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"Right from the beginning I’ve been open about my HIV status and people have really respected that."
I was diagnosed in March 2008. I’d been ill with pneumonia a few times, was really underweight and kept getting sores on my skin. At first they thought there was something wrong with my liver but the test came back OK. I was sent to the Royal Infirmary for blood tests and they came back HIV positive.
When the doctor told me it didn’t register. I didn’t understand it. My mum was brilliant the whole way through she would come up for visiting at the hospital every day.
Initially, the medication was a big issue. I started out on nine huge tablets a day and I hated having to take them. Over time, it got easier and now I’m on two pills a day. They’re smaller and much easier to keep on top of.
I started coming to Milestone in 2010. I was referred by my nurse who thought it would be good for me to take part in the groups and stay when I needed extra support.
It made a big difference. Before, I would just sit in the house all the time but at Milestone there were always things going on. Just coming up here, talking to the staff and other service users was amazing. You can relate to people who are going through the same things, you can ask them questions, and share your own experiences about what’s going on in your life. Coming here was a godsend, it really was.
With the medication I’m taking now, I feel as healthy as I ever have, I’m back to a healthy weight and I’ve got really great support around me. Right from the beginning I’ve been open about my status and people have really respected that. I feel that I can help people going through the same sorts of things. I’ve had people talk to me about HIV and asking about getting tested. It feels good to help people.
I’d say go for it. It’ll be the best thing you’ve ever done, definitely.
I like to spend time with my grandkids. I see them nearly every day and I love it. They keep me young. I’ve got seven in total, the oldest is 13 and the youngest almost one. I’ve always had the support of my family. My mum, two of my brothers and my two sons all live nearby and we’re a close family. I’ve also got three brothers in America and was over visiting last October. Me and my mum used to fall out all the time. But since I was diagnosed we haven’t. It’s brought us a lot closer together.
I love a good steak, or a spaghetti carbonara. I like cooking for people, particularly family. If I have them all in for tea time, I can usually rustle something up out of wee things here and there.
I’m soap crazy, especially Eastenders. I love Danny Dyer!
Sheridan Smith, I think she’s a brilliant actress.
I don’t really read books, but I’m wanting to write one. I want to write about living with HIV, my personal story.
I love Turkey. I’m going to Icmeler in September for a fortnight with some pals. I’ve been going for a few years. It’s a beautiful place and the people are so friendly, they can’t do enough for you. We go to the same places so people recognise us – they call me the mad Scottish one!
I just want to get on with my life. A normal life like anyone else.
My grandkids. I have low points and suffer from depression but those kids put a smile on my face every day. They inspire me to keep going the way I have been.