The Life and Death of an AIDS Patient
This is the story of my older sister, Becky, who acquired the HIV virus which ultimately developed into full blown AIDS. There won't be any technical medical terms here. This story is just my way of dealing with the grief of losing my sister.
This True Story Did End in Death
Becky was a very beautiful young woman with an exceptional talent for music. She could sing, she played flute in her junior high school band and eventually made the high school band. She was a very free spirited person. She wanted to do the things that made her happy. Unfortunately, she became acquainted with a group of individuals who did not appreciate her potential. Her work ethic was as well as any of her other siblings. She just couldn't find it in herself to conform to the rules of authority figures.
When Becky was a teen, she held a job in a hamburger restaurant of a national chain. Her first encounter with injury and physical trauma came on March 11, 1979, her 16th birthday. Our oldest sister and older brother had decided to take Becky out to eat as a birthday gift. The three were travelling along a major thoroughfare in our hometown. A drunk driver travelling in the opposite direction lost control of her vehicle and slammed head on into my sister's car. Sadly, the driver of the other vehicle was killed in the accident when her car exploded with her trapped inside the wreckage. The damage to my sister's car must be explained before I can explain the injuries sustained by my three siblings. The collision forced the engine of my sister's car through the firewall pinning her inside behind the steering wheel. The windshield was already broken so badly that when Becky's head hit it, her upper body was laying on what was left of the front end of the vehicle. Since my brother was in the back seat of the car, he only sustained minor cuts from flying glass and bruising from hitting the back of the front seat. The jaws of life was used to free both girls. My sister behind the wheel suffered minor and partial amnesia, probably due to a concussion. At the hospital, she would drift in and out of consciousness asking, "Where's Becky?"
Becky was in intensive care for several weeks. Her eyes were swollen shut. Her right wrist was shattered. Her right arm was broken. Her left cheekbone was broken. Pins were inserted into her arm and her cheek to heal those broken bones. A metal plate was inserted into her wrist to replace and repair those broken bones.
When Becky came home from the hospital, she had a noticeable limp. She complained of her leg hurting her when she walked. Our mother carried her back to the doctor and he x-rayed her leg. It, too, had been broken in the accident and no one at the hospital thought to look at anything below the waist that might have been injured. The doctor suggested we let her leg heal on its own instead of breaking it again and setting it. Her leg was healing very well on its own so our mother decided not to re-break her leg and set it since doing the latter would require Becky use a wheelchair because her right arm was in a cast up to her armpit.
Becky eventually recovered from this severe car accident, although, she did not fully recover. She underwent several plastic surgeries to repair her damaged face and body. She had trouble writing with her right hand at times forcing her to use her left hand which was awkward for her since she was right handed. She did not finish high school but she did obtain a GED. I don't remember if the car accident had anything to do with her not finishing high school.
Becky worked mostly in food service as a waitress until she was diagnosed with the HIV virus. She could charm her customers. She was very friendly to anyone at any of her tables. People liked her because she was funny, efficient and full of energy.
Her second encounter with serious injury came when she was still working at the hamburger restaurant. She was closing the restaurant one night and she was to discard the used oil that was in the deep fryer. The oil was still extremely hot as the restaurant had closed only minutes before. Another co-worker was mopping the tile floor behind the grills that cooked the hamburger meat. Becky was carrying this hot oil when she slipped on the wet floor. The oil spilled on her left ankle, melting her clothing and merging it with her skin. The scars that remained told another chapter in her short life.
Shortly before her diagnosis, she began to have a few scrapes with the law, not completely due to the friends she associated herself with at the time. She moved to Virginia for a while until the lack of work brought her back to Texas. She lived in Ohio about twenty years ago which is when I believe she was diagnosed with HIV. I won't go into the specifics of how she, herself, contracted the HIV virus. It was not as important to me how she got it as it was that she had the disease and it would eventually kill her. She moved back to Texas for the last time when she was initially diagnosed. I felt she had come home to die.
She lived with the disease until March 6, 2010 when she died in a Hospice facility. It was five days before her 47th birthday.
© 2010 Tammy L
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