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Author Topic: Diagnosed three months ago... coming to an impasse of fear and confusion  (Read 3929 times)

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Offline rsmtx8978

  • Member
  • Posts: 6
Hello everyone.  Please forgive me in advance of this being a very long post...  quite a bit of info here, before I mustered up the nerve to post.  I've been "lurking" since I was diagnosed on 1/21/08.  After I got my diagnosis, I was devastated, but not surprised (I've engaged in enough risky behaviors to know where I went wrong).  I cried and had extreme depression for about a week (I suffer from depression and bi-polar disorder anyways... so, I handled it well enough, I suppose).  I have been feeling that I don't need this "community support" like here.. but now I realize how much I really do need it.  I went to the ID doc the same week my primary doc gave me the news... and they (the ID doc) drew the first set of labs.  Two weeks later, I returned to meet with the doc and go over numbers... my CD4 was 315 and my VL was 250,000.  We chatted about the time line of what I did and when I was last tested, etc... seems perhaps I was infected over a year before I discovered I was poz.  I have my guesses of when and who it was, but it doesn't really matter now, I suppose.  When I saw the doc, I told him I also had HPV (I got that diagnosis from my primary care doc when I told him I thought I had moles growing on my ass... not the case...).  The ID doc strongly advised I have surgery to remove the warts (and they had gotten very large at that point).  I saw the colorectal surgeon and within two weeks, it was done (did a great job, by the way... two weeks off work, pain was intense first week, better after that).  I had another blood draw after that and my CD4 dropped to 240 and my VL stayed the same.  The ID doc told me it would be the best course of treatment to start HAART as soon as possible.  He said he would wait 3-6 months at the very latest to start, ideally, he wanted to start within six weeks of that last appointment (which was about two weeks ago).  Here's the problem, and why he stated the longer term window (3-6 months).  I am an alcoholic.  I've been a heavy drinker for several years now and have been hospitalized three times because of it.  He cautioned me that the efficacy of HIV meds is  greatly decreased when the liver is suppressed by alcohol.. I know this is true and I accept that.  Since he told me this, we agreed that I would stop and return in 8 weeks to begin HAART.  But I just can't stop.. I've been having hard depression about everything and I just don't know if I want to live... sounds crazy, I know.. but I am so damn confused and am just not sure... I truly feel like I am at an impasse.. my friends encourage me to the do the right thing.. but they know about my mental history (hell, my best friend rushed me to the hospital last November when I got severely depressed and tried to commit suicide.  I hate to admit all these truths.. but it's the strong backbone behind the issues at hand, and my apprehensions and depressions relating to all of this.  Any help and advice is great.  I feel better just typing this and knowing I am not alone.. I do know that.. I am never alone.  I just need to get a handle on this and COPE.  I am calling on all you folks who have tested these rough waters to give me your advice and support.  I appreciate you reading this.

9/15/06 - ELISA test reactive, Western Blot undetermined
1/21/08 - HIV diagnosis / HPV diagnosis
1/23/08 - CD4 315 / 250K VL
2/19/08 - Surgery to remove HPV lesions (warts)
2/30/08 - CD4 240 / 250K+ VL
5/02/08 - Starting meds - Truvada, Norvir, and Reyataz

Offline thunter34

  • Member
  • Posts: 7,352
  • His name is Carl.

I can give you love, advice, encouragement...on and on.  But ultimately it is gonna come down to what you just said:  COPING.  At this point, as much as I hate to phrase it this way, it is going to come down to you deciding how much you want to live and, if you do, taking this bull by the horns and fighting for it. 

From where I sit, this impasse of fear and confusion might really be the crossroad of hope and opportunity.  This is the hand you have been dealt, but if you play your cards right you could not only survive this infection but finally conquer your addiction in the process.

But it rests with you.  I don't see any other way to say it.

I am no expert on addiction programs or any of that (though I have sucked down plenty of chemicals in my day, so don't think for a second I'm judging you here), so I will have to defer to other posters here who may know better how to speak to this situation.  But it seems to me that you need to make, first and foremost, a decision about the direction you want your life to take right now.  If it's to rise up from the ashes, then you need to get yourself into treatment in short order and get serious about it.  There's still time and a chance, but now is the time to take it.

We're here to listen and do the best we can to help you keep your footing and move forward.  But in the end, we are out here in net land.  We can provide virtual support, but the only one who can truly help you in real time is you.

AIDS isn't for sissies.

Offline dgr20002

  • Member
  • Posts: 288
Hey Ron,

I can't speak to the drinking or the depression but I can see that you want to make a change and that's why you told us your story. That took a lot of courage. My best advice is to seek counseling from an AIDS Service Organization or someone you can find and feel comfortable with. You have a lot going on but you will need to conquer the drinking I think before HAART will be of any real use to you.

Tim gave you some good advice too and the fact is it is really up to you to decide what you are going to do.

All the best,


Offline BlueMoon

  • Member
  • Posts: 665
  • Calling from the Fun House
I'm not much for inspirational screeds, so I'll leave that to those who are better qualified.  I'm always happy to dispense advice though.

Unless your doctor has a good medical reason to wait, it may be best to begin HAART as soon as possible.  That gives you a tangible basis for making the daily decision that you know you must; pills for life, or booze for death. 

Good luck with your treatment.  I know that you can overcome your problems with a little determination, and the support of your friends.
08/10-- ......<40.....290.....42
05/10-- ......<48.....290.....46
02/10-- ......<48.....481.....44
10/09-- ......<48.....277.....46
07/09-- ......<48.....300.....38
05/09-- ........51.....449.....39
03/09-- Added Isentress
02/09-- ........65.....299.....34
11/08-- ........62.....242.....40
08/08-- ........66.....212.....29
05/08-- ......202.....217.....27
03/08-- ....5210.....187.....21
02/08-- Began Truvada/Reyataz/Norvir
12/07-- 273,000.....157.....22
11/07-- 229,000.....209.....22
10/07-- Diagnosis

It's a complex world.

Offline Andy Velez

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 27,818
Hi Ron,

It's good you found your way here and have stepped in to let us know about you. Welcome.

Dealing with adjusting to your HIV status, possibly going on the meds AND addressing your alcoholism is a whole lot for anyone at any one time. It's not something you should be trying to do alone. If you are willing to reach out for help it's there. As you probably know, AA has been very helpful to many people. The support there is amazing. Or you may prefer private professional help.

It makes sense if you're going on the meds to maximize the likelihood of your doing well with them. Keep us posted on how things are going.

Andy Velez

Offline BT65

  • Member
  • Posts: 10,464
Ron, I'm sorry I missed this when it was first posted.  Hopefully you're still with us.

I'm a recovering addict (and alcoholic as well).  I can honestly say, I have never seen an alcoholic who's still drinking come to a good end, HIV+ or not.  My first husband died when he was 29 from 'acute alcohol intoxication' (booze shut down his heart).  AA is a great place to start.  You can find lots of love and help from these people.  To detox, you might want to check out a treatment center, or if none are available, be medically supervised.  Withdrawal from booze can be especially nasty and dangerous.  I agree that treatment should be started.  I also agree you should probably stop drinking before it is.  Along with the meds not being able to metabolize correctly, if you're drinking heavily, you would probably miss doses from forgetting etc.  And when I was drinking/using drugs, I made some very poor choices in other areas of my life that had no good endings.  You probably know all this; I'm just trying to identify with you and offer some advice. 

Please keep checking in here and let us know how you're doing.  I'm keeping my fingers and legs crossed for ya.
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline rsmtx8978

  • Member
  • Posts: 6
Hey everyone.  Thank you very much for all the replies.  Not sure if anyone will see this since it's been some time.  After I posted that, I just mentally "shut down" about the issue.  Fast forward to today, a plan of action has been made and has changed from the original course.  Unfortunately, I am still drinking.  I went to see my ID doc and he said the situation is now an emergency.  He has Rx'd a "cocktail" for me including Truvada, Norvir, and Reyataz.  I have them now and I plan to start tomorrow evening (he advised waiting till the weekend when I am off to see what happens..).  I am very scared about the side effects, etc.  I just hope this works.  He said my drinking will somewhat impair the ability of these meds to work, but he mentioned that he has patients that feel so much better and actually stop drinking.  I am at a crossroads here... I already have two OI's and my CD4 is right around 200... he is already using that dreaded A word...  but it is what it is.  I am looking up at the biggest mountain of my life ever and I am gearing up for a climb.  :-)  I have to be optimistic.  Thank you so much for all your replies and support.  I am very scared, but I know I am certainly not alone.  I will keep things updated (and in a more timely manner this time!). 

9/15/06 - ELISA test reactive, Western Blot undetermined
1/21/08 - HIV diagnosis / HPV diagnosis
1/23/08 - CD4 315 / 250K VL
2/19/08 - Surgery to remove HPV lesions (warts)
2/30/08 - CD4 240 / 250K+ VL
5/02/08 - Starting meds - Truvada, Norvir, and Reyataz

Offline aliveinla

  • Member
  • Posts: 247
although I didn't read every word of your post, but we do have something in common: I too was tested about 3 months ago, and my first two rounds of CD4 numbers are similar to yours. Today I got my 3rd result back and it bounced back. Doc told me not to worry too much about one blood test. I too like to drink quite a lot (not addicted, I think), but somehow I somewhat lost appetite for alcohol after my diagnose. Drinking or not, I think there is no proof alcohol kills T cells yet.

Just want to share my story with you, and let you know if you cheer up things will get better. But even you have to start meds, that's no big deal either, I think.
4/24/07: Last tested Neg
1/22/08: First tested Poz
1/30/08: CD4 393; 28%; VL: 44k
3/18/08: CD4 218; 26%; VL: 222K
4/24/08: CD4 402; 26%; VL: lab forgot
7/22/08: CD4 405; 25%; VL: 6,780
10/15/08: CD4 340, 26%; VL: N/A
2/4/09: CD4 394, 26%; VL: N/A
Jun 09: CD4 300, 25%; VL: 4000
Oct 09: CD4 324, 23%, VL: 10K
11/22/09: started Atripla
11/20/11: CD4 405; VL: UD

Offline dgr20002

  • Member
  • Posts: 288
Hey Ron,

Thanks for the update. Good job with deciding to start the meds and hopefully you will feel better and that may start you on a road to lessen and eventually quit drinking.

All the best,


Offline BT65

  • Member
  • Posts: 10,464
Ron, glad you checked back in.  While moderate drinking doesn't effect HIV, heavy, steady consumuption of alcohol does impair the meds, and as you know, can lead to destructive lifestyle choices.  Only you can honestly answer if you have a problem with booze or not, but I would strongly suggest if you do, you get help. 

Good luck to you.
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow


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