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Grieving My Former Life


Hey, I'm back.  I literally spent half the summer sleeping, no joke.  My sleeping patterns had been reversed.  When I was working at POZ Magazine I was continually tired.  Without having something to occupy by days I still ended up sleeping 13 to 14 hours, missing meals and getting off schedule with my meds.  Searching for answers I started with my psychologist and he suggested I go for a sleep study.  No results of sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or even grinding teeth.  Back to square one.  There was talk about changing my anti-seizure medication from a "downer" to an "upper," which made a lot of sense.  My next stop was with an "integrative" pharmacist, he's well-versed in homeopathic medicine, for what he really helped me with was my supplements.  He concentrated on my osteoporosis as well as my sleep patterns and fatigue.  The pharmacist prescribed or 5-Hydroxytryptophan (or 5-HTP) an amino acid which produces serotonin to make you sleep.  I thought I'd solved the problem, but it wasn't easy as that.  The supplements took time to build up in my system; in the meantime I also made an appointment with the new therapist.  We began to discuss my illness (or my illnesses.)  Forever moving forward ready for the next challenge, I never stopped to feel the losses I had experienced.  In six short months I dropped over a third of my weight to become a 115 pounds AIDS wasted weakling of flesh and bones.  The doctors had to drain eight fluid ounces of ascites out of my belly just get a liver biopsy.  Within two months I went on disability to deal with my illness as a full time job.   After twelve years in design I basically had a week to make my decision to leave on disability.  Six months later I suffered a stroke which left me without speech for a few months and the inability to write.  More importantly I had to go on anti-seizure medication to calm my anxiety.  So many pathways in my brain were damaged I couldn't process stress.  At age 35, my teeth were literally falling out of my mouth.  My jawbone was deteriorating and I had osteoporosis.  Crowns were inserted in hopes that they would last for five or six years and then eventually I would have to be fitted for dentures.  In 2007, just as I was getting better, my boyfriend left me after 10 years.  Along with my partner, I lost a lot of mutual friends, and ultimately I was down to two or three friends and my mom, who called me every day.  You're obviously getting the picture. 




Rage, sadness, anger and abandonment had built up inside me since 2004.  I chose this photo since it illustrates many of the losses I've experienced in such a short period of time.  Max, our dog, he lived a long life and his loss was out of my control. I never went anywhere without a book or a newspaper.  Today I have trouble concentrating on a magazine article.  Now I just download audio books and listen to them on the subway.  Despite my persistence in going to the gym, I'm only roughly around 130 pounds.  It's all muscle, skin and bones.  My butt is nonexistent and although I've had my face filled, it's never quite the same.  I was staying with a longtime friend that I knew since I was in college, at his beach front home in The Pines.  The last time I spoke to my "friend" was in 2007.  My boyfriend shot the photo and I'm sure he coaxed the smile out of me, like always.  Loss, loss, first I was having trouble dealing with this.  Mourning a person that died is one thing, grieving your former life is very abstract.  The grief will always be there in some way, but I can't let it deter me from looking to the future.


Keep on keepin' on,



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Comments on David Capogna's blog entry "Grieving My Former Life"

dear dave
you have come through a lot of things in the past years!you strike me as a very strong guy with an equally strong will to live.i say this because oct 12 i will 'celebrate 20 years hiv+'.i have experienced the best and worst of times.tho not to the extent you have.i am sending you ,dave,a hug of reasurance.i will make it a point to show your blog to my friends!!!
let's chat!
greg in asbury park,n.j.


I red your story with excitement, I'm 35 years old boy who lives with hiv 5 years, I'm 5 years on meds now, my only problem is with women, it's more difficult to start a relationship. But for the rest I'm ok. Mayby we can email sometimes, would be nice.


hi dave Im dave actaul we have the verry similar story the only not the same I dont haved bf. the only I can say to you go on fine a solution to our health . take a special care because we are special now!!!

Hey Dave!!! :) i read you and i felt for you since we all have been somehow same path, but your therapist says the truth... grieve is there to teach us and then once we learn the lesson we have to let it go, from time to time you will still find the ruins of what your life used to be or could have been.... but you see, it was never meant to be, you were mean to be who you are right now... and i have to say you are such a great person and a great friend and funny (and cute) guy :). You never know but perhaps right now you are better than what you could have been... because right now you are wiser, more human and stronger. Hugs hugs hugs!!! your friend...

I have had sadly the same life as you. Lost my former life and can't get it back. It is something few people understand.For that matter they don't want to understand it. I try my best though to try to get my looks back but it just isn't happening though. I wish there was a majic wand that I could find to fix all this and say it was all just a terrible nightmare. Only we all Know it isn't. Sincerely,Jerry

Hello Dave,

Like many here, I truly feel your pain and understand your situation. It comes and goes for me.

I've been living with this for 20 years. When my body and face started to changed to new me, I hated it. I didn't want to go out. When I was depressing at home in a dark room for a very long time, I came to accept this new me and try to do something about it. Since I often mistaken by a girl even I am wearing a tight tank top and jeans (I hated when I was called "she") and this new "me" body made even worse. I lost muscle and thin like a model but later more like anorexic. To hide myself, I started to put make up on the area where sinking and put more at night. It helped. It also guided me to go deep inside of myself that I forgot. It opened the door of where I suppressed over the years. I've been told "Don't do that because you are boy" and when I started my own business, huge responsibilities suppressed my inner "me". Having a wonderful and beautiful partner made to stay as a gay man and I was very happy. We planed getting older together. After my partner(+) died, I expressed more to be another gender to hide what I became. After few years hiding my change, I tried to put one step in to Trans-world. I was afraid but I felt ease and very comfortable. After, I fully jumped into this world. It was about 10 years ago.

During those years, I was proposed by a young-model type guy(-) and since we started new life together. It's been 5 years of happy life. His family accepted my status and gender and embraced into their family. HIV/ADS actually helped me back into deep inside of me and brought up inner "me" again. I thank for that. But I've lost for my future and hope. I still depress time to time. When I cross my mind of wanting to take my life, I always remember what my mom once told me.

"If you die earlier than the parent, you would be a bad son(Oyafuko)! Never forget that!"

This words, "Oyafuko" is a literal translation from Japanese, but helped and helps me to be here....

Dave, your blog helped me tremendously. You also helped me to decide to have PMMA on my face. I am on my way to get my first session this coming Monday. I truly thank you very much for sharing your experience and I wanted to write and express my appreciation.


Hi Dave, many of us maybe not as serious as we have had to go through have had our problems to deal with.
I am sure if you read mewithu which is my user name on pozpersonals you will see i have suffered alsomany things I left out because they were pretty horrible to here about.
Any way my point is we may never on the outside be what we want to be before all this desease caused. We do have our inside personalities that never can be taken away unless like you had luckly a short time stroke. Which leaves us alittle less than maybe we were before the stroke.
Again Our personality is what helps us deal with this desease some times.
I have my faults and break down and seems like I can't handle it anymore but some how i get through it all even though i know i may never be outside whatI am inside my body,mentally that is.
I know it wheres us down where we have to sleep more than usual but we have to just try to keep on keeping on if you know what I meen.
I hope this letter isn't harsh I do not intend on it being that way. I am not a Physcologist or anything near that but I am a survivor and I hope something I said helps because I am not what I use to be I wish I could send you pictures of what I use to look like before this desease took my life as it use to be away from me. It can not take my memories away though. Many I cherish many I could have done without.
If you have made it to 130 you are certainly doing better than me and most folks with this desease.
I am trying every day now to do better in every aspect of my life Health weight muscle rejuvenation ,all that stuff. I am making progress it is slower than i want it to be but it is working and God willing it will continue to get better even if it is slow to get there. I can be a bull and fight this thing and I will as I hope you will keep on going and gaining strengh and stamina ,all that stuff.
May you have blessings and harmony in your trials of life David. Jerry :)

I know what you mean aabout missing your former life as you well know i have had my share of problems as we speak I am in an electric mobility chair I bought a couple of days ago. it's actuaully kind of cool. I was knowing for a while I was going to get one I just had to find the right person and company that would not rip me off. i got a really good deal on a brand new one that someone couldn't afford when it got to the 20% they did not know they had to pay when it got in town. So I got it at a great price and went ahead and got an extended warranty for two extra years because of the savings. So now I dont have to worry about major parts for three years parts and labor. Rather have a bike but no one can have or do anything because something always comes up unexpected with me anyway.

Jerry :)

I there for you and I have very much the same problems as you as you already know Dave.

Jerry :)

Hey Bro
hope you are feeling better
I just found out I was Poz. got very sick
I do not know what to expect

Hang in there. YOu will make it through. I know its hard and so many times, you want to give up, you want to throw in the towel and then when your body is failing on you, I could only imagine its a thousand times worse. Luckily I'm poz for 20 yrs but my body hasn't failed me yet. I hope you're doing better now. STAY STRONG AND you look great in this pic.

Hey brother.

I've had the gift that keeps on giving for 15 years. I read your story and it gave me strength to know and realize that I'm not alone. I am grateful for your honestly and humility in your daily grind to keep on going.

It's so hard, and so often I wanna throw in the towel. My health issues pale in comparison to what you've been through and I want you to know that in just a couple honest paragraphs that you put out there for us strangers to read, you just may have saved a life. I have been telling myself that I just don't think I can carry on anymore...cuz I've felt sick/fatigued and because I'm now just getting over shingles.

However, I am learning more and more that I'm the lucky one and things could be much harder. You are a trooper, and you are my hero. I wish I could meet you and give you a big huge hug.

I wish you all the best.

Love, Christopher

Thanks Christopher,
I really don't feel like a hero but I'll take your word for it. lol

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This page contains a single entry by David Capogna published on September 12, 2009 10:08 PM.

Another Slap in the Face from Prez Fierce Advocate! was the previous entry in this blog.

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