Sunday, 6 December 2009

Hi everyone!

Okay, so this is me, Magnetic Mama, welcome to my blog! I am very excited to join the list of bloggers, and I think I might bring a slightly different perspective to the amazing bunch of people already out there. I am the negative i.e. uninfected half of a HIV magnetic couple. In my eyes (err...ears) 'magnetic' sounds so much more positive than serodiscordant because it implies attraction rather than some kind of clash (that's not to say I don't have any of those with my hubby...)

I am fairly new to this form of communication but I have somehow managed to make a Mini-Mama 'WeeMee', which kind of looks like me *burstwithpride*. The reason I am not showing my actual photo is to protect my husband, who is not open about his status and I don't want to inadvertently disclose it by proxy.

Who am I? Well I'm a 27-year-old woman, a psychologist, a good friend (at least I think so), an enormous fan of good food, movies and endless chats about everything and nothing. I currently live in South Africa with my husband, I am German by birth and I lived in the UK for a long time (confused yet?).

I have been working for a South African NGO that provides paediatric HIV services to the public, so basically I’ve been working with children, and adolescents as well as their caregivers infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Now that that's out of the way, what is this all about? Well, in about a months time I am embarking on a rather ambitious, exciting and frankly a little terrifying trip around the world, spanning 10 countries in 6 months all on my own. Along the way I am hoping to meet up with other couples or families in my situation or with whoever is interested in connecting with me, and here I will write down my experiences, thoughts and undoubtedly some mishaps as well.

So, if you live in Thailand, Australia (Sydney), New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), Peru, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Canada or the US (especially along the Route 66) and you'd like to get in touch, that would be lovely.

Look after yourselves and each other,

Magnetic Mama

Thursday, 12 November 2009

travel bug

I am leaving South Africa in a few weeks and slowly but surely I'm preparing myself. Over the past few months I have been back and forth around what focus to to put on my trip. First of all I know that I need some time out. The question is just from what?

My work, sure - working with sick kids is very intense and then, so am I, so that's a bit of an emotionally destructive combination. My life? In the past 3 years I have almost lost and then married my husband, started and abandoned aPhD, started 2 new jobs, both in the HIV field, battled a bout of serious depression and exhaustion and had a constant and at times unhealthy obsession with starting a family. Plus, I feel the constant pressure of needing to know what I want. Unfortunately I don't. At all. If I do make a decision, I second-guess it.

So it's no surprise that I abandoned planning my trip, finding other magnetic couples to connect with, writing this blog and even deleted an entry, thinkin it wasn't interesting or worth it.

Anyway, now that the trip is drawing closer and is becoming more of a reality, I've finally got the travel bug! And somehow this is infecting (bad pun, I know) everything else, in a good way.

A few weeks ago an old friend got in touch with my husband (a story I'll elaborate on another time) who's in a similar situation to ours. They live in the UK and she is infected while her husband is negative. Since my trip starts off on that little island, I'll try to meet up with them, of course.

Shortly after via Facebook I got in touch with a 'magnetic family', also from the UK who have adopted a little HIV positive girl. The mum and I have been exchanging some emails and it's so great to share concerns and experiences!

And today I was asked if I would like this blog to be carried on TheBody dot com, what more could I ask for. I look forward to hearing from and getting in touch with magnetic couples and families all over the world.

So it looks like I don't have to know everything in advance, some things will just sort themselves out. Hmm, I think this will be a great motto for my trip: Who knows tomorrow? (Noone, so why stress - I'm feeling uncharacteristly zen right now)

Excited and not feeling so lonely,

Magnetic Mama

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Surrounded but isolated

This map shows the world according to HIV prevalence. It was presented by the UK Telegraph with this caption:

HIV prevalence
The size of each territory shows the number of people aged 15 to 49 with HIV. The highest prevalence exists in Swaziland, where 38 per cent of 15 to 49-year-olds carry the virus. More than a fifth of people in Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Namibia, within this age range, carry HIV.

So this is something quite ironic. I am surrounded by HIV every single day. On any given day I speak to at least three to 20 people infected and affected by HIV. I counsel them, I offer support, I can give hope and sometimes provide that feeling of not-being-alone-in-this.

Yet somehow I feel like I am. Virtually no one I work with knows about my husband's status/ my magnetic situation. And to date I have never met a single person who is 'in my situation'. Sure, I've counselled negative parents of positive children, and even a few couples where one partner is infected and the other is not. However, working at South African government hospitals, the issues that concern my clients are usually very fundamental at the time they see me. Will I survive? How can I afford to bring my child/myself to the clinic every month? I do not even have enough food to fill my stomach, how on Earth can I get 'healthy' food? We need to have more children, what do I do?

So far I have not found any support groups in Johannesburg or even South Africa that cater for people in 'my situation'. How can this be? I live in the country with one of the biggest HIV prevalences in the world and there are NO groups for negative spouses? No support groups for people on medical aid?

I sometimes feel that since not only do I have a roof over my head, good health care for myself and my partner, as well more than just the bare necessities, I do not qualify to feel pain, to be sad and angry and qualify for some blerry support! This is clearly something I need to get over. I just wish I would find someone to bounce this stuff off. Anyone out there who feels the same?