Seven years ago, to be nearer to his mother, Eli moved back home to High Point extremely ill, unable to walk and with no immediate resources for medical care or support for his AIDS diagnosis. He had been hospitalized for nearly a month in the days leading up to his move. Suffering from an opportunistic infection of Kaposi Sarcoma, which consists of tumors and lesions that sometimes covered his entire body, Eli contemplated the possibility that he might be bedridden for the rest of his life. His weakened state necessitated having a friend travel with him by plane to North Carolina.
In anticipation of the move and not knowing what would happen with his grave physical condition, Eli had given away all of his earthly belongings, save for his car, which was shipped from the town where he had previously been living. He had not driven the vehicle in two years due to his illness. Though Eli’s spirit was broken and he was filled with despair, something inside him said to keep the car.
Knowing he would need help with his illness once he got moved, Eli’s mother had begun researching resources within the High Point Community. Upon finding Triad Health Project’s (THP) High Point office and seeing the comprehensive services that were offered there for people living with HIV/AIDS, Eli’s mother called and scheduled an appointment with a Case Manager. Eli recalls that, as he struggled into the THP office for the first time with his mother’s assistance, he felt he might possibly, “leave this earth soon after arrival.”
As part of beginning care with THP in High Point, Eli’s Case Manager Sharon Lipscomb performed a comprehensive needs assessment and began implementation of a plan of care to enhance Eli’s quality of life. Step one was getting Eli into medical care at the Wake Forest Medical Center Infectious Disease Clinic. In addition to medical care and getting connected to social support resources while working with THP, Eli also found support, compassion, understanding, friends and peace. Within six months of having weekly contact with Sharon, Eli began to walk and venture out within the community. Eventually, he was driving his car that had sat idle for so long during his illness, a reminder of that message he had received during the move to not give up.
Once Eli’s health stabilized, he began volunteering at THP’s High Point office, assisting with the client food pantry and daily distribution of food bags, and helping out with administrative duties. Today, extremely committed to giving back to a community which gave him life again, Eli continues as a volunteer and participant in THP’s High Point client programs, driving home afterwards in the car he kept in hope to the house he was able to purchase within two years after moving and connecting with THP.