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Conferences

Nov25

Wayne Bristow: it can't be HIV 24/7

Friday, 25 November 2016 Written by // Wayne Bristow - Positive Life Categories // Art, Aging, Social Media, Conferences, Gay Men, General Health, Mental Health, Photography, Living with HIV, Wayne Bristow

But self care can be hard to come by when those around you are unsupportive, as Wayne relates.

Wayne Bristow: it can't be HIV 24/7

I know it’s been a while since my last blog. I have shared my story, all of it, I think. My health has been good but I have a total physical to pass next week so that I can keep my bragging rights. I wanted to write about attending the first part of the Ontario HIV Treatment Network (OHTN) End Game conference last month but I’m still trying to digest the new research findings for aging with HIV.

I used to look at aging from the side of possibly going into the healthcare system, in a facility or in one’s own home. How would we be treated by the frontline workers? I have worked in the profession and I saw things I'd hoped I wouldn’t. I wrote about it recently, that not everyone should be doing the work they're doing.

The OHTN conference opened my mind to language like co-morbidities, frailty, polypharmacy and neurocognitive disorders. I had never taken the time to learn more about them. I used to think my aging issues were normal for someone my age but that thinking needs to change. Maybe some of these things shouldn’t be happening yet. Is it the medications or side effects? Please don’t say there are no side effects, because in my books, there are. Not to be gross here but multiple bowel movements a day and for several days straight is not a normal routine.

The conference sessions involved patient profiles, where the person was at in their life, how they got there, and what issues they might be dealing with from this new menu of conditions. I began to see my own health issues differently.I have started a list to take to my doctor’s appointment at the end of the month.

So to avoid overthinking a lot of the information and worrying about things that may or may not have anything to do with HIV, I returned to my hobby to do a little self care. I pick up the camera when I can and now that I have a Presto Card for GO Transit I might hop on a bus and go out for the day. It might be for an artistic project or just to capture some moments of the season.

This year one of my photos was selected in the guelPhonography Contest 2016. It's the fourth year in a row I've entered. You take a photo on a smartphone or tablet with a Guelph site or theme, and you can manipulate it as much as you want using phone apps. This photo is a reflection in a pond at a Japanese Garden. I turned it upside down and used an app to create the Gothic impression. And for the fourth year, it wasn’t the one I hoped they would pick, so now I will work on my technique differently.

I ran into an old friend who is an artist here in town and I showed him some of my photos because he'd said some good things about a couple of my older ones. As he swiped through them on my phone, he would stop, look at each for a couple of seconds and say, “This one has been done to death, this one too”. He continued for a few minutes, tearing through them viciously. I think I mentioned before, some artists don’t like photography and don’t see it as art. But this guy will create his art from a photo sometimes.

I was proud of those photos. That’s why they were on my phone, so I could show them to people. I was a little insulted. I could have said the same about his work back when, when he was drawing flowers or fruit. Instead I asked if he was showing his work, if not he really needed to because they were so good. Up until then he would just show and sell to friends. I like to think it was my push that led him to pursuing it later.

But here he was, being brutal to what I was doing; I had to speak up.

So I told him, “Millions of people have a smartphone in their hand right now, each snapping hundreds of photos per week, so basically this photo of mine is being done thousands of times again. The talent is to get mine noticed over someone else’s.” I went on to say that not every photo I take is meant to be a piece of art; sometimes I like to capture some moments in time, an event, someone’s graduation. I hope we have come to an agreement but I’m not so sure. He did like a couple photos and encouraged me to submit them in a competition he enters each year.

Because GO Transit has a limited range of travel destinations, these photos are from around the Toronto area. I apologize to those who have seen some of these on my Facebook page. One or two may be a different angle of a shot.

I’m still busy doing other things; keeping busy is easy, but I’d love to do more of this.

It can’t be HIV 24/7.

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