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Newly diagnosed less than 2 weeks and placed on leave by employer

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exarmyguy77:
Hello All,
      This is my first time posting here, I'm glad I found this venue because it lets me know I'm not alone out there dealing with all of this.  I suppose I will start with a little about how this all came about.  My last sexual encounter of any type was on November 8th and had been quite sometime before that.  My last negative test was in Feb.  A few days after my encounter I developed terrible diarrhea and didn't think much of it.  This lasted 4 days and finally seemed to have resolved itself, it was Sunday now and I felt pretty good.  I even played athletics all day long, I didn't feel bad but noticed myself a little more tired than normal at these things.  Monday came around and I felt good, I was tired from the previous day so I took a nap during the day, when I woke up I felt like hell and had a fever (yes, that fast)  The next morning I still wasn't feeling well (fever, ached all over) but I knew something wasn't quite right and it didn't feel like the flu.  I started thinking about how I was feeling and my encounter and called my doctor and went in, I asked to be tested but he informed me that they didn't do those at his office and said I probably just had the flu.  After leaving the office I found a walk in clinic and got tested, it was negative.  A day or two went by and the symptoms got considerably worse and I couldn't control the fever and ached all over, I felt like death... much worse than any "flu" I had before, I still didn't feel as if I had the flu.  I called the ID clinic and asked them if they could test me and they had me come in that day (Thursday) and they did a rapid on me which was negative, I asked if they could do a blood draw and actually test for the virus and they did.  I remained ill all weekend and unable to break the fever no matter what I did.  Monday came around and they called me and asked me to come in.  I arrived and was informed that I was positive with a viral load of over 3 million.  The doctor saw me immediately and I was started on Truvada, Ticavay, Norvir, and Prezista and they took a crazy amount of blood again from me.  I began taking meds that day and had no issues.  by Tuesday I had a terrible rash but was the fever was finally starting to be controlled.  Wednesday and Thursday (Thanksgiving) I was feeling better.  Friday the doctor called and told me my viral load was over 10 million and by cd4 was 218.  The rest of the week/weekend was uneventful and I continued taking meds as directed.  Monday came around (on meds for one week now) and I noticed that I had been getting extremely dizzy and having headaches along with strange sensations in my feet and legs.  I had diarrhea again and was taking immodium as well.  Tuesday the dizziness was much worse and I called the doctor and he advised to keep taking my meds.  Wednesday and Thursday were no different and I had to miss work due to the dizziness.  My case worker had mentioned that I could get FMLA for work if needed so I didn't get in trouble for missing.  So Thursday after having to call in I notified my HR department of wishing to take FMLA.  I told them why and they issued it with no problems and asked that my doctor sign a few papers.  Today (Friday) I get a call and they placed me on administrative leave because they are concerned for "my" well being and are worried that I'm a risk to patients (I'm a paramedic)   At this point I have many concerns and questions that I'm just not sure about so any input would be greatly appreciated.  Should I be concerned about my job?  What actions can I take to keep my job?  Is this dizziness normal?  How long does it last on average?  I understand with new infections viral loads start quite high, does 10 million seem a bit crazy?  Thanks to everyone for reading

darryaz:
Is your case worker affiliated with an ASO (AIDS Service Organization)??

If so, ask to be connected with an attorney to protect your rights at work.  It is not to early to do so, in my opinion.  It is illegal for your employer to discriminate against you for your illness.

RapidRod:
Being a Paramedic myself, I would suggest you work with your doctor to find a med that does not cause dizziness which can as you know, interfere with your patient care.

mecch:
I don't have any suggestions or info about your job situation.  Get the specialists to help you protect your rights and also to inform you so you know what is useful to worry about and what is a waste of energy. Of course you should be concerned, and knowledge is power.

Just sending some support for this time.

How are you feeling now?
I had a similarly violent seroconversion. Identified in seroconversion as well.  Viral loads in he millions.
Even though you are on meds pronto its going to take awhile for you to feel fit and healthy.  Since your job is extremely physical and calls for so much alertness, it seems appropriate that you have this time to rest.  No matter what the motivations of you workplace are, the rest will do you good and its necessary anyway.

Drink a lot of water.  Get some antihistamines and get an ID doc you can see and contact frequently because you will need to sort out a lot about your labs, your instant treatment and all the shit your body is going through. What might be related to the treatment start, what is related to the acute HIV, and what is just the extreme stress of it all. 

I can promise you every week will be better.  Recovery is longer than for a flu, as you know.  (And a flu can be a week in bed, and then 2 more feeling like crap!). 

exarmyguy77:
Thanks everyone for the replies!  It's nice to know that there are people out there that are just like me and have similar stories (although it's unfortunate that anyone has to go through this, I'm just glad I'm not alone)  I have no idea if my case worker is part of ASO, to be honest I'm not really sure if he is actually a case worker.  He is a great guy and super nice but pretty difficult to get a hold of to be honest.  He was awesome showing me support, getting me into a doctor and getting me tested etc, also he was great at helping me out with my meds at the pharmacy.  My insurance did pay a large portion of them but still left me with a VERY large bill and they got me some coupons from the drug company.  To rapidrop.  I have been on meds for 12 days now, symptoms other than diarrhea didn't really start until day 7.  If I'm sitting at home they aren't to bad because I can sit still.  Things like riding in a car causes a lot of vertigo, etc and kind of sends my brain into overload.  I did call the clinic and ask to speak with a nurse when it happened.  They didn't call back until the following day.  I also paged the fellow on call whom never returned a phone call (i was having some SOB and palpations as well) and finally the nurse called back the next day and asked what was wrong and I explained, it was followed by a phone call several hours later saying the doctor doesn't want to change your meds at this time and it's probably metabolic.  My employer granted me FMLA for the vertigo.  They placed me on leave because they fear I could cause exposure to a patient and infect them (direct quote)  I work for a very large air medical company.  mecch thank you for the input on that, I will check into antihistimines.  I suppose I feel like I've recovered from the seroconversion and it just feels like its meds causing the issues.  I'm very type A personality and always feel like I need a plan or an anticipated recovery plan and need to know what is going on and what the pills are doing and how long it will take.  I go back to the doctor on the 16th, we will see what happens then.  Any other advice from anyone for dizziness?  Also rapidrod, do you know if for any reason they can refuse to let me work once the vertigo is resoloved?  I don't have sex with patients and bleed on them, I don't feel I'm a risk to anyone. 

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