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Author Topic: Hello  (Read 2548 times)

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Offline Humanitarian

  • Member
  • Posts: 7
Hello
« on: July 27, 2008, 10:32:07 PM »
Well, first of all I want to thank all who had the courage to post their stories on this forum, certainly it helped me relate to many of you, and the many reply's by others made me realize that I am not alone and that many like me are HIV+.

It's been one month since I was diagnosed HIV+, but based on my lab results, my ID Dr. predicts I been infected for 5 yrs., but my last negative test was in September 2006, nonetheless, whether it's been 2 or 5 yrs, I am just glad that I know now and be able to do something about it. As many, I too was diagnosed with AIDS, but as my Dr. mentioned, it's not about the numbers or whether it's HIV or AIDS, simply the differentiation is the time one has had the virus. Like many, I too thought that AIDS is worse than HIV+, but the truth is that is the same virus, and with the great treatments, this virus has now become a 'Chronic Illness' and not a death sentence.

When I first found out (at my primary doctor's office) was due to a routine physical and since I had worked in a hospital, I wanted to make sure I had not been exposed, so we ran the HIV test. On June 27th my doctor called me in to review the lab results and when he told me I was HIV+ I recall asking him: "OK, what are the next steps?". I faced reality and wanted to make sure that we took appropriate steps, so we ran some blood work and the results were: 187 CD4, 9990 VL, CD4% ? (I forgot to ask).

I found out on a Friday, by the following Wednesday I flew to my sister's hometown, where she and her family as well as my father welcomed me and gave me the unconditional support that I was looking for...of course in their own way. With that said, they did not throw a pity party, but instead told me that I was going to be ok and that life moves on. I appreciated what they did, in a way it help me not get too depressed and actually go about my day as I have been for the last 31 years. Certainly, I had my moments of sadness and crying, but I soon realized that such emotional feelings were not going to get rid of my virus nor was it going to help my mental status, so I tried not to think about it as much...easier said than done!

By the next week, I saw one of the top ID doctors in my sister's town, and since I have a pretty public image back home, I knew that seeking medical attention had to be outside my city...I just know too many people, or as many will put it, too many people know me...in a good way that is! Anyway, I recall going into the clinic for the first time, my blood pressure was 161/101 (yikes), a bit nervous wouldn’t you say? This nice gentleman called me in and took my vitals, and then he took me into the exam room where I for my Dr. to arrive. I must have waited for 10 minutes, but it sure felt like hours...LOL. So finally, I meet my Dr., a mid thirties gentleman who was doing his fellowship at the ID clinic, great personality and full of knowledge in respects to HIV and AIDS. So we began the consultation, and ha asked me many questions, he then proceeded to do a full physical exam (and when I say FULL, I mean FULL...he checked places that I did not even consider part of a physical...little did I know...LOL) and at the end he allowed me to ask questions.

Before I asked my questions, I told myself, "humm, there you have it, it was not that hard was it??". I guess I expected something dreadful and of course the worse. With that said, I remember asking my first question: "Will I die? and How Many Years Do I have Left?". Ok, so it was a two-fold question, but to my surprise, my Dr. just looked at me and laughed...then he said: "No, you are not going to die, and you have many years to live. Based on your physical exam, you are a healthy and strong man and it seems that you take care of yourself. Based on that, I know you will take your medications and work together with me to make sure that you live a normal life.". OK, so at this moment, I had TONS of weight lifted of my shoulders, back, legs, head, etc... you name it, I felt like I was re-birth...and so I was, I realized through the continuous conversation with my Dr. (lasted at least 3 hrs.) that having the HIV virus (now in days) was like having Diabetes, high blood pressure, or asthma, a medical condition that with proper treatment and proper adherence to it, its a medical condition that one can live with and continue to live the same life we were living prior to HIV infection or prior to knowing the fact that we have the virus. In a 'Reader's Digest' version, I was going to be fine!!!

After a long 3+ hrs. consultation (granted, I in fact went in with a list of questions, I pretty much was interviewing my doctor and determining if I was in good hands), my Dr. brings in the director of the ID clinic (Dr. X) and he reviews everything that my Dr. and I went through and at the end he asked me: "So, what were you doing two weeks ago before you knew your HIV status?", so I answered: "I was taking an MCAT prep course with Kaplan as I am schedule to take the MCAT exam in September. Plus, I was also getting ready to submit my application to the medical schools, as I plan to start matriculation next year (August 2009) and in 2013 graduate as an MD.". Then the ID director (Dr. X) replied: "So then I suggest that you get studying because September is right around the corner." Dr. X smiled at the end of his comment and then proceeded to add: "Don't allow your medical condition to get in the way of your goals and the things that you want to do in life. Been HIV+ is not the end of the road or the end of the world, it's simply a bump in the road, but like all roads, they are never perfect, but unique. Best of luck in your studies, and I look forward to addressing you as "Colleague" in 2013."

WOW....could I have asked for a better consultation???  I don't think so!!! Even more so, I felt that I was on top of the world, or as I have now begun to summarized...I Never Felt So Alive!!!  I left the exam room and like many of you I headed to the lab so that my clinic where I was now going to be cared for, ran their own set of labs. And they did, 10 tubes...seriously, I thought they were going to drain me, I was like amazed on how much blood they needed to run my tests. Anyway, I left the clinic, made an appointment to be seen in 3 weeks (July 29), in such time span the clinic could get my genotype and the res of the results to determine what course of action to take in respects to medication. So after that, all I could do is wait, and wait, and to this day I am still waiting...I am ready to go back home, I miss my bed and my house, and my daily routine (which when I was back home I used t say it was so boring....haaa...I want that daily, weekly routine).

Ok, so moving on. The next couple of days after my first visit, I called to get as many of my lab results as possible, and of course by the end of that week everything was back except the genotype (granted, I am still waiting for the genotype, I plan to call tomorrow. I hope they have it, I have my appointment the following day...I will keep you posted). So to my surprise, my lab results went south from the initial lab results when been diagnosed. My CD4 went down to 112, and my VL went up to 14,000. This time I knew my CD4%, it was 16%. As for the rest of the lab results, including CBC, sugar level, kidney function, liver function, etc.... ALL WERE NORMAL!!!!  How about that!!!  Even the nurses were surprised, that if it wasn’t that they knew I was HIV+, based on my results, they would think otherwise. The good news was that I was healthy, with normal lab results, and for me, that I was able to continue with my plans to go to medical school.

NOTE: I just realized that I am writing a book...sorry, I guess I should give your eyes a break!!!

OK, fast forward and now I will summarize...

From the time I saw my Dr. to date; I have had some emotional swings, but for the most part under control. I started seen a therapist as a form to confirm that what I am doing is the right direction in which I need to go based on my persona...remember, we all deal this things differently. I also spoke with the city's health department and was able to get educated on the "Do's" and "Don'ts" of living with HIV. In such sessions, I learned about STD's, resources available to me, and most important, I learned the responsibility to inform those that I exposed. I must admit, these last 4 weeks have been very busy for me, I have learned a lot and have done my part in informing those that I exposed...some of these conversation went well, and one went, well let's just say it could have gone better! I also learned about my rights to disclose and what implications I have against me in the event that I don't disclose when needed. Finally, I learned one true statement: "I Have The HIV Virus, but the HIV Virus Does Not Have ME".

I am grateful that I have the opportunity to wake up every day and enjoy been alive. I too, like many spend many hours thinking of the worse and been depressed, and also having anxiety attacks, and oh yeah, been paranoid...every little thin I saw abnormal in my body, even a pimple or a sun burn or a ingrown hair in my but, I thought it was HIV related. I even thought I had thrush and PCP. The reality is that we HIVers will face illnesses or discover abnormalities in our body that people who are HIV- also face. The stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS makes us believe that everything is related to our virus, but although it may be the case, in others it won't. Granted, I am not an expert, and certainly been just diagnosed 1 month ago does not warrant my validity to what I am saying, but one thing that I am sure is that MY HIV VIRUS is what I make it to be. I have realized that I have a medical condition, and I also realized that there is treatments & care and that I live in a developed country. I also realized that the fact that I am HIV+ does not mean that I have to stop LIVING, but that I am just AWARE of what I have, and that my medical condition is an opportunity to continue to learn and most important, EDUCATE others and help bring the stigma down.

In conclusion, for me, Life Goes On!  As my therapist told me, we are not eternal, and as one member here at these forums also said, we may go out and be run over by a bus but that does not mean we stay home and never go out. And for that matter and many others, I reach out to all of you who are reading to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you LOVE WHO you are and HOW you are and WHOM you've become. Realize that many wonders happen in your life every moment, wonders like the one you are having now but may not realize: your heart is beating, your lungs are getting oxygen through your breathing, your eyes are allowing you to read this post, and guess what??? YOU ARE ALIVE!!!

To all of you and to all man kind I say: the ability to LIVE is not only a function of our human body but our willingness to want for such function to occur. May you allow your mind to be at peace and not destroy what you have build or will build, and also may you allow your mind to help you (just like it has helped me) to accept the fact that we carry a virus, and like a diabetic, or an asthmatic, or anyone else with a chronic illness, to learn to enjoy life with such medical condition and maintain internal & external peace.

Thank you to all whom story I read, believe it or not it has helped me reach this point in such a short time. Thank you to the founder of this website for creating a space where we can vent and express our emotions. Thank you to all of you whom I have tired your eye sight because you have read so far to this point...it's ok if you need to add some eye drops, that may sudden your eyes..LOL. Really, thank you to all for allowing me to enter into your lives in this manner. As I move forward with my life and pick up where I left off a month ago, I am grateful to be alive and I look forward to making a difference in people’s lives through my current medical condition as an educator and as a future MD. And in case someone may be wondering what will be my specialty...well, before my diagnose I wanted to be an ER doctor, but now, I plan to specialize in Infections Disease and I also plan to do a residency and fellowship in the same field and participate, if not lead, a research to find a cure to this virus.

May you find strength in yourself and remember one thing: "I Have The HIV Virus, but the HIV Virus Does Not Have ME".

Until Next Time, Be Safe & Enjoy Been Alive!!!

Your New Friend, Humanitarian.   :)

Offline BT65

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 9,975
Re: Hello
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2008, 10:18:45 AM »
Welcome to the forums Humanitarian. 
I've never killed anyone, but I frequently get satisfaction reading the obituary notices.-Clarence Darrow

Offline Peter Staley

  • Member
  • Posts: 1,337
  • Founder & Advisory Editor, AIDSmeds.com
    • AIDSmeds.com
Re: Hello
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2008, 08:46:17 PM »
Welcome, Humanitarian.  I'm glad you found our site, and finally posted here after reading other threads.  And I'm really glad you used paragraphs in your first post, or I might have gone blind reading it..  LOL.

Seriously though, you've got a great attitude, and I'm glad you've joined us.

Peter Staley
Founder
AIDSmeds.com

Offline Humanitarian

  • Member
  • Posts: 7
Re: Hello
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2008, 09:47:46 PM »
Hi,

Thank you for your replies....I guess I owe you a bottle of eye drops???  LOL    ;D

Thank you for the welcome and feedback, as I mentioned, these forums have helped a lot.

Humanitarian.

 


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