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One week and counting...

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keyite:
Hello everyone - just joined: 40 y/o gay guy from London, UK. I was diagnosed positive one week ago and it definitely ranks as the worst and most turbulent week of my life. Went for a routine check-up at my local STI clinic and since I haven't had any high-risk behaviour, and because getting check-ups has become, well, routine, I didn't think too much about it beforehand. But the moment I was called in by someone who clearly was a counsellour, rather than the doctor or nurse who had treated me, I just instinctive knew what was up.

He gave me the result and I just felt so numb, so stunned, could not take in what he was saying, could not even look him in the eye. He explained they would need to test again to confirm the result but I knew it was right: back in May I went through what I first thought was flu but then starting to suspect might be seroconversion. It just didn't seem like flu - spiking fevers, headache, itchy scalp (of all things!) but no sore throat, no running nose, no aching joints. While still ill back in May I went to a private clinic and had the p24 antigen test and it came back inconclusive (performed three times, 2 times vaguely positive, one time negative). This was obviously cause for concern and a Western Blot was then performed and it was negative. The doctor told me it most likely was a blip and not to worry. I then recovered and gradually forgot all about it. Until last week, of course. Now I know I was seroconverting back in May but that antibodies still hadn't been developed at that stage.

When I left the clinic I called my best friend and, as he luckily was around, I went straight to his place. He was just great; a shoulder to cry on, provided a listening ear and a bit of reassurance. I can't imagine what it would have been like to just go home alone after this news.

The first few days was just the deepest despair I have ever felt. I cried buckets, could barely sleep, could barely think beyond the hour. I toyed a bit with the idea of throwing myself under a bus (not all that hard as a cyclist in London traffic...) - I know I wouldn't have done it but it did seem a tempting way to end the pain. I went back to see the counsellour again a few days after and was told the initial result had been confirmed - strangely, I felt fairly calm when he told me this - somehow I was then no longer in limbo and could perhaps start to deal with the situation properly. Talking to him helped a lot, particularly when he disclosed that he himself had been positive for 10 years and was doing just fine on the meds.

I subsequently told another friend and it has been great to know I have friends who now know, who care about me and who I can trust - it is so good to be able to air my thoughts and worries freely during this period of re-adjusting.

Yesterday I then went back to the counsellour for my first set of lab results: CD4: 583; CD4 percentage: 33; viral load 17,000. I am still trying to take in what all these numbers actually mean but he seemed to think this gives cause for a little optimism. I really hope he is right because I would rather wait for as long as possible before starting the meds. The stories I have read about the various side effects really scare me.

I no longer feel the kind of despair I felt last week, now it is more a sense of immense sadness. Also I feel so angry with myself for letting this happen - I realise it is not a very logical or helpful feeling to have but I don't seem able to let it go, at least not yet.

Beyond the medical aspect I really struggle to see how life from now on is going to work. The impact on meeting other guys, sex, family, work and so on just seems impossible to reconcile. I clearly need to learn from other positive people out there so I can work out what will be the way for me. Am working on finding a support group of some sort.

Going to end here for now - it has actually helped a lot to write all this down.

Moffie65:
Keep writing my friend, keep writing.

Please do me a favor, let your emotions run the gammut, for only then can you actually work through all the stages of grief that you need to experience to let your previously, carefree life go, and start down this pathway to "re-construction".

Hell, only the blueprints have changed, not you.  You can create anything you want out of this new life, and I am proof of that.  You can start and screw up a business now just as well as you could pre-HIV.  Only now, the lessons you learn, and the mistakes you make will never be repeated.  Only quality and truth will now suffice.  Hey, look on the bright side, you never have to worry about getting an HIV infection ever again now.  Trite isn't it?  Well, not really, there are so many things that you can do now, as before, only now, you might not put that trip to the ocean, or Amsterdam, or New York, or the country in the north of England; off nearly so easily.  Now our lives are measured, and we must grab at all the opportunities when they arrive.

You will do fine, but please don't make any decisions too soon, as the more you learn and the more you know about HIV, the longer you will be able to fight off the dibilitating effects of this disease.

Stay well, and please stay out from under those busses, it isn't nice what they do to us humans.

In Love and Support.

Eldon:
Hello Keyite, it is Eldon.

Moffie has illustrated your newly diagnosed situation beautifully and I complement him for that. Let me share something with you, he is right it is a new beginning in your life. It was also a good gesture on your friend's part to have you come over when you heard the news from the counselor. When you see him again, give him a big hug and tell him thankyou. 

I wish to extend to you a warm WELCOME to the forums. Here you will find understanding, communication, support, some cries, some laughter, and you will have many of your questions answered relating to HIV/AIDS.

We have a great group of individuals here and there is a lot of information on this site at your disposal. Feel free to come and vent from time to time with whatever is on your mind. We'll be listening and answering.

In the interim, work out an exercise schedule that will fit your needs, drink plenty of fluids, change your current diet, and most importantly, get your proper rest as well.

Again Welcome! and Have the BEST Day!

ndrew:
Hello Friend and Welcome,

All of the emotions you are feeling are normal, let them flow through you, but don't let them consume you.  I have been positive for 2 1/2 years and I have confronted many demons.  I am not going to say it is easy, most of the effects are psychological.  I have no idea what tomorrow holds, but I am the happiest I have been in my life in many ways.  I live a normal life, aside from the complexity of dating, but that has always been complex.  I love my job and work out regularly.

Even so, when things get tough, I think, is it really worth it?  And I talk back to myself and myself sez... I love life too much...  LOVE IT!!

I am 38 and I still feel like my life is just beginning.  Being positive has made me serious about what I want from life and the effort I have put in is finally, slowly paying back.  I am more sensitive and caring and I take in the big picture.  I like to think I think beyond myself as well.  The truth is we can do a lot and we have each other for support.

We make choices.  Other people's choices effect us.  Things just happen, but in the end WE decide what we will do about all of this.  I sincerely hope you choose a path of hope, goodwill and love for yourself, you deserve it! 

Your assignment is to LIVE!  NOW GET TO WORK!!  (Sorry I just taught a huge freshman lecture class, I am a professor.)

With Love and Support,
Andrew

lydgate:
Hey Keyite,

I'll only add a couple of things: Your numbers are really good. And that, if/when you fall into a despairing mood again, just remember that this is 2006 and not 1996, and that 2016 is only... ten years away. No reason to think that you won't live a loooong happy productive life. I was diagnosed a year ago; and I'm pretty much back to "normal." Even my sex life.  :) I'm not minimizing the gravity of The News; it ain't good news, and despair is a "natural" enough response. But after the initial trauma subsides, after the smoke clears a bit, you will find that...

...it gets better. I promise.

Jay

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