. Human should be any doctors starting point, not who they are or what they do for a living. I have a friend, a doctor who landed in the prestigious hospital where she practices. She was near death and it took three days for a doctor, in fact an intern to say, "Maybe what we are looking at is HIV/AIDS." They all looked at him like he was crazy, certainly not one of their doctors would have HIV. As the story was told to me he said, "Well did anyone test her?" Her t-cell count was 6. 

Feeling empowered around your health care choices allows you to take ownership of your well being. If your doctor takes that away from you, then you will always struggle to stay on top of the game.

No for me,  I didn't really start getting quality care until I transitioned to AIDS. I landed at County Hospital with no health insurance with Dr. Mardge Cohen the founder of the Women and Children HIV Clinic. I've talked about her on my blog before. Even when my t-cell count was 8, I was a size 0 and HIV medication was mediocre she never told me that I was dying. I've said often that she fought for me when I couldn't fight for myself. When she retired I was lost, but only in my mind LOL because she made sure that I landed with a doctor who's values and knowledge was equal to hers. Dr. Audrey French has fought for me just as hard as Dr. Cohen in these last 9 years.

In the 24 years since I've transitioned to AIDS I've had doctors who care and practice medicine because they care and that has made the difference in my life. They have fought for me and it's made me want to fight for me.

 In October I had the pleasure and honor to be with Dr. Cohen as she was awarded the Humanism Award in medicine from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation for her work in HIV. Not only was she the founder of the Women's and Children Clinic at Stroger Hospital (Cook County) she has an HIV/AIDS clinic in Rwanda.

Since retirement from county, she continues to run the Rwanda Clinic and practices a couple of days a week at the Boston Health Care For the Homeless.

She and Dr. French are also the lead investigators in the Women's Interagency HIV Study, the largest and longest running study looking at Women with HIV. Most of our understanding on Women and HIV has come from the WIHS study and I'm proud of both of them and proud to be a part of their legacy.

At the end of the day, your health depends on not only a good doctor but one who sees the human first and the illness follows. One who hears you and works on your behalf. This is your body and you have a right to have a voice. Any doctor that makes you feel less then, well I say they don't deserve to treat you. And don't tell me that it's easy for me to say being famous with HIV. I go to the Core Center in Chicago, which is where most people in the area are treated for HIV with no health insurance. In fact you couldn't get me to leave, well unless Dr. French retries then I'm lost again. So find you a doctor that is willing to be your partner in the treatment of your illness, whether it's HIV or a stomach ace.

Thank you to all the doctors who work to keep care in healthcare. And a special thanks to my doctors, Dr. Mardge Cohen and Dr. Audrey French who have been my primary care doctors.  I must not forget my  gynecologist who specializes in women with HIV, Dr. Helen Cejtin. She is also one of the investigator in the WIHS study. By the way, when my lower abdominal pain continued, she continued to search for the answer until she found it. For sure,  I was blessed at the right time in my HIV infection with the best doctors and this has made the difference between life and death...

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