Posted by: aidshike | March 28, 2017

Deep inside support groups in the late 80’s

Hello Shelly

I post this piece to my Facebook page every year but just realized that I’ve never shared it here. It is about gratitude and remembrance

Long term … survived

The day before Thanksgiving this year marks the 30 year anniversary of when I was diagnosed HIV+. Every year when this time arrives I question why I am still here. Although a part of me can celebrate my life and be so thankful every year for having another year, another month, another day still being here… I am also sometimes consumed with guilt … survivor’s guilt … “Why me?” … Why me in an opposite sense. Not why me… why did I become HV+? but why me … why am I still here…and so many others are not? I am a very small minority who made it through the 80’s – when AIDS was considered a death sentence- and are still around to talk about it. I can only look back and wonder why I am still here and so many others are not.
Today many people call me a “long term survivor,” they tell me that it is a miracle that I am still alive and they honor my life and fighting spirit; but in the mid to late eighties I didn’t think of any other title than that of being HIV+. In most people’s eyes or interpretations I “had AIDS”. I had choices to make but none of them reflected to the foreseeable future or even held out hope. I just developed a close knit support group of friends and family and then joined a very special group. We were a support group of HIV+ people, we came together to support and love each other in a way no-one outside the group could ever imagine, could ever understand … could even fathom. No one other than us could feel our pain and worry that was so thick you could feel it in the air in the rooms whenever we met.
We talked of our fears – of death, of pain, of hurt and how some of us were dealing with loved ones that did or did not know our plight, did or did not support us. We talked of a community that so many folks in the public masses could never understand. Those who misunderstood us, misunderstood HIV & AIDS and harbored fear themselves often ran from us, judged us, judged our current and past actions, judged who we lived with, who we loved with and later who we were dying with. The MIS-understanding in the public eye was so vast, so strong and so wrong that it made living and fighting off dying with HIV even harder. To say that there was prejudice is an understatement, to say that there was hatred was a sad reality, to say that there was fear was dead on accurate… lots of fear… and most of it fear of the unknown.

People partly told themselves what they wanted to hear because there were very little facts. People displayed their fear outwardly or let it fester internally, but we were the human beings living in the bubble, inside the fishbowl. We were the ones they had to believe they were not.

People assumed we were all gay, drug addicts, or Latino. These were obviously misconceptions but it was so much easier for some people to pigeon hole us so that they didn’t have to include themselves, include the possibility that they too may become HIV+. There were many that even felt that we “deserved” our (possible) death sentence and were callous and cruel beyond explanation and their feelings often spread. It was easier to fear than to accept, to hate than to love, to judge than to try to understand. It was easier sometimes to just let the reality be swept under a carpet of worry and shame, but many of us were in that fishbowl, we were the human beings with a life threatening disease and it scared people to have to admit to themselves that this was happening.
At our meetings we shared horror stories – of families, partners and friends that turned their backs on some and completely walked away (in fear, anger, judgment and often just to protect themselves in their minds.) We talked of some doctors in the medical field from military to public who wore yellow hazmat suits and operated inside of plastic confines to take care of their patients… out of obvious overgrown fear. We talked of hospital rooms with bright neon signs at the doors of our rooms announcing our reality to all who entered – sometimes even family and/or friends who didn’t know of our diagnosis beforehand. We talked about side effects and weakness, and living while we were dying and dying to get over the pain of living. We often were outcasts and misfits if for no other reason than that it was easier to see us that way than to have to absorb the truth… and there was no one accurate truth… there still isn’t to this day.
I am blessed to still be here today. It is easy to question why and it can be very hard to have to process these reflections. Today is my anniversary. It is impossible for a Thanksgiving to come and go without my being reminded that I was diagnosed the day before Thanksgiving in 1987… 30 years ago. I am strong and vibrant today and my “numbers” are very solid. My T-cells have risen back up from the very low numbers I had in 1997 and my Viral Load dropped from the highest number the tests could determine down to undetectable 16 years ago and have stayed the same.
Yes, I made some calculated changes as to how I was living my life and yes I have a fighting spirit, but some of it also has to just come down to luck or divine intervention, depending how you see things, which way you look at things.

I think I am blessed and the god of my understanding has looked over me. Why? I am not sure, maybe I will be able to accomplish some things, to give back, to take my experience and by sharing it make a difference in people’s lives. Or maybe I am just still around because I have been hanging on…Today I am not sure. Today I honestly don’t know if I have to be sure. Today I am alive and in the simplest of terms, every breath is a bonus. Today I continue keeping my commitment to tell my story, to help paint a real picture that my change some viewpoints, to answer any and all questions no matter how personal they are in an attempt to be transparent, honest and true… and today I appreciate the opportunity to do so!
So, in retrospective sadness and current pride, I look forward to this anniversary every year; and want to honor the spirits of those friends that I lost from those support groups, to support those who I never met who shared our path, to honor all those thousands and tens of thousands of people who died along this path right here in the United States and millions around the world. So many of them became such good friends and I mourn their loss.
Moshe Mark Adler
November 27, 2013

Posted by: aidshike | March 24, 2017

My first published article – about hanging on for life

Hello dearest Shelly,

Here’s some of the first writing I did about health challenges from being HIV+

LOST TO BE FOUND

People often confront the disabling effect of painful losses in their lives:

Loves lost, friends lost, parents lost to cancer or heart failure , children lost to violence or drug addiction, minds lost to mental illness or dementia, fortunes lost , houses lost in hurricanes, cars lost buried in mudslides, pets lost to old age, or simply jewelry or wallets lost to pick pockets or thieves.

Recently I have suffered a lost equally as painful… part of an immediate and heartfelt personal journey. I have been through a morbid and eye opening experience, unlike anything I have been through before:

I lost my death

It took me a long time to let go once I realized it was really gone. I found myself very close to my death in more ways than one. Along my path of physical pain, immense emotional suffering, and months made up of long hours of confronting my immortality, I had found myself able to embrace my impending death.

Years after being diagnosed HIV+ I emerged from denial and started the gruesome path to looking death in the eye. I began thinking and planning without vision of a future. I stopped dreaming of career plans and building a family and instead read more of the horror stories about people dying from AIDS and the harrowing statistics. In the mid to late eighties, these articles were more readily available than any optimistic predictions. I even contacted a lawyer and wrote my will.

25 years later, I have become a positive person now, living and thriving with AIDS. Being open and honest about my reality, having the fantastic support of family, friends and support groups; and having the plethora of available resources – complete information, medications, and free clinics with great doctors, nurses, case workers and other health care providers. With all this support and my own deep faith and positive attitude, I have fought off the emotional demons of impending death and stayed around long enough to overcome the physical health obstacles…

And what pain and discomfort this included: stomach problems bad enough to hospitalize me eight times (Cdef or c deficile,) Thrush and throat problems, Bronchitis (over a dozen times,) Pneumonia (non PCP pneumonia, but misdiagnosed and certainly a horror each time,) a six week hospital stay for Shingles over half of my face (with very real fear of losing my vision in one eye) and a second scare too, and then in 1997 the drama began with the onset of Neuropathy.

Neuropathy is diseased condition of the nervous system. Peripheral neuropathy often challenges people that are diabetic, it is chronic, affects first the nerves of the lower limbs and often affects autonomic nerves, leading to a loss of sensations in the nerves to the toes, feet, legs, hands and even the jaw. Imagine old school twine rope that is normally braided tightly becoming separated with space in between. This was my veins and the synapses between them were slowed and weakened. The longest veins from the brain are those to the feet and hands and so that is where the pain is first felt. If not held in check, Neuropathy can take digits, limbs and in the worst case it can end a life. Over a short period of severe pain, I then lost all the sensations described above en route to being totally bedridden. I was told I might never walk again, was reluctantly taking Percocet, and had to completely rely on others just to get to the bathroom and I was hearing death knocking on my door.

During this excruciatingly painful time I dealt with invasive shooting “pins and needles” stabbing through my feet 24 hours a day, experienced drastic temperature changes constantly, and slowly lost my ability to walk, to write or type and finally to talk or eat in the morning hours every day.

As I shrank in size and spirit, I saw the cruelty of my situation in the eyes of my family and the endless doctors that I struggled to see. At the clinics and doctors’ offices I witnessed the decline of other friends and patient’s health and abilities staring me right in the face. I became deeply spiritual and dove inside for strength; developing the ability to find inner peace and even try to put on a brave face to ease the parallel worry and fears of my caregivers. I was extremely blessed to have a parade of friends and family visit me in the hospital & at home and have their endless physical and emotional support. Many of my other friends from the support groups I frequently attended (with assistance of others) were dismissed by friends and especially family to battle the reality of AIDS almost completely by themselves.

Death became a regular dancing partner, never touching, but always moving in shadow closely; while warning of even deeper pain. As I watched and felt my health dissipate, I prepared for what began to seem inevitable. I moved through my past experiences in a dreamlike state, thought about a future that was vanishing from the picture … and prayed.

I prayed for health, or just for moments of serenity; I prayed for forgiveness for past transgressions, I prayed for the others “walking” the same path, and I prayed for peace. I made it known to my higher power that given a chance to continue living, I would strive to be the best person I could be; I would be more committed to a cause; I would make amends for my apparent misgivings and I would live life to the fullest. Given new improved health and the full functioning of my body again, I promised I would hike, bike, rock climb, dance and play my drums with passion and joy.

 As time passed, I stopped fearing death as the pain subsided and numbness prevailed. I embraced the loss of my life as a potential solution for dealing with my physical health challenges and disability. Months before, depending on a four legged walker, I went to an event at the MCI Arena. It was there sitting on a bench, watching the crowds go by, that I first saw myself as being handicapped. Only then did I begin to recognize that this was a condition and description I was not mentally prepared for.

 To help myself survive I tried to always put a positive spin on things. I became much more aware and thankful for all the things that I had been lucky enough to experience, for the quality of life I had been given and for the love and support I had become accustomed to. I often compared my situation to that of an injured soldier in a war or a refugee without food and shelter and gave continual thanks for the roof over my head, the food on my table, medical assistance I was blessed with and the education and entertainment I had enjoyed for 34 years.

 Humbled and deeply more spiritual, I then was amazed as I began to feel my resilient body begin to heal. The first thing I had done to reverse my situation was to finally give in and start a “cocktail” of medications (after 10 years of not taking any medications!) Ironically, the Neuropathy was caused by two of these drugs that were supposed to have been saving my life. When I finally did choose to take these medications it was because my T cell count had dropped below 200 (down to 56)

and my Viral Load was as high as the equipment could detect at that point. Simply stated, T cells are the white blood cells that regulate the immune system’s response to disease and Viral Load is the amount of AIDS in your blood. T cell tests were the main test of how HIV+ people were doing when I was first diagnosed. Sadly, a very large portion of people whose T cells dropped below 200 stayed alive. This was a very scary time. In the 1990s, viral load tests were a new technology being developed as a research tool.

 In addition to (and way before the meds) I must give credit to “alternative” treatments and remedies that I researched and made part of my routine. This started with nutritional awareness as I began to eat much better, adding the use of holistic and natural supplements while taking vitamins religiously. I explored meditation, tai chi, yoga and relaxation methods. I also explored and benefited from energy work and hands-on healing like massage, chiropractic adjustments, Acupuncture, Shiatsu, Reiki, Reflexology and Jin shin Jytsu as I found the paths that worked the best for me. This foundation of personal care granted me a chance to help balance and rebuild my health.

 Slowly my life came creeping back to me, my future re-appeared. Happy and exultant beyond words, I then slowly began to look back and come to terms with being granted a fresh new life and potential.

 Death came knocking at my door, but thankfully I was able to survive to share this with you today. For now, I have lost my death, but hopefully I can continue to learn from this opportunity and then move on. My re-awakening has left me with some lasting insights:

 I respect others’ personal journeys more.

I have seemingly endless patience for things that used to test and frustrate me.

I cherish the days I do have now, the sunsets and the seasons turning.

I can find the joy in any moment.

I am more nurturing and loving of myself.

 

Having slayed really big dragons…

I have immense confidence that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.

I no longer fear death and this helps me feel others pain more readily

I finally feel that I can embrace myself completely as I am today…

​A work in progress with awesome potential for peace, happiness and prosperity.

 

What once was a profound feeling of loss now seems like a victory, newfound blessings and immense personal growth. I am thankful for having been challenged and given the opportunity to be more aware of all the everyday miracles that abound. I can only pray and wish that others who feel lost will find the strength that I was able to embrace and that I will continue to be able to share my thankfulness and tranquility.

 

Moshe Mark Adler

2 May 1999

23 August 2012 edit

 

This piece originally appeared in HIV! Alive magazine’s June/July 1999 issue. Moshe can be reached at justmemoshe@gmail.com, 301-717-7966

Posted by: aidshike | July 7, 2015

Return, re-commitment, (eyes) re-opened….

Hello Shelly,

It’s been a long time since I have written here…too long. I have let AidsHIke drift off the map and felt that sadly I couldn’t pursue my dreams since my legs didn’t feel strong enough to get me there. Aids Hike’s ambitious goal – To hike the Appalachian Trail  with a diverse team of HIV+ people like myself – seemed in jeopardy. I drifted backwards in what I could do. In the year and a half before now I worked my way up from hiking a mile to 3 miles and all the way up to 7.5 miles. I felt invincible and walked or hiked almost every day (and started blogging here about those ventures) and figured that I would be able to hike long distances and overcome legs and feet that are challenged with Neuropathy and a bad back by just simple chutzpah & strong intention and endurance fueled by will power.

But sadly my Neuropathy that almost took away my ability to walk in 1997 (after I took my first HIV cocktail medications) got worse again. It scared me straight and left me humbled and feeling defeated. Instead of continuing to blog I stopped completely.  I stopped hiking and even walking due to the fact that a day of short to medium time on my feet often led to the necessity of massaging each foot and leg for an hour and using electric and manual stimulation for 30 minutes at a time. I probably still could have gone for short hikes or at least walked a mile or two once or twice a week, but I just shut down. I feared the worst but didn’t challenge myself at all. I didn’t push my body and see what I could overcome.

This went against everything that I had started Aids Hike to prove…. That with a positive attitude and a strong will to push myself I could surprise myself with what I was capable of and hopefully inspire others to push their limits and challenge themselves out of their comfort zone. I am not sure what I am capable of today, but my guess is that I can walk and/or hike much more than I think and the only problem will be that at the end of the day my legs will hurt. But in the past I have often said pain is relative. I survived Neuropathy and Shingles, Bronchitis and Pneumonia and I am still here. I have been through very serious bouts of pain and months of unknowing… if I would every walk again. I doubt that anything I experience while going for a hike will be any worse than what I have already been through.

So I return to this blog with the intention that I will start walking again and plan on going for AT LEAST a hike every few weeks with the intention of one short to medium length hike a week especially when it is summer time and there will always be times where the weather is cool and breezy in the woods.

I must challenge myself and also re-assess the goals of Aids Hike. I likely will not hike the Appalachian Trail … at least in the immediate future and likely ever … unless I do it in stages…, but I can go on local hikes in the MD/DC/VA/ Baltimore areas and start to encourage other people to join me. I can start to use Aids Hike as a platform to bring education and awareness about HIV to the forefront of many diverse audiences and I can start to raise money … even small amounts in $10 donations… and donating this money to the service providers I have already picked

I have had my eyes re-opened in reading an amazing book about an amazing man and his vision and commitment to make a difference in the world. The Promise of a Pencil is Adam Braun’s book about a non-profit of the same name. While traveling the world, Adam would drift away from the others in his group and walk a path closer to the people in the area locals. He would ask children, if you could have anything in the world what would it be and onetime a child simply said “a pencil”, others said school. By starting with just giving one child a pencil to inspire their creativity and inspiration, and ability to write for the first time, POP went on to building schools in countries and areas where there were none. His story and that of his business reminded me of the passion I first had while building my dream of Aids Hike. It reminded me of all that I learned when I studied Entrepreneurship in college.

I will start my mission again. One hike at a time. One mile at a time, one step at a time. My vision is clear, my mission is concrete and accessible. I hope others will soon follow me and want to get involved. I have never been more motivated than I am right now…but Shelly…please don’t trust these words. I have uttered similar ones before. Instead check on me in a week, in a month, next year and see if I have put this dream into action. It is by my actions that this dream will come into reality, not just in my words.

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I went for a swim today. My current plan is to swim regularly. Aqua therapy is great for Neuropathy, taking pressure off my legs and feet. I look forward to going for a walk or a hike again sometime soon.

These boots are made for walking…

Moshe Mark Adler

July 7th , 2015

Posted by: aidshike | December 23, 2013

Looking fear in the face

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

Eleanor Roosevelt

I have been dealing with tremendous fear that I will not be able to continue with the Aids Hike project and move forward…that I will not be able to do the work necessary to make things happen… that I do not have the strength, courage and confidence to break through my fears… and that I will not be able to do the things I think I cannot do.

Ironically the project is partially about what we, as HIV+ people, CAN do and accomplish despite the odds of staying alive, especially through the times I have already survived in the mid to late 80’s to 90’s. Partially because of these horrors I have witnessed and been through.I have an imprint in my mind of all the times I have had set backs due to physical health challenges and now I must create a new print of accomplishing things when I DON’T have the set backs or lack of good health blocking my way… like the other classic Roosevelt quote

“We have nothing to fear but fear itself”

Franklin D. Roosevelt in his first inaugural speech

Posted by: aidshike | December 15, 2013

Neuropathy… pain, discomfort and restrictions – (1 of 2)

Dear Shelly,

If you were still alive today, you may have similar health challenges…

Neuropathy… pain, discomfort and restrictions

The fall has become winter and the days have gotten shorter and although I love the brisk cold days and turning of the seasons I have not been outside hiking or even walking very much at all. I suffer from Neuropathy and my feet and legs have been really hurting and this has taken a toll on my spirit and abilities to get out and be physical. Every day it seems I come home and it feels like I just want to put my feet up. My calves burn and my feet ache, my knees can scream and my toes call for my attention… and my feet get bitter cold. Two pairs of socks and fleece moccasins only start to warm them up.

I just spent an arduous search trying to find the warmest slippers and after numerous trips to LL Bean, REI and too much time shopping online I have only partially succeeded. I found great sheepskin slippers that keep my feet warm MOST nights. I found little heat packets that can go under my toes when I am outside and then I found the warm down booties that are on my feet right now. They are like little down jackets for my feet. I had a pair when I went mountaineering and they were the saving grace at the end of the day when I took off my boots in the snow. Too bad it is not snowing indoors … that would be cool, and make the cold more explainable.

There ARE things I can do to at least a reduce myself of some of the pain and discomfort … they take time, attention and good self-care but to be honest sometimes it is hard to dig deep and do the things that at least make me feel better in the moment. I have a little device the size of a pack of cards that electrically stimulates my feet or legs but the electrodes only work in one area and the relief is limited. Warm bathes with Epsom salts make my feet feel loved but the results are also limited. I have also started a regiment of taking ALA, a supplement that may reduce the pain as it has a history of helping with diabetic peripheral Neuropathy and mine mirrors the same symptoms. I remain optimistic that it will help but realistic that it just costs a lot and yet may only provide SOME relief.

… see part (2 of 2)

Posted by: aidshike | December 15, 2013

Neuropathy… pain, discomfort and restrictions – (2 of 2)

… from part (1 0f 2)

I just finished massaging my legs and feet. I spend over 30 minutes each leg and foot and by the time I am done my hands ache and my fingers hurt. Now, mind you I don’t like to complain, because I have had it much worse and there are so many others who have it worse today. In 1997-98 I was told I may never walk again… my feet and legs finally became purple from the toes to the top of the legs and I had to use a walker and much assistance to get around. For someone who loves to hike, walk, dance, rock climb, bike etc. it was not only physically debilitating, but deeply mentally challenging as well.

But today I do have feeling in my feet and legs…. I just mostly feel pain… and I try to remain as active as I can…because I can. But I have started a non-profit that revolves around hiking and walking. When I started my blog and later created the website and Facebook page this past winter I went out and hiked regardless of the weather.  I was proud at how much I could walk and hike and I slowly increased my hikes from a mile up to 7.5 miles.  I started blogging with the amount of miles I had accomplished each day at the end of each entry.

Today I run errands and spend too much time on my feet at the grocery store and come home to pain that is only better after the intense self-care I mentioned… and my doctor tells me it could get worse or at least likely will stay the same. I don’t like to hear this and I don’t like to be limited, so despite the consequences I must re-start my efforts to exercise on my feet again. It is only then that I will know my limitations. Pain is relative. The ability to do things that appear out of reach is an ability that I possess so I must move forward and walk, hike and get out there to nature where the emotional and mental healing can contradict the physical pain.

I will keep you posted.

Moshe Mark Adler

December 14th, 2013

Posted by: aidshike | November 6, 2013

Hiking in the fall .. as the leaves change so must I .

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CHANGE:

Don’t just talk about it, go out there and do it.

Don’t just meditate about it, go out there and create it.

Don’t just pray about it go out there and take action;

participate in the answering of your own prayer.

If you want change, get out there and live it.

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Sometimes there are two paths ahead and the path of least resistance may seem like the right one, but it is in walking down the more challenging path that one learns the most about oneself. I am outside learning and growing…

I am starting to walk and hike a little more recently… testing my feet and legs and seeing how they respond to action with my Neuropathy. It has been a tough time with my health and ability to be on my feet due to side effects and symptoms of Neuropathy…but what better way to see how I can hike then by going out for a hike.

I have an appointment with my Neurologist next week but already know what he is going to say. I had reduced the dosage of a medication that I take for Neuropathy (Neurontin). Symptoms have gotten worse, but much later than the change. It was recommended (by a Holistic Nutritionist) that I try a supplement called ALA (Alpha-Lipoic Acid) … I have hopes that this may help my Neuropathy and possibly lead to a better response and better healing than just the medications. Because of this I am not going to increase the medication dosage and instead am going to try the ALA for 60 days  (I was told it could take 6-8 weeks to notice a difference) To my surprise my main doctor did not shoot down the idea and was open to my trying it. I did promise him that if the increase in the symptoms continues and it is hard for me to handle that I would then go back to the higher dose of Neurontin. Time will tell.  But hope is a great healer too.

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“Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant that is made by the body and is found in every cell, where it helps turn glucose into energy. Antioxidants attack “free radicals,” waste products created when the body turns food into energy. Free radicals cause harmful chemical reactions that can damage cells in the body, making it harder for the body to fight off infections. They also damage organs and tissues…

…In several studies, alpha-lipoic acid appears to help lower blood sugar levels. Its ability to kill free radicals may help people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, who have pain, burning, itching, tingling, and numbness in arms and legs from nerve damage. Alpha-lipoic acid has been used for years to treat peripheral neuropathy in Germany.

…One 2006 study did find that taking alpha-lipoic acid for diabetic neuropathy reduced symptoms compared to placebo…”

Source: Alpha-lipoic acid | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/alphalipoic-acid

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((the Neuropathy I have is a direct side effect from taking medications for my HIV cocktail that I started in 1997. I have Peripheral Neuropathy with symptoms that mirror those of the diabetic neuropathy… MMA))

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<<attacking the tree like I attack my health challenges>>

Posted by: aidshike | November 5, 2013

The Positivity, Progress and start of an Action Plan

I Just had a fantastic, inspirational, motivational, exciting, invigorating, mind blowing and very detailed discussion about AIDS HIKE with Rolande Lewis .We talked about starting a new Action Plan, initial brainstorming about the Project and programming goals. How the organization is going to offer educational programming and use the platform to do HIV education and awareness work and just the tip of the iceberg about a curriculum for workshops that can be started over the winter (hibernating from hikes) and goals to achieve… Our next planing face to face will soon follow… stay tuned for more…

Hello Shelly,

It has been a long time since I have blogged. I stopped writing (and sadly stopped hiking) for a while after a major setback with AIDS HIKE. I had someone steal from and then try to extort money from the business that is also my passion and inspiration. I stepped back and had to get my wits about me. Like a dog who hides their tale and walks away, I was hurt and then felt a bit lost. After all, the same person who did these awful things was also the man who helped me create the Facebook page, the beginning of the website, get the non-profit status etc. He had “volunteered” his services and seemed really excited about the project. Being a trusting soul I wanted to have a partner/co-founder so I foolishly had him open the bank account with me, which he completely drained later.

But after a hiatus, some long hikes, a bout with strep throat and some major soul searching I have gotten back to walking and hiking again. I did go on some amazing hikes before then that I didn’t document here… a 7.5 mile hike to Swinging Bridge and a breathtaking waterfall in Little Patapsco Park – see pictures here – and a hike in VA with an old friend that was about 5.5 miles… and I just started to get my feet moving again two weeks ago, slowly getting my energy back from my bout with strep, with a 1.5 mile hike at Cylburn Arboretum, which is a short ride from my house and has a lush landscape with plants and flowers of all type. I saw butterflies, bumble bees, squirrels and chipmunks that joined me along the trail. Then I went on a short walk of about 1.5 miles with my sister’s family  in downtown Silver Spring after a birthday celebration with family!  Then 2 miles at the gym and 1 mile at Hopkins last Friday. Yes… I finally got back the gym and will go there again tomorrow.

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So all that said, I turned 48 two weeks ago and it was a tough couple of days. I felt lonely, embarrassed, ashamed and very judgmental of myself. I had over 100 people wish me loving birthday wishes on Facebook, but yet spent the day alone. I took time to reflect on where I am in my life and where I want to be, what I do and don’t do, and especially how I am currently without a girlfriend. I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself but also let myself reflect in my pain. I am now 48 years old and am not working (ok, starting this non-profit is a major project…) but I don’t have a “normal” 9-5 life and especially have no sustainable income, no 401k, no savings and rely on assistance from the government and family to make ends meet.

I live alone with a cat  (who is very affectionate and my partner in crime) although I started dating last fall and dipped my foot in the pool, I am swimming alone again. These are thoughts I had… not realistic or self-respectful  thinking, but some parts are just plain true. My perspective on the other hand was tainted and I was far from gentle with myself. I did let myself roll through the feelings, sit in some deep depression and lay low for a few days until things passed. I very reluctantly went to a support group meeting Friday night and was received very gently & kindly and encouraged afterwards by many friends. I am so blessed to have these friends, to have so many other friends & acquaintances and a wonderful family that all believe in me and support me unconditionally. This is more of the true reality check.

But the living solo and not being in a relationship is a reality that often plagues me with loneliness and sorrow. I feel (totally distortedly) that almost everyone else is in a (healthy) relationship and so many of those around me have a partner, lover, wife or husband, girlfriend or boyfriend and life is great. Boy, this was also wallowing in self-pity and a massive “grass is greener on the other side” vision. All those distortions aside, I was alone then and I felt deep sadness. I have done some real soul searching and more reflection since then and my viewpoint has shifted. I do not have a partner myself, but I am very worthy of having one and mostly am alone (not dating too) by choice!!!

So last week I spent my workout and travel time listening to great live music from The Police and Sting. The music was from hard to find concerts of The Police live in Buenos Aires, Argentina (from when they reunited in early 2007 for a world tour lasting until August 2008) and Sting live at the Universal Amphitheater (in October 1999 right after the album Brand New Day was released the same year in September). I started becoming a major fan of The Police in high school and saw them in concert when they toured after (their last) album Synchronicity was released in 1983. Sting wrote most of the lyrics for The Police songs and for his solo work.

There are a number of Police songs that were on the CD that I have listened to in the past that reminded me of being alone like “Hole in my life”, “So lonely” and “King of Pain” plus I used to struggle with the words of “The Beds too big without you” after relationships concluded… but it was three songs on the Sting cd that could have taken me back to some pain….but instead I was coming from a great place when I heard them, almost laughed inside, and was thankful for the opportunities that also come from being single and how I believe that I won’t have to be alone forever. I am inspired when I realize that the search for someone special can be fun if my attitude is in check. So here are the lyrics from four songs that I thoroughly enjoyed and why their lyrics moved me so…

The song “Brand New Day” is so hopeful and positive in its lyrics at the end of the song (ironically the beginning is all about lamenting for a past lover!) The song has a long list of couplets of words that for me represent true connection and two people completing each other. This is timely as two close friends of mine, Patch and Carlee, just got married and the two of them have inspired me to continue my search to find a special lady to be the yin to my yang. I also feel that it can be a universally optimistic song for many others beside myself…

“stand up all you lovers in the world…”

BRAND NEW DAY

“Turn the clock to zero, boss
The river’s wide, we’ll swim across
Started up a brand new day…

I’m the rhythm in your tune
I’m the sun and you’re the moon
I’m a bat and you’re the cave
You’re the beach and I’m the wave
I’m the plow and you’re the land
You’re the glove and I’m the hand
I’m the train and you’re the station
I’m a flagpole to your nation – yeah

Stand up all you lovers in the world
Stand up and be counted every boy and every girl
Stand up all you lovers in the world
Starting up a brand new day

I’m the present to your future
You’re the wound and I’m the suture
You’re the magnet to my pole
I’m the devil in your soul
You’re the pupil I’m the teacher
You’re the church and I’m the preacher
You’re the flower I’m the rain
You’re the tunnel I’m the train

Stand up all you lovers in the world
Stand up and be counted every boy and every girl
Stand up all you lovers in the world
Starting up a brand new day

You’re the crop to my rotation
You’re the sum of my equation
I’m the answer to your question
If you follow my suggestion
We can turn this ship around
We’ll go up instead of down
You’re the pan and I’m the handle
You’re the flame and I’m the candle

Stand up all you lovers in the world
Stand up and be counted every boy and every girl
Stand up all you lovers in the world
We’re starting up a brand new day”

Music and lyrics by Sting from Brand New Day

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The song “Message in a Bottle” was originally written by Sting in 1979 for The Police’s second album Regatta de Blanc. It has a chorus that became almost an anthem over the years and could be heard sung by the audience at their concerts “send it out on SOS”! It captures loneliness for me in a nutshell first before helping me feel not so alone as the song continues.

I found an interesting (although sterile) write up about the song on Wikipedia of all places:

“The song is ostensibly about a story of a castaway on an island, who sends out a message in a bottle to seek love. A year later, he has not received any sort of response, and despairs, thinking he is destined to be alone. The next day, he sees “a hundred billion bottles” on the shore, finding out that there are more people like him out there.”

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

Just a castaway
An island lost at sea
Another lonely day
With no one here but me
More loneliness
Than any man could bear
Rescue me before I fall into despair

I’ll send an SOS to the world
I’ll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

A year has passed since I wrote my note
But I should have known this right from the start
Only hope can keep me together
Love can mend your life
But love can break your heart

I’ll send an SOS to the world
I’ll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

Walked out this morning
Don’t believe what I saw
A hundred billion bottles
Washed up on the shore
Seems I’m not alone at being alone
A hundred billion casatways
Looking for a home

I’ll send an SOS to the world
I’ll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

a 1979 song by The Police, from their second album,  Reggatta de Blanc, lyrics by Sting

There are two Sting songs are just amazing, tantalizing and lushous…both also coming from the Brand New Day album – “Desert Rose” and “Fragile”- and worthy of hitting the replay button over and over… The song “Desert Rose” has great lyrics, also touching on the topic of love, but when I listen to it all I hear is an amazing story being told by the music itself… and the stunning voice and amazing duet performance of Sting with Algerian raï singer Cheb Mami.

With appreciation for all the thoughts that I mention in this post, and the turning around of my feeling lost for and longing for love, I am reminded that why should I be wasting time feeling sorry for myself and longing for love, when I am surrounded by love everywhere I look… including right inside of me…I may have also missed just how precious life is …which Sting truly captured in the song “Fragile”

FRAGILE

“…Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are how fragile we are”

Lyrics and music by Sting

Take a listen to these songs and especially those from the album Brand New Day if you haven’t already…I have …and I am very thankful for how the magic of music never stops moving me, inspiring me and touching me deeply often in just the right place, at just the right time.

Moshe Mark Adler

July 2nd , 2013

Posted by: aidshike | May 27, 2013

Help is on its way – feeling hopeful and productive!

Dear Shelly,

Today I had the amazing experience of taking AIDS HIKE to another level. I had two friends: Rolande, a close friend I have known for almost a decade, and Madison, a relatively new friend <who has an amazing blog here – that I will add when I find it :~( > jump on board and join me for an amazing first meeting. Over the last month they both agreed to meet with me with the AIDS HIKE project and shared ways they may be able to help. We finally had a time today scheduled to do so! Heck yeh!

I have files and files that I have put together for the last 4 months that I have started to organize and had To Do lists in 3 places. I began to organize them at my parent’s house today (ok, Sunday) … after the INDY 500.

My dad and I have a yearly ritual where we watch the race together. He grew up in Indiana and he and my mom went to college there (lets go Indiana University Hoosiers!) and still has family there. Twice – when I was working for him around 2001 – we actually went together, as he had TV producers that worked for him that worked there that had contacts locally, so we sat in the fancy suites and visited pit row.

They call it the largest spectacle on earth for a reason. There have been as many as 300,000 people there … yes Three Hundred Thousand! That’s bigger than the biggest football stadium in the U.S. times three!! This year the race was won by Tony Kanaan, a HUGE sentimental favorite of the fans, because – at 38 – he had come in 2nd, 3rd (2 times), 4th & 5th, but never won. We soaked in the results. After watching all these “near misses” I have come to feel his pain.

My dad and I have a contest every year to pick the top ten finishers …and my mom chimes in … usually AFTER the race has started…. This year my mom won (AGAIN – argh) with picking the winner, plus most top ten finishers. I don’t know how she does it.

But I digress, where was I … yes, there it is, I was at my parents place and had packed a full bag of files. I gathered up all my notes and files and prepared for a meeting. I put together pages:  a business plan, board of directors, board of advisors, expenses, income, staffing and how to use interns, and more … plus 4 pages of To Do’s.

Then I bounced it all off of my parents at which point the heat was cranked up. My dad has been a successful entrepreneur for 4 decades; including over 25 years in the TV business – selling documentaries. He is a tough sell. He asks demanding questions and doesn’t cut me any slack. He is an awesome resource but to be honest has stymied and frustrated me recently, pushing me to get an accountant (where is the money coming from and going!!) and build a Board of Directors. My mom is a very, very successful Music Therapist who has managed a private practice for over 50 years and is my top cheerleader and support! They make a great team of caring parents and great help for the project.

The fact that I have already consulted an accountant and have a list of about a dozen people for the board already picked out helps. They both have actually helped me build a prospective list. – both those I know will be on it and some dream team hopefuls…retired entrepreneurs, two doctors specializing in HIV/AIDS, two potential accountants, legal reps, family and two friends from high school – one who IS an accountant and the other who is a professor at Peabody Conservatory in my hometown of Baltimore and a very successful entrepreneur, etc.

So in consulting my CPA friend I was challenged to do two things:

  • Start my 1023 application to become a 501(c)3 – an extremely daunting task I have now learned – and
  • Start generating cash flow. The time for this is coming!!!

The website is up and ready to be launched as I am waiting to set up the Donation page, deciding whether to use PayPal or my bank to receive and process donations.

You can already donate by check. <Shameless promotion>

Mailed to: AIDSHIKE, Box 7605, Gwynn Oak, MD, 21207 –

Checks payable to AIDS HIKE.

So I am close to starting to aggressively reach out for donations and get the cash flow rolling, by the thousands I hope! I have a budget of what needs to be raised for startup costs that I am working on and some particular expenses that are on the horizon.

My parents worked with me to organize things and really chart things out. Then I picked up Rolande and we went to Madison’s house. Turns out we met for 4 hours, plus then I talked to Rolande for almost on an hour on the way to her place…. And then my brain was still whirling the whole hour ride home back here to Baltimore.

We accomplished so much. We started off introducing ourselves to each other, and both of their histories make them such ideal people to help with this project. I will explain this more in the future (with their permission) So then the four hours just went by so quickly. I will document more from this meeting in another post, but for now, it is almost 5 am and I am still glowing. I will grab my cat now and head for bed. What a great day. I am inspired and feel motivated and blessed to have others who are as interested about the AIDS HIKE project as I am. Great things are starting to happen and I sense that I will be working more and more and accomplishing things at a very productive pace… Stay Tuned!!!

Posted by: aidshike | May 4, 2013

MY STORY – 10 years along the path

Hello, my name is Moshe Mark Adler and I am HIV+. I am a Person Thriving with AIDS. I have been HIV+ for over 27 years. I was diagnosed HIV+ the day before Thanksgiving 1987, 25 years ago. I am what many call a long term survivor. I am heterosexual, Caucasian and have never used needles for drugs.

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For most of the last 25 years I have been very openly HIV+, basically telling my story to anyone who will listen. I do so not to brag, to glorify or to shock others. I do so because I believe my story needs to be told. In a time of fundraisers for fantastic causes like LiveStrong and to raise money and awareness for breast cancer – very public and successful campaigns raising millions of dollars; many people assume that AIDS is now a chronic disease. I wish I could believe this. There is still no cure for HIV/AIDs and there is no guarantee that my current cocktail of medications will still support my health in five years, a decade or longer… they simply have not done enough research to prove so… especially since none of the currently “successful” cocktails have been around that long.

Since attending my first support group for people diagnosed with HIV like myself, I have heard so many sad horrific stories of pain & suffering and seen so many proud people slowly deteriorate and die. I have watched so many people struggle painfully against so much denial, ignorance and prejudice. I have been blessed with the support of family and friends but many have not. We all have experienced layers of pain, fear and worry.

In the mid to late 80’s being HIV+ was considered a death sentence by most inside and outside our support groups. Our support group was a band of brothers and sisters; gay, bi, lesbian, transgender and straight; varied ethnicities; folks coming from all financial and social backgrounds… yet we shared at least one thing in common: Fear that we would succumb to the dreaded disease; that we would get sick and sicker. Fear that despite pride and dignity, honor and strength, nothing could save us from a painful and awful demise.

Amongst my support group, I found that no matter our differences, we quickly bonded, shared very personal thoughts & feelings and began to also spend time on the phone and socially outside the meetings. We shared a label and a stigma that only we could understand. Then suddenly another one of us got sick, got weak, looked gaunt, couldn’t walk and often lost hope… and then wasn’t there the next week. The reality did not need to be expressed or shared. It just was what it was – another sad story that could now only be told.

For over 10 years I never attended a funeral. I never talked to any deceased friend’s loved ones &/or families. I always felt incredibly awful, but I later learned that this was a coping and survival mechanism. As Mike, Tom, Shelly, Jan, Randy and so many more died, I survived. I was plagued with questions – Why Mike? Why Tom? Why Shelly? Why Tom? WHY NOT ME??? Survivor’s guilt is brutal and I still feel it sometimes today. It is a heavy load. (In future years I would use it as motivation.)

I sure didn’t know why I was so blessed, but I knew I refused to give in. This was reinforced by the tremendous support network of family and friends, the great doctors I had and the clinics where everyone on the staff always greeted me with a smile… and hope. Fueled by this encouragement, I began to make better and better choices, one at a time. I stopped drinking and doing drugs. These behaviors had partly defined and underscored my lifestyle. One by one I chose to end friendships that no longer served me and searched for healthier friends. As I made these choices I also stopped hanging out in the dark and dangerous places that I had frequented with these friends and where I likely contracted the virus. But the future was still bleak and I was still filled with deep dread, deep fear and incessant worry that I could not express in words.

The early 90’s passed as I was amazingly still healthy, working full time and even travelling. But another milestone loomed ahead. I had lived to be 25, but 30 seemed like a dream. Amongst my HIV+ peers, it was an unspoken reality that most of us didn’t live to their 10th anniversary of their diagnosis. In the summer of 1997 sure enough my health rapidly began to decline. The number of my t-cells began to decline. For years the test for our t-cells was an accurate measurement of our health – or at least our doctor’s thought so. In 1997 my t cells dropped well under 200. When this happened I was officially considered a person living with AIDS (I always bristled with anger when people described us as … “having AIDS”) Thanks I said, sarcastically… an “upgrade” in my diagnosis. At this time of fear and stark reality, one blessing was that by being below the 200 mark I was considered officially disabled too and this allowed me to qualify for Medicare… which still helps pay most of my doctors and medical bills today. (In conjunction with my secondary insurance)

In my support groups and in the tightknit HIV community it was also sadly an unspoken reality that most folks who had their t-cells drop below 200 just DIED. There is no gentler way to put this. Some died soon after, others got sicker and sicker as their numbers declined and most then died often agonizing deaths.

A transsexual woman who had become a very close friend had reached a point where she had only 6 t-cells. In her true spirit she named them Huey, Dooey and Looey, Curly Larry and Moe. The numbers never increased. I visited her in the hospital in her last days and she just smiled and told me to stick around. She had long before sworn off doctors, sworn off the meds and chosen to live her life out in what I call a Blaze of Glory. She somehow got enough credit to by a (red!) sports car, drove it fast and far. She returned to Studio 54 in New York and then continued to party with wild abandon.

Many chose the same route, others just gave up, many got overdosed on AZT by doctors who really were totally guessing – with other’s lives; but many of us fought in any way we could. And fight I needed to. There was a new test called Viral Load, which tested the amount of AIDS in our bloodstream. This test unlike the t-cells was one where you wanted your numbers to be lower, but at the time mine were as high as could be recorded… while my t-cells were down to 56. I had not taken any medications for HIV till this time, but it was time to give the choice very deep thought ….

…to be continued

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Dear Shelly,

Today I have officially sent out the AIDS HIKE website address to about 40 close family and friends in my personal list. I have decided that it is easily ready for their perusal and I feel that we only have one step left before it is ready to launch – the donation page needs to be tweaked to allow donations by credit card. On the site there are: a Homepage, About us, Gallery, Calendar, about the Appalachian Trail, Donations and Sponsorships, Guestbook and an embedded version of this blog. But THIS blog post is about MY STORY and the AIDSHIKE ventures. This story is about the three major challenges that I face that challenge me … in life and in working on this project.

MY PATH TO WORKING ON THIS PROJECT has been interesting. I had the idea over a decade ago and it has been percolating since then, but I had some major things in my life that I had to take care of before I felt ready to dive into this project completely. An obvious one was to make sure that my physical health was ready… and it is… mostly. I still have pretty bad Neuropathy and today, after only a 3.5 mile hike my calves and feet are burning and in pain.

Neuropathy can best be described simply by saying that we all have nerves that start off looking like old twine – braided and taut. My nerves look more like the rope is about to completely pull apart, literally hanging by a few threads. The synapses travel down the nerves on this twine and mine have to jump or transmit over these spaces. The longest nerves from the body are to the feet and hands and that is why I have Neuropathy that affects my legs, feet and hands. When it is at its worst it threatens how my limbs function (or don’t)…<<see blog post “Inspired to walk – an old piece of current writing – day three from February’s archive>> I was told I may never walk again. I have recently been told that it might get worse – and when I asked how bad – I was told “worse than before”. This is just totally unacceptable to me so I walk and ignore the Doctor’s bad news. I am so happy that I can walk and hike that I will do so even if it hurts really badly afterwards.

In some ways though, my being HIV+ and having a body that has shut down or failed me many many times in the past is the easiest part. I also deal with challenges with mental health and addiction. I believe that I was born bi-polar; some have other interpretations, some have given me different or multiple other diagnoses: ADHD, OCD, whatever… they are just verbiage. I prefer being called an INDIGO or if nothing else manic depressive. At least that title accurately describes the extremes one deals with when not medicated or balanced in other ways.

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I have been to the extremes before. I have been in very scary situations where my personal actions took away my personal freedom and left me being in danger to myself or others. Sadly I have seen my brain go so fast and my thinking go to such extremes that I have had manic episodes. I am very happy to say that it has been over a decade since I have dealt with those realities, but the vivid memories of the extremes are things I almost never share in detail… and I won’t here. Let’s just say to understand more about Bi-Polar disorder – Google it… and I must be clear that I wasn’t an angry postman or crazy student and thankfully never caused any damage except mainly to myself and those close to me. My experiences usually were examples of extreme creativity and spirituality that I think others could never understand but that are too much for one to control… were for ME to control.

So today I gladly take medications and work with doctors (Psychiatrist and Psychologist) at my HIV clinic – The Moore Clinic, and I have not changed my medications in over a year & a half and only had minor tweaking for the years previous. I still get depressed and I still have times of great creativity, productivity and spirituality; but I have learned to observe, diagnose and understand these swings, and either be gentle with myself and chill; or harness the creativity and focus it on positive projects. I have consciously chosen to live alone (with my doctor’s strong encouragement) because I am already nocturnal but can be up even later when I am productive… and I need my space. My cat just rolls her eyes. I have been told by my doctors and my closest friends recently that I am doing amazingly well and have been for so long that doing any other way seems like a long while in my past.

And let’s be honest, MOST PEOPLE get up and down regularly and I have the benefit of being aware and accountable for these swings!!!

I also have had to spend most of my life dealing with what have been at times crippling addiction. I now know that this is largely due to the extremes of my mental health challenges, and of course ingrained behavior and bad habits just progress if not acknowledged and dealt with. It is amazing that even though I was diagnosed HIV+ in 1987 it took until 1999 before I went to my first twelve step meeting. Now I go to meetings because I love being there. Along the path of recovery I have met some of my closest friends, and sharing harrowing paths and sharing about these past experiences builds bonds of trust that are forged in a need to be there for each other.

For those who have never dealt with addiction issues this is also a very hard path to explain, but just like mental health challenges there are tens of millions of people who walk these troubled paths every day…One Day at a Time. Early on in the “rooms” I met friends that shared how although we work so very hard to get sober and live in recovery, the best gift of sobriety is becoming a better person. And I believe I have. In the rooms we also thrive on supporting others and being of service to the group. I have had some amazing sponsors along the way including one who I talk to almost every day now. We actually rarely talk about addiction or recovery instead he is just a great sounding board. And I talk to others very regularly too. I stay after meetings for 30 minutes or more sharing how I have grown through the program and listening to others. Not only have I gone out to dinner with others in program more times than I can count, but I have gone to movies, gone hiking, gone on road trips and had others stay at my house as well as I have stayed at others before. We call these opportunities “fellowship” and I am blessed to have such an amazing support system of fellowship with other recovering addicts

I have gone on a men’s initiation weekend: the New Warrior Training Adventure (NWTA) with The Mankind Project (mkp.org) too. I know that this weekend saved my life as I went to my first meetings very soon after going on my weekend. I have gone back and staffed weekends and been in weekly groups as well as led groups, and this program is an incredible blessing as well. But I am sick of telling people that I went to my “men’s group meeting” when I actually went to twelve step meetings.

I am a very grateful recovering addict (and will always be in recovery… never cured) I know that if I don’t take care of myself I can have a slip or relapse very easily. Thankfully it has been a long time since I have descended into those deep, depressing, lonely, shameful bouts of self-loathing that come when lost in my addiction. I have learned so many skills about how to take care of myself, and thanks to meetings, my therapist, my shrink and an amazing network of family and friends I hope and pray that I will never go back there.

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It is in dealing with these challenging paths… my “trifecta” of being an HIV+ bipolar addict… that I have gotten to know myself better and had the blessing of being able to look at myself honestly, be humbled and be so thankful for the beauty of my life and all that I can accomplish. I have spent decades underachieving and dealing with the realities of having to dig so deep to stay alive, and now I know that I am alive. Very alive. As the Simple Minds sang in the 80’s: ALIVE AND KICKING.

today 3.5 miles

Dear Shelly,

Where would I be without the kind, dedicated, knowledgeable, selfless and absolutely amazing people that have made up the backdrop of my medical support platform?  Over the 25 years I have been HIV+ I often have described myself as a professional patient. It was only recently that I have realized that medical care does not take up so much of my time, emotions and energy.  I just saw my Primary Care doctor today and the verdict is that I am stable, healthy and vibrant overall.  This year I got the flu like so many in this area as it was going around. (I did get my shot but it is my understanding that there were numerous strains and I just got the wrong (miss) match with my shot!)

I am prone to bronchial problems with lungs that can be weak and I have had to get a prescribed inhaler and some over the counter remedies today – doctor’s orders… but all in all it was just another day at the Moore clinic for HIV+ people at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD (my new home town!) It started when I saw the lady who always greets me with a smile, and then I was setup with an intake specialist who I always joke with. Then I sat and waited only a few minutes to be called by the nurse (in colorful patterned scrubs) who took my vitals – almost exactly perfect. 98.4 with my blood pressure awesome too – 120 over 77. Then I saw my doctor who was patiently waiting for me – just about 15 minutes after my scheduled appointment … and I had been 10 minutes late!

Then she sent me to get a shot with the lady who used to wear the most funky colorful scrubs but has been told she can only wear solid blues  L Something about the difference between hospital and university employees?!? She then sent me down to the Phlebotomy lady (fun word huh – Vampires – who take my blood) She was wearing purple scrubs and we talked about how long I have known her and that I hadn’t stopped in for a while.  We agreed that this was great because today I was just getting the tests for my quarterly “check in.” So she took 9 vials of blood in pretty colors. I promised to bring her some of a great seafood seasoning I had found that we had discussed.

Then I was recruited by another lady I hadn’t seen in a few years to take a survey about my drug compliance, my sleep patterns, energy level, whether  I drank recently (NO) etc. I saw the pictures of her beautiful daughter and said how awesome her new hairstyle was. Then I stopped in to see my new caseworker (who has been so helpful in getting me rental and utility assistance this year) and waived to the caseworker I had been with for over a decade. I know all about her children and what synagogue she has attended too.  She will be my liaison when we send the clinic support funding. Thankfully I didn’t have to stop at the pharmacy although I know most of the staff there who, like most at the clinic upstairs greets me with “Hello Mr. Adler!”  It is nice to have a clinic I call home with a family of great staff and assistance.

Then I went to get a great salad with the cash I got for taking the survey, stopped at the Chapel to read the page open to Genesis (I usually read Psalms) and I got down and prayed for so many I know that sadly are struggling with surgeries, weakness, trouble with addiction etc. Only at the end did I remember to pray for myself!!!  It was just another fun day at Johns Hopkins.  I was in and out in a total time of about 2.5 hours which included a casual lunch. The clinic is so much more efficient these days.  I used to have to take the day off when I went there, often sitting in the waiting room for hours at a time.

I haven’t spoken much yet about who will benefit from the money raised by AIDS HIKE.  I have chosen 5 service providers in the Baltimore/MD/DC areas. I have received support from almost all of them at different times and it has changed my life, my health care and my emotional sanity as each have provided services that drastically affected my quality of life. There are three clinics I have gone to for varied care: The Dennis Ave clinic in suburban MD where I went for 14 years after my diagnosis and had the most amazingly nurturing lady doctor and a nutritionist that I became very close to. Then there is   the Whitman Walker clinic in DC and the Moore clinic at Hopkins I went to today.

And then the remaining two providers will be organizations that deliver food to people who are homebound living with HIV/Aids. When I had my Neuropathy and was bedridden Food & Friends made food in SE Washington that was delivered to me in Suburban MD through a network that brought the food over 25 minutes to me. I received 3 tasty meals a day – 7 courses including baked desserts my Mom loved to share with me. The menu varied regularly. Both my parents work, so it was incredibly helpful to them (and me) that I had this service. There is also Moveable Feast, an organization that provides the same food service in Baltimore. Five life savers, 5 great organizations filled with happy friendly people that have always greeted me with a smile.

So, I am blessed and have been… with these providers affecting my life so much in such positive ways. I am planning these hikes partially to give back and support so many other HIV+ people whose lives will be positively affected by the same incredible care that has changed my quality of life

Posted by: aidshike | March 17, 2013

Getting Stronger – one mile at a time -day thirteen

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STRONGER

A mighty wind blew night and day

It stole the oak tree’s leaves away

Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark

Until the oak was tired and stark.

But still the oak tree held its ground

While other trees fell all around.

The weary wind gave up and spoke,

“How can you still be standing, Oak?”

The oak tree said, “I know that you

Can break each branch of mine in two

Carry every leaf away,

Shake my limbs, and make me sway.

But I have roots stretched in the earth,

Growing stronger since my birth.

You’ll never touch them, for you see,

They are the deepest part of me.

Until today, I wasn’t sure

Of how much I could endure

But now I’ve found with thanks to you,

I’m stronger than I ever knew.”

                                                                                                                        Anonymous

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Dear Shelly,

Every day since my diagnosis my roots have grown farther and farther down. These have helped me persevere and survive but now I am trying to get physically stronger… As I prepare for the potential of longer hikes, I have been trying to walk &/or hike every day. I do include the miles on the elliptical at the gym (actually these are much more strenuous than walking but I am only tracking miles)

When I started this blog the intention was to log these miles daily – among other reasons to keep myself accountable. I got off to a great start getting out every day even when it was really cold, but I have slacked off. I also have a goal of going to the gym at least 3 times a week to do circuit weights with the perfect goal of going every other day for 3 days of cardio – including swimming. But the first goal is the weights and I did get there MWF the first week and then have been inconsistent. This past week I worked out M & W and my intention is to get back 3x this coming week. So that’s lighting a fire under myself … being accountable. I will only believe it when I do it. Ironically I am planning a hike which includes walking…. I must start walking the walk, not just talking the talk!

Last week’s miles:

Sat 1.5

Sun 4.8 including a walk with Tera around Centennial Lake

Mon 1.9 including the .5 miles it takes to walk to and from my clinic on the expansive Hopkins campus

Wed 1.9

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Total miles last week: 10.1

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Today 3.9 miles    at Robert E. Lee Park – near sunset but not in the dark lost in                          prickly bushes like last time! Lol

Posted by: aidshike | March 13, 2013

Loneliness of being alone – day twelve

Dear Shelly

If you would have stayed around longer I am not sure what your social life would have looked life… if you would have a significant other? If you would be dating? If you would be content to be single? All I know is that recently I have been having trouble not feeling sorry for myself. I have been feeling  lonely and struggling while I have started dating again

I have not been in a relationship in over 3 years. I did not date for over two years after the last relationship ended for conscious reasons. (I was not happy with myself after the last relationship ended, not proud about how I ended it and even when I could look at myself in the mirror I did not like who I saw) So I took a long hiatus. I tried to work on myself and began to love myself more and get just a little confidence. Over time I had also learned to turn isolation into solitude.

And then 7 months ago I finally chose to start dating again. It has been a painful process. I have let myself move into a place where I knew that the chance of rejection would be high. I have made myself vulnerable and let the reality of dating as someone who is  HIV+ try to sort itself out. I have had a profile on an HIV+ dating site and met a really nice, kind, smart and beautiful woman, but after only two dates she just disappeared and left me wondering why

I also put up a profile on a regular dating site and was openly HIV positive, sharing my reality up front and not hiding away. My past experience is that there is no one right way to tell someone that you are starting to date that you are HIV+. I have tried numerous approaches that have all led me to pain and rejection. I have dated a few women over the years but have learned that usually women who accept that I am HIV+ right away may not be healthy. Like myself they might be desperate or have bad boundaries

So I tried telling people on a first date, early or at the end and found myself getting rejected so many times that I began to expect it. I tried dating someone for 4 dates and then telling them as things were drifting towards our making out for the first time, and it didn’t go well at all…after the night I shared, we went to lunch and then she walked around a lake with me… spending the whole time telling me what a bad partner I would be, what a bad husband I would be and what an awful father I would be. It was only after hiking a few miles around the lake did I hear what I was expecting the whole time. Almost as an afterthought she told me that the HIV “thing” was a problem too

So my current add on the dating site has my profile being very openly HIV+ right up front. I tell my story so that there will be no surprises along the way. And boy does that limit the number or responses I get. Hundreds and hundreds of people have viewed my profile, some rating me as 4 or 5 stars (out of 5). Many, many women have contacted me to say how brave I am, how courageous I am to be so honest upfront… that they were moved by my story. Many thanked me for inspiring them. I received these comments so much that I waited for someone to ask me to come speak at their children’s school… but these women rarely added that they were interested in dating me.

So I can feel sorry for myself. I can look ahead and project how hard if not impossible it will be for me to find someone that can love me for who I am… I have had partners before that have done so, but these have not been healthy relationships. Sadly one of the main reasons that relationships don’t work for me is that I sabotage my chances of sustaining them by not believing that I am worthy and even feeling ashamed that someone finds me so.

It is not just the physical pains that I have had to deal with. It is not just the sadness of watching others die. It is not just the fear of my own demise. It can be the vast opening, the chasm of emptiness, the hot Sahara of space that could be filled with love. I know, I know, I know…If I love myself first then I will open up the door to be really loved myself. But I have done the work over the years and I mostly do love myself… I just don’t love the part of me that is alone

I hate the loneliness. It can be cold and frigid. It can leave me weakened at the knees. It can leave me speechless. It can make me angry beyond words. It can make me very jealous. It can leave me feeling hopeless. I hate loneliness. I don’t want to be alone any longer but I am not sure if I am up for all the rejections I may have to go through to actually find someone who accepts me that I can actually build a healthy relationship with.

Whoa is me.

It is just reality.

So many others suffer from the same affliction, whether they are HIV+ or not. I am not nearly the only one. Loneliness doesn’t discriminate or judge, doesn’t pick sides or make differentiations. Loneliness just is. It is lonely being alone. So I try to deal with it. I think about it a lot… and I try not to feel sorry for myself. But it is sad. I own my sadness.

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Dearest Shelly­­­,

I think about you every now and then and today I really wish you could join me in my ventures… things are really moving on in my life and in my abilities to make a difference in the world. In 1988 when I met you, we had both recently been diagnosed HIV+. We met in a support group that took place weekly in a relatively new HIV positive clinic. We were just two of the scared people that came in and out of the group. Your spirit moved me from the very first time I met you… you were so vibrant, colorful, gentle and kind. You helped me get through my initial fears and uncertainty. You were a stable support during a very difficult time.

It was a time when people came to the groups, but many did not return. There were so many who were suffering such awful emotional duress in addition to the physical health challenges. There was tremendous fear and ignorance in the world. People didn’t understand the danger and nature of HIV and looking back how could they have. No one knew. The doctors sure didn’t. There was brutal prejudice that I saw inflicted on other members of the community. And we were a smaller community… a tight group of people who shared what was then considered a death sentence – AIDS – The word itself was scary. We came from all walks of life and many of us would never have met if we hadn’t shared the same disease. But we bonded like a team of brothers and sisters.

I often felt bad because I had many resources – a clinic and doctors right from the beginning and an unconditionally loving family and friends. The first person I told after hearing about my diagnosis was my Mom. I became openly HIV positive almost right from the beginning and that was a true blessing. I met people early on who had to deal with such a different path. For many others… one after another, their partners, their families and/or their co-workers had all turned their backs on them. My new friends had been ignored, shamed, blamed … even hated. It was bad enough that we all were HIV+ but some of my new friends were also not openly gay, they had not come out of the closet yet. So the shocks and sudden information blew people away.

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There was so little knowledge and so much fear amongst the health providers as well. They didn’t know what they were dealing with and were understandably scared (some sadly still are) so these new friends had bright yellow signs on the door of their hospital rooms. Right there on the door… no one could miss it. It broadcast this fear and labeled the patients. So the family and friends came to visit and many of my friends were immediately ­“out-ed”. Suddenly it was announced to the world that they were gay AND positive. Ouch! And then many of visitors and potential support systems disappeared and never came back. And often these friends got sick, and died alone. We shared these common fears, yet I had none of the same worries.

And sometimes the stories were even worse. I met a veteran in our group who had government health care and needed dental work. He arrived for his appointment to find the doctors and nurses all wearing yellow suits! Like Hazmat suits! I can’t remember if he stayed or not, but this was just another time that one of us were shamed. I watched as men found out that their partners were also HIV+. They were often blamed… back and forth. It was disgusting to me that people could be so nasty and inhumane. Yet this happened way too often.

But who I am talking to, Shelly, YOU knew of this prejudice, you knew the stories, the worries, the pain and the sorrow. But you were so strong and thankfully you were also already “out” in the world. Sister, how could you not have been!!! You were one of the most flaming people I ever met and almost funny in your theatrics…. And you knew it. You thrived on it.

I learned so much from you. I watched as so many fought and fought to survive; I watched as so many gave up; I watched as so many lived in denial until they died.  But YOU decided it was your time to shine (even more than you always already were!) You decided to go out in a Blaze of Glory. While I was changing my lifestyle and my choices right & left I watched you stay in your zone. You somehow got a dealership to give you an Acura. You drove it like you were possessed. You drove it right back to New York City. You went right back to the bars, the crazy lifestyle, the drugs and the late nights that morphed into early mornings. And then you didn’t cry a tear or have any shame as you got sick. You carried yourself with such pride till the end. I will always remember what you said to me the day before you died.  “Mark (I still went by my birth name then) you make sure you stay around here now…you make sure to fight, to hold on… because you will live to make a difference one day”  I have never forgotten those words and that message. Like the guilt of being a long term survivor and wondering “Why me” for years when watching so many other’s succumb to the disease; For many years the message carried a heavy burden for me…But no longer…

I will use this current opportunity to help make AIDS HIKE happen. I will use this blog, the Facebook page, the website and any tools I can find to let others know about my story and the stories of millions of others… those who are no longer with us and those of us who are still suffering today. I have a unique opportunity now and I will no longer shy away. I will use these platforms to make a difference as much as I possibly can. I will make you proud…

I miss you and will continue to think of you and your journey often, but I will smile each time…

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Keith Haring “Focus on Aids”

First two pictures also credit Keith Haring

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Sadly, I have taken a bit of a hiatus from walking and/or hiking since the early night stumbling and bumbling through the prickly bushes a week ago. I could make any number of excuses, but one truth is that first I was in a self-care zone, then I got lazy and then starting Monday I became so focused on the projects that have followed this blog that I was inside on this computer for hours and hours every day. But the work has certainly paid off. AIDS HIKE is now a non-profit and the Facebook page has been looking better and better. Moshe helped me do a marketing blast and we now have over 1,650 “likes” on the page. We will use these contacts to reach out and get the word out as AIDS HIKE evolves more and more…first with public hikes, then with the first multiple-day hikes and hopefully start preparing the details and then the team to hike the Appalachian Trail.

I look forward to going for a walk or hike tomorrow and I have a date to go for a short hike Sunday. I have not met her yet so there is a double kind of anticipation. Should get me back on track!

Posted by: aidshike | March 6, 2013

Aidshike planning and action moving on!! – day ten

Dear Shelly,

I wanted to let you know that:

I have been very hard at work completing many stages of the project  AIDS HIKE. This has been a vision of mine for over a decade and only relatively recently…when I found someone to work with, have I been able to focus my energy and start the process stage by stage. Moshe Y. Landman is a great foil to my skills and his knowledge has helped us to have already created the non-profit, filed for and completed work on an EIN and Articles of Incorporation which has led to our starting a banking relationship and we are starting to create the AIDSHIKE website

We are just a step away from folks being able to donate funds online from the Facebook page, the website or PayPal and we are already equipped to receive donations via check…but we want to take things to the next level in focus and detail before we truly reach out for this help and then hopefully corporate sponsorships

From “About Us” page of the Facebook page:

<<AIDS HIKE is a non-profit organization that will be a catalyst to foster education, awareness and understanding of the effects of HIV in America; and consist of fundraisers to support service providers for those living with HIV/Aids.>>

There will be smaller local hikes listed on New Event pages on the Facebook page and later on the website’s “Calendar” section … we hope everyone will consider joining to hike with us.

This blog will also be embedded on the website!!!

The FB page is:

http://www.facebook.com/AIDSHIKE

Shelly, I know that you would just love to be a part of this project/movement, but believe me … you are!   MMA

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Howdy Shelly,

So…I haven’t blogged in over a week. Lots has happened including an evening that I will never forget…One that was truly humiliating and one where a mistake cost me fear, pain and discomfort. I went for a hike at Robert E. Lee Park (on the same trail I went on when I wrote “Finding Myself in Nature”) too close to sundown and being too adventurous for my own good. I was only prepared for an hour hike but decided to take the more challenging path that runs parallel to the main path. As darkness descended I began to get more and more concerned because I had gotten myself completely lost

The night sky was covered by clouds and there was no moon in sight so it was completely dark in about 15 minutes after I got off the path. I tried numerous times to retrace my path and only got myself more and more turned around. I let my eyes adjust to the darkness and began following any trail that I could in hopes of finding the main trail and a path out of the park back to my car. At one point I heard water and hope that walking by it would lead me to the bridge I had crossed, but like much of the terrain it was up and down and crossed over and back over a creek that I only found when my my feet got wet over my boots to my ankles. My sense of direction was out of whack and I learned later that many of the paths that I traveled (that got thinner and thinner) were deer paths.

As a “good” Eagle Scout I was not prepared at all – no flashlight and as I would curse myself later … no knife. I pulled out my phone and began using the flashlight app that was on it but when I tried to call the friend I was supposed to meet for dinner I was even more scared when I found out that my phone had only 10% juice left. I tried to use the GPS but I could not use the GPS and the flashlight on the phone at the same time. Then the phone abruptly died

I began to get really scared and worried when my path seemed to lead me into a field  of prickle bushes, bramble bushes, thistle, prickly shrubs… whatever you want to call them…they were very deep and everywhere. I soon discovered that I had rapidly dug myself into a whole.  I tried walking in any direction but was truly stuck.

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If I didn’t have my trusty walking staff with me I might have stayed stuck. I began to try to clear a path with my staff, but it was only a short help. I could clear about 2 feet at a time but I was getting “eaten alive” one spike at a time. I also had gloves that doubled as mittens which in retrospect were also great protection

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But I was totally surrounded by pricks and spikes and I had no idea where I was going. Numerous times I fell down. Like one of those falls that feels like it is in slow motion…only enough time to try to brace my fall so that I wasn’t scratched up any more. This didn’t work much at all. Eventually I found a road but it was so far away. I was what seemed like only 150 feet away but it took me about 20-30 minutes to clear a path. I finally got to the road totally exhausted and again had simply no idea which way was home. I saw lights that appeared to be the main  road and I began a steep decline on the asphalt path that curved downward. I passed a gate to go back into the park but it had a daunting sign promising prosecution if one was there after dark.

So I walked down the road getting more and more worried where I was going. I passed one house that had no lights on besides those out front, passed another that seemed almost as dark and when I finally got to the light way down the hill I was truly saddened to see that not only was it another private house, but that the road abruptly ended there. So once again I summoned up energy and began heading up the steep hill only feeling defeated and weaker and weaker by the step. As I got back up to the second house I saw a gate with what looked like a path to the front door. I rang the bell and must have shocked the owners because I was literally in the middle of nowhere. After a short conversation asking for directions and with the wife asking where my car was (funny since I had a tall walking staff and was dirty and stanky) they offered to drive me back to my car.  It was a TWO and HALF mile drive back to the car. I have no idea how long I actually walked (or better yet stumbled) but I think it was over 6 miles total.

When I got back to my car I called my friend who I was supposed to meet for dinner and then when I got to a bathroom found out that the knees of my pants had torn, they were more brown from dirt that the khaki color they started … and that I had scratches from my ankles up past my thighs … many that were 3-4 inches long, and many on my knees that had dirt embedded in them. My friend looked at me and couldn’t think of what to say but “It sure is great to see you, glad you made it out”

I have been tending to my legs with soap, hydrogen peroxide and lots of Neosporin with pain relief since then and had to apply things for the pain as at first they stung and throbbed all over. So I could look back and be proud that I pushed through and got home. I must have fallen over a dozen times and the last few I almost just stayed on the ground surrounded by the nasty bushes to wait for sunlight. In addition to not being prepared with the right basic camping tools, I also had not tied my boots tight since I had only planned a short hike on a wide and flat path…which led to having them come off at the bottom of 2 feet or more of brambles… leading me to have to take off my mittens and feel around for the boot, and then try to tie the laces standing on one foot, which led to me falling a few more times and I had a few spikes from the thorns in my boots for the remainder of the hike. OUCH.

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Moral of the story: Don’t hike at twilight. Don’t try to be ambitious on trails that might get you lost when it does become dark. Tie your boots tight. Pack a flashlight even for the shortest trip. And avoid getting stung by so many thistles that it began to feel like batches of jelly fishes on the ground

So I write this totally humiliated, embarrassed and dismayed but feeling that I need to document why I hope to become a better hiker. Oh well. My wounds have mostly healed but there are scars everywhere. My nurse told me they aren’t deep enough to leave a mark… marks… I sure hope so.

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Last Friday: 6 miles

Saturday/ Sunday – home resting!

Monday: 1.7 miles

Tuesday: 1.5 miles

And today/Thursday: 1.3 miles

Posted by: aidshike | February 18, 2013

Not just a Walk in the Woods – day eight

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Hello Shelly,

As part of my excitement about the venture of hiking the Appalachian Trail I have started to accumulate books about the trail, many written by people who have hiked it. I have started by reading a book I read a long time ago by Bill Bryson called “A Walk in the Woods – Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail” A New York Times best seller by this amazingly funny and insightful writer of travel memoirs. I will likely add anecdotes and quotes from many books along the way, but I felt I had to share the following piece from the first chapter.  It scared me as much as it amused me…

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“…Nearly everyone I talked to had some gruesome story involving a guileless acquaintance who had gone off hiking the trail with high hope and new boots and come stumbling back two days later with a bobcat attached to his head or dripping blood from an armless sleeve and whispering in a hoarse voice “Bear!” before sinking into a troubled unconsciousness.

The woods were full of peril – rattlesnakes and water moccasins and nests of copperheads; bobcats, bears, coyotes, wolves, and wild boar; loony hillbillies destabilized by gross quantities of impure corn liquor and generations of profoundly unbiblical sex; rabies-crazed skunks, raccoons, and squirrels; poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak, and poison salamanders; even a scattering of moose lethally deranged by a parasitic worm that burrows a nest in their brains and befuddles them into chasing hapless hikers through remote, sunny meadows and into glacial lakes.

Literally unimaginable things could happen to you out there… I heard four separate stories (always related with a chuckle) of campers and bears sharing tents for a few confused and lively moments; stories of people abruptly vaporized (“tweren’t nothing left of him but a scorch mark”) by body-sized bolts of lightning when caught in sudden storms on ridgelines; of tents crushed beneath falling trees, or eased off precipices on ball bearings of beaded rain and sent paragliding on to a distant valley floors, or swept away by the watery wall of a flash flood; of hikers beyond counting whose last experience was of trembling earth and the befuddled thought “Now what the —-?”

It required only a little light reading in adventure books and almost no imagination to envision circumstances in which I would find myself caught in a tightening circle of hunger-emboldened wolves, staggering and shredding clothes under an onslaught of pincered fire ants, or dumbly transfixed by the sight of enlivened undergrowth advancing towards me, like a torpedo through water, before being bowled backwards by a sofa-sized boar with cold beady eyes, a piercing squeal, and a slaverous, chomping appetite for pink, plump, city-softened flesh.”

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Enough to make me rethink my goal and wonder if I should just stay working out at the gym…or to actually relish the idea of staying alive in the great outdoors over 2,200 miles.  Ask me again about those two options in a week or a month. In the meantime I will just keep walking, exercising and hiking. Will see where that takes me…

Total miles: 3.2

Posted by: aidshike | February 17, 2013

Finding Myself in Nature – day seven

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Dear Shelly,

It’s cold out here… about 30 degrees, actually about 20 something with the wind-chill. What an amazing day to take a hike. Crisp air, almost empty trails, muddy paths hardened & frozen and knowing that your skin on your cheek is bright red just by feeling the cold consume it… and it snowed as my hike started. Just very light flurries, but with large puffy flakes, barely sticking to the ground except in places…but the flakes keep coming down creating a vision of them in front of me much like the reflection of a sunset shimmering across a lake. It is glorious to walk through them. It is wonderful to be in this moment, blessed to be walking so connected to Mother Nature, as these gifts from Father Sky abound

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The snow stops…leaving behind a thin coat of white in areas not blocked by the trees. The lines of snow are like shadows of the trees only reversed. The ice cold surrounds me, uplifts me, and suspends me in time. It is cold, but my layers of clothing are comfy and make me happy. I don’t even feel like I am braving the elements because I feel like I am one with the elements. I have walked one and a half miles so far, slowly, as I have stopped to take pictures, both with my camera and mental snapshots. I have watched folks appearing on the horizon ahead like specks. As they have come closer often times they are just one with a dog.

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These dogs’ greetings show their personalities… some are curious and check me out intently, others are overjoyed and stop to let me pet them or even jump up as if wanting to dance. There is a simple love and affection with these four legged creatures. To have the honor to hike with one is to have a whole different perspective. They guide us on the trail, like they are shepherds up ahead. Then they circle back to make sure they are ok, that we are ok, that the moment is shared. And how magical it is to see the natural splendor through their eyes, like those of a young child. As these dogs walking their owners approach and pass I am left, not feeling alone, but reminded of the simplicity and grace of animals.

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I reach a path down to the lake and choose to take off my pack, put it down with my walking staff and just take in another vista, another view. I take out this journal and write. I am bare handed and have completely forgotten how cold it is. The snow has stopped and in this moment it is as if time has stopped. I have such gratitude to be out alone with Mother Nature. It is amazing… to be in nature and to have these moments of solitude. To just be here with no agenda, no time and no other space. Just one with nature … and another part of myself that arrived on the trail quite unexpected. What a blessing. I have found myself as I have found nature and I am truly grateful for these discoveries. I am here now…alone…but not alone… in this moment.

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Moshe Mark Adler – 2/17/13

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Walked 2 miles Friday at Milford Mill in Baltimore on the Gwynns Falls Trail w/ my friend Shaya. It was a perfect 2 miles loop… more like a hike. lots of good old mud and puddles! Woo Hoo! Took Saturday off for Shabbos and great day/night at Fire circle/ drum circle turning of the seasons ceremony in Upper Marlboro, MD. Did work the hands and arms hard though!!!

Went on hike today at Robert E. Lee Park also here in Baltimore, from the road side entrance on Falls. Wrote the above piece. Hiked 4.5 miles, 7,936 steps at 3.7mph pace. Pedometer counted them as RUNNING miles. The whole hike was a few hours as I stopped to take pictures, meander and to write by the water. This trail has numerous off trails and options. I hiked it towards where the end of my hike was last Sunday time. I will go all the way to the waterfall next time…to the universe… and beyond!!!

Friday total miles: 2.0

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FIRST WEEK TOTAL 14.6  —— 212 pounds, 42 percent body fat! long way to go : (

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Today’s miles: 4.5

Posted by: aidshike | February 15, 2013

Relatively Healthy –day six

Dear Shelly,

Happy Valentine’s day.

In my past posts I have shared about the blessings and gifts learned when facing hardship, and having caring and loving family and friends…. and being relatively healthy. The following piece was written after a health scare the day before July 4th last year where I had to see a cardiologist for potential heart problems but everything turned out fine. I was told to go out and drum and have a great time (I was part of a large drum circle the next day at a big festival before the fireworks)

The following reading comes from that place of valuing health  … It begins with depression, fear and being overwhelmed… this relates to how I have felt in the last two days looking back at this project and not knowing if I could really pull it off… any of it. So I reread this and was happily reminded…

What is good health?

I am so tired of being down, being scared, letting the challenges of my life bring me down. In retrospect my life is a tremendous gift.  I realize that I can never ever take it for granted even for a moment longer. My health is relative. I am relatively healthy… but to be alive is to be in good health. It is sometimes hard for me to accept, sometimes hard to digest, but I have a choice of how to deal with pain, with fear, with deep sadness… with any seemingly overwhelming feeling.

I can just smile. I can smile because I am alive.

I have had the blessing of some very seriously life threatening health challenges, but I did not die. Even when totally dependent on others, even when almost paralyzed by fear, even in tremendous pain… in these moments – others gave me the amazing gifts of a smile, a laugh, a simple gift or most importantly just their presence, their thoughts, their prayers. They refused to give up on me and constantly reminded me that I was never alone.

No one should ever be alone. I believe that no one ever is alone. I believe good health comes from within. I believe our spirit is our strongest organ. I believe that when we uplift our own spirits, even just for a short sacred moment, there is hope and there is healing. With hope there is health.

Happiness, even for a fleeting moment, even just a flicker of a smile, even just a laugh for the sake of laughing… happiness can heal our spirits. There are so many challenging health scenarios. We all do (or at least will) deal with pain, hurt, sadness, worry, heartache, feeling alone.

We all will age, we all will lose people close to us. But there is hope so close that we only have to reach out. Only have to breathe… because as long as we can breathe we will always have good health. Good relative health?  Health is relative, but to be relatively healthy is a gift we can all afford.

Smile, because there is life still to live, breaths to treasure, smiles to cherish, laughter to share and love to appreciate

Life is there, so close, right there. Life is right here. Life is so simple. We all are never alone and we all are always together. Life is a journey and I pray that you can find others to walk your path next to you and that you choose to find others to walk next to.

Smile, live, love… laugh

Treasure health!

Moshe Mark Adler

Independence Day 2012

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Today I did get back to the gym and had a great workout … taking my time to get to know all the excercises (I am working out with circuit weights) and adjustments of equipments, proper weights for each exercise… and I made an appointment with a trainer on Monday

Total Miles: 1.95

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Hello Shelly,

It’s been a tough day. I have been pretty psyched about finally starting this blog, been writing real late, walking every day and started going to the gym monday. Well I hit the wall this morning. Had a great time last night writing about my experience on Mt Rainier but I am already nocturnal and it kept me up even later.. I slept in today and then woke up really sore (the first intense workout caught up with me) and tired (the walking caught up with me)

So I had to really give myself a break and listen to my body and I didn’t go to the gym today. I also won’t be walking at all today. Part the body’s pleas, but also I went for a bit of a road trip down to Takoma Park (on the MD/DC border near Silver Spring MD) for a drum circle event (almost two hours round trip) and really drummed intensely. Hands are tired, legs are worse and  it’s still coming down out there rain/snow and unlike last night when I was inspired to layer up and go for a night’s walk, I will chill out today.

so no miles, no workout … will start at gym again tomorrow

Well, when I get bit down and tired I have to remind myself of my blessings. I have chosen to cut this post short but end it with a gratitude list I wrote a while ago. Reading it always helps put things into perspective…

COUNTING MY BLESSINGS…

1)      I am alive

2)      I have a roof over my head

3)      I have more than enough food on the table

4)      I have heat and air conditioning

5)      I have family and friends that love, care and support me unconditionally

6)      I am relatively healthy

7)      My hands work

8)      My legs work and I can walk

9)      I can see

10)   I can hear

11)   I can speak

12)   I can feel

13)   I can heal

14)   The health challenges I do have are manageable

15)   I have emotional and mental stability

16)   I am a US citizen and have my unalienable rights

17)   I have medical support for all my physical and mental needs

18)   I have access to great medical care, doctors, caseworkers and clinics

19)   I live comfortably

20)   I worry not for shelter or food, relative safety, stability and security

21)   I can read

22)   I can write

23)   I can speak and understand English and express myself fluently

24)   I have access to and appreciation for art, theatre, music and sports

25)   I have a wonderful cat that has stuck with me through the toughest time

——————-

So LIFE IS GOOD!!! I am blessed and now I can close up this computer and put the tough parts of the day behind. I got to drum with my friends and local community/scene, I took care of myself today and now I will continue to do so and have a great late dinner

—————

total miles: zero

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