Chappell (orange in my brooding rainbow) is one of the colours in the Sockmatician Edition range that has been named after someone who is very much still alive. Not only that, it is someone known to me. In fact, the story behind this particular colourway is the most personal of them all.
Remembering back to June, 2017, I was incredibly ill. I was besieged by a crippling fatigue, accompanied by aching joints, sensitive skin, a deep nausea, a migrainous headache that wouldn’t go away, weakness, stiffness, night sweats, fever, a rash up one side of my body, loss of appetite, huge weight loss, and many more symptoms. I have never known anything like it, and I would not wish it on my worst enemy.
I had already been sent home from the A&E department of my local hospital, having been told that I was in the grip of a virus, and that I should take plenty of fluids, get lots of rest, and that I would be fine.
My husband wasn’t happy with this, and forced me to make an emergency appointment to see my doctor.
The doctor I happened to see that day was called Dr Rupert Chappell.
Dr Chappell worked incredibly hard to find out what was wrong with me, going above and beyond what most GPs would have done in order to find the answers. Even after being told that I had just had a negative HIV test result, he gently suggested to me that he wanted to do a second test, just to make sure.
Of course, HIV is exactly what it turned out to be, and the illness I was experiencing was what is called the seroconversion illness. It is the body’s immune response to becoming HIV positive. (In the initial period after infection—usually two–four weeks after transmission occurs—the body’s own immune system works really hard to fight off the virus that is, at this stage, running rampant through it. This epic struggle channels all the body’s energy and resources into fighting to control the spread of HIV within it, and that is what causes the fatigue and the other symptoms of the seroconversion illness.)
After the second round of blood tests, Dr Chappell called me personally, to tell me he wanted to bring me into his surgery right away. He said I wouldn’t need to book an appointment and that I would be seen immediately.
On the 26th of June, 2017, he gave me the news that I had HIV. He handled such a difficult situation with the utmost dignity, clarity, respect, and sensitivity. I owe him so much.
It is entirely due to his diligence that I got my diagnosis so early on, and that will have massive benefits for my future health: I was on medication within seven weeks of picking up the infection, possibly less, and I managed to achieve an undetectable viral load within ten weeks of that.
Others had missed my condition. Dr Chappell did not.
I have so much to thank him for.
On the original design for the Gilbert Baker’s Pride rainbow flag, upon which the Sockmatician Edition yarn range is based, each of the different stripes represents something specific. I have chosen to give Dr Chappell’s name to the orange stripe in my brooding rainbow, because the orange stripe on Baker’s rainbow represents Healing.