My new friend

Published 26, Oct, 2017
Author // Dennis Battler

Dennis Battler honours Shanti's life and faces a new diagnosis.

My new friend

And now its Wed. Tue was another day from the Hellien Gods. Centered around my new bodily curiousity the nature of which is too delicate for my demure conversational boundaries.” … as written to an older female friend earlier today.

Thoughts change quickly. Well, fuck demure.

As I wrote to another friend, David: "Re: sex - I doubt it will happen again in my lifetime. When I think of it, sex fucked up my life. As you said, “So much disease with sex.” And do we really pay attention? No, we don't. I didn't. Like everyone else I arrogantly thought "its not going to happen to me."  Fucking naive. Just facts. No anger or frustration, simply facts. And I'm not bothered by the "loss" of sex. That pales to losing Shanti. Not having Shanti is the biggest loss, again, a fact. Nothing morose – a simple fact.“

I wonder if any of the educational campaigns over the decades have made any impression on our wonderful world of gay men, busy celebrating liberation, HIV Meds and U=U. Propping up the “Fuck for Liberation” philosophy, old and tired as that is. Like sex, the maturing of the gay community is unlikely to happen in my lifetime. Sorry, equal marriage doesn’t equal maturity.

 “Genital herpes is a common STD, and most people with genital herpes infection do not know they have it.”

No answer sought on the educational campaigns question, merely musing. In many ways we gay men are like cockroaches. Under threat we grow more resilient, more stubborn, more determined. Qualities proven necessary in the past, useful in the moment, and with advancement of the human species believed to be nigh, possibly qualities to be retired.

Please don’t interpret my observations as wound licking, self-loathing or internalized homophobia. Not a chance. Those stones have been turned over and over. Nothing there. My life has now entered the Theatre of The Absurd – Too ridiculous to take anything seriously.

I’ll take this admonition into consideration:

“Seeing Humour in our Predicament” 

11 Month Re-cap

The past 11 months being the most intense in 25 years of continued foundational challenge, beginning in November 2016. I summoned up the courage to address a return exterior Soft Tissue Tumour on Shanti’s back left leg. Shanti, my most valued supporter, loyal and unquestioning, offering unconditional love with no end, Shanti my 11yr old Whippet and I share a deep, deep bond. We are soul family.

Pre-surgery tests in November and December followed with surgery in January. With tense recovery, stitches split, left a difficult knee wound gaping open. Constant bandage changes; 7/24 care for the month, needing to be carried in and out; multiple vet visits; and a third tumour showing up on his other back leg post operation on the left leg. Good for 3 months then spiralling down in July.

While he was on reprieve, I was not. In April my undetectable status shifted to detectable. Continued regular testing with results being up, down, up, down, up and up.

In July, more vet visits for Shanti, more blood tests, and daily shifts in and out of energy, appetite and awareness. All observed, extensively written of and supported with complete devotion and diligence by me his soul companion - as he was mine – now in my new role of Death Doula. Shanti died July 31st.

Cost for Shanti’s care, from beginning to end: $4000. Covered on a gov't disability of $982 / month. And some financial contributions to help our existence by neighbours, my co-op pet fund donations plus a loan of $1400, and anonymous dog lovers through the Pet Store and GoFundMe (… getting that money was a nightmare story in itself of over 100 emails, and 3 weeks delay. Being left with $25 in the 3rd week of January with a vet visit scheduled for the next day and no funds to pay. Vets don’t work unless paid.)

Landing me in August with no Shanti, now void of my most loyal supporter. Diligent with self-care as I was with Shanti’s care, with the intention of raising energy, improving medical stats and just possibly regaining lost muscle mass, still produced blood test results with the highest numbers of HIV virus load in 2 and half years. Stress of financial limitation to care for the one I most loved, Shanti, appearing to take its toll. Virus count of 125 led to a recommended change of medication, with new side effects; 5 nights of seven with 3 hours of sleep and constant headache. Stress stimulus continues.

Welcome October

A new month and a new diagnosis., Genital Herpes. With the herpes virus laying dormant for years my question becomes “Why now?“ The second question is, as the Herpes Virus is known to lay dormant for potentially years, why aren't we tested for the herpes virus when diagnosed with HIV?

Psychological Effects of Genital Herpes

"Because of the stigma, fear, and misinformation about Genital Herpes, the psychological effects that accompany an HSV infection are as substantial as the physical.  Symptoms for primary infections range from confusion, denial, anger, hostility, withdrawal, and severe depression to guilt, shame, fear, a sense of immeasurable loss, resentment, and retaliation.  Many people with Herpes become socially isolated.  For many, the fear of transmitting the virus to another or fear of discussing the infection with a potential partner can lead to avoidance of relationships."

I don't feel as bad as the article suggests is possible. I’ve trumped that. Correction – ACED that. With HIV, it’s stigma and its fallout of financial restriction and stress. Double trumped, in the devastation department with the death of Shanti in July. In this financial world of limitations, and loss of my most significant and reliable source of emotional support, having another furry companion, a new friend, is not possible.

What I have learned in my multiple explorations in “complimentary” health care (at a cost equal to Shanti’s care this 11 months) is the profound influence of deeply subconscious patterns. Pandering to the fear residing there never altars the fear and never altars the outcome. That being, living in a constant state of fear of being annihilated. People can say kind things and do supportive acts, and yet the fear with its death grip on loudspeaker drones on seductively, "Just wait. It will come." 

Had herpes appeared without HIV, without Shanti’s death, without the loss of a future lived with a friendly furry supporter as I’ve lived with for my entire lifetime, without my endeavours in self-care, I might feel the angst described in the link.

Too late for added angst and stigma, that agenda's been overused, overbooked and is sold out. Not taking new bookings.

Shanti Died Today

My habits slip in,

The future knocks at my consciousness

Harshly banging on, declaring

“It will end! It will end!”

“He will be no more!”

“The pain! The Pain”

“How will you live?” “How will you live without him?”

“He is your life!”


He will live.


Inside me.

 My heart

My mind

My memory


This is Our Bond.

Our Pact.

 To ignite our hearts

To love

To bask in our love, Shanti love

Our shared experience

Our lived experience


We Have This,

Our Love

 Me for Shanti

Shanti for me


Dedicated to  


Remember Shanti … “Shanti’s My puppy!”

 Dennis Battler / October 5, 2017

About the Author

Dennis Battler

Dennis Battler

“I’ve returned to my love for words. Twenty year’s pursuit of connection with my Realized Self, presented in mysticism and Eastern Practices, informs my writing. My intention? To expand consciousness of both self and the audience.

Life's learning? Life’s zenith rollercoaster is normal. There’s nothing wrong. Surprise. Single with Pets.”

Dennis lives in Toronto Ontario and has been living with HIV since 2013.