The Diva Flu

Published 22, Jan, 2018
Author // Patrick Italo Ettenes

Patrick Ettenes: "Let’s be frank, none of us are wonderful when sick."

The Diva Flu

Happy 2018 everyone! I trust that everyone had a great New Year celebration without any drama?  I laugh, as of course I didn’t and pushing forward, I will discuss that drama one day in the future, after I’m done pulling the pins out of the voodoo doll that represents the individual (smiling ever so cheeky).

So let’s push forward. After my New Year’s I became Ill. The trauma I went through and the partying had a toll on me and of course my body was run down and I became sick. Laying on my sofa bed, I was shivering and shaking and wondering if everything would get better and when or what would I write this year.

And the good Lord made me experience it once again, so here I am… grab a drink, a snack or whatever comforts you and sit back, as I’m going to drag you into my world. Brace yourself, I’m going to twiddle with your mind. (Grin).

Let’s be frank, none of us are wonderful when sick. I mean, reading the title of my article alone should give you a clue. No matter if its Flu, cold or any other health issue, we are all like savage animals when we are ill, or grumpy bitches. Or just plain BITCHES. And that’s what I wanted to talk to you all about.

As I was pitching this article to my editor, I was explaining that no one I know has written anything positive about being sick, or rather about being ill and HIV-positive. I can only write based upon how I am when I am sick - and I’ve been very ill due to being HIV-positive - and how I have coped using humour and by embracing what I’m going through and enjoying it to the fullest extent possible.

So what am I like when I’m sick? I am a complete DIVA! A dying Diva, as I say. To quote the one lady who knows me best, my mother, I’m her “little Drama Queen.” That’s only half of her joke – it’s what she does when she finds out I’m sick!

Picture it, calling mummy to tell her you ill, and she says, “Oh I’m sorry to hear that”, hangs up the phone and I don’t hear from her for a week. Hahahahahaha. Of course, I ring about eight to twelve times a day saying, “Mummy I’m dying” -- to which the little lovely lady says, “Well hurry up!”

Shocking, you say? But she laughs, as we have all learnt to. You see there were times when my HIV got me so sick that we all cried, I was afraid and so were my father, brother and mother. I didn’t know what was going on. I tried not to cry and show signs of my worry. Over time I learnt how to cope and manage those tough times.

"... I ring about eight to twelve times a day saying, 'Mummy I’m dying', to which the little lovely lady says, 'Well hurry up!'"

You see, we in the Caribbean have to find the joke in situations, and so with this new struggle we adapted. We learnt soon enough that when I’m sick and I’m a Diva - that doesn’t mean, however, that I’m not actually sick. It means I’m horribly ill, seriously - but by joking I found a way to make everyone around me calm. Even me.

It’s not easy being ill. We all are scared of it and when it comes to the flu season, which is now, all of us who are HIV-positive must take care of ourselves an extra bit more. Flu jabs are available. For my own reasons I personally don’t take them, but those who worry more can take those precautions.

People like us, who living with the virus, can develop pneumonia quicker than most, which takes many HIV-positive lives around the world each year. We forget that a simple cough for a few weeks could be a sign that you are developing something worse.

I was so sick that I walked over the road and back to my flat. I couldn’t breathe and at one point nearly called the ambulance, worried for my own health. And that was after taking a week’s worth of antibiotics.

When we are ill, we revert into a childlike state and crave nurture and comfort, which is a luxury for some of us who have that.

For those who don’t? It causes us to be really fucking grumpy. Having to work and function around others, then come home and perform daily functions by yourself, without assistance makes us well, a fucking nightmare… so my advice is, embrace it!!!

That’s what I did. I got tired of trying to be nice to everyone for everyone’s sake and just said, “I’m sick so I’m a grumpy fuck right now. Hate me if you must. I’m not like this 365 days of the year but my inner miserable cow is coming out so beware… choose your conversations carefully with me or stay out of my way.”

Oh, you should have seen how many people left me alone, I mean I’m honest, but when sick I’m far too honest! But I’m a dying Diva and I love it. My poor partner has to listen to me calling him after my mom finds out I’m sick and blocks my number (Joking)

So I can call him to complain and moan. She just agrees and nods till I get bored and hang up.

We need to sometimes find the humour in the worst situation, especially when living alone. I drag my duvet, bitching and moaning about everything that’s wrong with me, and I giggle. I treat it like I’m Monica from Friends, or Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory. And it helps make a bad situation that I’m in bearable.

Let’s face it, what do you have to lose by trying to giggle about yourself? I know HIV is a scary thing and those who are ill right now with it will wonder if I am mad.

Well, yes I am. I’ve sat there alone and scared for two months, so sick I couldn’t move because my meds were not working. My parents couldn’t fly over and I cried so much… and in the end, I made my first joke about my status.

I walked into the LGBT foundation, and made a joke to my old Editor: “Look how thin I am! Finally my HIV is working for me!” 

And peopled laughed. Some said I can’t say that, but the truth is, I fucking can! I have to live with this virus and if I couldn’t make a joke and find the positive of the situation, I’d be a truly miserable bitch, so ever since then I encourage people to make a joke. I made a joke to help save my own life.

I am a little bit of a Diva but I know my place, so please - next time you’re sick, just tell yourself, “Its DIVA time!” Find your comfy sick clothes and make your life a happy miserable one! So you can joke about it and once you can smile, you’ll see what I mean. Everything gets better in the end!

I actually have to write about how I got better but this is a good enough piece, so fuck it. This part is my article.

About the Author

Patrick Italo Ettenes

Patrick Italo Ettenes

I was born and brought up in sunny Barbados. I come from a very loving family whom I still to this day adore with all my heart. I'm a very happy go lucky kinda guy. I'm pretty well traveled. I've lived and studied in different parts of the world which I think has made me understand the human race just a tad bit better. My friends are fast from traveling but my heart will always remain where they are. In the Caribbean.

At 15 I received a Scholarship for psychology where I lived in Cuba for about a Year. Moved to England and studied and lived for six years. Lived in Panama for two years and am now back in England, where I've managed to hold a column in OutNorthWest Magazine. I've been interviewed by BBC Out North West Tonight, been on radio with Mike Robinson, been a panelist on HIV matters aired on Gaydio, also in front of a live audience on HIV matters, and was interviewed for Worlds Aids Day for a video.

My blog The Broken Bones

Facebook page

Twitter @PEttenes

Google plus 

Instagram  italo_ettenes