The Virus: Journal of Melissa Foster by Louder

submitted by admin - Jun 10, 2002

The journal of a woman with the AR virus.

Jan 2nd

My name is Melissa. This is the first entry in my journal. I guess that's rather obvious but I'm nervous. I'm not sure how to feel or what to write so I fear that I'll ramble much too long and it won't be of a help to anyone. It's late now. 11PM. I tried to watch TV but my mind wandered. The kids knew something was wrong. At least I think they did. They're bright kids. I slipped away and spent too long in the bathroom crying. I couldn't help myself. I still can't. Today I got the results of a routine blood test and heard something I never expected. This is not how I expected to start the new year. I have ARV! How? Why? I'm married and live a good life. Joe is a wonderful husband and telling him was so hard. I show no signs and I think he is in a bit of denial. He thinks it is a mistake because he doesn't think I'm at risk. Unfortunately, Dr Speer tells me I fit the profile all too well. Middle-aged.... God how I used to hate that term! Two kids. Married. She says there is no way to tell how I got it. All they know is that it doesn't appear to be 'airborne'.

But then I read things about it before I was diagnosed. Internet mainly. Drudge seems to have rejuvenated his career out of reporting on its victims and all the conspiracy theories. Some of it makes sense. That's what is so scary! Of course the government is blamed. Maybe rightfully so? BioWarfare. Lab mistakes. There are stories saying it's really airborne but there wasn't any way to stop it. That it is a curse. That it is a blessing. That God did it. The Devil did it. Aliens did it! At first people wanted ARV's quarantined but then the government quickly said 'No'. They said it wasn't contagious in that way and that they'd already isolated it. A cure was only days away. RIGHT! That quieted everyone. Even had people joking that they hoped they could 'catch it' and be cured at about 21! Nobody's laughing now! Especially not me! Originally I thought those internet rumors were bogus but I don't know now. It is fishy. I mean before I was diagnosed I would have said they were impossible but then how could I get it? I'm not around ARV people reguarily. My family doesn't have any victims. But here I am starting my 'journal'. They say it is the first step in a long process.

Maybe it is a mistake! Please let it be a mistake! The doctor says it's not and I should expect the process to begin shortly. Most people don't get any advance warning. When the virus takes hold and the process begins is their first clue. Most think it is the flu or some other ailment. My finding out was a matter of luck. I've had no symptoms. Just a routine checkup and one of the lab technicians noticed the ARV in my blood test. I say it was a matter of luck with them finding it by accident but I'm not so sure luck played any role. I now I live in fear of the process beginning but with glimmers of hope that it will stay dormant or that the Drs. are wrong and it is all a big mistake. Really, all I can hope for is a cure. I still have time. Once it starts, everyday is going to be a little less time. Eventually my biggest hope will be to bounce at 4. 4! My youngest is 6! Barring a cure, Sara my youngest, will still be older than me! Shawna is 16. I'm 39 now and was dreading my 40th birthday. Now I'm wondering if I'll have to sit in a high-chair at my 40th birthday party. My birthday is not until next winter so the virus will likely have ran it's course by then. As anyone reading this can tell my thought process is a mess right now. A million thoughts race through my mind and worry is now a constant companion. I just can't concentrate on any one thing because there are so MANY things to worry about and plans to make.

Why they feel a journal is so important I don't know. When the doctor first told me and it all began to sink in I really thought of suicide. I've seen the ARV's. Even the ones that retain their adult faculties have to filter them through their young minds. Imagine being in diapers. No control over your body or life really. And I've seen the tantrums thrown by victims of AR. Most spouses have come to fear any kind of discussion or disagreement with their inflicted partner. Sometimes you can tell ARV's by the way they dress. Other times their eyes are a dead give away. I've read the stories and I'm sure I'll read more now. There are all types of mental as well as physical changes to deal with. I guess that's why the journal is so important to the medical community. They say the mental regression some experience might just be a way to cope. Others say it is the work of the virus on the mind and a cleansing so to speak. Others say it is both. And some don't seem to be affected in that way. Dr Speer said a large portion simply adapt to their smaller bodies and are still fully functional as far as mental capabilities. In fact they encourage computers, books, and adult companionship. I know I'll keep up on my reading and do everything I can to stay focused. But really there is no way to avoid what happens with your emotions. Or so Dr Speer says.

What a prognosis! Ending up 4 or younger with my own children older than me! My husband forced to care for another child! Losing control of my emotions! Diapers! NO! They say some people actually enjoy this but how could you enjoy sitting in a soiled diaper?

The Dr said not to leave anything out of here if I felt it. What I really feel is suicide. Why not? If I regress too much aren't I as good as dead? My life won't be mine anymore. At least suicide gives me a chance to end it on my terms. Pills would be easy. Not painful anyway. At least I don't think so. Until today I'd never even considered suicide. Joe and I dreamed of growing old together but that's not going to happen now! But then I don't think I could really go through with it. I guess it's an option to consider. But even as an ARV victim I get to see my kids grow up... get married... have their own children. Maybe I can share a crib with my grandchildren?..... I thought that was funny but seeing it in print kinda drives it all home.

I guess telling the children will be the next big step for me. I don't know how they'll react. All I know is that today my life changed in a matter of moments. I guess not knowing until it struck might've been better really. Now every day will be worrying and wondering. How long it stays dormant isn't for sure. Every time they think they know that answer someone proves them wrong. Maybe I'll be the exception and it will never happen to me... but realistically the longest discovery to regression onset period on record wasn't actually very long if you believe Drudge instead of the government propaganda. And even the government's claims aren't much! Why didn't they quarantine these people? Why wait? Why take chances? It seems the longer it goes on the less we really know. It's a far cry from the orginal hopeful stories that were first being reported.

I probably won't write every day. Hopefully I won't make another entry because I won't have to! Maybe I'll wake up from this nighmare. Maybe a cure has just been found.

Day 1 is done. I'm going to cry myself to sleep.


Jan 3rd.

Well, waking up was interesting. I never considered it until that moment. The dread and fear was unbearable. I know the virus takes at least 41 weeks before you can bounce but for some reason I feared I would be a toddler....or a baby this morning! Maybe it was the nightmares. I know in my head that it can't happen that fast but the fear of waking and seeing that I indeed have began the process scares me. The day the process begins is the day I must tell my children what is happening. I can put it off until then. Until that day I can have hope that I'll somehow be spared. As I sat up and bed I tried to collect my thoughts and began thinking about my family. I know my feelings toward Joe and my children won't change but what of their feelings toward me? When Joe said 'I do' no one had ever heard of ARV! And my girls... will they still respect me? Will they obey? Will they accept me in a younger body? As much as I would like to try and sort those things out in my mind they only lead to more questions or worries. Things like picturing Shawna having to babysit ME! Changing MY diaper! And nothing I can do about it. If I regress that far I'll be like a prisoner in my own body. God, don't let that happen to me!

I still think that not knowing that this hell was in my veins until the process begins would have been better. Now I keep looking for signs that it has started yet on the other hand I don't want to know that it has started. Half of me wants to take down all the mirrors and then another half of me wants to put more up! There's so much to contemplate and I'm so tired.


Jan 4th

Nothing much has changed except that I am leaning more toward making my final exit if this disease, or virus, or curse, or whatever begins to take over my body. Maybe it's this phase of unknowing but my future looks grim. If worrying can truly age a person then in these past couple of days I've added 10 years that the ARV will have to erase! I'm thinking more about suicide. It gives me something to focus on. So many answers all seem wrapped up in that one act. My fears would be slayed in that moment. Still, until the moment that ARV truly attacks I have hope.

I now feel like I'm addicted to mirrors and my reflection. It is not vanity though. I just want to know that the process has taken hold.

Joe still won't talk to me about all this. This journal is the only place I can express my feelings. There are meetings for ARV's but I don't even want to consider that just yet. It would be like admitting defeat. Until ARV truly starts I am still firmly in control of my destiny.

Jan 5th

I woke up with a stomach ache. God, I hope it is only a stomach ache and not the first sign that the virus has won! I've stared in the mirror for what seems like hours learning every line on my face. How does one know when they've slipped from 39 to 38? Is there really that big of a difference? I can close my eyes and still see my reflection. Every last detail of it. Those small lines have became my friends. I never thought I'd be saying THAT! My stomach ache has thankfully passed.

Joe is of no help. I know I'm neglecting my family more than I should but I'm not in a mood to be sociable right now.

It is evening now. My stomach ache returned. Still no guarantee that it is the virus. No guarantee that it is not. I'm having a hard time writing this as I sit at my dressing table constantly looking up at my reflection. I don't see any difference but every look sends shivers down my spine. I'm going to bed early tonight. Maybe this illness will pass. Please let it pass!


Jan 6th

Diarrhea woke me. It is still dark out. I feel better now but was very ill for a while. I'm hoping I only had a 24 hour thing. Not Regression Virus related. The lights are dim so as not to wake Joe. I think he's still in denial. Tells me not to worry. How can I not? I can't see the damn mirror because of the light! I need more light but don't want Joe thinking I'm crazy! I don't know what I can expect to see. What is the first real sign? Not a symptom that could be coincidental but rather the real thing. What will I see? I'm going to go downstairs where I can stare at a mirror down there. Maybe it sounds crazy but I want to know!

I think I have my answer. Everyone is up now. My scream woke them. Yesterday I had a streak of gray in my hair. Now it is gone. My 'dishwater' blond locks are free of any loose gray strands. They were there yesterday. I remember. I memorized my reflection. A few days ago I would have pulled that gray hair out of my head faster than anything. But not after the Dr.'s news. Not anymore. That hair was like a trophy. Proof that ARV wasn't going to get me! I screamed and cried. I'll cry some more. It helps. Joe put the kids to bed. The bastard even went back to bed himself. Says I'm being paranoid. I'm NOT BEING PARANOID! I've had gray strands in my hair appear since I was 37. I can't find ANY now. God knows I've tried.

The sun is up high now. I haven't slept anymore. I called Dr. Speer as soon as her office opened and simply said 'second phase'. She understood. The kids are next to be told. I'll do it when they get home from school. Meanwhile I'll stare at this mirror. Even though I dread it I'll keep staring. Watching for changes. I've marked the calendar. One mark at January 6 and then another at October 19th. Oct 19th is 41 weeks. 41 weeks is the minimum time to bounce. Oct 19th! By fall the odds are I'll be a child. Now that it has begun there isn't much chance in science finding anything to slow or halt it. At least nothing to help me. Even if something did happen it would need weeks or months of testing before human trials. I know now I'll bounce at some point and stay that way for a while. If I'm lucky I could go into remission. But if I was lucky I wouldn't have ARV! Science is my only hope to ever see this reverse. Actually prayer is my only hope and science will only be the vehicle. I truly believe that. Unfortunately, I don't know when.

As I write this entry I am thinking of my suicide note. I don't think I'll tell anyone in the family of my plans. I'm afraid they'll try and talk me out of it. Maybe I'll hint at it but I won't tell them directly. After it is over maybe Joe will finally understand! I don't see how anyone reading my letter will be able to argue my decision. I'll die a fully functional and healthy adult. I'll go out on my terms. I'll not be reduced to depending on others. I won't be a burden on anyone. They'll be able to remember me as I am now. That is what I want. I still need to decide how. Pills seems the easiest and least violent. When I tell the kids of my ARV I will make sure to let them know how much I love them. It may be one of our last conversations. Tears are forming now so I'll end this entry in the journal. I'll continue after informing the children of my ARV.

It's evening now and I've told the girls. Sara seemed to not totally understand. Shawna understood. She'd had a teacher with ARV. Apparently her teacher was a lucky one and bounced when she turned 4. My God.... this is what it has come to! Hoping to end up as a 4 year old! At least being 4 would allow me a little dignity while I could wait for a cure. As I talked to the girls I could see them staring at me looking for signs of change. I think Shawna noticed something but she never said. I could just see it in her face. I'm sure the staring is something I'll need to get used to. Seeing their faces there is no way I can go through with the suicide. I really thought I could but they brought me back to reality. Everything is not about 'me'. As long as I'm alive there is hope for a cure. I can pray for a cure just as thousands of others are doing. And remission is always possible. Maybe with a good attitude it is even more likely.

My stomach is beginning to ache again. The Dr says this will happen but will not be a constant throughout this ordeal.

The stomach ache and diarrhea passed quickly. I feel pretty good this evening.


Jan 7th

I feel good this morning. The ARV doesn't appear to be in any rush. Maybe I'll be a lucky one who takes a lot of time to regress. If I'm a record setter maybe it'll take long enough so that a cure will be found before I'm little.

The girls again stared at my face obviously looking for changes. Joe did also. I think he is starting to believe. I wish he would talk with me about his feelings but he won't. I try to talk with him and get him to open up but he seems to get distant. I guess it is his defense mechanism.....ignore it and it'll go away he hopes.

Putting thoughts of suicide behind me has actually lifted my spirits a bit. At least it is a decision I can live with! The rate of ARV varies so it's hard to tell whether I've gotten any younger since the original episode. I did get out some old photo albums and yearbooks. If nothing else they'll give me some benchmarks to judge the regression.

I do feel a little warm right now and Dr Speer said that is another one of the symptoms. The change seems so minor that I feel it must be a good sign that my ARV will work slowly and/or even go into remission. I'll maintain my positive attitude. I have to.


Jan 9th

There was some discomfort last night and I think there again might be some very slight regression happening. Once again it is so minor that I'm not even sure that it is regression that I am noticing. Possibly just better rest.

I went shopping this afternoon. I didn't actually buy anything. In reality I mainly tried to spot ARV victims. They are a varied lot. Some extremely obvious and some I'm not so sure about. I did see an elderly woman pushing a stroller that seemed out of place. At first I thought that the stroller might contain her grandson but with a closer look I could tell by her conversation that the tot was her husband. Seeing that brought me back down a bit. He was very small. Drool ran from his mouth and I know he was in diapers. That is what I fear. On the other hand his spouse was obviously a loving woman and hadn't left him in his time of need. Thinking that way helps to balance things.

I did see a lot of clothing that I liked. I caught myself looking at younger styles. There is so much more to choose from in what is made for younger women.


Jan 13th

My first meeting with other ARV's is today. I want to look my best. Dr Speer said to just be myself and that all phases of ARV's would be at the meeting. I know they video tape these so I want to dress nicely. I feel well rested and fairly confident that my regression period is going to be a slow one.

Well the meeting was a bit depressing. The ARV's there were at various stages. One little boy turned out to be a real little boy. He was with his father who looked to be about 7. The real little boy had missed his bus and so his father had to bring him along. I doubt his son could have been more than 7 himself. In fact he was taller than his ARV'ed father.

Another young man who looked about 20 was in fact 30. There were a couple of early teenage looking girls who giggled a lot during the meeting. I was surprised to find out that they were both 37 and had became fast friends during these sessions. I would have guessed 15 at the most.

Dr Speer talked of a euphoria phase. She warned about not making the highs too high or else the lows would be so much farther down. She said women especially are succeptible to this euphoria phase. Although my spirits have improved I think it is related to the fact that my regression is moving so slowly. Possibly already in an early remission stage or else slowing towards it.

I've studied so much lately that I really didn't learn too much new during the meeting. Whether I'll be a regular I haven't decided yet. Fortunately the meetings are optional. Dr Speer did list me as a candidate for testing of some new drugs to hopefully retard the process. I'm not sure that I'm a good candidate considering my slow to non-existent regression at this point.

I still watch the mirror a little too much I guess. Dr Speer told me that the constant watching is not always the best way to note changes especially when they can be so subtle.


Jan 28th

I haven't written for a few days because things have settled down. At least I thought they had. I thought I might be in full remission. Now I'm not so sure. I finally tore myself away from the mirror. The past few days have been really nice. The Florida weather has been great and I've felt fine. Of course with time going backwards I shouldn't expect too many problems. I've always been relatively healthy. I didn't think the ARV had done too much and I'm still not so sure.

I went shopping again and this time I made a few purchases. Nothing outrageous. A short but classy dress. Heels. Hose. I had my hair done. I have to admit I even checked out some younger styles while I was there. I also watched some of the younger people and noted what they wore. Things have changed since I was young! One positive.... I guess it is a positive thing I noted was my weight loss. I'm not sure how much of it is related to my seemingly continual dieting, the recurring sickness, or maybe even some regression itself but I can't say I mind it at all. Another positive factor is that what few varicose veins I had have all faded. In fact, if my tired legs had seen a little more sun in the past few years I might have been tempted to skip the pantyhose altogether!


Feb 1st

Living in Florida sometimes I forget how lucky I am. I see the north snowed under on the news yet we've had sunshine and highs in the 70's. It's a great place for the kids also. I can wear shorts and a T-shirt all day without even thinking about it. Indoors or out. These people were bundled up in layers of clothing and it looked very uncomfortable. It all made me almost forget about my ARV for a while.

I still haven't went back for a meeting. Not sure that there is a reason. I'm keeping a good attitude.


Feb 4th

With the warm weather I've been wearing some lighter things and I must admit with the weight loss I've felt good about wearing these flirty things. Maybe that was why I received the attention I did. First, a group of construction workers stopped working as I walked by. They whistled. Really made fools of themselves. But, you know, it's kind of a compliment! When I was younger that sort of thing would happen a lot and it annoyed me some. Especially when they'd yell stuff. I mean some are older and out of shape and not my type usually but so what? I hadn't heard that kind of thing in a few years and I'd kind of missed it! The last time I remember it happening I was 32 or so. I guess it's a sign of aging when that fades, kind of like when cashiers and waiters started calling me mam instead of miss. As a matter of fact a young stud waiter also flirted with me rather obviously. Now maybe the clothing had something to do with it. My stomach is a lot firmer and my legs are toned and tanned. My skin is smoother and even my hair seems lighter. I've enjoyed grabbing a few new pieces for my wardrobe and dressing this improved body. I have to admit I looked pretty good in the skimpy sundress I was wearing. I probably shouldn't be into all this as much as I am but I kind of enjoy it. I now know this is all due to ARV but I can't really complain at this point! I don't think Joe thought buying new clothes was a good idea but I don't care. It helps me feel better about myself! Looking in the mirror and comparing my reflection to some old photos I would guess I am 33. Probably in better condition than I was originally at 33 but I'd still say 33.

Sara told me I was pretty. Shawna seemed funny with it all but I think that she was impressed actually and just not used to thinking of her mother as I am now. I hope this isn't a sign that the ARV isn't picking up speed! I don't think so. I can't let myself think about that!


Feb 11th

I've decide to return to a meeting. Just to touch base. The regression is still really slow. I'm still looking for various signs. Shawna said my hair looked fuller. It does feel better. But then I've been eating very well lately. Watching my diet. I figure everything I do to keep myself healthy can only help me in my battle with ARV. My hair appeard lighter too although that may be from the sun. I've been spending more time outdoors. Trying to stay active.

Being aware of the cameras recording the meeting I again wanted to dress nicely. I wore my hair up conservatively and wore another of my new dresses and matching heels. I skipped the pantyhose since my legs had gained some color in the past few days and look pretty good. Dr. Speer complimented me on my looks. I'm pretty happy with my looks right now.

The meeting had no new members. The members there had all regressed more than the last time I had attended.

The two girls were now nearly flat-chested. This was obviously a point of stress for them and they seemed to want to talk about it inordinately.

The 30 year old had slipped into his teens. A very handsome young man. He seemd comfortable with himself.

The youngest member had slipped to barely 5 years old in appearence. He was worried about bouncing. He hoped that it would come soon. I can understand. He was small. He talked with a lisp due to a missing tooth.

Dr Speer again talked to me about the Euphoria phase. She said she believed I was getting caught up in it. I don't think so. She did tell me I was rejected as a candidate for drug testing. It doesn't matter though. I think I'll be OK actually.


Feb 12th.

I had a bad stomach ache last night followed by a headache. Diarrhea accompanied it all. I'm better now but I can tell I've slipped maybe a whole year more. Probably 31. A good age really. Especially from the point of view of a 39 year old! I examined myself in the shower and could tell my skin was softer and my muscles were more defined. My stomach is almost flat. How can I complain?

Feb 14th.

Happy Valentines Day! The past couple of days were pretty good ones. The ARV seems to have slowed if not went into remission. Joe agrees that I don't look any younger than a few days ago. No illness at all. I still hold out hope that I'll go slow enough that a cure will be found before I'm too small. The stomach aches have went away completely. Energy is high. Sex drive also. Joe and I have made love the past few nights and it has been wonderful. I feel better about our bonds now. The girls have been great. Every once and a while they'll make a joke and then you can tell that they wonder if I was offended. Especially Shawna. Sometimes she'll make a joke about my having a pimple or something like that. I know she's joking and it doesn't bother me. If this is the euphoria that the Dr spoke of, it could last forever and I wouldn't care!


Feb 28th

Relapse. Nothing seemed to happen for days and now this. Woke up with major cramps. Diarrhea soon followed. Headache. Fever. This went on all day yesterday. A very bad day. I couldn't even write in this journal. By the time the kids got home from school they were greeted by a rather ill 29 year! A scar on my knee disappeared. It had been there since an accident water skiing. That was when I was 29 so I'm guessing by that and a few other clues that I am 29 now. My hair is definitely lighter and longer. Maybe even curlier. My shoulders are soft and round and actually my muscle tone is much better everywhere! Both girls could easily tell the difference. Sara again told me I was pretty. Shawna also complimented me although I think she realized for the first time how much could happen in a short time.

I've made a mark on the door and I've also got a chart with my weight written by it. My stomach is even flatter now. I guess I wasn't as firm as I thought before because I can really tell a difference now. I guess the years between 29 and 33 can wreak more havoc than I ever imagined. I'm actually impressed with my body although I feel funny saying that. I guess having my old self to compare it to is the difference. My legs, my rear end, my arms...everything is so much better toned now. I suppose my butt is a little bigger than it could be but I guess that'll change! My face is hardly showing any lines at all. A few but nothing deep at all. My skin is smooth. My eyes are clear. If it wasn't for my butt I'd be a babe! I actually wish I'd have another round of the ARV induced diarrhea so that my butt would shrink a little. Not a lot... just so I'd look 26..or 25!

Why the hell am I worrying about this stuff? ARV messes with your mind! How can a 39 year old woman not look at her reflection and see a 29 year old and not like it? How can she not wish to be even younger? But then I keep thinking that I AM going to get younger and if I hurry it I'll be in diapers rather than that skimpy bikini that I'm just dying to buy and wear at least one time in my life! What strange contradictions. I'm not so sure that if a way was found to stop this damn ARV right now that I wouldn't ask to wait a day or two before getting my dosage!

To be continued