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Originally posted on AIDS HIV Survivor Living Memorial Facebook Group November 24, 2017
Graphic by Zee Strong

"A living memorial of AIDS HIV Survivors - Dedicated to all in this battle as well as and most importantly, those we’ve lost to AIDS HIV" -- Zee Strong

 

 


Originally posted on Facebook April 28, 2017

Late on Halloween night of 2015 I was getting ready for bed at my sister's home in Hutto. My sister had gone out for a walk in the neighborhood. There was a knock at the door, I ignored it because the trick-or-treaters had long since gone home. But the knock was persistent. I finally answered the door to be greeted by a police officer. He and the next door neighbor informed me that my sister had been struck by a car while she crossed the street, and she was being transported by ambulance to the hospital.

For the previous couple of years, I'd depended on my sister's help with everyday chores because I was too ill to do many things for myself, due to my AIDS diagnosis. Now, I had to be dependent on myself as she recovered from a fractured leg and broken collar bone. My sister had taken care of me when I had been ill, now was my time to care for her. It was a challenge, since I was still weak. I helped her to and from the bathroom, in and out of bed, and managed the two-story-three-bedroom house the best I could with my limited ability. Her recovery was slow.

The week before Thanksgiving I found my sister acting oddly (talking to herself and shuffling in circles around the living room). I phoned EMS. The person on the other end of the line gave me instructions before the ambulance arrived. My sister was having a stroke.

For the next month, I was alone in that big house while my sister recovered and underwent physical therapy. In January she returned home, a shell of the sister I had known months before. She required care and constant monitoring I was unable to provide. She had lost some of her motor skills and for much of the time she had no idea who I was or where she was at. In the midst of caring for my sister, I had been accepted for housing at Project Transitions, an apartment for people living with AIDS. I'd been on the waiting list for nearly two years and an opening had come up. I couldn't turn down this opportunity, but I also couldn't leave my sister, not in her current state, but I also knew that I was not physically able to continue to care for her. I had a difficult decision to make: my health or caring for my sister – the person who took me in when I had nowhere to turn. During those stressful months caring for my sister, my doctors repeatedly preached the importance of avoiding stress at all costs - stress and AIDS are not compatible.

So, moving day was emotional. But I had to do it for my health. I had set up at-home-care for my sister and she would receive the medical supervision I wasn't able to provide. We said our teary good-byes and without looking back, I moved into Project Transitions in Austin. The move into my “new” home was exhausting and I was ill for most of the first month – partly exhaustion from worrying and caring for my sister, and partly the relief of the tremendous stress I'd been under.

Why am I relating this story? Project Transitions is one of 10 beneficiary AIDS Service Organizations receiving funds from the 2017 Hill Country Ride for AIDS. My doctors are impressed with how my health has improved in the past year. I have to credit Project Transitions for providing a stress-free environment I call “home” – there is little doubt the move saved my life.

You can help save someone's life by donating to the 2017 Hill Country Ride for AIDS. Every dollar counts. We're in the final fund raising hours before the 2017 Ride. Please share the love and donate:  https://hillcountryride.greatfeats.com/dale-thele

 

 


Originally posted on Facebook: April 22, 2017

December 2012, 4 weeks after being diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. My doctor prescribed 14 medications. There was one I wasn't comfortable taking – I felt strange after taking it. I expressed my concern to my doctor. He told me that no one was having any side affects from that particular medication. I was still leery and I hesitated taking it. The doctor told me it was imperative that I take that medication daily, otherwise I would put myself in jeopardy of dying of pneumocystis pneumonia.

I mustered up the courage to finally resume taking the medication after a light lunch (I still had not regained much of an appetite). Within a half hour of swallowing the pill, I begun to feel strange – it was as if an earthquake was erupting inside me. It started like a nervous twitch in my stomach then rapidly intensified and suddenly my body was convulsing, as if I had palsy. My body was out of control. I panicked and tried to call for my sister who was downstairs. My mouth was not responding, only a barely audible guttural sound escaped my lips. My entire body was flailing and I couldn't stop the violent convulsions. I fell from the chair, I landed with a loud thud on the floor. The sound was enough to alarm my sister. She called out from downstairs, I could hear her, but my mouth was no longer under my control. She climbed the stairs to find me thrashing uncontrollably on the floor. The terror in her eyes tore at my heart, I couldn't speak, although I tried, a whole conversation was playing in my head but it wasn't reaching my mouth.

She phoned the next door neighbors, who carried me downstairs and strapped me into the car. One neighbor sat in the back seat with his arms wrapped around me from behind the front passenger car seat. Yet he struggled to restrain me. The other neighbor spoke to the hospital on his cell phone, while my sister frantically drove toward the hospital.

When we arrived at the Hospital Emergency Entrance, orderlies hoisted me out of the car and strapped me onto a gurney. The last thing I recall were the bright florescent ceiling lights as they whizzed past my vision.

I awoke the next morning on New Years Day 2013 in Intensive Care, the nurse told me I'd had an allergic reaction to one or more of my medications. I knew exactly which medication it was. This would be the first of several "mini-vacations" to the ICU over the coming months, but each trip would be the result of an entirely different complication.

After spending the first 7 days of 2013 in ICU, I was released to see my primary care physician. I was not looking forward to facing the doctor that nearly killed me with a prescription that I had previously suspected was harmful.

The doctor entered the examination room and immediately apologized for prescribing the medication, it turned out that during my 7 days in the hospital he had discovered many of his patients were unable to tolerate that particular medication. From that day forward, my physician and I began to discuss in detail the pros and cons of every medication beforehand, we now work as a team to determine the best treatment options. That 7 days altered my perception of my doctor and the direction of my ongoing treatment.

My New Years encounter came to mind when I realized there are 7 days till the 2017 Hill Country Ride for AIDS. I've experienced first hand how 7 days can change a person's life. YOU can make a change – won't you please help make a positive change in the lives of those (like myself) affected by HIV/AIDS? If each of you, my friends, would give just $5, I will reach my goal of raising $500 for the Hill Country Ride for AIDS. Please, share the LOVE.

Make your donation online - please: https:// hillcountryride.greatfeats. com/dale-thele

 

 


Originally posted on Facebook: April 15, 2017

Monday afternoon of September 30, 2013 changed my life, it was a simple, everyday act that you take for granted, but for me, it meant the world. You see, nine months before that eventful day I was diagnosed with advanced AIDS. The hospital doctor gave me six months to live, maybe eight at the most. Although AIDS medications and treatments were highly effective against the virus, in my case the virus had already done significant internal havoc. The resident doctor couldn't reasonably fathom the possibility that current medications could halt the damage already done. The world was nothing but a blur to me, I had a past, a present, however a potential future was questionable.

For nine months I existed, I was too ill to say that I was “living”, because to live one interacts with the world around oneself. My only “interaction” was to brace my head over a toilet to expel my guts, or to hope for sleep, praying I'd never wake up, so to put an end to the relentless torture the virus was putting my body through.

On that particular overcast Monday afternoon in 2013, a case manager from Care Communities came to visit with me. I opened the front door and she greeted me with a genuine hug. She had not met me before, she knew little about my situation, but she hugged me anyway. Without hesitation, she wrapped her arms around me as if we were long-lost friends. I imaged the dreaded hugs my grandmother would force upon me and I'd attempt to wiggle away so to catch my breath. But this hug, from a total stranger, was different, it was welcomed. I felt a sense of worth, I felt human, I felt I had value. Tears trickled down my cheeks, I didn't want the warm embrace to end. That simple hug was the first human contact I'd had since I'd been diagnosed with AIDS.

Imagine, the selfless act of sharing a hug with someone could mean the world to them; to me, it was everything. YOU can give a life-changing hug to an individual living with HIV or AIDS by donating to the Hill Country Ride for AIDS. For 17 years, the annual bike ride raises needed funds which benefits ten AIDS Service Organizations in Central Texas, serving thousands of individuals living with HIV and AIDS. Please, share a hug by donating now: https://hillcountryride.greatfeats.com/dale-thele

 

 


Originally posted on Facebook: April 13, 2017

Back in late November of 1978 (I was living in Long Beach, California) Harvey Milk had been shot, we thought we had lost our "voice" as gays and lesbians. But we hadn't lost a voice, we had gained new voices. One of the strongest and loudest was Cleve Jones in the Castro. Cleve was the new voice of reason. He unified gays and lesbians around the country with the courage to stand up-be heard, encouraged us to build bridges between our allies, and to not give up.

In the mid 1990's, I hung up my activists suit and turned over the reigns to the new up-and-coming generation. I had faught for Gay Rights, Human Rights, the Right to Access AIDS Meds, etc. I was tired and the cause needed new, fresh and younger bodies. Cleve Jones was no longer the voice of Gay Rights, he had moved onto a new project: the AIDS Quilt.

Surprisingly, nearly 20 years later, both Cleve and myself reemerged (in different parts of the country) because of a turbulent political climate, one that called for every minority voice to be heard. The dark storm clouds reminiscent of the 70's had returned with the resurgence of hate crimes, injustice and prejudice. Cleve returned to the role of reason, he replaced his megaphone for the internet. Again he's the voice that calls out to keep fighting and to not give up. I'm back on the front lines fighting for multiple social causes. I thought those days were behind me, but I suppose, when there's injustice in the world, the activist in all of us springs back into action.

 

 


Originally posted on Facebook: March 12, 2017

I was riding on the bus, returning home from a meeting, when a young man boarded the bus and took the last vacant seat, right next to me. We shared a casual smile and I noticed his gaze settled on my name badge:

Dale Thele 
HIV/AIDS Advocate

Until that moment I hadn't realized I was still wearing my badge.

He looked into my face and said, “What does an HIV/AIDS Advocate do, if you don't mind my asking?”

“No problem. I spend my days listening and helping people living with HIV/AIDS. I attend local planning meetings to discuss and target ways to better assist the HIV/AIDS community. I attend, promote and participate in local area fund raising events. I speak to organizations and lecture at the University about HIV which helps combat the stigmas associated with the condition. I attend and participate in city council meetings and rallies to support those with HIV/AIDS who are unable or don't know how to speak for themselves. I'm at the State Capitol attending rallies, vigils, and frequent visits to state representative's offices to voice concerns about pending state legislation. I express concerns of pending federal legislation at the regional offices of our representatives who work in Washington D.C. I write letters, emails, postcards, and make phone calls to our elected officials. I attend training sessions to learn more about HIV, and about new advancements in treatments and medications. No two days are the same. I may wear a number of 'different hats' in a days time, but at night, I can sleep knowing that I did the best I could for that day, and tomorrow, I'll fight again for the HIV/AIDS community.”

The young man's eye were watery as he choked out a sincere, “thank you.”

I smiled and nodded.

“I really do mean it, you have no idea … just about an hour ago I found out I'm HIV positive.”

 

 

Dale Thele Blog Post
"WHY I BECAME AN HIV/AIDS ADVOCATE"
Originally posted on Facebook: July 19, 2016
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Dale Thele featured in Austin Monthly's articled entitled: The Face of AIDS
Interview in the Austin Monthly magazine:
"THE FACE OF AIDS in AUSTIN"
Published: September 2, 2014
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