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Author Topic: "Happy Anniversary"  (Read 2563 times)

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Offline wtfimpoz

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"Happy Anniversary"
« on: June 28, 2010, 01:54:04 PM »
My life partner and I have maintained an open relationship for a few years now.  It was mutually agreed, and mutually acted upon.  We were always honest and upfront about our activities with other men, and maintained physical relations with one another throughout the experience.  We've even been married, though we reside in a state that doesn't recognize it.  A few weeks ago...the day before our five year anniversary, during a routine test...I tested positive.  As cliche as it is, I'd been a "condom nazi".  I'm not claiming "immaculate infection", but I took extensive measures to protect myself and everyone I was with.  I've never barebacked, and any condom which anyone ejaculated in I always checked afterwards for signs of damage in a good light.  I always either filled it with water or air to check for leakage after the act was done.  While the procedure is bizarre and maybe ineffective, the fact that I committed to it *after* sex reinforces my belief that I didn't "forget to roll one on in the heat of the moment".  My oral exposure was minimal, and given what I consider a fairly accurate estimate of the span of time of my infection*, oral sex is almost certainly not the source of transmission. I've checked,checked and triple checked how to use a condom, and I'm certain I and my sexual partners were doing it right.  I've been incredibly busy the last few months, so there has been no drinking or drug use to explain away a forgetten sexual act.  I've scanned emails and credit card receipts to see if there has been an event or tryst that I've forgotten about.  There has not.  All of this has lead me to a single horrifying realization:  Condoms are not nearly as effective as I'd been lead to believe, the joke is on me.  Bring on the conservative christians and government anti-sex educators to shake their heads and say "I told you so".  Larry Kramer is right about everything.  The ONLY good news I've gotten is that my partner is neg.

In between bouts of sobbing, desperation and paranoia, I'm horrified about what kind of future we will have.  There is no way i'm going to feel safe even contemplating sex with him until I'm on meds and my viral load is down.  Even then, even with the prospect of wearing a rubber and making sure not to cum in him, I feel like I'll be asking him to take an unacceptable risk.  The standard line "you need to have protected sex" clearly doesn't hold water, but I can't imagine what sort of life exists without physical intimacy.  He ran out and bought a bunch of sex toys so that we could still do something safe together.  I cried when he pulled out the matching purple strap ons.  Is this really what it comes to?  Does our sexy life REALLY have to devolve to candy colored plastic appendages?  We're afraid to use the same fleshlight.  Or the same nail clippers.  We've segregated our tooth brushes so they don't come into contact with each other.  I know that "surface to surface transmission" is unheard of, but frankly this condom thing was supposed to be pretty effective and that was a crock, so I don't know what is safe. I've gone into "safety overdrive".  He kissed my cheek one day while I sat sobbing.  Are tears a source of HIV transmission? I know the official answer is "no", but seriously, how do we really know? 

And what about the future?  So many people want to tell me that "the drugs are wonderful now, you have insurance, blahblahblah", and I want to believe them, but I can't.  Look at the people begging for death's embrace on the long term survivors forum.  Its great that the next ten years are probably going to be fine, that my first few bouts of meds are unlikely to make me too sick, but what about 20 years down the line?  Thirty?  Things don't look too rosy to me.  I saw a ID doc on youtube talking about how "many HIV patients are expected to live out their normal lifespan.  Maybe not thelife they expected, but a life all the same".  Terri Schiavo had "a life all the same", thats not exactly reassuring. I don't want to be disabled.  I don't want to lose my mind.  Working off the theory that "god is in the details", and my conviction that the details have conspired against me, I'm lead to the conclusion that God hates me.  That may not be the best syllogism I've ever written, but its basically how I feel.  Why else have there been so many people having MUCH crazier sex than myself, but still neg???    I'm certain I'm going to suffer from ADC, or at the very least HAND.  I'm 28 and I'm already notoriously forgetful.  My conversion sickness had bouts of extreme dizziness and *maybe* foggy thinking.  I'm anemic.  these things are linked with HAND and ADC.  How can I ask my partner to stand with me through the years when my future looks headed towards destitution  and dementia?  I want him to run away, and to save himself while he's still young and can start over with someone who isn't damaged, but honestly, at this time, I don't know how I can go on without him. 

I don't even know what I'm looking for here.  I think I just needed to put what I was feeling into words.  I've always been "the strong one".  When the cat died, I handled his body, handled his burial and even covered up the fact that he was actually run over by a neighbor...no need to make anyone feel bad over innocently spilt milk.  I'm always everyone's rock.  Before this i cried...seriously...three times in the fifteen years since I hit puberty.  In the five years we'd been together, through fights and drama and family deaths and personal failures, my partner had seen my cry exactly once...during the movie UP. There was actually some secret concern on my behalf that my tear ducts had atrophied or something.  Clearly thats not the case.  I cry several times a day now.  I burst into tears at work.  I cry while I drive, ignoring traffic.  I cry when I wonder who will hold my mom's hand when she dies.  Now I'm crying as I type this.  Everyone at work is deeply concerned with whats wrong with me.  I've been avoiding phone calls from parents, and all my friends.  I'm becoming reclusive and dismissive, and people are thinking its rude.  I don't want to eat, I can't sleep.  For about a week, my partner had me on an unofficial suicide watch until I explained to him that I was grieving for the lack of a future I'd have with him, and that I can't stand to do anything to cut that short.  I just lay around and cry.  Yes, clearly this is depression, but I don't want to go on medication because I've seen it steal people's souls.  Moderate exercise doesn't seem to be making a dent in the situation.

If you've read this, thank you.  I know objectively that it sounds ridiculous and spoiled, and that human history is aboutsuffering, and thank god I'm not a leper in the middle ages, or that I don't havethis disease at the onset of the epidemic, but its just really hard feeling any sense of gratitude or optimism when you're staring at dementia and destitution and last month's biggest problem was the impact of student loans on my debt to income ratio and how it was preventing me from buying my dream home.  I welcome comments, but please be nice, and now that I've finally put this out in the open, I'll try to be more normal. 
09/01/2009-neg
mid april, 2010, "flu like illness".
06/01/2010-weakly reactive ELISA, indeterminant WB
06/06/2010-reactive ELISA, confirmed positive.

DATE       CD4     %     VL
07/15/10  423     33    88k
08/28/10  489     19    189k
09/06/10-Started ATRIPLA
09/15/10  420     38    1400
11/21/10  517     25    51

Offline WillyWump

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Re: "Happy Anniversary"
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2010, 02:45:01 PM »
Hello Wtf,

I'm sorry there is a need for you to be here but Welcome to the group. I feel for what your are going through. But before I get into all the "It will get betters" (and it will, I promise) I'd like to address your situation.

I think you need to sit down and revisit your previous sexual encounters, I feel certain there is an instance somewhere of unprotected sex. I'm not calling you a liar about your condom use but under the stress of the situation maybe you've forgotten about that "one time", It could ahve been a few seconds of foreplay where a partner penetrated you briefly and ejaculated without you knowng, and then went on to put a condom on and had longer usual anal sex making you think that the whole instance was protected (Just an example),.. or more likely maybe you really actually forgot about an unprotected instance. I'm saying this because Proper condom use is a failsafe way of preventing infection. Perhaps Anne and some others will come along shortly with more info and/or studies regarding condom use and HIV infection.

With that being said, you CAN have sex with your partner while using a condom and NOT have to worry about infecting him. No, you are not relegated to pleasuring each other with colored plastic toys. You can have just as satisfying sex with your partner now as you did pre-Hiv.  I think it's imperative that you learn about how properly used condoms prevent HIv infection. I also recommend reading through the lessons at the top of the page here, there is some great information compiled there.

We're afraid to use the same fleshlight. Or the same nail clippers. We've segregated our tooth brushes so they don't come into contact with each other - This is irrational thinking on your part, your freaking out a little bit (ok, alot) with these actions. Again, learn everything you can about the virus and how it is spread, it's impossible for nail clippers or toothbrushes to spread HIV...While there have been no studies that I know of on sharing fleshlights, this too would not spread HIV as the Virus is very fragile and is rendered harmless after exposure to air. If the fleshlight thing still bothers you, just be sure to wash it out between uses, but really the Clippers and tootbrush thing is off the hook, totally irrational.

Lastly, this is a bit offensive...Look at the people begging for death's embrace on the long term survivors forum ....Who are you referring to? Our LTS'ers are a vibrant and life loving group and I know of none who are begging for death. Perhaps you misstated this or meant something else by this which I can understand with the stress and fear you are under.

Things will get better, Cry all you want, Crying actually helps to rid the body of stress and realeases wonderful endorphins. Yes, it may take while to become fully acclimated to your diagnosis but it's a process that needs to happen. It's possible that you have acute situational depression(reclusive, not eating, not sleeping) and in which case the worst of it will abate quickly, but you might consider talking to a therapist so it doesnt get any worse. There forums here are also a good way to work through your depression, anxiety, etc... as there are many great people here willing to lend an ear to anything that might be bothering you.

Hugs
-Will
POZ since '08

Last Labs-
6/3/14 CD4- 736, UD 34%
6/25/13 CD4- 1036, UD,
2/4/13, CD4 - 489, UD, 28%

Current Meds: Prezista/Epzicom/ Norvir
.

Offline Inchlingblue

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Re: "Happy Anniversary"
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2010, 05:54:12 PM »
Have you and your partner used condoms with each other up until now?

My oral exposure was minimal, and given what I consider a fairly accurate estimate of the span of time of my infection*

Were you going to fill in more information here, hence the asterisk?


If you have good insurance and have caught this early enough not to have sustained too much immune damage you'll be fine.


Offline Joe K

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  • 31 Years Poz
Re: "Happy Anniversary"
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2010, 06:49:27 PM »
Hello wtf,

I'm so sorry that you have tested poz, but glad you found your way here. You have just received life altering news and you need to give it some time to sink in. I know your head is spinning, with dozens of questions, but just let it flow and remember that feelings are not reality. It is very normal for people to experience emotional overload for the first couple months, so just slow down and let it sink in. You don't mention any health problems, so you have plenty of time to adjust to being poz and I urge you to stop playing the "what if" game. Trust me, what ifs can kill you and right now, all that matters is you and keeping your stress levels as low as possible.

You have a husband, who has shown that he is standing by you, so stop worrying about him and concentrate on you. My guess, is you are both so shocked at this news, that you both need to just be there, for each other and give it some time. You do not need to make any immediate decisions, other than seeking the help of a good therapist. I believe you could both benefit greatly, from having someone help to guide you through these next few months. I suffer from depression and I know that there are medications that can temporarily help you and no, they will not steal your mind. I hope you realize that some things in life are bigger than our ability to deal with them alone and that there is never any shame in seeking the help of others.

I also encourage you, to stop worrying about how you became infected, as that can cause more stress than knowing will relieve. Does it really matter how you became poz, as opposed to your knowing now? Nobody deserves HIV and nobody here cares how you became poz, simply that you are poz. I wish I had some easy answers for you, but I don't, because each journey to acceptance of living with HIV is very individual and personal. Nobody can tell you how your journey will unfold, but we can be there to walk along side you.

I encourage you to use these forums, to talk about what ever you want and to realize that you can have family here, as a finer group of people you will never find. But right now, you need to take it slow and just let the feelings flow and I promise that in a few weeks, some of your initial fears will fade and you will see things in a clearer light. Please stop worrying about things that may never come to pass and concentrate on what you have, good health, happiness and a good man who loves you. You already have more than most, so be grateful for that and just give it some time.

Things will get better and there will come a day, when HIV will be just another facet of your life. You can do this and it all starts with taking it slow and, for now, take it one day at a time. I know you can do this, as I have been doing it for 26 years.

Welcome to the forums.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 06:51:51 PM by killfoile »

Offline hotpuppy

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  • Posts: 555
Re: "Happy Anniversary"
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2010, 07:34:08 PM »
WTF,
  Not sure where you are (it wasn't mentioned) but in Houston they have a great class I dub HIV 101 and it is a good rational grounding in HIV and what you and your partner need to know about it.

  Welcome to the forums.  We are here to listen, to talk, and to suggest what worked for us when we had experiences similar to yours.

  There is alot going on for you right now and it's completely okay to be afraid, angry, and looking for the how.  Let yourself go through this as it helps with the coping and transition.

  I want to respond to a few things you've mentioned.  I've been positive for 2.5 years.  The LongTermers have their challenges, but frankly they have so much to share that I'm greatful for knowing them.  Each one of them has something to teach you about how they cope with the virus.  A short contrast.... when they were diagnosed the standard line was "get your shit together you will be dead in a few years, give away your cat, say goodbye to your family, kiss your ass goodbye."  That's a very scary thing to be told.  When you and I are diagnosed, the line is "Okay, your poz, that sux, here are some meds, here are some tests, you will live a normal life span."  

So, a normal lifespan is 44 years from diagnosis for a white man in the US with access to medical care, who takes his meds, eats right, and exercises.  Women and minorities are a few years shorter.  This comes with the caveat that you don't drink like a fish and party like you want a drug named after you.  It also is predicated that something else like cancer, heart disease, lightning, etc doesn't get you first.  I relish the thought of dying from something that isn't HIV related.  That to me is the ultimate success in our fight for a normal life.  The time frame is based on CDC data, so your mileage may vary.

okay, so let's talk about how for a moment.  First the ground rules on HIV:
- You can give it away (we wish you wouldn't) but you can't get rid of it.
- Wal-Mart won't take it back. (no matter how mean you are to Suze Q at the service desk)
- It's like a pet.  It requires regular care and feeding.  If left alone it will tear the shit out of your house and make a big ole mess.  

How is pretty closely related to blame.  Work through it, but don't get lost on the search for De-Nial.  (Hint: It's not in Egypt).  I'm not going to tell you what the answer is here... because you need to develop your answer and be okay with it.  

My how: I had unsafe sex.  My fault.  I fucked up.  I knew better, there is no excuse and I'm the one who engaged in unsafe sex, therefore regardless of who gave it to me, it's my fault.  Being mad at myself doesn't advance my goals so I'm not gonna bother.  I can plan tomorrow, live today, and regret yesterday.  I choose to live today.

I'll entertain that you were extra careful with condoms and never broke one or forgot to use one.  Let's say that's the case..... here are a few devil's advocate thoughts:
- Oral Sex.  Co-infection with syphillus or active herpes (80% of US Adults have Herpes 1 aka cold sores)  Syphillus is rampant in the gay community.  Both cause sores in your mouth and HIV doesn't discriminate.  It just looks for a way in.  Abrasions on the throat from sucking a big dick will do this as well in theory.
- Cum play.  While it's easy to be careful with a condom, it only takes a drop of cum on someone's finger playing with your ass to get cum in you.  
- Precum... yup it has virus in it too...... so someone playing with your ass with their cock and precumming and then putting on a condom and fucking you is just as risky.
These are pretty slim, but again it only takes a copy of the virus.


You mentioned your partner being neg.  That's good.  I don't know the dates here, but seroconversion is a bit different in different people.  It's also possible to be infected and not have an antibody response...Mainly from seroconversion not being done.  It takes around 6 weeks and in some cases it takes longer.  I wouldn't rule your partner's status out completely until a couple tests go by.  If you aren't having safe sex with your parnter then you need to have an honest conversation there.  I also might suggest a test called HIV RNA Qualitative (aka is the virus there by looking for RNA).  This same test done on you and I is a HIV RNA Quantitative also called Viral Load and if you have to pay for it then it's called fucking expensive.  :)

Remember the rules of HIV.  Think about where you will get before you go there.  Anger rarely creates anything.

You also mentioned that safe sex might not be effective.  I know a few couples who are serodiscordant which means one is poz and one is neg.  They have stayed that way.  In one case they have been together since 1992 and are still poz and neg.  So it can be done.  

Dating someone of the opposite status is not easy..... both of you are going to be scared, frustrated, and at times angry.  This forum may help, but won't be a substitute for counseling.  I highly recommend that you seek out counseling together, and if needed separately so that you can have a professional help you drag the issues out on the table and sort through them in a safe manner.  Otherwise you are likely to have eruptions in your relationship when one of you breaks down and goes off on the other.

Moving forward:
-Build a support network for yourself.  Hopefully it will include your partner, your friends, and maybe your family.  Be prepared to educate the ignorant.  It comes with the territory.  It's like owning a hybrid car and some fools just don't understand them.  

-Celebrate your relationship.  5 years is a fantastic accomplishment.  You are still together right?  

- Keep it in perspective.  HIV is like a game of golf with 72 holes.  It takes forever to playout and there are ups and downs.  Your on hole 1 and hole 72 is a long way away.  There is no golf cart and there is no caddy.  Swing like you mean it and enjoy the trail.

Lastly, I know you aren't going to like all of what I've written, but I think it's part of the answer you need.  If I blew smoke up your ass and told you what you wanted to hear you'd be pissed at me when you eventually figured it out.  You deserve more.  You've put alot into your post and that's the only reason I need to give what I think is the truth from my perspective.
« Last Edit: June 28, 2010, 07:40:27 PM by hotpuppy »
Don't obsess over the wrong things.  Life isn't about your numbers, it isn't about this forum, it isn't about someone's opinion.  It's about getting out there and enjoying it.   I am a person with HIV - not the other way around.

Offline wtfimpoz

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Re: "Happy Anniversary"
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2010, 10:58:33 PM »
Hey everyone, thanks for the kind words of encouragement.  I agree, its probably not healthy to try to figure out WHICH sex partner gave it to me, but my mind keeps racing through the possibilities.  Part of why I want to know how I got it is because I want to know what I can do safely, and frankly, I just want to scream whenever i hear somene say "just have safe sex".  I know no one believes people who say they did sex right and still got infected...god knows I didn't before this.  The truth is though...I did everything right.  I even checked the condoms after they were used to make sure that they were intact.  And I top 90% of the time, so the possibility of evil stealth stuff isn't as high as most people presume.  I know what I did.  I have sources of validation beyond my personal memories, and frankly, I'm too neurotic to just forget taking a load or a condom rip.  I'll admit that syphilis could be a real possibility which raised my liklihood of infection, though I haven't been diagnosed with it yet.   In a really messed up way, if i could go back in time and find a chancre in my mouth, that'd make things a lot better, because I'd know to avoid oral sex with chancres.  Besides that, I think the "wear a rubber and you'll be fine because they're foolproof" message that gay men get is...kinda a recipe for disaster.  And it invites stereotypes of those who are infected.     

My partner and I are still together, and he shows every indication of staying with me, but in a way that scares me.  The horror stories of Aids Dementia and disability make my hyperventilate.  I want him to be able to live his life.  He tells me that I am his life.  I don't want to become his life if he has to ever care for me.  As for how my system is gonna deal with it, my last neg test was in sept of 2009, and my presumed seroconversion illness was about 2 months ago.  Inexplicably, after noting that what I had was "clearly viral", my doctor prescribed a cortisone injection into my buttocks to ease throat pain...probably enlarged lymph nodes.  I'm terrified of what this has done to my immune system.  As for my insurance...I really don't know if its "good" insurance...i just traditionally bought whatever the best plan was offered by my company in case I got hit by a bus.  I've got highish blood pressure that a doc has told me isn't "too bad", but indicated I needed to follow up with, and I'm overweight, though not obese.  These are things I should deal with before I start meds.  I've got an appointment with an ID doc coming up. 

I'm starting to get really paranoid about prescription drug plan caps, etc.  I work for a huge company so the odds of pinning individual medical usage to me is relatively low, but don't know what I'm going to do if my prescription drug plan has a cap.  I am *just below* my states threshold for ADAP inegilibility, and understand that the threshold is getting lowered soon.  My state may have a high eligibility threshold, but my salary isn't nearly high enough to cover $1500 out of pocket monthly medical expenses.  Employer discrimination is another creeping fear.  People at work know something's up.  Dozens of people have come up to me and said "WTF, you haven't been yourself at all lately, what has hapened".  Maybe its because I'm 28 years old and keep breaking down in tears? I've never been in the closet about anything, and I don't know how I'm gonna cover this up.  My partners best friend (the only person other than  my partner who knows) swears she had a nightmare that I just started telling everyone compulsively and turned myself into a pariah.  I'm pretty opaque.   

The asterisk was supposed to lead you to an outline of my sexual activity for the last nine months, my conversion sickness, etc.  I just decided it was unnecessary info.

Yes, my partner and I went back on condoms when we opened up our relationship.  It was a stopgap measure, as was a return to HIV testing.  I never dreamed it'd be the seatbelt that saved his life.  We've mutually concluded that we should close our relationship back up...for our emotional well being. Sex basically consists of me giving him handjobs and him licking the underside of my shaft.  And yes, the humiliating strap ons...

Anyway, I really thank you guys for your support.  You'e been amazing.  Is there an approach to fight potential ADC before it arises as an issue?  Are most long term survivors disabled, or forced into disability because of an insurance "donut hole", and is there any reason to hope that the new health laws might help rectify this? Is there anything to be hopeful about other than BS cutting edge genetic therapy which probably won't materialize into anything?

   
09/01/2009-neg
mid april, 2010, "flu like illness".
06/01/2010-weakly reactive ELISA, indeterminant WB
06/06/2010-reactive ELISA, confirmed positive.

DATE       CD4     %     VL
07/15/10  423     33    88k
08/28/10  489     19    189k
09/06/10-Started ATRIPLA
09/15/10  420     38    1400
11/21/10  517     25    51

Offline Joe K

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  • 31 Years Poz
Re: "Happy Anniversary"
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2010, 11:33:11 PM »
Hey again,

Listen closely, my friend, as you need to get a grip and the sooner the better. If you insist on exploring every possible permutation of what can go wrong, over your entire life, you will be lucky to live to see 30. I am dead serious about this, you need to just chill out and take things one at a time. If people at work are asking questions, tell them you are experiencing a very traumatic personal event. Only a complete clod would push you to explain, after such a statement. Stop worrying about what you cannot control and start focusing on what you can control.

Do you have a copy of your complete health plan? If not, get one and see what benefits you have. You are not sick, you do not need meds, so stop worrying that you will be poor and destitute or contract dementia or whatever, or you will never adjust to being poz. Sometimes we can become our own worst enemy and overloading yourself with all these what ifs, will only make your adjustment that much harder and longer. You need to trust me on this and take it one day at a time. You have plenty of time for everything, so calm down, do something nice with your guy and try to remember that you are loved and in the end, that is what will see you through.

Stop worrying about what you might lose and concentrate on all you have. You really need to control this or your stress will go through the roof and that is the worst thing you can do right now. You will survive this and you will adjust, so cut yourself some slack, give yourself permission to grieve and then do it and get over it. HIV is not a spectator sport and eventually you will conquer the fears and unknowns, but until then, why invent more fears, than you already have?

Offline hotpuppy

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Re: "Happy Anniversary"
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2010, 05:27:58 AM »

My partner and I are still together, and he shows every indication of staying with me, but in a way that scares me.  The horror stories of Aids Dementia and disability make my hyperventilate.  I want him to be able to live his life.  He tells me that I am his life.  I don't want to become his life if he has to ever care for me.  As for how my system is gonna deal with it, my last neg test was in sept of 2009, and my presumed seroconversion illness was about 2 months ago.  Inexplicably, after noting that what I had was "clearly viral", my doctor prescribed a cortisone injection into my buttocks to ease throat pain...probably enlarged lymph nodes.  I'm terrified of what this has done to my immune system.  As for my insurance...I really don't know if its "good" insurance...i just traditionally bought whatever the best plan was offered by my company in case I got hit by a bus.  I've got highish blood pressure that a doc has told me isn't "too bad", but indicated I needed to follow up with, and I'm overweight, though not obese.  These are things I should deal with before I start meds.  I've got an appointment with an ID doc coming up. 

I'm starting to get really paranoid about prescription drug plan caps, etc.  I work for a huge company so the odds of pinning individual medical usage to me is relatively low, but don't know what I'm going to do if my prescription drug plan has a cap.  I am *just below* my states threshold for ADAP inegilibility, and understand that the threshold is getting lowered soon.  My state may have a high eligibility threshold, but my salary isn't nearly high enough to cover $1500 out of pocket monthly medical expenses.  Employer discrimination is another creeping fear.  People at work know something's up.  Dozens of people have come up to me and said "WTF, you haven't been yourself at all lately, what has hapened".  Maybe its because I'm 28 years old and keep breaking down in tears? I've never been in the closet about anything, and I don't know how I'm gonna cover this up.  My partners best friend (the only person other than  my partner who knows) swears she had a nightmare that I just started telling everyone compulsively and turned myself into a pariah.  I'm pretty opaque.   



Okay.... first off relax.  The odds of your partner wiping your ass when you have dimentia are about the same as you wiping his ass because he has alzheimers and can't remember to wipe.  HIV is a SLOW SLOW SLOW fucking SLOW disease.  Got it?  50 year race slow.  You will live long enough to have other issues, trust me.  Even if you don't agree, just try it on for size for a year.

It's normal to want to run through every permutation.  You will exhaust yourself to the point of not giving a shit.  That's not good.  I suggest you try on something I call Jungle Hunt.  Pretend you are in a jungle.  You are trying to walk out and have 5 miles to go.  You have a rifle and 4 bullets. 

You see a lion, a squirrel, an elephant, a small snake, and a zebra.  I'm hoping that you are a good shot and don't bother with the small snake, elephant, squirrel, or zebra.  :)

Which item is the lion in your current list of concerns?  Start there.

Another concept that may help you.  You are on a ship sailing to Antartica.  It gets stranded in the Ice and you are the only survivor.  You manage to kill and reel in a whale (just roll with it).  How do you eat it?  It's 20 tons!  answer: One forkful at a time.... it will keep just fine in the "freezer"  HIV is your whale, your life is the freezer.  It ain't going anywhere anytime in this life... so you can "eat" it one forkful at a time.  Enjoy your new pet, but don't let it run or ruin your life.


Now, as for your co-workers..... let me add some perspective.  I am an open person... you sound much like me.  I do not however share everything and you probably don't either.  Chances are you don't share when you wipe your ass, or how much poo was left.  People just assume that if you were in a stall in the restroom, you did what you needed to do.  Let them make the same assumptions about your HIV.  They don't need to know. 

If you do breakdown and coworkers ask, just tell them you have some stressful stuff going on and that you don't want to talk about it because it isn't work related.  If you are really that stressed I would suggest taking some vacation time so that you can relax, adjust, and come back ready to focus on work.

The only cure for this is coming to terms with HIV and accepting the reality that it isn't the end of the world.  Just a change in how your world works.

When I became Poz I went through this process of being afraid I would die or that my world come apart at the seams or that it would change drastically (I'd have to shut down my company and go work somewhere).  For the most part it has not.  Until you reach this point you are likely to "cycle" relentlessly trying to "deal" with all of the horrors your imagination can come up with.  Two things will happen.  You will emotionally exhaust yourself and go numb, or you will rationalize what is going on and move beyond it.  People who go numb typically engage in substance abuse (alcohol, drugs, etc) to make the pain go away and "pretend" they have escaped. Eventually they hit a brick wall and have to rationalize what is going on and move beyond it.  You seem pretty bright so I'm not going to connect the dots for you as to what the eventual outcome is.

DO NOT SHARE everything with your coworkers...... especially not your HIV status.  They do not need to know.  At all.  Gossip loves fresh dirt.  I recommend that you practice "brand control" on your personal brand.  This means highlighting the good and avoiding public inspection of the bad. 

When people ask it's a good thing.  It means they care.  Like you they will have fears that drive behavior.  right now you have enough going on without worrying about educating coworkers on any misinformation they might have. 

My mother works for me... remotely from home.  She used to do Insurance Billing and Claims.  I told her I was HIV positive and she immediately started talking about AIDS.  Many people do not know the difference and will immediately assume that your HIV status is the same as the most awful picture they have seen of someone with HIV.  Flash back to 1985 if you need a refresher.  Even in the gay community people don't know what is current and what is "old news." 
Don't obsess over the wrong things.  Life isn't about your numbers, it isn't about this forum, it isn't about someone's opinion.  It's about getting out there and enjoying it.   I am a person with HIV - not the other way around.

Offline hotpuppy

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Re: "Happy Anniversary"
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2010, 05:51:22 AM »

Yes, my partner and I went back on condoms when we opened up our relationship.  It was a stopgap measure, as was a return to HIV testing.  I never dreamed it'd be the seatbelt that saved his life.  We've mutually concluded that we should close our relationship back up...for our emotional well being. Sex basically consists of me giving him handjobs and him licking the underside of my shaft.  And yes, the humiliating strap ons...

Anyway, I really thank you guys for your support.  You'e been amazing.  Is there an approach to fight potential ADC before it arises as an issue?  Are most long term survivors disabled, or forced into disability because of an insurance "donut hole", and is there any reason to hope that the new health laws might help rectify this? Is there anything to be hopeful about other than BS cutting edge genetic therapy which probably won't materialize into anything?    


Okay, I broke this into two responses for a reason. 

FIRST AND FOREMOST - AND YES I'M SHOUTING - DROP THE MIRACLE CURE BS.  Just rule that shit out.  There is NOT a cure and don't even waste time exploring that.  We all want one.... but there is not one.  There are however some good drugs that keep HIV in check.

Second - Where do you get this BS that Long Termers are disabled?  Just because someone is on "disability" or "retired" doesn't mean they are disabled.  Now, I know a bunch of folks who were diagnosed in 198x.  Back then perception and reality were different.  So if you became poz the next step if you had a good job was that you got sick and they put you on disability figuring you would die in a few years.  Well, guess what?  A few tough bitches didn't die.  They rode it out and are still here.  Many of them have chosen not to go back to work and simply stay on "disability" collecting checks and enjoying life.  They "make" it, but don't usually live "well."  Many of them have some chronic side affects from older meds.  Meds got better as time went on.  At first it was a choice between a drug that might mess you up and a disease that would kill you without treatment.  Lesser of two evils.  So some drugs have vascular effects, others screw with metabolism, etc.  There are folks who had heart attacks because of their meds.... but they are alive... so they have chosen to not work because it lets them have a better quality of life.  Almost everyone I know who is on "disability" still does "work."  Usually under the table for cash.... or part time.  Don't let their income source fool you into thinking that they are granny smith in a rocking chair talking to the grim reaper.

I have no idea what you were exploring with ADC and the slippery slope of nastiness.  Unless you quit your job, there is no reason you can't work until retirement.  So don't let your HIV confuse you into thinking that end is coming any sooner than it was 1 year ago.  Even if you swore off drugs it would take 10 year for HIV to "get" you.  And that's if you are unlucky.  It might take 20 years with no drugs if you were lucky.

Okay sex..... look I'm sorry you are having lousy sex.  What you are describing doesn't count as good sex.  I am glad your partner is still there for you.  Both of you deserve better sex and are quite capable of doing it safely.

For one thing, you can suck his dick and there is ZERO risk to him.  None, nada, not a damn thing.

For another, there is always frottage.  That is rubbing against one another.  It's not the same as fucking, but it's a close cousin.   ;D

Sex with condoms is shown to greatly reduce the risk of transmitting HIV.  I know right now you are not sure of that, but millions of other people are and the pack is generally right.  Your BF could use a condom and top you and be safe.  Use the right lube, don't do anything stupid like stacking condoms (using more than one at a time). 

The best answer is for both of you to learn about HIV and then decide what is safe.  Usually the focus is on the negative partner's warranted and unwarranted fears about catching HIV.  You have to find and eliminate those fears before you can resume having good sex.  Good sex isn't planned, choreographed, or negotiated.  It's spontaneous within a given set of boundaries.  So let me screw with your expectations a bit.  It sounds to me like you are still stuck on the neg partner can catch HIV worry.  First off, yes it's a risk, but you can protect it and avoid it.  Second, a positive person has less immune system.  Normal is 1000 CD4 (t-cells) or so.  Most poz folks have 250 to 500 t-cells which is 25 to 50% capacity.  That means its much easier for you and I to catch something that it is for your boyfriend.  So the risk is really on us for catching a cold (which always takes longer to get rid of).  Chew on that for a moment.  It tastes better then WonkaWorryWorts.  ;)

Now, I'm gonna head something off that you haven't mentioned yet.  There are a couple of scenarios that I think you should think about.

1) Your partner may be poz, and just hasn't tested poz yet.  So keep that to yourself and make sure you play very safe for a few months.  Seroconversion takes time and until it happens you won't test poz.

2) Your partner may be neg and decide that he loves you *so* much that he wants to be poz.  I don't think anyone *really* wants HIV and I've talked a few people off of that ledge.  You will need to be very strong should this come up.  Decide up front how you would handle this.  Someone who is determined to become poz will eventually succeed.... but you don't have to help or encourage it.  You don't have to tell anyone about this... other than maybe a counselor.
Don't obsess over the wrong things.  Life isn't about your numbers, it isn't about this forum, it isn't about someone's opinion.  It's about getting out there and enjoying it.   I am a person with HIV - not the other way around.

 


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