Beauty Or Beast?

Are your looks worth dying for? In a recent study it was greatly noted that HIV patients are willing to risk their health by not taking Aids medications that cause Lipodystrophy. They would rather die than experience sunken and gaunt faces, large abdomens that look like an overdue pregnancy, large waists, breasts, fat pockets in the groin area and buffalo humps on the back and behind the neck. It also causes fat deposits in the blood stream that cause the heart to pump harder putting one at risk for open heart surgery. It’s deformity of obesity with the fat deposits not burning off with regular diet and exercise as your body distributes fat deposits with hideous results. Are looks that important? According to these patients, this side effect is worst than the HIV virus itself. They want to keep their appearance the way it is than go on the medications that cure you with a cost. They don’t want to pay it off in looks! Appearance is everything.

They’re willing to face a greater risk of death as a sacrifice to save their looks. It’s all for Beauty and zilch for becoming a Beast that’ll get them shunned and scorned in the gay community. The vanity factor wins! Then let’s not forget about the emotional trauma that a person goes through during a life altering experience. The person has to learn to cope with the situation without losing their mind! Going from Body Beautiful to the Incredible Bulk complete with ripping clothes and popping buttons is a major freak out. So is it better to die first? Is the thought of not being able to wear yellow again because people will yell; “Hey Taxi!” too much to bear? In the beginning there were no treatments for lipodystrophy and Doctors didn’t have a clue on what it was or what caused it. The Pharmacy Industry refused to take any of the blame with some of them funding research to back them up. There are treatments available with cosmetic surgery being one of them. Are the treatments worth it? I asked my best friend who’s suffering from lipodystrophy and he commented the following: “There are other medicinal avenues now, that supposedly, do not contribute to lipo. I am on kalitra, agenerace, and ziagen. My hump has seemed to have stopped growing, but will now need to be removed by a plastic surgeon. The injectable, serostim, did not help me, in fact made things worse, as far as arthritic inflammation. I stuck with it for 4 months, but said fuck it. My joints were swell and aching way too much, for me to continue this unaffective treatment. I hope these few words will help.” We’re back to damn if you do, and damned if you don’t! The key factor here is dealing with it and finding a treatment that works. The Medical profession is still uncertain on what causes this and they don’t have an accurate count on how many people suffer from it. This is another one of those things that’s being kept hush-hush to avoid hell, havoc, and pandemonium from breaking out. With people opting to chunk their meds with Death camping on their doorstep, I can see why. Due to finger pointing and confusion on the subject, you the dear public are being lead to believe that the cases are few. They’re not!

I went from former Dancer, Model, Runner up in a Beauty Contest, and Poster Boy to Classic case of Lipodystrophy. Talk about your titles gang! I went from being a perfectly active person to an immobile flab of flesh with all of the ugly trimmings. I had the fat, sunken, face with a buffalo hump, tits for days, fat pocket in my groin area and the good and knocked up look. I also had pinched nerves, a shot lower back from all of the weight, swollen feet, with a case of Neuropathy (muscle deterioration) to keep it company. I went from a size 32 waist to a size 53 and from a large to triple X in shirt size. I went from a solid 188lbs to a scale breaking 398lbs not to mention furniture breaking. It was my furniture; I bought it, so it wasn’t a big deal. I just went out and bought sturdier furniture to hold the excess tonnage that I was carrying. Did I want to die? Nah! I was already dying from resistance and mutation so I didn’t have this as an option. I was bummed out over the fact that I would make an ugly corpse. Which was why I voted for a sealed and nailed shut coffin. My lover moved into the guest bedroom and locked the door at night so I couldn’t come in for sex. He also began an affair leaving me at home alone with only the company of Bootsie. My Blunder Kitty who loved to make a spot on my stomach and go to sleep. Of course, I rolled over on him more times than many. With my having a pissed off Kitty who hissed at me before going into hiding. I was in chronic pain and very sensitive to the touch. Did I want to die? Nah! I wanted to enter a baton twirling competition but couldn’t because I couldn’t fit the skirt. I had to quit singing in the church choir because the walk down the aisle wiped me out. I was in total discomfort with nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue adding on to the fun. Did I want to die? Nah! At times in church I was tempted to climb up on the cross and ask God to take me. Now, that’s a sacrifice! Disfigured and dying, what was one to do? Me? I prayed and meditated a lot to forget about the cruel comments made by people. I nearly started a bonfire lighting candles in church to forgive the treatment that I received in the bars. The girls and studs weren’t too kind in passing on the street which almost caused the church to get burned down. Were my prayers answered? Let’s see, God is good, right? Well I started doing good things to help others while learning that I had more than my looks going for me. I had inner beauty, the spirit of Christ, and God. I was asked to posed for the new safe and safer sex campaign for POCAAN (People of Color Against Aids Network). At first, I declined then realized that this wasn’t about me! It was for the cause and to show people one of the many faces of AIDS/HIV. Yes gang, I was a fuller figure model!

You should have seen the looks I got when I passed out the condom kit with my bigger than life photo on it. You should have seen have people moved their drinks, covered them up, or leave them after I explained lipodystrophy to them. Did I want to die? Nah! I prayed for a nicer gay community that was capable of loving and being supportive. I’m more compassionate to people of size because I know now how vicious and cruel people can be towards them. I’m more giving of myself and through the grace of God have the power to conquer life’s challenges. I’m more loving and forgiving with my sense of humor getting me through the bad that I turned into a good. So, are looks important? No, self-respect, self-dignity, and loving yourself are. Outer appearances can be deceiving which is why you should look inside a person and see their soul. Overlooking the flaws and seeing the person as they truly are. My Doctor knew that I was an experienced lab rat and suggested that I try serostim, a hormone injection. It made me sicker than a dog and the sight of food turned my stomach. My lipids turned back to fat that burned off with diet and exercise. It took three years to burn off the flab factor with a few problem areas to go. My advise to those facing lipodystrophy is this, stick it out! Dying is too easy, living out the storyline increases the chapters in life lessons.

© Nevin Jefferson, All Rights Reserved