Greetings My Fellow Baztards,
Time seems to be flying by so fast, and here we are in the month of May. Although I personally hold a certain love for September (it has absolutely NOTHING to do with the fact that both my birthday and anniversary are in that month), I do have a special place in my heart for May as well. After all, it’s the end of the school year, and I start working on the summer schedules at work. It's an art form all unto itself, and the truth is, you really need to see me scheduling to truly appreciate me.
But that’s not the only reason why May is so special. There are a few major events that get celebrated in May. For example, May 17th will mark three years since the day I met and adopted the love of my life, who happens to be curled up in a ball next to me on the couch at this very moment. He makes me nuts every single day, but just looking at his cute face always puts a smile on mine.
Actually, today also happens to be one of those kinds of days. You see, two years ago today, I hit publish on the Squarespace site and launched this very website. THAT'S RIGHT PEOPLE... BAZTARDS.COM IS OFFICIALLY TWO YEARS OLD. And I couldn’t be prouder of what it has become over the years, thanks to all of you.
Anyone remember my first blog, Why I Walk? You don’t? Well, that’s probably because it was renamed (along with all my other blogs) to These Boots Are Made For Walking during one of the website's makeovers. But that’s neither here nor there. I remember that blog very well, probably better than some of my later material. How does that saying go: you always remember your first? And to be perfectly honest, even I didn't like some of my other blogs... but that will be our little secret.
For those who don’t remember, I wrote about the AIDS Walk I was planning to participate in at that time, and why I chose to take part in it. I was newly single, and had been diagnosed with Hashimoto Thyroiditis and Hypothyroidism two months prior. While writing the blog, I found similarities in the lack of education and compassion in regard to people living with HIV/AIDS and Thyroid Disease.
Well here we are two years later, and on May 21st, Team Baz and I will be participating in AIDS Walk NYC once again. Of course, that reminded me of my original blog, and the opinions expressed in it. I wish I could say that in two years time, my opinion has changed for the better, but unfortunately, the longer I live with Hashimoto’s/Hypothyroidism, the more I realize how dead on I was then.
Being the age I am, I can actually say that I lived in a time before HIV and AIDS. Granted I was a child when the epidemic began, but it doesn’t change that fact. For most of my life, I have heard the generalization that “AIDS is a Gay disease.” And even though the harsh reality is anyone can contract HIV/AIDS, people still want to believe today, in 2017, that it is still a Gay disease. Call it a lack of education or utter stupidity or whatever, but the fact still remains that this generalization has caused a fear and hatred towards the LGBTQ community. It is a hysteria that is completely unnecessary, yet still exists.
The lack of education contributes to the continued spread of the disease itself. There is so much information out there nowadays about how to prevent contracting HIV/AIDS, and because “AIDS is a Gay disease,” people still don’t practice safe sex or continue to share needles, thinking it can’t happen to them. Well, I’m here to tell you, it actually can. How many need to be infected or have to die before people start to really pay attention and educate themselves? There’s no excuse anymore. And although there are drug protocols that can help people live long lives with HIV/AIDS, there is still no cure.
And don’t even get me started on the lack of compassion out there. Back in the 80’s, people avoided anyone who showed any signs of being HIV+. People lost their jobs and were ostracized by their families. Hospitals would separate HIV/AIDS patients from everyone else, and treat them like lepers. And those were the hospitals that would actually take patients in. In those days, the excuse was that they didn’t know what this epidemic was or how it spread. All they knew was it was found in the Gay community. And even though the medical community has figured out what causes HIV/AIDS and how to test for it, Gay men are still not allowed to donate blood due to an unsubstantiated fear of spreading HIV/AIDS. And that is in 2017.
Unfortunately, no matter how much literature or medical research there is out there, some people still believe you can contract HIV/AIDS through touching, kissing, or even breathing the same air as someone infected. In fact, the biggest lack of compassion, in my opinion, falls within the LGBTQ community itself. Do you know how many HIV+ friends I have who say how difficult it is dating once they disclose their status? Or even maintaining some friendships? Having HIV/AIDS is not a death sentence, and people who are infected manage to live normal lives. There is absolutely no reason for them to be alienated and left to feel alone.
Before I continue, I want to make clear that in no way, shape or form am I trying to say the disease known as HIV/AIDS and Hashimoto’s/Hypothyroidism are the same. Other than both of them being an autoimmune disease and both now considered pre-existing conditions in the new “Affordable Care Act,” there is no comparison. However, there are definitely similarities in the lack of education and compassion between the two. And being that I have now lived two years with Hashimoto’s/Hypothyroidism, and have dealt with doctors and the people in my life, I would like to share some of my personal experiences.
For those who don’t know, more people live in this world with some kind of Thyroid issue than with HIV/AIDS. Also, the number one medication prescribed today is Synthroid, which is the go-to Thyroid medication. You would think with so many people living with Thyroid issues, there would be loads of amazing doctors with many wonderful treatments out there. But you would be wrong. In truth, most Thyroid patients, including myself, have to do their own research and fight doctors every day to get the correct drug protocol to even make a ding in their illness. Better yet, we fight everyday for a doctor to actually just listen to us, and not put the blame on old age, laziness, or my personal favorite, being crazy.
In my experience, doctors do their schooling to get their medical licensure, and after that, stay stuck in what they were taught. They don’t care to change their way of thinking, even if the world around them is changing, or new drug protocols are introduced, or even if their patients don’t exhibit the textbook symptoms of a specific disease. They like to follow some unrealistic model found in a book, and if the lab results fall "in range," then the patient must be making it all up. Forget the fact that the patient is completely falling apart, so long as the numbers are "in range."
Within Thyroid disease itself, there are over 300 different symptoms a person can exhibit, and no two people are alike. So think about it: how could a drug protocol helping an overweight woman with menstrual issues help a 42-year-old man, such as myself? The answer is it can’t, but tell that to a doctor and they get angry for even questioning them. Nothing pisses off a doctor more than a patient that does their homework. Then they will refill your Synthroid, and send you on your way. All because that is what they were taught. OH, they may also recommend seeing a therapist, which if you were a Thyroid patient, you’d know is a slap in the face. Did I forget to mention that there is no cure for Hashimoto's either?
Recently, I started taking a medication called Low Dose Naltrexone, or LDN. Naltrexone is actually used to help addicts overcome their heroin or alcohol addictions, but in small doses, it has been found to help people suffering from any number of autoimmune diseases, including Hashimoto’s. You would think that even though it has been shown to help people with Hashimoto’s, Endocrinologists would want to help their patients who are suffering every day, and prescribe LDN. However, most won’t and will dismiss their patient’s requests by saying it is too experimental. I managed to get lucky, and convinced my Endocrinologist to let me try it. And for me, it’s been a tremendous help.
Much like with HIV/AIDS, there is also a major generalization within the Thyroid community that tends to not be in my favor. You see, “only women have Thyroid issues.” I cannot begin to tell you how annoying it is to barely find any materials online in regards to how the Thyroid affects men, or to be a part of groups that don't even discuss what I am going through. I know plenty about what it does to breasts and periods, but not much on what it does to me. I know for a fact that I am not the only guy out there dealing with this, so most of the time, I just want to scream that I’m not alone. Sometimes, it feels like I’m banging my head against the wall.
As bad as all that is, the public can be just as frustrating to deal with at times. I had a friend who believed that I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, no matter how many times I corrected her. I would say it till I was blue in the face, and no matter what, she could not get that Hashimoto’s and Lyme Disease were not the same thing. All because they are both autoimmune diseases, and at the time I was diagnosed, the storyline on Real Housewives of Beverly Hills was Yolanda Hadid’s battle with Lyme. Although both Yolanda and I take about a shelf's worth of medications a day, are willing to try any drug, procedure or treatment to find a cure, and have had people in our lives that didn’t believe our diagnosis, we are not the same person, nor are we battling the same autoimmune disease.
And the stupidity does not end there. Before the Manfriend and I got together, and I was on dating sites, I would get asked the most absolutely absurd questions. Men wanted to know if they could catch what I had if I made out with or performed certain acts on them. I even had a nursing student ask me if I was Transsexual because “only women have Thyroid issues.” Just to be clear, Hashimoto’s, much like HIV/AIDS, is not contagious by kissing or being in close proximity to a person. In fact, you can't catch Hashimoto's at all. And the reality is that you guys are more of a threat to me, and my compromised immune system, than I could ever be to you. The same goes with anyone living with HIV/AIDS.
So when I’m asked why I walk, it’s pretty simple. The crap people with HIV/AIDS go through on an everyday basis due to stupidity happens to me in regard to my Thyroid. And if you think generalizations and stupidity end there, guess what? It can happen to any of you as well. Think about it for a second. Think about all the stereotypes out there. I can't tell you all the stupid shit I hear every day about Gays, Jews, and even New Yorkers, all of which I am.
There are so many generalizations and stereotypes out there that we have all heard. It could be related to a person’s color, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or even political affiliation. No matter what it is, there is some kind of stereotype or generalization out there. And sometimes, they create an unrealistic and unnecessary fear or hatred towards another group of people. So, in that respect, we are all in the same boat, and really do need to look out for one another.
Being nice costs absolutely nothing, so think before you act and mind what you say. It really is as simple as that. And honestly, it’s simply the right thing to do. Isn’t that reason enough?
With that said, Team Baz will once again be participating in AIDS Walk NYC on May 21st, as I mentioned earlier. We exceeded our team goal, and were even chosen to be one of the Team Tuesday recipients. I couldn't have asked for a better group of people to call a team, but we can always use more walkers. If you are in the New York City area and looking for something to do on May 21st, I'd like to invite you to head over to Central Park and join us. It will be a great day.
Hope to see you there!!!