David R. Anderson

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David R Anderson: Brother, Son, Uncle, Friend, Cousin

David’s AIDS story had a very short life span. David was one of the early diagnosed. He was diagnosed with AIDS in 1988 and died on this day a year June 4, 1989. David was considered one of the lucky ones back then. He had a full time white collar job with medical benefits that gave him access to the best care available at the time and he was in the first round of AIDS patients to be prescribed AZT (and more important his insurance covered the prohibitive cost). It was in 1987 AZT became the first of the drug “cocktails” to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the purpose of prolonging the lives of AIDS patients. When I first flew back to visit David in NJ after he was hospitalized for Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) he was in a single room with a biohazard symbol on his door. Upon entering his room the first thing I noticed is that his food had been left across the room, no one had been in to check his catheter, IV nor had there been any notes made to his chart since his admission nearly 24 hours prior. He was nearly unresponsive and looked like he was having some reaction to whatever they were given him intravenously and there was no way for him to call for help nor was there anyone monitoring his care. And he was one of the lucky ones. There were stories of AIDS patients being moved to abandoned floors of hospitals and left to die, others were simply denied admittance and died outside of hospital buildings denied any treatment at all. Fear was rampant not only in the medical communities but everywhere. David was fortunate to be one of seven siblings with a fierce sister in law and extended family of friends who made it their mission to make sure he got what he needed. There was a presence at every shift change, a meeting with his doctors and hospital administrators to let them know what the expectations were and that the education of their nursing staff to give David what he needed had to happen immediately. His sisters bathed him and emptied his catheter bag in the hospital. When he was released he was under the care of a saintly Doctor who was also a nun. His childhood friend Patty, who was a respiratory therapist, came to the house and gave him his treatments. He was loved and cared for right up until the time of his death. He died a few weeks shy of his 31st birthday. David was one of the lucky ones. The story is not over by any means. David and all those we have loved and lost to AIDS live in our memories, our hearts and our commitment to uphold the visibility, continue the education and most important insure that the civil rights of ALL people are being met. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ~ Nelson Mandela Together we are changing the world for those who cannot do it for themselves and for those who died trying. Extending love and compassion to all those who have suffered loss at the hands of AIDS, may we all live long enough to see its eradication and say "remember when...." Rosemary Anderson July 25. 2012