Robb made everyone laugh, and he thought the world of nurse Sandee Millage.
By the end of February 1996, Robb had lost six pounds in a little over a week, so he went to Dr. Katz’ office. Dr. Katz wasn’t in, but his nurse Sandee Millage was there to see him.
Robb’s fatigue was worse and he was visibly going downhill. His mother, Hattie drove him to the doctor’s office at Genesis Medical Center in Davenport, across the river from his house in Rock Island, Illinois.
Despite feeling badly, the opening shot in this story still makes me smile. I was carrying the heavy camera gear and walking backward down the hall, so Robb began clowning around, motioning people behind me to look out. I remember squinting with one eye through the viewfinder and trying not to laugh.
The twinkle in Robb’s eyes was replaced with concern.
Robb was able to smile and joke a little bit during his checkup, but there is one moment in particular, when he looks up at Sandee when she takes a blood sample, that the illness is mirrored in his eyes. The haunting “sick” look is so different than the twinkle he had in his eyes 10 months earlier, when the series began.
Robb clowns around as the visiting nurse checks the insertion site on his arm.
In late September, 1995, Robb was in the middle of a 21-day drug treatment for cytomegalovirus, a common virus associated with AIDS. The drug was more toxic than chemotherapy.
A visiting nurse stopped by several times a week to check how he was doing, clean the arm where the tube was inserted, and make sure he wasn’t having trouble with the machine administering the drug.
Robb had been sick for a couple of weeks and he was getting a lot of mail at WHBF-TV, and I would take the cards and letters to him.
This episode shows the visiting nurse, and Robb discusses the mail he is getting, including one horrible letter from someone in Clinton, Iowa.
This blog is recreating Robb’s Life as it originally aired during the last year of Robb Dussliere’s life. Please help keep Robb’s legacy alive and donate a few dollars to the DeLaCerda House — Robb’s favorite charity that provides housing for homeless HIV and AIDS clients in the Quad Cities. Go to www.delacerdahouseinc.org and click the Donate button on the right side of the screen.
Robb, Kelli Hughes and Beth Wehrman arrive to speak to a church group in Davenport – September, 1995.
Kelli Hughes was a college student when she had sex during a one-night stand with a young man who infected her with HIV.
One mistake changed her life.
She became Robb Dussliere’s friend. Twenty years ago this week, Robb and Kelli spoke to a group of teens at a Davenport church about how they could avoid HIV. The appearance was organized by Beth Wehrman, who was Executive Director of the AIDS Project Quad Cities at the time.
When we shot this story in September, 1995, Kelli thought it would be a miracle to reach her 30th birthday, and she did not think a 50th birthday was even possible.
You want some good news? Kelli is still with us and she is only 4 or 5 years from hitting that 50-year mark. That’s how good the medication has become for those who contract HIV.
Take a look at the story and see how bleak her future looked 20 years ago. The new medications were just preparing to hit the market. We did not realize it at the time, but the new drugs came along in time to save Kelli, but not in time to save Robb.
Kelli and her husband and children (which they had using artificial insemination) are living in St. Charles, Missouri. I am attempting to contact her to catch up, but here is a story about Kelli that appeared in a Dewitt, Iowa newspaper five years ago.
There are still many people who are shunned and lose their jobs when they acquire HIV. Please help the DeLaCerda House by donating a few dollars to help support these people. It was Robb’s great passion in the last few months of his life. Follow this link and click on the Donate button on the right side of the page.
Robb and his brother, John Dussliere.
Robb’s younger brother, John Dussliere, came to visit in late August, 1995. Robb’s health was starting to yo-yo every day, feeling fine earlier in the day and sometimes feeling bad later.
They loved to jet-ski, so they took one out to the Mississippi River and enjoyed the day.
Robb later believed he picked something up in the river that day that caused him to begin spiraling downward. With virtually no immune system remaining, it was a possibility.
This story aired on WHBF-TV on the 10:00 news, August 28, 1995.
Robb was dedicated to providing shelter and support to homeless people living with HIV and AIDS in the Quad Cities area. Please help keep Robb’s legacy alive by donating a few dollars to the DeLaCerda House. Follow this link — www.delacerdahouseinc.org — and click on the Donate button on the right side of the page. Thank you.