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Newly diagnosed, need to try and get the feelings out

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JMMich:
Hello everyone,

I've been browsing the forums for the last couple of weeks, ever since I first got "the news." I finally decided to make an account and post. The main "read me" thread said I can just vent, so for now I think that's really what I need to do if that's okay.

A bit about me. I'm a 30 year old guy, live in the metro Detroit area, decent job, single, and live on my own with a recently adopted and mischievous cat.

The last couple of weeks since I got the preliminary test results (which were confirmed a few days ago) have been a roller coaster. I think the few friends of mine who know are more worried about me because I've (publicly) been taking it in stride. They keep asking me how I feel. Honestly, I don't know how I feel. Is there really an "appropriate" way to feel when you learn you have HIV? Maybe I'm still in shock? On the inside, I just go from one emotion to the next. I think in the last two days I've had that pit-in-your-stomach feeling like a half a dozen times, only to do a 180 in less than an hour and think, "No, I won't let it beat me."

Reading the forums, and talking to a friend of a friend who is positive, has given me a lot of hope that things are going to be just fine. It will just take time to deal with emotionally and physically. And there will just be pills and routine blood draws in my future. (I guess I'm going to have learn to deal with that fear of needles soon-ish...)

I have my first doctor's appointment on Tuesday. I am kind of worried that that will be when it really sets in. There will be more tests, etc., and I'll finally have "the numbers." I honestly don't know what to expect. I haven't even been to a doctor in years; it does seem kind of ironic that now, when I've been diagnosed, I've otherwise been the healthiest I've been probably since I was a little kid. Bah...

So...yeah. I just kind of wanted to introduce myself and get my thoughts out there. I'm sure as we go I'll be back with questions. In the mean time, any general advice would also be greatly appreciated; this has been a pretty damned steep learning curve. Thanks!

-JM

Jeff G:
Welcome to forums JM . Its a cliché but its a true one , it gets better with time .

We have a great group of people here that are very friendly and sometimes confrontational / tough love when we need a kick in the pants , and we all need one now and then . I'm looking forward to hearing more from you so stick around .

SweetSassafras:
Welcome JMMich.  Sorry you're here but glad you came. You'll find it very helpful, I think. I know I have and I've only been here a week or so. It's nice to have someone who knows this road hold your hand as you go down it.

JMMich:
Thanks Jeff. And you as well, SweetSassafras (all hail the Hypno-toad!). I've already learned quite a bit just from reading the posts and responses from others, and I'm sure there will be a lot more from me as time goes by. I definitely plan on sticking around. I'm just glad to have found these forums so quickly. Thank you again for the welcome.

oksikoko:

--- Quote from: JMMich on June 15, 2013, 10:17:17 PM ---Is there really an "appropriate" way to feel when you learn you have HIV? Maybe I'm still in shock? On the inside, I just go from one emotion to the next. I think in the last two days I've had that pit-in-your-stomach feeling like a half a dozen times, only to do a 180 in less than an hour and think, "No, I won't let it beat me."

Reading the forums, and talking to a friend of a friend who is positive, has given me a lot of hope that things are going to be just fine. It will just take time to deal with emotionally and physically. And there will just be pills and routine blood draws in my future. (I guess I'm going to have learn to deal with that fear of needles soon-ish...)

I have my first doctor's appointment on Tuesday. I am kind of worried that that will be when it really sets in. There will be more tests, etc., and I'll finally have "the numbers." I honestly don't know what to expect. I haven't even been to a doctor in years; it does seem kind of ironic that now, when I've been diagnosed, I've otherwise been the healthiest I've been probably since I was a little kid. Bah...

--- End quote ---

Howdy. Sorry for the chop job, but I cut up your post in the quote to respond to those particular questions. I'm not sure if it's helpful, but there are some things I might have liked to have known or been reminded of at the beginning:

There's definitely no 'appropriate' way to feel, but sometimes you might feel like you're not giving the reaction somebody else expects — at least I do. Just ignore it and feel what you feel. I'm in month 7, and I've gone from "this was perversely the best thing that ever happened to me" to "well, life was fun — too bad it's over" and back 5 or 9 times.

If your life was on track before, then, yeah, things will probably be just fine. If it wasn't, it still won't be unless you let this be a catalyst to turn things around. Basically, when all is said and done, it doesn't affect the course of your life as much as you might expect it will unless you let it. That's not always a bad thing, since some changes are for the better. Unless you have some particularly unusual health situation, there's a kind of banality that sets in once you get medicated and get your numbers in a decent place. It just becomes a thing, like any other thing.

Spending so much time with a doctor is definitely weird at first, but you get used to it pretty quickly. I'm not seeing mine until September, and now that seems like a looooong time away. Before this, I had gone about a decade without seeing a doctor at all, so that's definitely a change in attitude. I don't mind the needles (ha), but the sheer volume of blood they take was a little intimidating at first. Now I just look away as they drain my vital essence. I find getting the numbers to be a positive thing, since I feel more in control when I know where they are. Some people don't like to get numbers and ask the doctor to only tell them if something "bad" happens. Have whatever relationship you want to have with all the digits as long as the doctor or someone is keeping an eye on them for you.

My health has improved across several metrics since diagnosis, so I wouldn't be surprised if you experience something similar. Since you'll likely be paying more attention to your health than you used to, you might end up making certain changes that you may not have made otherwise.

If they put you on antiretrovirals right away (which seems more and more like a good idea as soon as possible after diagnosis, [though your doctor knows best]), don't necessarily expect to have crazy side effects just because of what you read or hear. Remember that only people with problems report or ask on forums (usually). For every person who has, for example, digestive troubles, there are several who don't.

Be aware of a syndrome called "AIDS Goggles" and take any new symptoms with a grain of salt. Some of us have a tendency to think every health problem we have is because of HIV, but sometimes (usually) a headache is just a headache.

With that said, since you seem like you (like me) were not a doctor-goer before this, don't be afraid to let your doctor know if you think you're having adverse side effects or if you notice something weird with your health. If they dismiss it, don't be afraid to ask someone else. It's important that you feel comfortable with your doctor, that you feel like it's a team effort.

As with outing in the 90s, your sero-status is nobody's business but yours and your doctor's (and I would argue it's the business of anyone you're sleeping with, though some disagree). You might feel pressure to "come out" but really you have to do what's comfortable. I'm obnoxiously open about it, but that's because I have the freedom to be. I'd recommend thinking about this beforehand so that it's never a surprise, so that you know whether you want someone to know long before it becomes an issue. I find that being open about it is just easier, the same way that being out of the closet is just easier (and less stressful), but your mileage may vary.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Good luck!

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