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Author Topic: Changes  (Read 11573 times)

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Offline sweetasmeli

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,052
  • Love what you are...
Changes
« on: December 22, 2007, 06:07:07 AM »
I havenít logged in here let alone posted anything for a while; had lots of stuff going in my life; work, (yet another!) house move, spending time with family/friends and trying to get organised/settled etc. Plus Iíve been trying to spend less time online.   

Nevertheless, when I do pop on I lurk here to see whoís around to grab on Skype/MSN and I quickly skim Living With and Long Term Survivors to make sure no-one I know is ill (I apologise if Iíve missed anything though, as I really do skim!)ÖAnyway, it was actually Markís thread Of Meds and Mortality in the LTS forum that prompted me to write this.

Many of you know that I did the move back to the UK from Greece in July; I was staying with my parents while I found somewhere to live; I'm now living in my own place back in the area I wanted to be; and me and cats are all happily settling in.
 
Also, some of you know (but most donít) that my time has come to start meds. My consultant had The Conversation with me mid-November, gave me a few weeks to get my head around the idea, then I went back to see him after my house move early this month.

Having already carried out the genotype test for abacavir sensitivity (which was negative) he decided to try me on Sustiva and Kivexa; I collected the meds like a good girl, took them home and promptly put them in the kitchen cupboard.

Starting meds was always my biggest fear in my journey with HIV; as someone who never so much as popped aspirin for headaches, I loathed the idea of having to take something that may well wreak havoc (or Armageddon, as a new friend recently said!) on my body and mind, if not in the short term then possibly in the long term. And the thing is this isnít like taking an aspirin for a headache; once on them, thatís itís for life. Ech!

Also reading about conspiracy and dissident theories/big pharma profits etc didnít help! 

I thought I was doing really well; 8+ years positive and med-free I guess I was; my doc thinks so anyway. But my last few blood draws had started to show unfriendly trends, so he decided it may well be time; I all but threw a full-blown hissy fit at the prospect.

But anyway, I went away from the consultation, read the info he gave me and chewed over his words and advice. After deciding Ďokí, collecting the meds and leaving them untouched in the cupboard for 2 weeks, after my last day of work I promoted them to the coffee table in my front room.

Having read the info and browsed the lessons here and spoken with friends, I knew what the possibilities could be from starting. If I was going to do it, I was going to do it when I didnít have a 7am start or classroom full of thirty 7-year-olds to contend with.

So, a week ago today I took the plunge and started them. My best friend came and spent the night (love her!) and my parents came and stayed a day or so later (love them too!). Incidentally, the side effects/non effects are not what this post is about; this post is about changes, in my life and in my mindset.

When faced with the decision of whether to start or not, I discussed it (and my fears) at length with my doc (who is fab by the way). In a nutshell, he said this to me: Debra, in the long run, whatís the difference in being on these meds 50 years or 52 years? If you wait, even 6 months, the way your numbers are going you may do irreparable damage to your immune system; if you start now that is much less likely to happen.

It was in that moment and the weeks that followed that I suddenly realised I feared something in my journey a lot more than starting meds or even death; I feared getting irreversibly sick, to the point that my every day life was severely impaired; a life that I have fought tooth and nail to get back on track; a life that Iím growing to love again.

So, I literally said: Ach, feckitÖokayÖletís do it.

The thing is HIV isnít equivalent to a headache, so it goes without saying that the meds to treat it wonít be the same either; but in the same sense, if left untreated, a headache wonít kill me, whereas HIV/AIDS undoubtedly will; and from all accounts, it wouldnít be a pretty death. So at this point in time, if it's a toss up between possible side effects/adjustment or getting horribly sick, then possible side effects/adjustment it has to be.

Basically, I choose life, as long and as healthy as possible. And Iím thankful for my options.

Debra
/\___/\       /\__/\
(=' . '=)    (=' . '=)
(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline next2u

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,762
Re: Changes
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2007, 11:59:20 AM »
great choice, i second that motion. also, thanks for posting this. i'm not on meds yet and your sentiments echo my personal fears. that decision is definitely not an easy one. how have things been since you've started your regiment?
midapr07 - seroconversion
sept07 - tested poz
oct07 cd4 1013; vl 13,900; cd4% 41
feb08 cd4  694;  vl 16,160; cd4% 50.1
may08 cd4 546; vl 91,480; cd4% 32
aug08 cd4 576; vl 48,190; cd4% 40.7
dec08 cd4 559; vl 63,020; cd4% 29.4
feb09 cd4 464; vl 11,000; cd4% 26
may09 cd4 544; vl 29,710; cd4% 27.2
oct09 cd4 ...; vl 23,350; cd4% 31.6
mar10 cd4 408; vl 59,050; cd4% 31.4
aug10 cd4 328; vl 80,000; cd4% 19.3 STARTED ATRIPLA
oct10 cd4 423; vl 410 ;); cd4% 30.2
jun11 cd4 439; vl <20 ;); cd4% 33.8 <-Undetectable!
mar12 cd4 695; vl ud; cd4% 38.6
jan13 cd4 738; vl ud; cd4% 36.8
aug13 cd4 930; vl ud; cd4% 44.3
jan14 cd4 813; vl ud; cd4% 42.8
may14 cd4 783; vl *; cd4%43.5

Offline aztecan

  • Member
  • Posts: 5,429
  • 29 years positive, 57 years a pain in the butt
Re: Changes
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2007, 12:31:17 PM »
It was in that moment and the weeks that followed that I suddenly realised I feared something in my journey a lot more than starting meds or even death; I feared getting irreversibly sick, to the point that my every day life was severely impaired; a life that I have fought tooth and nail to get back on track; a life that Iím growing to love again.

So, I literally said: Ach, feckitÖokayÖletís do it.


Hey Debra Dumplin,

I was just thinking of you this week and the time we spent on the shore of Lake Mead last year. A fond memory, to be sure.

I applaud your insight on meds and your decision to begin them. I know its not an easy thing to do.

I think you said it beautifully and very well. What some folks don't seem to realize is life doesn't remain constant. Living half a life was never on my agenda, so, like you, when the time came, I made the same decision you did.

Of course, that was 12 years ago, but I digress.

So, my dear, how are things going with the meds? I hope well.

I'll be keeping you in my thoughts and sending positive energy your direction.

BIG HUGS,

Mark
"May your life preach more loudly than your lips."
~ William Ellery Channing (Unitarian Minister)

Offline Robert

  • Member
  • Posts: 2,649
Re: Changes
« Reply #3 on: December 22, 2007, 12:33:56 PM »
good morning Debra.

And merry christmas.

good for you on taking your pills.  I also read Mark's thread Of Meds and Mortality and found it a very good read.  I liked David's (Redhotmusclebear) take on the issue.  For some of us, when we were offered meds, the alternative was the  death which we had already seen among so many of our friends.  There really was no choice.  Today's alternatives are not quite as dire but it is still a life-changing experience and one that should not be taken lightly.  And even if the consequences of not taking your pills is not as final as it once was, I would never, ever, question anyone who had doubts about doing it. 

Congratulations on  8  med-free years.  2007 has been quite a  year of change for you (as it was for me as I got to meet my very first Manchesterians) but I think you'll find the future somewhat less turbulent.

Merry christmas
robert
« Last Edit: December 22, 2007, 12:42:08 PM by Robert »
..........

Offline allanq

  • Member
  • Posts: 691
  • still life with pills
Re: Changes
« Reply #4 on: December 22, 2007, 02:52:26 PM »
Dear Debra,

I know how difficult it is to start taking HIV meds. Once started, it is usually a lifelong commitment.

On the plus side, I do think that the meds available today are generally not as difficult with regard to side effects as they were back in the late 1980's to late 1990's. There are still side effects to contend with, but if you have trouble with a drug, there are generally others that you can try.

I hope you're tolerating your regimen without any problems.

As I get older and see more of my friends taking pills for all sorts of conditions (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, etc., etc.), it's gotten a little easier to wrap my mind around my own pill taking routine.

I wish you the best of luck and hope 2008 will be a very happy and healthy year for you!

Allan
Top (Breakfast): Prezista, Norvir, Isentress, Zoloft (2), Glyburide (2), Aspirin
Bottom right (Dinner): Prezista, Norvir, Isentress
Bottom left (Bedtime): Sustiva, Trazodone (2), Lipitor, Septra (no longer taking this)
Center: Alprazolam (Xanax)
Not shown: various vitamins & supplements

Offline Queen Tokelove

  • Member
  • Posts: 6,033
  • Smokey the Smurf
Re: Changes
« Reply #5 on: December 22, 2007, 04:56:59 PM »
I know what you mean. I had gone 10 years without meds. But I knew the day would come when I would have to start. I thought I could handle it too and actually shed a few tears. But I gave thanks that my body fought as long as it could w/o any help. I just started meds in Sept and am grateful that I had very little side effects. In the end, the meds kind of put things in perspective. Wishing you the best..... :-*
Started Atripla/Ziagen on 9/13/07.
10/31/07 CD4-265 VL- undetectable
2/6/08 CD4- 401 VL- undetectable
5/7/08 CD4- 705 VL- undetectable
6/4/08 CD4- 775 VL- undetectable
8/6/08 CD4- 805 VL- undetectable
11/13/08 CD4- 774 VL--undetectable
2/4/09  CD4- 484  VL- 18,000 (2 months off meds)
3/3/09---Starting Back on Meds---
4/27/09 CD4- 664 VL-- undetectable
6/17/09 CD4- 438 VL- 439
8/09 CD4- 404 VL- 1,600
01-22-10-- CD4- 525 VL- 59,000
Cherish the simple things life has to offer

The Royal Blog

Offline Jeffreyj

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,403
Re: Changes
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2007, 12:49:34 AM »
Derbra,
Welcome to the pill club. You are making a good decision, i do believe. As one who has been on them constantly for 24 years now, I feel a vote of confidence in is order.

Please keep us updated. I have a feeling you will do just fine. One day at a time, babe.

xoxo
hugs
Positive since 1985

Offline AlanBama

  • Member
  • Posts: 3,647
  • Alabama: the 'other' 3rd World Country!
Re: Changes
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2007, 01:25:01 PM »
Hi honey,  you've been in my thoughts a lot lately.....

Hope you are doing well on the meds.   Yes, you made the right decision.  Don't look back, just keep on moving forward !

My prayer for you is a long life, with minimal med side effects.   You are so full of life, and such a joy to others.


Much love, and many hugs -- MERRY CHRISTMAS

Love, Alan
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline Jody

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,843
Re: Changes
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2007, 01:35:34 PM »
Dear Debra...You speak eloquently of having the meds ready and being uncertain of exactly when to begin taking them...We all know the feeling...I started in 1995 and have had my ups and downs emotionally but in the end I have been healthy since that year, no hopsitalizations, no major illnesses.


Good luck, keep us posted and keep on truckin'

Jody
"Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world".
 "Try to discover that you are the song that the morning brings."

Grateful Dead

Offline HIVworker

  • Member
  • Posts: 918
  • HIV researcher
Re: Changes
« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2007, 01:44:22 PM »
Hey Deb,

A wonderful post...very thoughtful.

I just really wanted to say good luck to you. I can only imagine that it is a difficult decision but it appears to be one you have treated well. You are a special person and I like your posts and I look forward to there being 52 years worth of them.

R
NB. Any advice about HIV is given in addition to your own medical advice and not intended to replace it. You should never make clinical decisions based on what anyone says on the internet but rather check with your ID doctor first. Discussions from the internet are just that - Discussions. They may give you food for thought, but they should not direct you to do anything but fuel discussion.

Offline heartforyou

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,105
  • I must be a survivor in many ways...
Re: Changes
« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2007, 06:20:39 PM »
Thanks for the post Debra.
I can imagine how tough it is to make that decision.
However, believe me, it is nothing compared to 1995 when we, the pilltakerguineepigs, were sicker then sick from the meds. As a matter of fact, those meds (AZT) hve killed many a pozzie...

Now, have a merry Christmas and all the best with your start-up hon.

Love

hermie


« Last Edit: December 23, 2007, 06:24:35 PM by heartforyou »
Diagnosed in 1987 and still kicking
Viread, Kivexa (Epzicom),Viramune once daily

Happiness is the freedom of breathing fresh air every day.

Offline Just John

  • Member
  • Posts: 267
Re: Changes
« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2007, 06:25:47 PM »
Hi Debra

Glad to hear that you're now in your new home.

Hope that all goes well with the meds, it's a hard decision to make I know but hopefully you'll get used to them pretty quickly.

Big (((((hugs))))) and best wishes for Christmas.

John
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.

Offline Nico

  • Member
  • Posts: 262
Re: Changes
« Reply #12 on: December 23, 2007, 09:54:00 PM »
Deb,
I was scared, but after eleven years and a bout of PCP, I took the jump.  You know, it has not been the terrible life I thought.  I feel pretty well and having AIDS not HIV for the last six our of 17 years or possibly 18 years of being infected. 

You got your family here when you need us.  Love you and Merry Christmas.

Hugs!
Rog
Poz since 1990.

Offline MOONLIGHT1114

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,918
  • Cheech 2.2.94 - 4.23.10 We miss you so much!
Re: Changes
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2007, 12:22:08 AM »
Hi Debra~ 

Its nice to read that you have great support around you via your friend, doc and parents!  I have been on meds since '95 and have found it to just be a way of life now.  The doc told me to take meds, so i started taking them.  In '95 I didn't have the luxury of not taking them when my CD4 called for it.  I have never been hospitalized and I have never been sick.  December 22nd marks 14 years since diabnosis for me.

I am happy to read that you have chosen to take meds.  I thank God every day for the doctors and researchers, and also for the people taking meds in the new trials, who have brought so many options to us today. 

It is because of these people that we have choices today, and you, my friend, have made a good one.

Merry Christmas to you and your kitty-cats!

~ Cindy
HIV+ since '93, 1/12 - CD4 785 and undet.   WOO-HOO!!

Offline sweetasmeli

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,052
  • Love what you are...
Re: Changes
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2007, 10:27:27 AM »
Many thanks for all the comments/pms/emails and well wishes guys and gals. :-*

To answer the questions about how goes it so far, I think so far so good, in all honesty. Iím not side effect free, not by a long shot, but Iím also not ill or feeling like death, so thatís a start I guess.

Few first days = nothing untoward, followed by a couple of nights of slight but bearable nausea (if I didnít sleep pretty much right after taking the meds). However, Friday night and the weekend just gone was the scary time (isnít that just typical over a weekend??).

Friday night, I became really ill, splitting headache and vomiting; however, Iím now not convinced this had anything to do with the meds; rather suspect it may have been the unlucky timing of a 24 hour bug, as it passed as quickly as it came.

Saturday afternoon I broke out in a rash and I mean Rash with a capital R; all over, totally unforgiving. Strange thing is though, apart from feeling a bit headachy and constantly flushed (no fever Ė kept checking) I didnít actually feel ill. My appetite came back with a vengeance Saturday evening and I even managed to wolf down a Chinese takeaway!

Me and my rash quietly sat Sunday out (seeing as I still wasnít feeling ill, just bit itchy) and today (Monday) I took myself to the clinic to get checked out; my docís words were along the lines of: ďOh my! WoohoooÖlook at you!Ē as I glowed my way into the clinic!

He concluded (99% certainty) that it was a normal (albeit harsh) Sustiva rash and not the not-so-normal abacavir sensitivity rash and that it would clear up in the next few days or so; in the meantime I have antihistamines, aqueous cream and calamine lotion a-plenty to stave off the itching; and Iíve been given clear instructions what to do should something horrible happen over the next 2 days (when the world grinds to a halt for Christmas!). So I generally feel okay about it. 

Huge thanks to Chris (ManchesterUK) who happened to be visiting me Saturday; on witnessing the rash appear he decided to stay the night to keep an eye on me; even though I wasnít panicking, I felt utterly grateful not to be faced with the prospect of being alone if things took a turn for the worse in the wee hours. So big kiss to you, my friend! X

Huge thanks also to Matt (the Newt), Matty (The Damned One) and Ann, who were on the other end on the phone with words of advice and who called to check up on me over the weekend; thanks also to Mark (Iggy) who sent regular texts to see how I was getting on. Big kisses to all of you too! XXXX Also, Niki (Miss English) and John (Oso): thanks for your texts/calls over the last week or so to see how I was getting on; big kisses to you both for that too! XX If I've missed anyone, I apologise and send big kisses to you too! XXX

So, like I said, hiccups aside, I do believe itís so far so good. Oh and in spite of the Friday sickness and current rash, yesterday I actually felt more energised than I have felt in months! Bizarre eh? My doc has repeatedly told me the one thing worth bearing in mind when contemplating the minefield of starting meds is that, amidst their fears, there is one big side effect that many people seem to forget about: The huge probability of starting to feel better.

Although saying all that, I won't be going any place (except family) where there are other humans with seeing eyes until this bloody horrific rash clears up! Just hope I don't scare my nephews tomorrow...! :-X

Iíll keep yíall postedÖ

Debra
/\___/\       /\__/\
(=' . '=)    (=' . '=)
(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline Ann

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  • It just is, OK?
    • Num is sum qui mentiar tibi?
Re: Changes
« Reply #15 on: December 24, 2007, 11:51:17 AM »
Hi Deb!

I'm really glad to hear that you got the communication problem with the docs sorted out. That must have been a big relief for you.

You could always tell your nephews that you were just so darn excited about Santa coming that you broke out in a rash! ;D

I hope everything continues to improve for you. Talk soon!

Hugs, (if you think I'm kissing those spots, think again!) :D
Ann
hohoho!
Condoms are a girl's best friend

Condom and Lube Info  



"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline northernguy

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,347
Re: Changes
« Reply #16 on: December 24, 2007, 12:06:24 PM »
Glad to hear your feeling better, and hope the rash goes away soon.
Apr 28/06 cd4 600 vl 10,600 cd% 25
Nov 8/09 cd4 510 vl 49,5000 cd% 16
Jan 16/10 cd4 660 vl 54,309 cd% 16
Feb 17/10 Started Atripla
Mar 7/10 cd4 710 vl 1,076 cd% 21
Apr 18/10 cd4 920 vl 268 cd% 28
Jun 19/10 cd4 450 vl 60 cd% 25
Aug 15/10 cd4 680 vl 205 cd% 27
Apr 3/11 cd4 780 vl <40 cd% 30
Jul 17/11 cd4 960 vl <40 cd%33
April 15/12 cd4 1,010 vl <40 cd% 39
April 20/12 Switched to Viramune + Truvada
Aug 2/12 cd4 1040, vl <40, cd% 38
Oct 19 cd4 1,110 vl <40 cd% 41

Offline sweetasmeli

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,052
  • Love what you are...
Re: Changes
« Reply #17 on: December 24, 2007, 03:15:04 PM »
You could always tell your nephews that you were just so darn excited about Santa coming that you broke out in a rash! ;D

My 2 eldest (13 and 14) know about my health so it'll be easy explaining it away to them; the youngest (8 ), I'm thinking of telling him that it came about through eating too many sweets and chocolate, hehe...hohoho indeed!

Miss Grinch ;D
/\___/\       /\__/\
(=' . '=)    (=' . '=)
(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline JohnOso

  • Member
  • Posts: 816
Re: Changes
« Reply #18 on: December 25, 2007, 03:09:20 AM »
Oi!

I go to Mexico for a few days and all hell breaks loose i see....  ;)

Debra, my love....I got your text about the headache, but I seem to have missed the part about the rash.  Will set up a display of Calamine lotion, Benadryl and Zantac in your honor on my Christmas altar (plus a few catnip treats for Yin and Yang). 

Hopefully Santa has already left something in your Christmas stocking that will soothe your discomfort.

Will be anxiously awaiting further news on your condition.

xxxx,
John  (who has unfortunately been there and done that himself)


Offline Iggy

  • Member
  • Posts: 2,435
Re: Changes
« Reply #19 on: December 26, 2007, 10:01:04 AM »
Debra,

You and I have talked together many times about our mutual apprehensions to starting meds, and as I said in our conversations - I am not glad to have you take the lead on this path.

You mention many who you are grateful to in helping you begin your meds, but I wanted to make a point of thanking you. 

Yes, I do thank you for putting yourself out there on the boards and sharing with many what your experience in this new part of your life is like - something I am certain that many who are facing meds for the first time will agree.  More closely though to my thoughts on why I am grateful to you is your strength as an example to me for when that day arrives, it is inspiring and something I hope to emulate.

All my love,

Mark

Offline Andy Velez

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 25,369
Re: Changes
« Reply #20 on: December 26, 2007, 10:19:37 AM »
It's good to hear from you again, Debra. Been wondering when you'd be back online after your move. Glad you and your cats have a new home of your own now.

Your thoughts and process about accepting and dealing with going on meds ought to help others who are likely at some point to be on the same path. We're here for you as you continue to make your way. And call me an impossible optimist, but as the development of new meds continues, I'm expecting some that will be even more tolerable and effective so tuck that thought away if you will.

Cheers,
Andy Velez

Offline David_CA

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  • Posts: 3,246
  • Joined: March 2006
Re: Changes
« Reply #21 on: December 26, 2007, 05:24:45 PM »
Hey Debra

First, it's good to see you posting again.  As for starting meds, for me, it was a no-brainer.  I had discussed starting 'em on my Dec. '06 appointment with my ID Dr.  As it turned out, I started them while in the hospital with pcp.  There really was never a discussion of whether or not I was willing to take them; it was just assumed that I would.  As it turned out, it was the correct assumption. 

See, I really don't like not being in control of what's happening to me.  I felt that my health was really not under my control... an increasing viral load and a decreasing CD4 count and a new AIDS diagnosis to top it off!  Besides the usual things, eating well, exercise, etc, starting meds was the only thing that would even come close to putting me back in control.  I know it sounds odd, but I was actually looking forward to starting meds.  I've been taking Atripla for a bit over a year now.  I feel great - lots of energy and, just as important, I don't have that anxiety and stress that was screwing with me pre-meds. 

Good luck with your meds.  I'm not familiar with Kivexa, but I am with the Sustiva.  I take it in the morning, which works great for me.  The side effects from it are all but unnoticeable.  The Truvada part of Atripla doesn't bother me, either.  All my labs (cbc, HIV, cholesterol, the works) are good.  I'm wishing the same non-issue with your meds.  Oh, and I hope the headaches and nausea problems go away.  If not, there are lots of other meds to choose from.  Congrats on YOU being in control and have a great new year!

David
Black Friday 03-03-2006
03-23-06 CD4 359 @27.4% VL 75,938
06-01-06 CD4 462 @24.3% VL > 100,000
08-15-06 CD4 388 @22.8% VL >  "
10-21-06 CD4 285 @21.9% VL >  "
  Atripla started 12-01-2006
01-08-07 CD4 429 @26.8% VL 1872!
05-08-07 CD4 478 @28.1% VL 740
08-03-07 CD4 509 @31.8% VL 370
11-06-07 CD4 570 @30.0% VL 140
02-21-08 CD4 648 @32.4% VL 600
05-19-08 CD4 695 @33.1% VL < 48 undetectable!
08-21-08 CD4 725 @34.5%
11-11-08 CD4 672 @39.5%
02-11-09 CD4 773 @36.8%
05-11-09 CD4 615 @36.2%
08-19-09 CD4 770 @38.5%
11-19-09 CD4 944 @33.7%
02-17-10 CD4 678 @39.9%  
06-03-10 CD4 768 @34.9%
09-21-10 CD4 685 @40.3%
01-10-11 CD4 908 @36.3%
05-23-11 CD4 846 @36.8% VL 80
02-13-12 CD4 911 @41.4% VL<20
You must be the change you want to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: Changes
« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2007, 10:38:30 AM »
Just a quick update:

Rash is fading, slowly but surely; havenít felt ill at all these past few days; if anything (strangely enough) Iíve had more energy in this past week or so than Iíve had in monthsÖyears even! After mentioning this newly discovered energy to my doc the other day, his response was: Of course you haveÖyouíre buzzing off the drugs! ;D

Granted, these bursts of energy seem to be intermittent with one or two sudden lulls a day, but I'm guessing that's simply to do with the meds working their merry way through my system and attempting to establish some kind of balance.

So anyway, fingers crossed it was just the all-too-common Sustiva rash and here's hoping Iíll be able to welcome in 2008 with a continuing abundance of get-up-and-go, as well as unblemished skin. ;)

Thanks again everyone for your advice, comments and kind thoughts.

Debra
/\___/\       /\__/\
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(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline Robert

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Re: Changes
« Reply #23 on: December 27, 2007, 11:56:16 AM »
hi debra.

You mentioned you're getting your energy back. ("...Iíve had more energy in this past week or so than Iíve had in monthsÖyears even!".)  My god, Debra, if this is true then I'm running scared.  You see, in SF you had so much energy you ran be ragged.   At least now I know what I'm doing for New Years.  Just thinking of you will put more pizazz in my step than any champagne or whistles or horns.  I'll just lay back and think of you.

Happy New Year, Kiddo....robert
« Last Edit: December 27, 2007, 12:04:53 PM by Robert »
..........

Offline CalvinC

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Re: Changes
« Reply #24 on: December 27, 2007, 04:51:24 PM »
Debra, thanks for such boldness and candor and sensibility re: your decision to take the meds. I am sure i will have to go on them someday, and it's great to see that you, like so many others, have taken a brave decision. Keep us posted!

Andrew

Offline pozguy75

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Re: Changes
« Reply #25 on: December 29, 2007, 01:20:54 PM »
Awe...I know this is kinda late, but, darling, I know you will be okay...and besides, I love the dreams...lol.


You hold a special place in my heart dearie, and I when I see you, we will take the pills together...as a toast!
Dx 2005
ATRIPLA

Offline BT65

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Re: Changes
« Reply #26 on: December 29, 2007, 03:05:21 PM »
Debra:

I am so glad the rash is fading!  Keep up your positive attitude-it really helps me!
Peace-
Betty
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline MSPspud

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Re: Changes
« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2007, 01:48:35 AM »
Very late to the party - but I am pleased to read this is all going well.  It's amazing how the energy returns once the immune system has a rest.  It'll even get better!  Drop me an email sometime.

Jason

Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: Changes
« Reply #28 on: January 21, 2008, 04:50:38 AM »
JAN 21: Just over 5 weeks that Iíve been on the meds and a month since I started this thread.

Hello all
Iíve not been around for a few weeks; lost my internet connection at home and have only just got it up and running again. Anyway, thought Iíd resurrect this thread with an update for anyone who may be interested.

The Sustiva rash took about 10 days to clear, only to be replaced with manic mood swings; and by manic Iím talking from euphoric to suicidal to homicidal. This actually crept up on me over a week or so and the worst of it lasted for about 3 days. [Edited to add: Just to be clear, the manic-ness actually abated to more of a plateau after those 3 days.]

I saw one of my clinic consultants about this and she gave me the choice of changing my combo or sitting it out and waiting to see if things level out; so, Iíve decided to sit it out. Iíll give it 3 months and, providing I havenít killed anyone between now and then (myself included) Iíll see how the land lies and make my decision then.   

No weird dreams (well, no weirder than usual); if I sleep within half an hour of taking my meds, I sleep right away; if I leave it longer, I get nauseous, slight indigestion and struggle to fall asleep. Oh and I performed a little experiment to see whether eating something with high fat content would actually do anything: note to self, do not eat cream cake too close to taking meds (I blame Mark Ė he knows who he is!). 

For the past week or so, physically, the energy surge I originally experienced has gone; despite sleeping well and waking up at exactly the same time every day, Iím struggling to get up in the mornings (not like me at all) and my energy levels are quite low throughout the day. Emotionally, Iím feeling kind of flatÖthe only emotion that seems to be surfacing with any regularity is anger (which I suspect to some degree is linked to Ďunfinished businessí, which I am working on getting finished).

And, as someone who is no stranger to depression, Iím quite sure it is chemical rather than situational. I say this because despite my flatness, Iím managing to do a lot of daily stuff (like work, cook, read, see my counsellor, get massages, see family/friends etc). I know myself well enough to know that when Iím Ďdepressed depressedí I wouldnít be doing any of those thingsÖ

So anyway, thatís where Iím at.

Debra
« Last Edit: January 21, 2008, 12:36:08 PM by sweetasmeli »
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(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline Dragonette

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Re: Changes
« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2008, 04:59:45 AM »
Hi Debra,

Lots of people can't handle Sustiva sooner or later. I had the same thing, although it took me longer to recognize it (more than a year). I was functional too, but really struggling. It was actually my social worker that suggested I was going nuts from Sustiva. So it's very good you are able to recognize it yourself. All the insomniac things were there for me too, including the feeling of never being rested even when I slept long hours. So I switched to Viramune. Problem was it was weaker and I became resistent in 3 months or so and had to change to PIs. I don't know what other option is there asides from Viramune to replace Sustiva.

Lots of luck with the meds & the rest, take care



"If you keep one foot in yesterday, and one in tomorrow, you piss all over today". Betty Tacy

Offline heartforyou

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Re: Changes
« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2008, 05:38:14 AM »
Hi sweetie,

It breaks my heart to know you struggle with the meds .
Sustiva drove me nuts.. exactly : from suicidal, to homicidal. I yelled and screamed at my employees.. and I acted like a fucked up, drugged animal.
I had to get off it and my combo now is like a light breeze compared to the hurricane of Sustiva.
Debrah.. don't make my mistake and hang on to that combo too long. It is dangerous and emotionally ravaging..You are a virgin ( as to meds my dear) so, there are plenty of combos out there for you.

Take good care of yourself and keep us updated.

love

herman
Diagnosed in 1987 and still kicking
Viread, Kivexa (Epzicom),Viramune once daily

Happiness is the freedom of breathing fresh air every day.

Offline Jeffreyj

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Re: Changes
« Reply #31 on: January 21, 2008, 06:01:14 AM »
Debra,
I am so very sorry to hear that you are going through this stormy period. You are one brave soul to share with the world this problem. Thank you for doing that. I'm sure it will help many of us in the future, including yourself.
like Hermie said(well let's skip the Virgin part lol) there seem to be many other choices out there for you-thank God!
I hope you bet over this hump. I'm sure you will. Having met you in San Fran, I saw a very beautiful, and courageous woman.

All of the best moving forward Hun.

xoxo hug,
jeff
Positive since 1985

Offline LatinAlexander

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Re: Changes
« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2008, 06:44:17 AM »
Well, I would suggest you give it a try for the 3 months. For me, It has worked great. Sorry you are going through it though.

Alex
Poz since Jul 19 2006
Initial numbers : CD4-250 VL 3500
First labs after HAART (Dec 04-2006) : CD4-432 VL-<40 (Undetectable)  cd4%=25.11%
Started HAART: Combivir+Efavirenz Aug 26 7:38 pm
Feb 08 2007 - Gradually stopping HAART cause of Myalgia. Protecting Efavirenz. Stopped Efavirenz, ahead with Combivir....
February 17 Combivir stopped.
April 3 -07 : Started ddi+3tc+efavirenz...
Gay and positive (What a lack of Identity...:) )
Looking for my Ben....

Offline BT65

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Re: Changes
« Reply #33 on: January 21, 2008, 08:36:31 AM »
Debra, I am so glad you posted this.  I'm on Sustiva and I have wild mood swings also; and am on something for that.  I guess I always thought the Sustiva thing as far as affecting moods was over in a short while.  Obviously not, from what you and Hermie have said.  I'm treatment experienced, and not sure what would come up next as far as meds is concerned, but I'm not going to go through this if I know there's options out there.  Thanks again, Debra!
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: Changes
« Reply #34 on: January 21, 2008, 06:15:31 PM »
I was functional too, but really struggling.

Thanks D, that's the word I've been searching for: Functional. Flat but functional, that's where I'm at right now.

Debra
/\___/\       /\__/\
(=' . '=)    (=' . '=)
(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline AlanBama

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Re: Changes
« Reply #35 on: January 21, 2008, 08:36:27 PM »
Hi honey

You're in my thoughts a lot these days.....I'm glad you're sticking with it, even though it's tough.   I hope it gets easier as time goes by.

Lots of love,

Alan
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline RapidRod

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Re: Changes
« Reply #36 on: January 21, 2008, 08:46:37 PM »
Debra, you're not flat by no means. (oops you meant feelings, not appearance) my bad. Give it time Debra, usually those side effects will go away.

Offline fearless

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Re: Changes
« Reply #37 on: January 21, 2008, 09:14:27 PM »
hey Debra,

I missed this whole thread during my Christmas absence. I can't comment on the drugs you are on as I've not taken them. Hope all goes well though and you can work through this flat period.
From experience, a flat period for you would be akin to overexcitement for me.  ;D
Thinking of you.
Steve
Be forgiving, be grateful, be optimistic

Offline David_CA

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Re: Changes
« Reply #38 on: January 21, 2008, 09:30:17 PM »
Hi Debra,

I'm sorry you're having such a bitch of a time with Sustiva.  Hubby and I don't seem to really have any emotional side effects; it's amazing to me how that drug can effect different people so differently.  I think it's good to give it time to straighten out.  You'll know when enough is enough... even if you don't make it to the three month mark.  Like others have mentioned, there are many other combos that don't have the same emotional side effects.  Take care.

David
Black Friday 03-03-2006
03-23-06 CD4 359 @27.4% VL 75,938
06-01-06 CD4 462 @24.3% VL > 100,000
08-15-06 CD4 388 @22.8% VL >  "
10-21-06 CD4 285 @21.9% VL >  "
  Atripla started 12-01-2006
01-08-07 CD4 429 @26.8% VL 1872!
05-08-07 CD4 478 @28.1% VL 740
08-03-07 CD4 509 @31.8% VL 370
11-06-07 CD4 570 @30.0% VL 140
02-21-08 CD4 648 @32.4% VL 600
05-19-08 CD4 695 @33.1% VL < 48 undetectable!
08-21-08 CD4 725 @34.5%
11-11-08 CD4 672 @39.5%
02-11-09 CD4 773 @36.8%
05-11-09 CD4 615 @36.2%
08-19-09 CD4 770 @38.5%
11-19-09 CD4 944 @33.7%
02-17-10 CD4 678 @39.9%  
06-03-10 CD4 768 @34.9%
09-21-10 CD4 685 @40.3%
01-10-11 CD4 908 @36.3%
05-23-11 CD4 846 @36.8% VL 80
02-13-12 CD4 911 @41.4% VL<20
You must be the change you want to see in the world.  Mahatma Gandhi

Offline LordBerners

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Re: Changes
« Reply #39 on: January 22, 2008, 10:52:45 AM »
I've only been on it a week, but I feel exhausted all the time, can't sleep, have a fever most of the time, and worste of all, by far, I can't seem to eat anything.  I have to force feed myself and everything tastes disgusting.  I've lost 5 kilos!
Please, just call me Berners.. or Baron.

Offline Iggy

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Re: Changes
« Reply #40 on: January 22, 2008, 11:02:53 AM »
Debra,

We've discussed much of this and you know my thoughts (despite the occasional really odd curve ball that I may throw your way) but I just wanted to say publicly again that I think you have been an inspiration on how you have handled the start of meds.   

There is no dressing up of the reality of the problems that meds can cause nor is there any sense that all is going to hell either - just honest truth of what your experiences are and how you are dealing with them.  That alone is a guide to many on the reality of what hitting this period in our life (beginning of meds) can mean.

Thank you.


Offline mplsdoubled

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Re: Changes
« Reply #41 on: January 22, 2008, 11:22:05 AM »
Debra,

I started Atripla (which has Sustiva as a component) on Dec. 28.  About two weeks ago I really noticed the mood swings as well but had no other mentionable side effects.  Last week I was damn near suicidal.  On Sunday, I had a choice to slit my wrists or get out of the house and go meet with friends.  I got out and that helped immensely!  I'm not sure if my depression is chemical or situational but I do know that I've been better the last few days - not great or perfect but definitely better.  Like you, I'm going to try and stay on this as I'm convinced that Sustiva can be a real God-send when it comes to my viral load and CD4 counts.

I'm hoping that if the depression is a result of the meds that it will run it's course and life will seem normal again.  So far, like I said, things seem to be getting better.  While I hate that you are experiencing this, I hope it's helpful to know that you are not alone.  It's helpful for me to know there are others out there that know what I'm experiencing.

Hang in there and take care of yourself!!

Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: Changes
« Reply #42 on: January 27, 2008, 06:33:54 PM »
Thanks guys and gals for all your comments/kind wishes.

The past week or so was Very Difficult but I'm beginning to suspect that it may have been a case of Sustiva nastiness coupled with pre-menstrual crappiness, as the angry cloud seems to have lifted and I'm feeling 'less flat'.

So anyway, we'll see. I'll keep you posted if anything exciting happens...

Lots of love, hugs and thanks to Niki and Chris who came to my rescue this weekend. Great visit!! xx

Debra
/\___/\       /\__/\
(=' . '=)    (=' . '=)
(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline heartforyou

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Re: Changes
« Reply #43 on: January 27, 2008, 06:56:02 PM »
Thinking of you girl...

Hang in there.. you are battling the bastards..

love

Herman
Diagnosed in 1987 and still kicking
Viread, Kivexa (Epzicom),Viramune once daily

Happiness is the freedom of breathing fresh air every day.

Offline DCGUY2007

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Re: Changes
« Reply #44 on: January 27, 2008, 09:11:07 PM »
HI Deb,

Starting meds is a difficult decision. But like you mentioned at least we have choices now. Hope you continue to do well   :)

Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: Changes
« Reply #45 on: January 30, 2008, 04:05:33 AM »
First bloods after one month on de meds: CD4 = 438 (up from 250-ish) VL = 40. :)

So, in spite of my struggles, I guess I now have one big reason for trying to stick with this combo.

Debra
/\___/\       /\__/\
(=' . '=)    (=' . '=)
(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline Cliff

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Re: Changes
« Reply #46 on: January 30, 2008, 05:08:13 AM »
Debra,

Glad the numbers are looking well, but sorry about the side effects.  Keep us posted on how you get on.  Hopefully some serious improvements are in sight.

Cliff

Offline mjmel

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Re: Changes
« Reply #47 on: January 30, 2008, 07:29:46 AM »
First bloods after one month on de meds: CD4 = 438 (up from 250-ish) VL = 40. :)

So, in spite of my struggles, I guess I now have one big reason for trying to stick with this combo.

Debra


Then again, what if you could get the same results on a different combo without the phycho/physio issues, Debra. Poses a delimma, I understand. I applaud your diligence in sticking with current meds, however, cause the side effects would have overwhelmed me.

Mike M

Offline BT65

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Re: Changes
« Reply #48 on: January 30, 2008, 09:30:07 AM »
Congratulations on your numbers, Debra. :-*
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline Iggy

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Re: Changes
« Reply #49 on: January 30, 2008, 10:30:12 AM »
First bloods after one month on de meds: CD4 = 438 (up from 250-ish) VL = 40. :)

So, in spite of my struggles, I guess I now have one big reason for trying to stick with this combo.

Debra


 :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

Offline Miss Philicia

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Re: Changes
« Reply #50 on: January 30, 2008, 11:04:05 AM »
Congrats Debra -- those numbers should be very encouraging for you!
"Iíve slept with enough men to know that Iím not gay"

Offline bear60

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Re: Changes
« Reply #51 on: January 30, 2008, 12:29:22 PM »
I'm wishing you all the best. The best of luck!
Poz Bear Type in Philadelphia

Offline Just John

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Re: Changes
« Reply #52 on: January 30, 2008, 04:48:42 PM »
Hi Debra

Glad to hear the side's are subsiding nicely and you're achieving good results.

I'll drink to a long and happy regimen.

John
Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.

Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: Changes
« Reply #53 on: February 05, 2008, 04:32:18 AM »
Hello, me again. Thanks to all of you who are following this thread. :-*

Yesterday was an icky day. I was on the tail end of a cold that started about 6 days ago and yesterday morning I woke up with a nasty sickly headache and started my day by throwing up; as it turns out, I also ended my day by throwing up too, with lots of episodes in between too. In between these episodes I just slept.

Long story short, I was faced with a judgement call last night: At 9.30pm I was still puking and due to take my meds at 10pm. In short, I felt like death and the prospect of trying to ingest a couple of huge pills, when a few sips of water werenít even staying down was not enticing at all. So, after a phone call to the nurses at clinic, a Skype type with Matty and a phone call off Matt the Newt (tank yoo guys! xx), I decided to skip the dose and opted for sleep instead. Good news = I woke up this morning and didnít puke! Huzzah!!

Anyway, ickiness and nasty viral cold thing aside, I think (I think!) the side effects from the meds are abating a little. The nasty angry cloud has lifted and I'm feeling in less of a haze than I was. And Iím starting to want to do stuff again anyway, instead of just simply doing it (if that makes sense).

Although, saying that, Iíve noticed Iíve started struggling more and more to get to sleep after taking my meds at night, even when I try to sleep straight away. The few nights prior to last night Iíve been tossing and turning for over 2 hours before sleeping; despite being tired. And now I skipped that dose last night, I think I can suggest that my struggles to sleep are linked to the meds, as last night I dropped off like the dead. And that was despite spending most of the day sleeping as well! Unless of course I was just so exhausted from all the puking?!

Anyway, Iím coming up to my 2 month mark soon; I said Iíd give it to 3 months, but as the nasty emotional side effects seem to be easing off, Iím now actually thinking Iíll give it 6 months. Hmm, weíll see. And Iíll be sure to keep yíall postedÖ

Ugh, I hate puking! My stomach muscles feel like I did 10,000 sit ups and I'm weak as a kitten...meow! Speaking of kittens, my furries were wonderful yesterday, stayed with me most of the day...despite me nearly throwing up in their kitty litter! :-X 

Edited to add: It would appear now that puking has been replaced with squits this morning. ScheiŖe!! >:(

Debra   
« Last Edit: February 05, 2008, 05:28:25 AM by sweetasmeli »
/\___/\       /\__/\
(=' . '=)    (=' . '=)
(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline Dragonette

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Re: Changes
« Reply #54 on: February 05, 2008, 05:49:19 AM »
Hang in there Debra... there are other meds to take if you decide this combo isn't for you. Glad you're emotionally better. I had insomnia on Sustiva too.
"If you keep one foot in yesterday, and one in tomorrow, you piss all over today". Betty Tacy

Offline BT65

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Re: Changes
« Reply #55 on: February 05, 2008, 07:11:42 AM »
Hi Debra, sorry to hear about all the nastiness going on with you.  I hope things subside quickly.  I'm going to my doctor today and we will try to figure out a better combo for me to take; I can't take Sustiva.  I just told my doctor that my mental health walks a fine line every day and I can't do anything to push it over the edge.  But if it's working for you, that's great.  Hang in there sweety.
Peace~
Betty
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline Iggy

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Re: Changes
« Reply #56 on: February 05, 2008, 08:48:33 AM »
Debra,

I'm sorry last night was so rough but am glad to read that the worst seems to have subsided by morning.  I agree on giving the meds one more month before making any decisions.

Take it easy on yourself today.

Mark


Offline 404error

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Re: Changes
« Reply #57 on: February 05, 2008, 04:35:58 PM »
This thread isn't at all encourging me to want to take meds...  I hope you feel better Debra and that the adjusment gets easier for you and your body...
A social critic who promotes equality...

Offline AlanBama

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Re: Changes
« Reply #58 on: February 05, 2008, 06:49:28 PM »
I hope you get over the cold/bug quickly!   

Glad you are sticking with your meds.   I know how hard it is to keep doing something that you feel is making you ill.....so I hope everything continues to improve.   Your numbers are looking good !

Love & hugs to you, my sweet one....

Alan   :-*
"Remember my sentimental friend that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others." - The Wizard of Oz

Offline milker

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Re: Changes
« Reply #59 on: February 05, 2008, 10:14:59 PM »
Wow. This reads like a journal.

Thanks Debra for telling me to check this thread, as I missed it. You are a source of inspiration as I am getting prepared to get on meds real soon now.

Luv,  :-* :-*

Milker.
mid-dec: stupid ass
mid-jan: seroconversion
mid-feb: poz
mar 07: cd4 432 (35%) vl 54000
may 07: cd4 399 (28%) vl 27760
jul 07: cd4 403 (26%) vl 99241
oct 07: cd4 353 (24%) vl 29993
jan 08: cd4 332 (26%) vl 33308
mar 08: cd4 392 (23%) vl 75548
jun 08: cd4 325 (27%) vl 45880
oct 08: cd4 197 (20%) vl 154000 <== aids diagnosis
nov 2 08 start Atripla
nov 30 08: cd4 478 (23%) vl 1880 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
feb 19 09: cd4 398 (24%) vl 430 getting there!
apr 23 09: cd4 604 (29%) vl 50 woohoo :D :D
jul 30 09: cd4 512 (29%) vl undetectable :D :D
may 27 10: cd4 655 (32%) vl undetectable :D :D

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Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: Changes
« Reply #60 on: February 06, 2008, 12:10:05 PM »
This morning I was delighted to wake up to no puking, no squits and (oh joy!) no headache, so I'm hopeful that the nasty bug I've had is passing. Body's still exhausted but that will probably be from having not eaten much at all for 2 days! Iíve just remedied that by polishing off a small plate of chicken, rice and mashed potato. :)

Oh and I took my meds last night again like a good girl. Slept ok too. So, fingers crossed...

Thanks for all the get well wishes, folks! :-*

Debra
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Offline BT65

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Re: Changes
« Reply #61 on: February 06, 2008, 12:43:16 PM »
Debra, so glad you're feeling better!
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: Changes
« Reply #62 on: February 08, 2008, 03:36:27 AM »
I realise this thread may not have been so encouraging for some of you faced with the prospect of starting meds; to be truthful though, it wasn't done for that purpose; more an honest documentation of what it's been like for me since starting.

As I wrote in my initial post here, I was dreading starting meds; I actually snapped at the locum consultant at my clinic when she initially suggested it was getting close to that time and left the clinic in tears. But after speaking with my main consultant a few weeks later, it began to dawn on me that I was faced with 2 choices, neither of them great: 1) I could just get on with it and start the meds, which was a guaranteed part of this journey anyway or 2) I could not start them and risk getting irreversibly sick instead.

Thatís when I realised that I feared getting irreversibly sick a lot more than I feared starting the meds. I now know far too many people with HIV who have struggled and almost died without meds to play about with this. And after watching the forumsí lovely Christine die last year and watching Jonathan (JK), Kate (Penguin) and others constantly struggling, I have been forced to face the harsh reality of this disease:

Without the meds, HIV will most likely turn to AIDS; AIDS will kill me; and AIDS isnít an easy or pretty way to go. Iím not a gambler at the best of times; Iím not about to start now with my health, with my life. I donít mean to frighten anyone with my words, but as folk living with HIV, that is our reality.

I personally think deciding and/or agreeing to go on the meds is the final acceptance hurdle of living with this virus. And I think that's why it was such a difficult hurdle for me, as it is for others. I realise now that I'm not sure I'd actually fully accepted that I was HIV+. Over the last 5 years, I've ricocheted from being ok with it, to denying it, to hating it so many times; at times I've barely felt like I knew myself at all any more. But having to start meds to control it? Well, like it or not, that's what makes it real. And for those still struggling with acceptance, I think that decision is even harder.

As for my experience so far? Well, itís coming up to 8 weeks this weekend and, in all honesty, despite the initial horrid rash and manic mood swings (that have now all thankfully passed), since making that decision and actually taking the plunge and starting meds, I have to admit that a weight has kind of been lifted off my shoulders; a weight I didnít even realise I was carrying. The big question mark over when I would have to start meds has gone because hey, here I am on them now! And the even bigger question mark over whether I would cope or not also is fading because hey, Iím coping!

Do I like the fact that Iím HIV+? Of course not! Do I like that Iím going to have to take meds for the rest of my natural life? F**k, no! But I can tell you something for nothing: Iím bloody well thankful that I have that option, that choice. 

This latest bug has nothing to do with the meds, unless you count the fact that my immune system is now actually starting to work properly again, therefore actually reacting to outside bugs, rather than just getting battered by them. (I donít know the exact science behind that; Newt did explain it to me but my brain has an automatic switch off reaction when people start talking science with me!) All I know is, despite feeling like shite for the last few days, I think the fact that I CAN feel like shite is a good thing. And, according to Newt, thatís probably down to the meds and my now recovering immune system (I think Iíve got that bit rightÖpaging Matt the Newt for clarification?).

OK, I still do feel nauseous occasionally but nothing I canít handle and yes, Iíve started having trouble getting to sleep, but Iím monitoring that and aiming to do what I can to help remedy it. For example, my plan is to get back to regular exercise as soon as Iím up to it again. Plus Iím trying to remember to do small things to aid my sleep like taking a relaxing bath and drinking chamomile before I go to bed.

Iíve been chatting with another forum member about his concerns about starting meds and Iíll repeat one of the things I said to him: When deciding to start meds, go into the decision positively; because if you donít, chances are you could help to bring about your worst fears your self. I know thatís harder than it sounds but I believe it holds some validity.

I firmly believe in the ability to bring on and exacerbate stress and ailments, due to the state of our minds. Herpes and shingles are both perfect examples of how our emotional state and stress levels can bring on attacks. In a similar sense I believe if we start the meds believing they wonít work or theyíll cause terrible side effects then there is a higher possibility that they will not work and/or they will cause terrible side effects.

Of course, saying that, Iím also fully aware of the tragic fact that there are some people whose bodies simply do not respond well to the meds, due to one medical factor or another, regardless of how positively they may deal with being on treatment.

My point is when I started I tried not to focus on the possible side effects. I was aware of what could happen, but I made a pact with myself that I would go into it positively, believe that they would work and that I would navigate my way through any initial side effects. I was still nervous but I was more optimistic and kind of relieved in a way that Iíd finally reached this part of my journey. The prospect of starting meds still filled me with fear; but experience has taught me that the only way we can conquer our fears is by facing them.

And, to be honest, so far so good methinksÖ

Many thanks to all of you for reading this, and for following and supporting me on my journey, folks. :-*

Debra

PS: Forgot to say, I'm feeling much better by the way. :)
« Last Edit: February 08, 2008, 03:57:16 AM by sweetasmeli »
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(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline BT65

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Re: Changes
« Reply #63 on: February 08, 2008, 07:35:48 AM »
Debra, what an amazing person you are.  That post was a good way for me to start my day.  Good luck, sweetie.
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline sweetasmeli

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Re: Changes
« Reply #64 on: March 03, 2008, 05:02:27 AM »
This is my final update for the time being.

Coming up to 3 months on the meds, Iím glad to be able to report that most side effects appear to have settled down; those that havenít are (so far) manageable.

Recent labs are showing the meds are behaving and doing their job. CD4 count has climbed back up into the 400s and viral load is undetectable. So all is good there. Fingers crossed things will stay that way.

Many thanks again to all of you who have followed this thread.

Debra
/\___/\       /\__/\
(=' . '=)    (=' . '=)
(,,,_ ,,,)/   (,,,_ ,,,)/ Cats rule!

The difference between cats and dogs is that dogs come when called, whereas cats take a message and get back to you.

Yeia kai hara (health and happiness) to everyone!

Offline newt

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Re: Changes
« Reply #65 on: March 03, 2008, 11:08:24 AM »
Aha, you live..good, very good  :) - matt
"The object is to be a well patient, not a good patient"

 


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