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Barbara abd Dori Bryon hugging

Family with AIDS {format} {format} 3:45 Joe Plotts

Dori Bryon, AIDS victim, and her mom Barbara.

Broadcast: Dec 1 2003 on NPR Day to Day Subjects: Health, Family

Profile: Mother and daughter struggling with HIV in Seattle

December 1, 2003 from Day to Day

ALEX CHADWICK, host: For policy-makers, the numbers are overwhelming: three million deaths, five million new infections of the AIDS virus just last year. But for families, AIDS is an intensely personal story. For the HearingVoices radio project, producer Joe Plotts spoke with women around Seattle who are struggling with HIV, including Dori Bryon, a teen-ager, and her mother, Barbara Bryon, who had passed the virus on to Dori in utero. And we begin here with the teen-ager, Dori.

DORI BRYON: I've always been interested in learning. I mean, I wanted to learn everything there was about the survivors that was ...(unintelligible). I would ask questions a lot, particularly to my mom. I don't know if my mother knows this, but I have learned quite a bit. She has taught me to be courageous, to fight back if need be; not with my fists, but with my mind and maybe with my voice.

I was in the hospital one time because I was extremely sick with cryptococcal meningitis, extremely. It gives you a horrible, horrible headache, and it never goes away. And the only way you can get rid of it is if they give you spinal taps to release the pressure. And it's a fungus on the brain, basically, and on your spinal cord in the back right here. And, oh, it's painful. I didn't talk to anybody. I didn't look at anybody. Even my closest friends, I didn't talk to or look at. I didn't say anything. I didn't eat. I didn't drink. I didn't talk. I didn't cry. I was numb, totally, from head to toe, inside and out, you know. And my mother, she was the one who rescued me. To me, to this very day, my mother is my number-one hero. She has pulled me out of the gutter so many times.

Ms. BARBARA BRYON: Dori, ...(unintelligible). Oh, she's going to make me cry.

BRYON: Anyways, my mother had to shake me. She literally made me cuss and swear, you know, just to shake something that--to make me feel something, because at the time, I wasn't feeling anything.

Ms. BRYON: When Dori gets sick--and she gets so far close to the edge, she just--her wasting begins. You know, she doesn't eat. She has dreams and visions about seeing my mom and angels and I see angels and, you know, we're in the spirit all the time. We're praying and we're lifting, and we're, like--we're living on two dimensions at once, in the physical and the spiritual, and that's where we are at. And people are sucked into that energy, and so they go along with us on that journey. And then she gets better because something happens.

So one moment, we're talking about death, praying and asking for a miracle--like, the last time she had a seizure, she was down to 74 pounds, having seizures regularly. This was, like, three months ago, not eating, wanting to go to God and I'm ready to send her up. OK, she falls down in her room, we hear the clunk, we go upstairs and I'm just holding her. And she pees on herself while she's having a seizure. And for 10 minutes, she's seizing, and I can't cry because if she is flowing in the spirit, I don't want her to see me crying, so I just keep praying. And that's so hard, to see your child suffer from something you gave them.

CHADWICK: Barbara and Dori Bryon. In the time since Joe Plotts made that recording, Dori died from her illness. Her mother Barbara continues to live with hers.

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CHADWICK: This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News.