Today’s Sunday snippet is an extract from the memoir and self-help book, Ripples from the Edge of Life by Roland Chesters
What is Ripples from the Edge of Life by Roland Chesters about?
If, out of the blue, you were given just two weeks to live, how would you feel? What would you do? How would you prepare for the end? Who would you tell – and how?
This was the terrible position Roland Chesters found himself in in the late summer of 2006. He knew he was seriously ill – but had no idea he had both HIV and AIDS.
Luckily, Roland did not die. Expert medical help and his own determination not to give in saw him through. His life, though, had changed forever…
Ripples From the Edge of Life is Roland’s account of a life-changing diagnosis and its impact on him and those closest to him. More than a memoir, Roland’s story is not unique; ripples spread outwards, and this empowering collection gives voice to fourteen others who have survived similar traumatic diagnoses.
This book contains wisdom, hope, humour and inspiration in equal measure. It is an essential read for anyone living with a life-changing condition, and for those who support them.
What do others think about Ripples from the Edge of Life?
“An absorbing and moving testament to real lives lived, and a tribute to lives lost. The chapters are filled with eloquent voices that tell us how it is to live with HIV. These are voices that deserve to be heard.” Siobhan Lanigan, CEO The Food Chain “A unique insight into the emotional roller coaster of a HIV diagnosis and its life-long impact. Reading the personal experiences was haunting. Definitely one of my top recommended reads.” Steph Mallas, CEO George House Trust “These honest life-changing stories are prime examples of the true faces of HIV. They will touch your heart and enrage your mind.” Ian Howley, CEO GMFA
Friday 1 September 2006
I stared out of the carriage window as the 17.53 from Waterloo rattled towards Surbiton, the grimy sprawl of south London rapidly giving
way to the leafier parts of Surrey. I could almost set my watch to the time we passed certain landmarks: offices, houses, stations, parks. It was all so familiar; so horribly familiar and I felt drained and exhausted with it all.
Thank goodness, then, that from tomorrow I had a two-week holiday in the Italian Lakes to look forward to. I knew that by the time I arrived home Richard, my partner, would have packed the bags, printed the tickets and unearthed the passports. All I had to do was turn up, which was just as well because I was capable of little else.
For months I’d felt unwell. Poor balance and coordination, loss of control over arm and leg movements, tetchiness, extreme exhaustion and incoherent speech were all part of my daily life. I’d had test after test with no clear diagnosis of what was wrong with me. No one seemed to know. I just had to get on with it.
The day before I’d had an HIV test on the recommendation of a respiratory specialist who’d been examining my lungs for nodules nothing more scary than chickenpox scars). It was about the only test I hadn’t had – and the one I felt was the least necessary. But if an HIV test could rule that out as well, it was worth doing.
I arrived home and after the front door had clicked to I went into the bedroom, expecting to find everything I needed for the holiday ready and
waiting. Except this time, there were no clothes on the bed to pack, and no suitcase in which to pack them. I went into the living room, where Richard was sitting in silence.
“Er, don’t you think we ought to start packing?” I said. “If we leave it any longer we’ll end up in a panic.”
In response, Richard beckoned me to the sofa and pointed to the seat next to him. Puzzled, I sat down. Then he hugged me and started
to cry. I was shocked. He’s a big, strong man, physically and mentally, and not given to floods of tears. What on earth was going on?
“What is it?” I asked. “What’s happened? Is it serious? Is it bad news from home?”
Richard’s family are thousands of miles away, in Barbados. But he shook his head. It wasn’t them.
It’s us,” he sobbed. “We aren’t going away, Roland. We can’t. I’m so sorry.”
“Why? Why can’t we?”
“The specialist rang. The one who did the test yesterday. He wanted your office number, because…”
“Because he said that we can’t go away. The test result came back. Roland, you’re positive. HIV positive. You’re really ill. We
can’t go to Italy. If we do…you won’t come home alive. It’s that bad.”
Roland will be appearing as a guest on The Segilola Salami Show on Tuesday the 6th of November 2018