My Struggle With Addiction & AIDS - One Man's story
My Struggle With Addiction & AIDS
by Terry Mohammad Tahir (Usuryfree3@...)
After living on the streets of Washington, DC for two years, I got clean
from drug (crack) addiction on December 4, 1992. It was not an easy job.
It took the help of the VA Medical Center, Catholic Charities and the time
and resources of many welfare organizations in greater Washington. They
say that after you get drug-free, you still practice many of the traits of
the insane condition of addiction. In my case that was true. On a number
of occasions, I declined the HIV test.
In the spring of 1995, I noticed that I was losing energy and
requested help from the VA Medical Center. I believed that I only needed
some pills to pep me up, a classic drug addict solution. As spring gave
way to summer, I could hardly walk, but blamed this condition on the
summer heat. On August 15, 1995, I was admitted to VA Hospital with AIDS,
my T cells count having reach 173.
In the hospital, my condition got worst instead of better. On
November 14, 1995, I was shipped off to Hyattsville Nursing home, as VA
Hospital believed there was little hope for me. As it turned out, being
placed in that nursing home was one of the greatest gifts that I have
received in this life. I met Ed Zipeto, a Catholic social worker at the
nursing home, who visited me every Sunday for over a year. Ed, having
lost the ability to write, would pen my thoughts and then take them home
and type them out, bringing them back for my approval the following
Sunday. For those fourteen months I was in a wheelchair at the nursing
home Ed was my window to the world.
I exchanged my crack addiction for an addiction to Oprah at the
nursing home, getting much inspiration and hope from her programs. I also
watched Nightline, where Darlene Riley, a guest, made the statement, "Of
all the gifts that God has given me, AIDS is the greatest gift." That
statement had great impact upon me because Darlene Riley was a former drug
addict, just like me. It jogged lose a verse from the Qur'an which reads,
"...and the patient in tribulation and adversity and times of stress.
Such are they who are sincere." (Surah 2, Verse 177).
Ed would take me in my wheelchair to Soho cafe many of those
Sundays. There I would drink coffee and learn how to interact with people
again. Living with AIDS ceased to be a burden and became an exciting
chapter to my life. I wanted to become a positive example of a person
living with disabilities. Through the HIV Community Coalition, I began
accepting every chance to speak in public, sharing my laughter, my peace,
my joy, my excitement with others. AIDS became my personal gift from God.
Today, I understand what Darlene Riley meant when she said, "AIDS is the
Recently, in September of this year, I attended the Islamic Society
of North America Convention in Chicago. At the convention, attended by
over 30,000 Muslims from all over the world, a large booth of the Dow
Jones Islamic Index was at the door as you entered the convention center.
Being interested in Islamic finance, I decided that I should give them my
card. As I walked up to the booth, the person manning it said, "We have
already been to your web site -- www.UsuryFreeLiving.com." I realized
then that not only had they been to my site, they had to have somebody
point me out to them. This was the web site that Ed had penned while I
live in the nursing home, that David Bottorff (also living with AIDS) had
put on a floppy disk for me and Dr. Imad ad-Dean Ahmad had placed on the
worldwide web, giving me worldwide fame.
No man is an island, but with the help others awesome things can be
accomplished. Today, I firmly believe that with the help of God, there is
nothing I cannot be, there is nothing I cannot do, there is nothing I
cannot have. God has been good to this former drug addict. I fear that I
won't be able to give back the gift that has been given me. I had God's
help to overcome my human selfishness and pride. It was greed, lust,
dishonesty and covetousness that led me into drug addiction. Now that I
am drug-free, my work has just started. By the grace and mercy of God and
the continuing help of many people of all races, religions and economic
status maybe I have a chance to be what He created me to be.
See Terry's website at: www.UsuryFreeLiving.com
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