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Archive for December, 2010

I should be in bed …

Tuesday has come and gone. And I’ve been sick as a dog for the past three days. So earlier today I decided against the odds, that I would go and do set up for the meeting. Not relying on ifs, if others could have gone to do it, and there aren’t others to go do it.

I had showered earlier in the day, trying to coax more steam out of my system to get me going. Hubby hopped me up on good pharmaceuticals, and cough drops and set off. I was feeling really weak and disoriented because of the pills, so I walked two blocks to the taxi stand and took a taxi the 5 blocks to the church.

That’s the first time I have ever taken a taxi to the meeting in all my years of doing set up. I paced myself and got set up done about half an hour before the business meeting.

We sorted out the jobs for January and talked of stuff for the anniversary on the 11th, what to get, where to get it and how much should we buy? With numbers the way they are, you can’t really bank on a full house, because what constitutes a full house? We could have more than twenty, which would be nice or we could have less than twenty.

The early meeting was all about honesty. I sat and worked very hard to stay awake and sane. Hoping that the pills would do their job long enough to get me to the other side.

I didn’t feel like walking all the way home, so I stayed for the second meeting. So that Rick could drop me home in the van. I was pretty well catatonic during the meeting. But I have to say that tonight’s speaker is a walking, talking miracle of God’s grace. Some people have war stories, tonight’s speaker had one big war he fought.

He didn’t get it the first time, and almost died the second. But for the grace of God he has 35 years of sobriety today. It was a good share.

We got all cleaned up and buttoned up the church and Rick drove everyone to their destination points, and brought me home. Now I am gonna go lay down and try to sleep. Which is what I should have done all night. But I am stubborn …

More to come, stay tuned…


Snarfle … Sniffle … Sneeze …

What a difference a day makes.

I was feeling fine and dandy yesterday for Christmas. But this morning I got up, well, actually, I woke up and felt like I had been hit by a truck. Pain, it seems, is something I’ve been feeling a lot of lately. I don’t know what’s up with that but, it starts in my legs and burns like fire. Several times I have found myself stopped in my tracks where ever I happen to be at the moment, when it hits.

So I’ve been snarfing all day today. Hubby went to the pharmacy and got me some medication to take to try and make me feel better, and for the most part I am functional but I am tired.

I got out of the house tonight and went to Sunday Nighter’s for the two meetings, and it seems that I was not the only one hit by the flu bug. Tissues and snarfing was rife for the 2 hours I was there.

We talked of traditions tonight. Tradition 12 to be exact. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions ever reminding us to place principles before personalities. I just sat and listened during the meeting, I was trying to stay awake and sane.

The second meeting was good. Our speaker came from Steps to Sobriety and shared a good message. It was all I could do to get home after the meetings. I took it slow and steady all the way through the tunnel in Westmount Square.

Here and I thought that I would brave the crowds to go shopping today and I made plans and god laughed. Hopefully with a good nights rest, I will be feeling better tomorrow. Let us all pray.

We’ve been spared all that terrible weather, that is stalking across the Maritimes and the Eastern Seaboard. Just some flurries in the forecast for the week ahead. Our time will come I am sure of that.

Stay tuned, more to come …


Christmas 2010 …

It is Christmas Day. Last night we partook in the Christmas Eve show on Coast to Coast, via web link from Minnesota, because our local affiliate was playing music all night long … Ugh … And Am 640 Toronto was not getting through either.

I turned the radio off around 3 a.m. and went to sleep. We got up around 11 and made coffee and cocoa before opening presents.

My in laws sent us lots of nice things. Throws for the sofa, baskets, every year we get baskets, they are all over the place here. Lots of goodies pistachios, Christmas cookies, and this year we got a beautiful flame-less candle.

I got hubby a bunch of clothes for school, a snuggie and a new table tray for him to work at on the sofa. I got some nice shirts, some new long john’s, and some new hankies… one can never have enough hankies …

He bought me some new face towels for the bathroom and new additional towels for my blue collection. And finally he got me a $40.00 gift certificate to Indigo Books. That’s all I really wanted.

It seems the financial aide fairies were working over time last night in Quebec City, because we received our January bursaries overnight, which means I can go shopping for a few items on Boxing Day. Won’t it be grand. I wasn’t expecting the dump I got which is great because we can get all caught up on the bills for the month.

The turkey is in the oven, it will be savory and tasty. We will have an early dinner and I am sure the hot turkey sandwiches at midnight will be a festive treat.

What did you get for Christmas?

Leave a comment or link to your blog.


The Physics of Santa Claus

Originally Posted on Written Inc. 12-24-04

As NORAD redirects its vaunted scanning resources from preventing thermonuclear war to tracking Santa’s progress across the skies (note to North Korea: it would be considered bad form to schedule a launch for this evening), I thought it would be fun to share this passage that’s held an honored place in my Funnies Archive for a long time.

I first received it via fax (remember those?) around ten years ago. I believe it originally appeared in the January 1990 edition of SPY Magazine. The credited author is one Stanley I. Sandler, from the University of Delaware’s Center for Molecular and Engineering Thermodynamics, Department of Chemical Engineering. (I would research its origins more deeply, only I’m on a dial-up connection and I don’t want to monopolize the phone line, so I’m posting as quickly as I can. If you want to dig a bit deeper and then share your thoughts in a comment, go for it.)

Our esteemed professor – who clearly must have had little else to do when he penned this bit – opens with the following:

“As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help from that renowned scientific journal SPY magazine (January, 1990) – I am pleased to present the annual scientific inquiry into Santa Claus.”

IS THERE A SANTA CLAUS?

No known species of reindeer can fly. BUT there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.

There are 2 billion children (persons under 18) in the world. BUT since Santa doesn’t (appear) to handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total – 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census) rate of 3.5 children per household, that’s 91.8 million homes. One presumes there’s at least one good child in each.

Santa has 31 hours of Christmas to work with, thanks to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits per second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has 1/1000th of a second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house.

Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles per household, a total trip of 75-1/2 million miles, not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding and etc.

This means that Santa’s sleigh is moving at 650 miles per second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison, the fastest man-made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles per second – a conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles per hour.

The payload on the sleigh adds another interesting element. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 pounds), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight.

On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 pounds. Even granting that “flying reindeer” (see point #1) could pull TEN TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with eight, or even nine. We need 214,200 reindeer. This increases the payload – not even counting the weight of the sleigh – to 353,430 tons. Again, for comparison – this is four times the weight of the Queen Elizabeth.

353,000 tons traveling at 650 miles per second creates enormous air resistance – this will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as spacecraft re-entering the earth’s atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each. In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and create deafening sonic booms in their wake.

The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Santa, meanwhile, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-pound Santa (which seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 pounds of force.

In conclusion – If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he’s dead now.


Christmas in Montreal…

The Place Montreal Trust Christmas Tree I spoke about yesterday

Look how tall it is in comparison to the elevators.

In the mall Proper. Eaton Centre.

Merry Christmas to all. Hubby is coming home this afternoon, I had to get my turkey ready to bake for tomorrow so that’s done. I need to scoot to the grocery store in a bit to do a little supermarket safari, nothing to grand, just some odds and ends.

Last night when I got home from intergroup I was pooped so I went to bed early and now I am up at more or less 9:30 in the morning, I am not usually a morning person. But what can you do?

Tomorrow we will have a very quiet Christmas at home and make good food and enjoy the day. I wish you all a merry and safe Christmas and much joy and peace for the New Year.

More to come, stay tuned…


Thursday Thoughts …

It’s another Thursday. I got off to an early start this morning to meet a friend for coffee at the Indigo cafe at the mall. It is all so prettily decorated and people hustling and bustling about getting last minute Christmas gifts.

The extra large Christmas tree at the mall is as beautiful as ever. It has characters that move and a train encircling the base of the tree, I am not at home at the moment, so I can’t upload a photo right now.

Around 11:30 I left the mall to come up to intergroup to do my monthly phone shift and got here earlier than I expected, since there were intermittent stops on the green line. We got hung up a few times on the ride out of town.

It has been a quiet couple of days with hubby in Ottawa until tomorrow, I have to meet him at the bus station tomorrow afternoon to bring gifts home, probably by taxi.

We had a light dusting of snow last night, but there isn’t going to be snow for the weekend, maybe at the start of the week next week. That big storm they are watching in the U.S. is moving eastwards towards the weekend, so that might bring us some more snow.

Now I am sitting here at intergroup twittling my thumbs and playing on facebook. This is the first time that the computer here has been unlocked for us to use. Which is nice for a change.

That’s about it for now at the moment.

More to come, stay tuned…


Sucker Punched …

Courtesy: Chilegrande

The weather outside is frightful. And I am home alone. God help us all.The day began with a lot of hustling and bustling, the sorting of clothing and the packing of suitcases, phone calls home and all that jazz.

Hubby left for Ottawa at 10 this morning for a few days of respite from work and grading papers and to see family and get our yearly booty of presents and such and so forth.

I got up to help him sort stuff out and got him packed and off, then I went back to bed for another few hours. I got up with plenty of time to get to set up on time. In fact, I had plenty of time.

It was a busy busy night. People coming and going. We had great numbers tonight, which was really a treat. The first meeting was well attended and we talked about gratitude. It was a great meeting.

We changed up the room and waited to see who would show up, and we were pleasantly surprised to see all the folks from Addington House come to our meeting tonight. Oasis was closed tonight, they are having a big anniversary party on Friday night (Christmas Eve).

The crowd was charged and ready to move and shake. Lots of good energy. When it came time for the speaker, I knew the woman who shared tonight. I had seen her at many meetings around the city from our travels here and there. Always the picture of beauty and poise. You’d never know from the outside what kind of hell is going on in the inside.

I needed tissue tonight.

Little did I know the half of it. you never know when you are going to get sucker punched at a meeting with a story that knocks your sox off, but she hit it out of the park tonight. What a night for a meeting. It was fantastic. Miracles happen in AA. And lives change in incredible ways. I am blessed tonight to know such great people in the rooms.

It is the heart of the holidays. Keep tight to the rooms, make sure you have an exit plan if things get tense or dicey. We are in that period of time where people go out and this is also the time of year where after the holidays we get an influx of people getting sober after the New Year.

A few days out – are you ready for Christmas? I am.

It was a good night all around. More to come, stay tuned…


The Lesson of the Advent candles …

The Rev. Zelda Kennedy, Sunday, December 19, 2010

4 candles slowly burned. The ambiance was so soft, one could almost hear them talking. The first candle said “I am peace, yet the world is full of anger, and violence and fighting. Nobody can keep me lit,” then the flame of peace went out completely.

The second candle said “I am faith, I am no longer indispensable it doesn’t make sense that I stay lit for one moment longer,” just then a breeze softly blew out faith’s flame.

Sadly, the third candle said “I am hope. People don’t seem to understand my importance, so they simply put me aside, I haven’t the strength to stay lit.” And waiting no longer hope’s flames went out.

Suddenly a child entered the room and saw the unlit candles, “Why aren’t you burning? We are supposed to keep you lit until the end.” Saying this the child began to cry.

It was at this time that the fourth candle answered, “Do Not Be Afraid, I am Love. And with Love we can relight the other candles,” with shining eyes the child took the candle of love and relit the others.

The flame of love should never go out of your life. And with Love each of us can live a life of Peace, Faith and Hope.

 


Happy Anniversary to me or how I’m learning to love beyond fear

Lifted from: Randall’s blog.

In one week we will be celebrating our third Christmas here in the Field. Three Christmases. Two years. In one respect the time has flown by. I thought that the other day as I was lifting up a child that wasn’t even born when we moved here, and now he’s running around on his two little legs like he’s been doing it forever.

And in another respect, the single moments tick by at a slow pace. Life is slower. Less gets done because it takes more to get it done. But life is fuller. You are doing more, it just doesn’t look like it from the outside. That’s one of those field-isms that I’m working hard to make peace with. It just is.

We enjoy the quiet, the field people are great, and life, when we can just relax, is good. It is good and I could see us choosing to live in a context just like this, for a while anyway, in our own space and time. We like it here.

But I find myself loving so tentatively, so hesitantly. Somewhere inside maybe I don’t want to love it here too much because I know that one day down the road, we will have to move away from here. I don’t know these things for sure, but the truth is that I am here for the work, living in somebody else’s home and you just know that chances are that one day, five or ten or twenty years down the road you’re gonna have to pack up and move. And so some part of the mind says to love lightly because then it will hurt less when it’s time to go. The rational part steps in at that point and tries to grab the emotion by the scruff of the neck and drags it along as we go on our way, choosing to love people in spite of how we feel.

I was such a simple man so many years ago this very day when the church saw gifts and calling in me that they wanted to recognize and call forth and so the way they knew how to do that was to Ordain me to the ministry. And I more formally set aside my choices and a few dreams to obey the One who made me and shaped me and called me forward. Laying down stuff like choices where to live and what kind of work I would do. Finding greater value in following after and obeying the One in whom I found fulfillment, the One in whom I found eternity and the One who alone spoke the words of life.

I remember the internal struggle back at the beginning. The desire to do something worthwhile with my life, something that might count for something in the end. Even if it didn’t look like anything and even if there weren’t titles or recognition at the end of it all, if I could just know that my life had meant something in terms of someone changing their opinion of ministry or God or even just their neighbour, that would be enough. If I could be a part of redirecting people from moving away from God, to at least moving towards Him, then that would be a life lived well. That’s what I thought, and that’s what I still think my life is to be about.

But still this struggle to obey. It does get easier in some very real respects, but as I age the more I realize the cost of it. When I was young I told myself that obedience in this ministry-ward direction was probably only temporary and that I could give my best, my strongest, my most zealous years to ministry while I was young. As I age I see more clearly the cost and the value to me of giving up my agenda for this work that I do

Maybe all I’m trying to say is that even after all these years in ministry, I’m still surprised at how hard it can be sometimes to lay down my will. Yeah, that’s it. Sometimes I don’t want to do what God wants me to do and like a child I want to do what I want to do. I can be quite selfish sometimes.

So God calls me to a Field to love the Field People, and I’m scared because it could hurt and I don’t want it to hurt. Funny how even after years and years of ministry the basic struggles are still the same.

The comforting thing is that now I can admit that to myself.


Sunday Sundries …

Courtesy: Down and Out

I really didn’t want to get out of my warm comfy bed this afternoon, but hubby suggested that I should get out of the house and get to a meeting.

It was a good evening. There were about twenty people at the literature meeting, we read from Living Sober chapter 29. It was good to get out and see people. At least I got to listen to people share on the topic, we did not get around to my side of the circle before time ran out.

I got to read at the second meeting and carry up Bill’s cake for his anniversary. That was a good thing. Bill took his 22 year medallion tonight. And the speaker shared a good message. Everyone had a good time.

Hubby went shopping earlier for gifts for the in laws so that’s almost finished. He needs to get some odds and ends tomorrow so we can get them out into the mail in time for Christmas.

A good day was had by all, that is all for the moment.

More to come, stay tuned…


The last Saturday before Christmas…

Courtesy: Blamboys

They Hyperlink worked tonight, Woo hoo !!!

Christmas is seven days away. Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? Hubby and I still have to get gifts for the family probably tomorrow at The Bay.

I have a Love/Hate relationship with the holidays. nobody knows how lonely it gets sometimes being me. And the more I dwell on it, the lower my mood drops into the sea.

Not having family to speak of. Not that I speak of them at all since I am persona non-grata to them still to this day. I still pray that God might work a small miracle. I guess it isn’t in the cards again this year.

I’ve been working very hard at keeping an even keel the past few days. And I know this will only get worse the closer to the holidays we get. Hubby will travel to Ottawa to see his family and I will stay here, because it is just better that way. The less they see of a gay marriage the better they feel. “the things we sacrifice for family.”

I’ve been reading the new book, Aging with HIV, last night I got a few chapters in and I had to put the book down because of all the feelings and emotions that the book was bringing up.

How many friends do you have? If you had to build a company that’s sole job was to care for you, could you staff all the positions? From the friends you do have, how many have been around since you were first diagnosed?

Questions like this that keep me up at night. I can count all my friends on one hand. I don’t know enough people in my life to staff all the positions in my self care company. Only two people still exist from the time that I was diagnosed, although we do not talk very often I know where they are and can call them if the need arises.

When I was much younger, the bar fell apart, people died and new people got involved in the organization that did not have my best interests at hand, so I left that staff. My friends packed up the U haul and set course for San Francisco. The invitation came up for me to go with them. I was too young and I had visions of healing my family rift and reclaiming my right to family, that never happened and I missed an opportunity to go West with my family of choice.

I had to stay where I was, in Miami. That’s all I knew, so I stayed and went on with my life and it was hard to leave my old life behind, because once the group broke up everything changed. I had to relearn how to live life on my own once again. I did a so so job at that.

There is no gay community here. Not that I have gone looking for it, nor do I wish to find it really. I had hoped that my time in university would bring me to new community, however, it only brought me one friend. My mentor and guide. He was the only benefit of my university time.

Now at Cegep, the kids are much younger than me, I am sometimes the oldest man in the room, teachers included. So that does not bode well for making lasting friends. I am not a twenty something any longer.

I have my friends in sobriety. Those people I see every week, my sponsor and a couple of others scattered all over the globe. People I can call and count on, but I don’t see them very often. People I met here in my home group, some of them have moved on to other groups, and a few of them have left the program completely.

Christmas is coming fast. I have my holiday meal in the freezer and the fixings in the cupboard. I sent out my Christmas Cards and I have finished all my shopping. The wishes I have for Christmas are the same every year.

I don’t think God is listening to me any longer. Or the wishes I have are out of the realm of possibilities. I am powerless over people, places and things.

I cracked open this book I got for Christmas, last night, and read it from cover to cover in one shot overnight. It was a good read. I enjoyed the book. Here are the specs:

Paul is a boy who is highly religious, goes to a Christian school, lives in a very small town, and loves God and his girlfriend of several years. Living in such a small town and going to a small school, everyone knows the new kids.

The knew person, Manuel, is weird. Everyone talks about him, especially when he joins Paul and his friends at their lunch table. Manuel proceeds to tell them that he is both gay and Christian, two things that don’t mix well.

The girls love Manuel, but the boys want to stay far away from him — except for Paul. Manuel is trying to be Pauls friend and all the guys start talking about the both of them.

As Paul and Manuel hang out, a friendship is formed and Paul challenges Manuel about God, the Bible, and being gay. Every answer Manuel gives makes Paul think differently about his religion and what it says. Is being gay okay, and can you still go to Heaven?

While examining his feelings, Paul wonders about his own sexuality and if his friendship for Manuel is just that — a friendship. When a series of events happens, Paul finds his true feelings, his true identity, and, most importantly, love.

Alex Sanchez’s latest novel is amazing. It gives a new interpretation of “the Bible says that being gay is a sin,” an excuse that many use. Very thought-provoking, this book will keep a smile on your face until the end.

It was a good story, it had its tragic episode in the story line, I guess you have to have one, when dealing with Christianity and young people, nobody escapes. It was interesting to read the back and forth about God, the scriptures and being gay and a Christian at the same time.

I have been around and around over those scriptures and they feature prominently on the home page here on the blog.

I guess I will call it a night, it being 3:34 om the morning, and I still need to get to bed soon.

More to come, stay tuned…


What I do have …

Courtesy: Betteroffbroke

Another Tuesday has come and gone. It is bitterly cold out and there is fresh snow on the ground from last night’s snowfall. And more is on the way.

I got all my sundry activities done with before heading off for my Tuesday meeting. We weren’t sure who would show up, but we were hoping for better numbers. And we weren’t disappointed, we had ten people show up for the early meeting. The topic was acceptance.

It was a sad day for one of our men. He had been so excited about his girlfriend becoming pregnant a few weeks ago, it was palpable. Over the last week complications arose, and they lost the baby over the weekend. Sad days indeed.

God’s timing is not always in lock step with our timing.

People are struggling with many things this holiday season. Even though we should be festive and celebratory, it seems that even sober people can hate the holidays. I heard from more than one person tonight that the last thing they wanted to do was celebrate.

Lots of issues going on. People are growing older and sobriety has become a challenge for them as well. I talked to one of my friends who is turning 50 soon, and she is finding it difficult to walk through.

As long as we stay out of our heads and moderate the emotions to a degree, anything is possible. 50 is a big deal in sobriety. Just like 20 years of sobriety, they all come with challenges.

Our speaker for the second meeting had a moment of grace today. Rick had asked him to speak and he at first said yes. But through the weekend, he began to think about getting someone to fill in for him, because he was tired and not in a good space mentally. And he actually told us that he prayed – which is not unusual – and then took a nap, and when he woke up, he felt refreshed enough to come and speak tonight.

The message tonight? Be grateful for what you do have, and not regretful for what you don’t.

Sobriety can bring a mixed bag of emotions, feelings and circumstances. You never know what is going to rise to the surface on any given day. And we know that the holidays, for many, bring up a mixed bag. Thank God the holidays fall on a weekend this year, so that the meetings will be here for them, should they need them.

It was a small crowd for the second meeting. However reluctant the speaker was, he shared a good message. At the end of the meeting my sponsor gave me my cake and medallion. (I have been carrying it in my bag since intergroup), although I did not take it out.

Now it is officially in my wallet with my other medallions. I keep my real time medallion, my two years silver medallion and my San Antonio anniversary medallion in my wallet. I have a pocket in m y wallet that I keep “keepsakes” in, that travel with me throughout my days. Like I keep a reliquary from Mere D’Youville and my power stones in my backpack. I’m a little superstitious you might say. Certain things have particular meaning to me in my life and recovery.

We had cake after the meeting and some fellowship. Everyone had a good time.

That’s it for the night’s update.

More to come, stay tuned…


Stem cell transplant has cured HIV infection in ‘Berlin patient’, say doctors

Keith Alcorn
Published: 13 December 2010

Doctors who carried out a stem cell transplant on an HIV-infected man with leukaemia in 2007 say they now believe the man to have been cured of HIV infection as a result of the treatment, which introduced stem cells which happened to be resistant to HIV infection.

The man received bone marrow from a donor who had natural resistance to HIV infection; this was due to a genetic profile which led to the CCR5 co-receptor being absent from his cells. The most common variety of HIV uses CCR5 as its ‘docking station’, attaching to it in order to enter and infect CD4 cells, and people with this mutation are almost completely protected against infection.

The case was first reported at the 2008 Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, and Berlin doctors subsequently published a detailed case history in the New England Journal of Medicine in February 2009.

They have now published a follow-up report in the journal Blood, arguing that based on the results of extensive tests, “It is reasonable to conclude that cure of HIV infection has been achieved in this patient.”

The case history

The ‘Berlin patient’ is an HIV-positive man who developed acute myeloid leukaemia, received successful treatment and subsequently experienced a relapse in 2007 that required a transplant of stem cells.

Doctors chose stem cells from an individual who had an unusual genetic profile: a mutation inherited from both parents that resulted in CD4 cells that lacked the CCR5 receptor. This mutation, called CCR5 delta 32 homozygosity, is present in less than 1% of Caucasians in northern and western Europe, and is associated with a reduced risk of becoming infected with HIV.

This is because all new infecting viruses need to use the CCR5 receptor on CD4 cells when infecting an immune system cell of the CD4 type.

Later in the course of HIV infection another type of virus emerges that can use the CXCR4 receptor instead.

Before the stem cell transplant the patient received chemotherapy treatment that destroyed most immune cells and total body irradiation, and also received immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection of the stem cells.

Antiretroviral therapy was halted on the day of the transplant, and the patient had to receive a second stem cell transplant 13 days after the first one, due to a further relapse of leukaemia.

The patient continued to receive immunosuppressive treatment to prevent rejection for 38 months, and at 5, 24 and 29 months post-transplant colon biopsies were taken to investigate possible graft-versus-host disease in the intestine. At each investigation additional samples were taken to check for signs of HIV infection in the abundant immune cells of the gut wall.

During the 38 month follow-up period the donor CD4 cells repopulated the mucosal immune system of the gut, to such an extent that the frequency of CD4 cells was almost twice as high as in HIV-negative healthy controls, and this phenomenon was also seen in a control group of ten HIV-negative individuals who received stem cell transfers.

The repopulation of CD4 cells was accompanied by the complete disappearance of host CD4 cells, and after two years the patient had the CD4 count of a healthy adult of the same age.

One of the challenges for any approach to curing HIV infection is long-lived immune system cells, which need to be cleared before a patient can be cured. In the case of the Berlin patient CCR5-bearing macrophages could not be detected after 38 months, suggesting that chemotherapy had destroyed these longer-lived cells, and that they had also been replaced by donor cells.

The patient did not resume antiretroviral therapy after the transplant.

Nevertheless HIV remained undetectable by both viral load testing (RNA) and tests for viral DNA within cells, and HIV antibody levels declined to the point that the patient has no antibody reactivity to HIV core antibodies, and only very low levels of antibodies to the HIV envelope proteins.

Seventeen months after the transplant the patient developed a neurological condition, which required a brain biopsy and lumbar puncture to sample the cerebrospinal fluid for diagnostic purposes. HIV was also undetectable in the brain and the CSF.

An additional indication that HIV is not present lies in the fact that the patient’s CD4 cells are vulnerable to infection with virus that targets the CXCR4 receptor. If any virus with this preference was still present, the researchers argue, it would be able to swiftly infect the large population of memory CD4 cells that has emerged.

Implications for future approaches to curing HIV infection

If a cure has been achieved in this patient, it points the way towards attempts to develop a cure for HIV infection through genetically engineered stem cells.

The German researchers and San Francisco-based immunologist Professor Jay Levy believe that the findings point to the importance of suppressing the production of CCR5-bearing cells, either through transplants or gene therapy.

Scientists were sufficiently intrigued by the Berlin patient that they met in Berlin in 2009 to discuss how they could coordinate efforts to identify CCR5-delta32 homozygous donors and expand the supply of stem cells from these donors, for example through sampling blood cells from the umbilical cord of babies born to mothers who are homozygous for CCR5-delta32, in order to eventually facilitate stem-cell therapy.

Gene therapy techniques which can transform stem cells – and all their descendents – into cells resistant to HIV entry may be a more practical option than looking for matching donors.

Several US research groups announced in October 2009 that they had received funding to explore techniques for engineering and introducing CCR5-deficient stem cells.

If these approaches prove successful they will be expensive, so in the early stages it is likely that they would be reserved for people with no remaining treatment options or a cancer requiring bone marrow or stem cell transfer.

As Timothy Brown’s experience shows, curing HIV infection through ablative chemotherapy, immunosuppressive drugs and stem cell transfer is not a course of treatment for the faint-hearted. It has required courage, determination and a lot of support to become the first person to be pronounced `cured` of HIV infection.

Reference

Allers K et al. Evidence for the cure of HIV infection by CCR5Δ32/ Δ32 stem cell transplantation. Blood, advance online publication December 8, 2010.

Hutter G et al. Transplantation of selected or transgenic blood stem cells – a future treatment for HIV/AIDS. J Int AIDS Soc 12: 10, 2009.

Hutter G et al. Long-term control of HIV by CCR5 CCR5Δ32/ Δ32 stem-cell transplantation. N Engl J Med. 360: 692-8, 2009.

Thanks to Greta Hughson for translation.


Ups, Downs, The year that was 2010…

Courtesy: Fysnoopy

I have been pondering this post for a number of days. Thinking about what I want to write about as it happens, live and in color. Firstly, this blog…has seen better days. It has been reincarnated twice and is still going, because I am stubborn.

So many blogs have ceased to be in the last five years. Some have changed their focus and I still have a good read list that I go through every day. The blogsphere has lost some really great talent, because I guess the chic of blogging had weaned for many writers that I used to read. But writing is therapeutic …

I have had my issues with people in the recent past, which is why this blog was moved, renamed, reincarnated and re-domained. You can never escape lewd and sick people on the internet. Because once you commit it to the internet, it is there to stay. I survived the last attack and kept the blog intact.

I have kept the focus on this blog as it always was. My topics have stayed true to heart, writing about life, love, troubles and miracles in recovery. My numbers are not what they were, but the internet changes so quickly with the times, that it is hard to keep readers when you post everyday goings on. I’m not political, although I have political opinions. I have stayed away from religious topics because I’ve heard all the arguments, and been attacked by the religious right and left. I have been attacked by those who question the very real facet of my life which is recovery.

My life begins and ends with recovery. Because without it I am nothing. If I wasn’t sober right now, I would be in a sad state. When I got sober this last time, I meant it. Nothing in life happens but by chance. There are no coincidences. And miracles do happen when you aren’t looking for them. That’s what makes recovery so beautiful.

The latticework of my life is meetings and sobriety. I have kept a select few of people in my inner circle that I can go to for advice at any time of day or night. I have my sponsor and fellows in the program that I call my friends. Over the last year I have seen a major upheaval in sobriety in that long time friends were stricken with diseases that took away their lives, literally. I still keep in touch with these people, yet they are mere shells of who they once were.

That’s what happens when you allow sobriety to get relegated to the back burner. People loose their focus and their lives unravel, and I have been powerless to this day, to stop it or change the outcomes.

Some major things happened in my life over the last year. Some good, some bad. I failed at the greatest work of my life, that being graduate school. I knew going in the I was the outsider from the first day of classes. People who were my friends, no longer felt it necessary to keep my confidences and be “friends.” Once I crossed that line into graduate studies everything changed, and I saw it happen before my very eyes. But I went with it, playing the part, trying to look good under pressure, to seem confident. but it was all a ruse.

I knew sooner or later that I would face the gauntlet and it happened second semester. I was tired of the game. I could not produce work that was deemed acceptable as a graduate student, however hard I tried, getting extensions and working my ass off, in the end I failed to make the marks. And there was no love lost at the end. I was ready to go as they were readily prepared to boot me from the graduate program. It was one of the great failures in my recovery. But through it all I remained sober.

After that there was nowhere to go but up. I thought about quitting my education because once you leave the system, there is no more money, and money is the one thing we need to keep flowing until hubby makes his mark on the world, that story for another time.

I was sitting in the financial aide office and my friend said to me that I should go down to Dawson and arrange for classes there, because I had never attended Cgep, that that was free money. That very day I went down, applied and within days, I was a Dawson student, in continuing education. It was a step down, but otherwise it was a good move for me. Easy work, not a lot of pressure to perform like a grad student. Thanks the gods.

For the last year, I have been keeping my cards close to my chest. I have been living in the moment for so long, that it has become second nature.

Practicing the tools of sobriety, some people would say, is too difficult. But faced with no other choice, it’s what you have to do to stay sane and in control. I have succeeded in my first semester in Cegep. It was an easier run than I had expected.

What else did I do in the last year? I haven’t gone back through the umpteen pages of posts that I have written over the last year, they are too numerous and would take me in forever to go through. So this is just going to be a highlight and lowlight post for years end.

The greatest joy this year has been to be able to share in my hubby’s journey on into his furthering graduate studies. He is the finest of educational models. Even with his help, I could not do what he does with one arm tied behind his back. His mind is as sharp as a tack. His skills are outstanding, his abilities are limitless. He took on the new work with zeal and enthusiasm. Along with his classes, he got a TA position in his department and that made all the difference. He met new friends and he has a social life that is rewarding.

Let us talk about marriage. 2010 has been a year of rewards. Married life is a joy. Just being in the same room together is enough. We don’t need trappings or riches. We live a very frugal lifestyle. We have lived in the same apartment since the day we met in 2002. We celebrated six years of marriage this past November. A simple card with three words was all I needed on our anniversary. And that is what I got, and that was enough.

For the first time in our relationship, we have more money in the bank than we used to have because of his dual student/employment role in graduate studies. The promises about financial insecurities will leave you, took long enough to come around for us. We still have bills and they still take up most of our money every month because bills go up, they don’t go down. And I would not give up the view we have from home for any other property in the city, save a view from the mountainside up above us on the mountain.

Cgep does not pay what university pays in student financial aide. And when I left graduate studies we took a huge hit, until hubby got established. But we have some financial success today, a goal that we have sought after for years, and we could never really find the mark, in the last year it came to us. So that was a good point to talk about.

It’s really not a good thing for me to sit before a blank canvas this late at night, because my mind tends to wander around topics I don’t like to ponder during the day. Hence the photo above.

Let’s talk about medicine. I survived another year. And that is something we don’t like to talk about lest we jinx the good run I have had medically over the last year. I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and have been on medication ever since. We had to shift a few habits and get rid of some that were necessary to end. My HIV numbers have remained over the 1000 mark for more than a year. With T-cells over the 1000 mark, my doctor is pleased with my progress. That’s why at my last doctor check in he gave me a 4 month break until the next lab draw. Dr. George, my diabetes doctor is pleased with my sugar numbers and I won’t see him till March of next year.

I have been sober now 9 years and a few days. Last Thursday was my anniversary, and the people who were there from the beginning are still in my life today. I got to talk to all of them, scattered all over the world as they are today, they all called me to congratulate me on my achievement.

The holidays are upon us. I hate them, and I love them just the same. I hate them because I am constantly reminded of what I don’t have. And really am I missing it really? No. The topic of family is something we don’t discuss ever. I have had to accept that I will never get back what I lost in decisions I made early on in my life. And my move to Canada was the final nail in my proverbial casket. I would never be forgiven and the curse that exists is one of silence. A punishment that my parents do to those who cross them. They shut off the switch and turn you into darkness, never to see the light of day.

Although today I wonder what they say to friend about my real absence from their lives? I wonder what kind of stories they tell about me. With the dawn of Facebook, I had a tantalizing brush with my brother for a short amount of time. Here I though I would get to make an amends and have contact after so many years, but that never materialized.  It was a stab at my heart to be sure.

With marriage I get family. I don’t see them, but at Christmas we supply them with presents like good family does. Hubby goes home for a few days to exchange gifts and visit, and I stay at home where my mouth won’t get me into trouble. There are confidences that we have in our marriage, that no one knows about. There are things that we trust to each other that remain foreign to my inlaws.

Nobody knows what we know and what we have been through over the last seven years. Our relationship has only grown over the last few years. We have been together going on nine years and we have been married for a little more than six years now. Hubby has stood beside me and he encourages me when I need it and he is there at the end of the day to lie next to at night.

I have done a lot of thinking about the past. I miss my friends. I miss the life I had when it was all flying by the seat of my pants. I was 26 when I was diagnosed with AIDS. I am going to be 44 years old next summer. 16 years have passed since that fateful day – July 8th 1994.

I am moving towards an invisible line. Long term survivors of AIDS from the 80’s and 90’s are being studied now by doctors and writers, because we are charting new territory, living beyond the initial life markers. Many of us have survived and I really don’t know what to expect as I march towards 45 and blessedly hopeful of 50.

That’s why there are books being written about men with AIDS who are reaching that milestone in their lives. The surge of life that has been afforded us because of medical technology has been a blessing. I would never have reached this point had I stayed in the U.S.

I am living a dream. That’s all I can say. The last nine years has been a gift. I have achieved so much and lived a life, that if you told me this back then, I would have laughed you out of the room. Who knew I’d survive this long? One day at a time…

What do we expect in this next decade of life? I don’t know. But there are some who are going to offer us their best shot at predicting what comes next. That book, by the way, is on its way from Amazon as we speak.

Keeping it simple as I did in the beginning, I return to the past. i was diagnosed in July of 1994. And my rationale behind survival was based on six month increments. I learned to trust my doctors over time and in sobriety back then I was reasonably sure that if I lived to see Christmas, I could basically accept that I would make it to my next birthday. I never forget that rationale, keeping it simple.

If you do it, by the numbers, I have nothing to worry about medically. I have healed my body and my soul. And the grant I received from being taken was that I would live. And so I have. I have accepted the fact that my pear shaped body is what it is. And I have the tell tale signs of protease paunch, from protease inhibitors that I took so many years ago. Really, I am not as vain a man as some that I know who are my age and living with AIDS. I mean really, beyond a bottle of Miss Clairol, I haven’t done anything drastic to my body to enhance or to recapture something from my youth. What you see is what you get. Some of my friends have had major surgeries, gotten massive tattoos, had ass enhancements, and facial reconstruction injections. Save that none of that really bad shit happened to me when I was younger living with the disease. I escaped with a tummy. I didn’t get strapped with body dismorphia.

The last thing I want to talk about it mortality. It has been on my mind as of late. Maybe because I have fixated on the past for a good amount of time in the last year. By the numbers, I should not worry about dying. But death is ever present. I was once told by a doctor that it wouldn’t be HIV that killed me, that it would be something else. What that something else is still a mystery.

I think about dying. I dream about dying. Every day is a gift when you live with long term illness, that once was a silent a merciless killer. A leopard cannot change its spots no matter now medical science changes the terms of the game. The animal remains the same. It is we who cheat death by living, many of us have lived beyond any doctors predictions. Death, can’t be far away, when you consider how many people died from this over the last twenty years.

I lived a good life, to this point. Well beyond my dreams of success. I got the chance to do things that many of my friends did not. And I am grateful for every day that I lived. I don’t have any regrets. They would be a waste of time.

There are things still on my to do list. And hopefully in the next calendar year I may get to experience some of them. My so called “bucket list.”

I want to thank all of you who have remained with me here, reading and sharing in the journey. I try to help others, because in order to keep it you have to give it away, and i do that here freely and without complaint.

Here is to 2011. May it be joyous and life changing. Let us all pray.

So it’s 2:30 in the morning and I am tired of typing. So that is it for my end of year review. Thanks for reading, and may God bless you and keep you. Blessings on your heads.


What’s on my Christmas List …

It will be an easy Christmas this year. I did some shopping on Amazon earlier tonight and picked out three books that I want to read. The first Aging with HIV will be a good read, as I am reaching a new plateau in my life with HIV. It will be good to read what others are dealing with at this stage of their lives as I deal with mine.

The other two books, A Question of Manhood and The God Box, come highly recommended by reviewers and so that is what I am getting for myself this Christmas.

I’ve got a few posts in the pike to write about in the coming days, with the end of school, I have plenty of time to ruminate and think about what I want to write.

Stay tuned. More to come.