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Author Topic: My story and my first lab numbers  (Read 5037 times)

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Offline atlantabro

  • Member
  • Posts: 31
  • Brand New Day
My story and my first lab numbers
« on: October 02, 2006, 07:45:34 PM »
Hey there folks! I want to start off by saying THANKS! It's great to know that there is a community of positive, positive-minded people who are here to offer advice and support. It's certainly a comfort.

So, here's my story: I was diagnosed with HIV on 8/31 (just 5 days after my 27th bday) after giving blood at a blood drive at my job in the middle of July. I believe I was exposed/infected between the months of January and June of this year. While it's probably closer to June due to the flu-like symptoms I experienced at the time, I honestly don't know when exactly. When I found out, I felt terrible. Slightly depressed and uninformed, I sought out as much information as possible. From an initial recommendation of a friend, Aidsmeds has become a one-stop deal for me in terms of education and info. The lessons are very informative as is the advice and testimonies from the forum members.

I had my first visit with an ID doctor here in Atlanta on 9/18. Nice doctor, but not as comforting as I would like. He took blood then and today I received my results. 346 cd4+ cells/26% and a viral load of 28900. Not so good. And yeah, I'm freaking. Why? The thought of having to start a therapy is quite depressing and quite honestly, scares the sh*t out of me. Yes I know the meds are meant to help, but it's not something I'm ready to do. Granted, my doc did NOT put me on a therapy just yet, but he wants to see what next lab results are when I visit him again in December. So, I should try to relax. For now, at least.

Physically and mentally, I feel fine. Emotionally...also fine, but it depends on the time of day. Just a little scared, that's all. I have a few friends that are also diagnosed. One has been diagnosed for over 15 years and isn't on any medication whatsoever. To hear that was quite encouraging but to know that my counts may warrant the start of therapy makes me a bit jelly.

So, what should I do? Are first lab results such as mine the 'norm'? Will they get better? What can I do, if anything, to get better results? What do you think? I'm scared.

Offline Matty the Damned

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  • Posts: 12,228
  • Ninja Please
Re: My story and my first lab numbers
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2006, 08:01:40 PM »
346 cd4+ cells/26% and a viral load of 28900.

Altanta,

Welcome to the Forums. I'm sorry that you had reason to join us but I'm awfully glad you found us anyway.

First up your numbers are pretty good. An absolute count of 346 and a percentage of 26 is nothing to stress out about just at the moment. I'd kill for a percentage of 26! ;) The thing you'll learn with HIV monitoring is that it's trends over time that matter not particular results. Especially if you've just contracted the virus. It can take a few months (up to a year) for your number to settle into a predictable sort of routine.

The tests and what they mean are all explained in our lessons section. If you look in the upper left hand corner of the page you'll find a link to them. I strongly encourage you to read them.

Understand too, that you don't have to make a whole lot of decisions all at once. There's no hurry doll. It's often a good idea to try and get your head around your diagnosis before making huge decisions about medications. HIV medications are a big step in a persons life and there is some debate about when is the best time to start.

Fortunately AIDSMEDS is an excellent place to learn about these things. Read our lessons, read other peoples thread and don't be afraid to ask questions.

Fondly,

MtD

Offline megasept

  • Member
  • Posts: 478
  • Steven here...
Re: My story and my first lab numbers
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2006, 09:26:33 PM »
 :)  Sorry, but starting therapy now (not years from now) might be a good idea given the count and VL you list (Don't take a poll as much as decide with your specialist). But, you are far from death's door. The question is would you be better off starting or waiting. I'd guess starting. One thing you won't mind is seeing your t-cells go up a lot, and that VL drop fast and furiously. That is the most common short-term outcome. The truth is all these numbers are fluid changing not just weekly but hourly. Among other things make sure you keep getting lab results from the same folks, because guess what, each lab gives a differrent result with samples taken simultaneously (I know. I tested the theory).

A word to the wise; the older I get (meaning my HIV) the less I obsess  :o on my "numbers". It is a given that I could improve them by going back on therapy (5 years no treatment, 5 years treatment (3tc, d4t) and 6 years off again), but my numbers in no way warrant it. So maybe you can look forward to the opposite scenario, a good while on therapy, then a good while off therapy. I am not predicting... just stating a likely possibility.

And what can you do for yourself? Well, what is best for you in general? Sound sleep, favorite music, laughing with friends, a bike ride, time with your pet, great home-cooked food, watch some favorite movie (I love netflix) travel, exercise or sports? Live a happy life. Push yourself a little and reward yourself for good deeds. Make changes. Reach out and help other people (in any way). Whatever you do don't waste the next few years---they might turn out to be your best.

I have the feeling you'll be around a very long time. The sooner you accept that likelihood the better you can appreciate being ill, but not sick (or is it the other way around)? Blessings.  8)

Offline Life

  • Member
  • Posts: 2,388
  • Member 2005
Re: My story and my first lab numbers
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2006, 09:35:24 PM »
Ok,  Bro.... lol

Welcome to the AM..  I am glad you found us...  You know you just got handed a big plate-O-shit.  But you know what.  You don't have to eat it all in one sitting.  You got time.   Your doc will not do anything until you are ready (mentally) with those numbers you described.  Stay away from stress, breath and know this is just the beginning or a new chapter...  Don't make it a drama, make it say a romance novel with a pet virus you fucking despise... lol...  You will BE O K.

Love

Offline Eldon

  • Member
  • Posts: 2,664
Re: My story and my first lab numbers
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2006, 10:21:30 PM »
Hello Atlantabro, it is Eldon.

It is unfortunate that you have tested positive. However, it is a good thing that you DO know now so that you can take action with your health. Please DO follow your Doctor's advice regarding this matter. It is important that you get the virus under control and not let it control you. Start a multi-vitamin, get some exercise, change your diet, drink plenty of fluids, educate yourself on HIV/AIDS, and get your proper rest.

I wish to extend to you a warm WELCOME here at the forums. It is a good thing as well that you have found this site. There is a lot of information here at your disposal for you to read. There are people who will be listening and answering your questions relating to HIV/AIDS. A great group of people. You will find communication, understanding, support, some cries, some laughter, which will lead towards you building a strong support system.

Again, Welcome! and Make the BEST of each Day!

Offline alberche

  • Member
  • Posts: 212
  • a distancia del mundo incierto, saludo mi suerte
Re: My story and my first lab numbers
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2006, 02:14:58 AM »
Hiya Atlantabro!

Wellcome, this is a good place to start, getting information, making good friends and having some counselling that could help you make better decisions teamworking with your doctor and the people who is around you and cares for you.

I got the virus in March, was diagnosed in May and started treatments in June, just 3 months after. My doctor told me that I was still in the window of opportunity to benefit from an early treatment of an early infection. It seems this could help to better control the virus in the long term... So, I decided to start.

My first VL was 260.000, I was blood tested 5 weeks after the day I got infected. I passed a very heavy seroconversion illness, so I suspected I was infected and make a PCR test on my own.

Doctor repeated tests before proposing me to start with meds. I was blood tested 2 months after the infection, VL was then at 65.000 and CD4 at 1.100. She also indicated a viral resistance test. Results were OK, the virus I have was no resistant to any of the drugs. Now this is my 4th month on meds. I was tested again last week and I am just waiting for results. I am prepared to see a lesser count of CD4 and much better figures on my VL...

My experience with meds? Well, first of all, you should be mentally prepared, convinced and conscious. Taking the pills itself is not so complicated, it is a matter of just swallowing. Taking them everyday at the same hour is a bit more difficult. Taking them correctly months after, when you will feel better again, could be still a little more difficult. But, once you start, you start. Maybe you will need to adjust your daily schedule for meals, bedtime, and so on. In the end, you get used to it.

I started with Truvada + Sustiva, 2 pills, once a day, before going to bed. I passed some side effects due to Sustiva for the first days, but I could go to work, drive my car and do my normal life everyday since the first day. But I developed an allergic reaction to Sustiva by the 4th week of treatment and then my doctor decided to change it for Atazanavir boosted with Ritonavir, keeping Truvada. And that's what I am taking now: 4 pills, once a day with dinner. I have had no more remarcable side effects at this point. But, I think about long term side effects, possible drug resistances that could appear and reduce my options for the future... that's the risk of starting so soon.

What my doctor proposed to me is to be taking meds for one year or maybe more, and then stop and check if I can keep under control without meds my VL and CD4 count. If I success to do it, following up will continue until the moment of taking meds comes again, maybe one, two or many more years after... nobody knows...

Anyway, in your case, as your infection is a recent one, maybe your doctor also will consider proposing you start with meds.  In the case you don't start with meds, the most probable is that your VL will settles in a value near what you have now or a bit lower, and your CD4 get up again and tend then to stabilize. In the first months, VL and CD4 count are erratic. So, your doctor will study the trend on your figures. If you tend to stabilize, you can just stay so during some or many years, without need of taking pills.

Anyway, now or then, do not start with meds if you don't feel prepared yourself. Get all the information you can, try with candies or vitamins to get used to swallow pills, be sure you understand all your doctor comments to you. Don't hesitate to ask anything that courses on your mind. Visualize how this will difficult some of your daily activities... I mean, it is important you feel focused and prepared for it.

And, even if you start with meds or not, eat well, a lot of fruits, cereals, vegetable oils (olive and sunflower are the best ones), sleep well, take some vitamins, make some excercise, try to don't stress, take some time of the day for yourself, take care of your body: a nice parfum, relaxing baths..., good sex!!!! and continue doing what you were doing before: your work, studies, friends, relatives... no dramatic changes in your life.

The first weeks and months are terrible, everything is confusing, you think your life is coming to an end... Well, the true is that days continue going on, you will need to keep paying your bills, you will feel hungry, sleepy and sexy, so life goes on and will not stop waiting for you, so don't miss the pace!!!

Be good!  :-)





love is blindness...  a wonderful song!

Offline Andy Velez

  • Global Moderator
  • Member
  • Posts: 24,894
Re: My story and my first lab numbers
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2006, 10:22:07 AM »
Hi Atlanta,

Glad you found your way here when you needed to. That's why we're here.

Your doc is doing the right thing by keeping a watch on your numbers, alerting you that meds are a "maybe," but not rushing into it.

In the meantime, have you checked out what resources there are in your area as far as support groups/counseling at ASOs? It's all too easy to get isolated with your thoughts and feelings and spiral down into discouraging places. Having others to talk to here and elsewhere can make a huge difference.

Remember, this is all still very new to you. Gradually you are going to see that your live is going to go on and that it's going to be about a whole lot more than just coping with HIV. So while you want to contiinue to become educated about staying healthy, you also want to make sure that you feed the other aspects of your life as well.

You're always welcome here to ask questions and to discuss anything that's on your mind.

Cheers, 
Andy Velez

Offline atlantabro

  • Member
  • Posts: 31
  • Brand New Day
Re: My story and my first lab numbers
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2006, 09:07:40 PM »
Thanks folks. I really appreciate the advice and support.

I'm quite surprised how accepting i've become of this situation, granted there are moments when I cry but I guess that's expected since this is all still very new. (and crying is good  ;)).

My fear and uncertainty is more towards the possibility of side effects of the meds vs. taking meds itself. I've heard alot and read alot about the physical and mental side effects that I'd certainly like to avoid, particularly those that can affect the way I look. (I'm a little vain at times). I guess I don't want this to be noticeable to myself or to others. That's the scary part.

Offline alberche

  • Member
  • Posts: 212
  • a distancia del mundo incierto, saludo mi suerte
Re: My story and my first lab numbers
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2006, 05:42:15 PM »
Hiya Atlantabro!

Don't think too much about meds, try to focus on one thing at one time. Your doctor probably will opt for a wait and see strategy during these months. So take care of yourself, keep compiling information and clarifiying doubts, try some relax, stablish your priorities and search for communitary help or support.

You have time enoguh to be prepared when the moment of taking meds arrives. Side effects are always a concern, but most of people is doing reasonabily well with meds and it makes no so much sense to be stressed with side effects until they arrive, if they do. You always will have an option, there will be always something you can do, by yourself or with the aid of other people, to manage things. That's the idea of all this.

Be good! (but not too much!!!)

hughs, :-)

love is blindness...  a wonderful song!

Offline SoSadTooBad

  • Member
  • Posts: 248
Re: My story and my first lab numbers
« Reply #9 on: October 19, 2006, 10:09:07 PM »
Atlantabro - take heart - you are not alone - all of us have walked in your shoes in one form or another.

If there is anything to be grateful for, it is that you found out with a decent t-cell count and a manageable viral load.  Your options and prognosis are excellent - the mental adjustment is far more difficult than the physical aspects of beginning the medication.

You are the same person - with the same great attributes, and the same flaws as before...  Just take it one day at a time - and you will be in a much better place mentally in the coming months.

I am 5 months into the journey, and it is something that cannot change, but also, it is something that does not have to change me.  Chin up - good luck - stay in touch.

Offline J.R.E.

  • Member
  • Posts: 7,214
  • Joined Dec-2003 Living positive, since 1985.
Re: My story and my first lab numbers
« Reply #10 on: October 21, 2006, 06:00:25 AM »
Hey Bro,

Welcome to the forums. You've found the best place on the internet, for support and knowledge in dealing with HIV.

I am not going to add much more then what others have already mentioned to you. Just continue to keep your health monitored. This is number one !! Get and keep an open an honest relationship with your doctor !! I know things are tough right now, but once again welcome !! I've been HIV positive since 1985, it hasn't always been an easy road..., But I am still here... educate yourself, don't stress !!

Don't forget to check out the other forums also. If you have questions, don't hesitate to ask !



Take care of yourself-------- Ray
Current Meds ; Viramune, Epzicom, 40mg of simvastatin, 12.5mg of Hydrochlorothiazide.
Metoprolol tartrate 25mg



http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=40802.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=45159.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39722.msg495621;topicseen#msg495621

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=46806.0

http://forums.poz.com/index.php?topic=39414.msg491701#msg491701


 In October of 2003, My t-cell count was 16, Viral load was over 500,000, Percentage at that time was 5%. I started my first  HAART regimen  on October 24th,03.

 As of 8/2514,  t-cells are at 402, Viral load <40

 Current % is at 11%

  
 62 years young.

 


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