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HIV/AIDS: Abundance

by Bradford McIntyre

    In August of 1998, a group of friends and I were sunning down at English Bay beach. I was coughing and my friend Janine Paquette said, "that's a serious cough, I'd get that checked out!" I was thinking it was a cold and hoped it would soon go away. By late September it was determined by a chest x-ray that I had developed PCP (pneumocystis-carinii-pneumonia), an opportunistic infection related to HIV. Thirteen years earlier I had been diagnosed HIV positive and given six months to live, but I survived all those many years! Now I was faced with nearly no immune system, a viral load made up of millions of viral particles and this deadly pneumonia. When it looked like it could go either way whether I survived or not, I decided to send an e-mail to my family and many friends telling them of my condition and circumstances.

As the weeks passed, I could not tolerate the medications for PCP and my health deteriorated rapidly. My body fat completely gone, a shell of the man I was, face skinny and drawn. A wasting of 25 pounds, bed ridden and losing my capacity to breathe, it appeared as though I was going to die. I decided I did not want to go in the hospital; home is where I wanted to be. I was not afraid of dying; living in fear was in the past. I moved from fear years earlier and I had in these later years learned to " Show Up For Life "! Enjoying living positively positive, in the now, loving and trusting. For me the abundance of life does not come from what one provides for oneself, but it is in our connectedness. And from my bed I would hear and see the connectedness grow.

Individuals would call but I was too weak at times to even speak. Others sent e-mails, later conveyed to me by my good friend Lois Brassart who was at my side practically all the time. Friends everywhere were praying but the messages coming in were ones of sadness and death. Some were praying for me to have a peaceful passing. It was then I realized this was not at all what I wanted. So I voiced it was important for me to have positive support, not negative. My desire or wishes conveyed to all were, "if you are going to pray, pray I stay here on the planet". Having voiced this, the message spread.

In those glorious sunny days of Indian summer and what seemed the last days, friends and family prayed. Some went to their church and lit candles; others called radio and TV prayer lines. In just a very short time news and prayers traveled from Vancouver to my hometown of Sarnia, Ontario. To London, Kitchener, Toronto and Ottawa, cities I had lived and worked in over the years prior to moving to Vancouver. From coast to coast, to the United States and even abroad individuals were aware of my illness and hoping and praying I would not die. My friend Lisa Kenkel's mom was on her way to Ireland, and her mom too was going to ask others to pray for me. The reports were coming in from everywhere!

My good friend Beverly Blanchard in Ottawa called her mother in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to ask her mom to pray for me. At this time I was going in and out of consciousness and barely breathing. My brothers Paul and Greg and my sister Heather all living in Ontario were on a plane to be with me. Also my good friend Robert Arnder who lives in Mexico was on his way. I was trying to hold on.

One of the last things I remember hearing, was about a Minister at a church in Ste Saint Marie who gave the congregation home work. After the Sunday service the Minister told the congregation he wanted everyone when they left the church to go out and find someone they did not know. "Ask them to pray for Bradford McIntyre, who was sick and dying but wanted to stay on the planet," he said.

Lois was with me when my heart and breathing stopped, bending over my still body, she put her face to mine. Some time later, Lois would be shocked by a gust of breath that came bellowing out of my mouth. Lois days later told me, from my breath came the sweetest scent she ever knew. The breath of life!

I will never know all who cared and prayed, but years later healthy and alive, my heart goes out to you all. I am forever grateful to everyone for the love and caring, their well wishes and prayers. Much Love and gratitude to my family and those wonderful friends who made up my care giving team, Lois Brassart, Christine Kirkwood, Don Nippard, Mike Sauer, and Catherine Dawson.

The abundance of life does come from our connectedness!

I am very happy to be here on the planet.


copyright © Bradford McIntyre

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