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Author Topic: Anxiety is a Terrible Thing  (Read 3337 times)

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Offline RioGrande

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Anxiety is a Terrible Thing
« on: January 20, 2009, 09:35:54 AM »
This is not a question.  It is an account of my experience.  I vowed that after 6 months I would post, regardless of HIV status, in hopes that my history would help someone.

Up until 6 months ago, I had known only one woman.  We have known each other since childhood, and I am confident that she has known only me.  We have been married 20 years this year and we started dating 26 years ago.  We were each other’s first, and we were suppose to be each others only.  If you are in this situation currently, I cannot tell you how blessed you are.  There is nothing more satisfying than knowing you are truly safe and secure.  If you are, don’t stray and find out the hell that awaits you.  It can be devastating.

On a recent trip to Singapore, I became quite drunk in a bar that subsequently became known to me as a “high-class CSW bar”.  Just about every nationality you could imagine was present, and to make a long story short, I fingered and received unprotected oral from a CSW from Kazakhstan who said she had been banned from Dubai and was now visiting Singapore.

Two rules come from this:  Alcohol is truly a dangerous thing in these situations, and your “friends” seem to lose their ability to assist when they too are intoxicated.

Regardless, guilt and anxiety took over.  I vowed to be honest with my wife (I could not bear the thought of exposing her or my children to anything I may have contracted).  She was understandably very upset, but somehow she stayed and we worked through the unfaithfulness.  I was initially concerned about HSV-2 and other STDs, but quickly came to fear HIV.  Up to this point I had been basically ignorant of HIV transmission and treatment facts, but over the last 6 months, I have become quite educated.

Anxiety is a terrible thing.  I started searching the internet for relative risks and acute HIV symptoms.  Several sites quoted insertive oral sex as a 1 in 20,000 chance of contracting HIV if the performing person is positive.  Understand this:  I am the valedictorian of my college class.  There is absolutely no basis for making this statement.  I read the study.  The authors very clearly point out that no data exist to support this statement.  The 1 in 20,000 chance is an assumption on their part for making relative risk calculations.  Listen to RapidRod, Andy and Ann.  They know their facts. 

Anyhow, my family physician advised that my risk was very, very low and performed the entire spectrum of STD tests (10 days post exposure). HSV-1 was the only positive result (most adults have HSV-1 – oral herpes).  I was informed that the HIV test was too soon and that I should test again at 3 months (but the risk was slim to none).  This is where anxiety took over.  I spent untold hours searching the internet.  I had damn near every ARS symptom you can name: Diarrhea, rash, night sweats, weight loss, mouth sores, what I thought was oral thrush (dentist called me a nut), joint aches, HSV-1 outbreak, malaise, swollen lymph nodes in neck and groin (from pressing on them 12 times a day), and what I was convinced was Linear Gingival Erythema.  I have wasted money with a shrink, and I continue to eat Cymbalta for anxiety management. 

I tested negative at the 3 month (13 week) mark (HIV 1/2 EIA).  It was such a relief, but then my health care provider said I needed to test again at the 6 month mark to be certain (what she claimed to be CDC guidelines for occupational exposures).  I was still basically relieved and within days the vast majority of my “symptoms” disappeared.  The last week, however, has been hell again.  The only source of sanity has been the CDC guidelines (3 months), “thebody” stance (3 months), the advice found on this forum, and Dr. Handsfield’s stance that 6-8 weeks is sufficient and 3 months is conclusive even if a very risky exposure occurred. 

My health care provider just called to inform me that my “no risk” exposure resulted in another negative HIV-1/2 EIA test (6 months post exposure).  Tonight I let go and dispose of the condoms and dental dams.  Tonight my wife and I will make a serious attempt to reunite and enjoy what we should have enjoyed over the last 6 months.  In the coming days I’ll figure out how to stay off the damn internet and wean myself off Cymbalta.

If you have not strayed, DO NOT.  You know not how blessed you are.  The grass is NOT greener on the other side!  If you have, trust the advice given on this forum.  The internet is both a wonderful tool, but it’s also an endless source of fuel for the fires of anxiety. 

Offline Ann

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Re: Anxiety is a Terrible Thing
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2009, 10:08:31 AM »

What a waste of six month of your life! You were NEVER at risk for hiv infection in what you report.

Fingering is not a risk for hiv infection. Not one person has ever been infected this way and you certainly weren't going to be the first.

Getting a blowjob is also not a risk for hiv infection. Not one person has ever been infected this way and again, you certainly weren't going to be the first.

Cut the drama and get on with your life. You don't have hiv and you weren't at risk, so no big surprise there.

Condoms are a girl's best friend

Condom and Lube Info  

"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

Nymphomaniac: a woman as obsessed with sex as an average man. Mignon McLaughlin

HIV is certainly character-building. It's made me see all of the shallow things we cling to, like ego and vanity. Of course, I'd rather have a few more T-cells and a little less character. Randy Shilts

Offline Andy Velez

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Re: Anxiety is a Terrible Thing
« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2009, 10:08:50 AM »
I agree with a great deal of what you have written. At the same time I have to say that warnings and admonitions often have little effect when lust and excessive drinking occur. Would they have worked for you? I think not.

Yours is a perfect example of guilt having overcome good sense as far as HIV risk is concerned. You were incapable or unwilling to listen when told that getting a blowjob is absolutely not a risk for HIV transmission. We run into that response again and again here.

So I will just add to your remarks that as long as a man consistently uses condoms for vaginal or anal intercourse he will be well protected as far as HIV is concerned, no matter who his partners are and no matter what their HIV status is.

I appreciate your good intentions in sharing your experience even though I doubt if any straying husband or bf or whomever is likely to pay much attention when caught in the grip of guilt.

Good luck to you.  

« Last Edit: January 20, 2009, 10:13:08 AM by Andy Velez »
Andy Velez

Offline RioGrande

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Re: Anxiety is a Terrible Thing
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2009, 10:39:16 PM »
Moderators:  Please don’t respond to this unless you feel reinforcement is needed on your part, or if inaccurate information has been provided on my part.  The purpose of my initial post was not to elicit responses (which Ann so bluntly, yet correctly provided) and create never-ending volleys.  It was in hopes that my experience would somehow help someone else who may be gripped by the quilt and irrational fear that plagued me.  I was so relieved by the phone call yesterday that I started puking my experience and thoughts without considering how it may be interpreted. 

I will try to briefly reinforce and hopefully more clearly express what I learned for future guilt stricken, irrational worriers:

There has never been a documented case of HIV transmission via oral sex to the insertive partner.  When I returned to my hotel room the night of my encounter, I searched the internet for possible STDs.  Sites were unanimous that saliva was both non-infectious and inhibitive to HIV transmission.  I was still sane and rational at the time, and since my skin was healthy and unbroken, I dismissed fingering immediately.  I then reasoned that since the only other contact I had was saliva to penis, I could dismiss HIV as a possible problem.  I then focused on the other STDs that are much easier to contract.  Unfortunately, there are no “fact police” for the internet.  There still exists sites which consider insertive oral sex as a risk for HIV transmission.  I searched “relative risk HIV transmission” and stumbled across what appeared to be a very believable site which stated that the insertive partner had a 1 in 20,000 chance of contracting HIV if the performing partner was positive.  It went on to say something like 1 in 20,000 sounds safe unless you’re the one.  Guilt was already taking its toll, and then the mind started playing games.  I figured that the odds she was positive was fairly low, and combined with the 1:20,000 chance, it was still safe; but I started replaying every word she spoke in my mind and came to the conclusion that she was in fact positive.  From there started the downward spiral that all but ruined my life.  Understand this:  There has never been a documented case of HIV transmission via oral sex to the insertive partner.  I have spent the last 6 months looking for it.  It does not exist.  As I explained in my original post, the source of the often quoted 1:20,000 chance is a f*&king assumption by the authors for relative risk calculations.  Why is it a f*&king assumption … because there has not been any documented cases from which to calculate a per-encounter risk figure.  As Ann so bluntly pointed out, I wasted 6 months of my life looking for the one.  Don’t repeat my mistake.

Since I was already beyond help and acting irrationally, I started focusing on symptoms and trying to understand every possible indication of acute HIV infection.  Understand this as well – symptoms mean nothing when trying to determine HIV infection.  One of the most comforting posts I came across while struggling myself was an individual on another forum who described in detail his symptoms (fever, rash, swollen lymph nodes, sore throat, mouth sores, joint aches, etc …) after receiving a handjob.  Anxiety had claimed his life, and at the time I thought “what an idiot … you never had a risk to begin with”.  I too had every one of these symptoms and more, and ironically, I was the idiot because I too had never had a risk.  I titled my original post “Anxiety is a Terrible Thing” for a reason.  Can anxiety cause HIV symptoms?  In some cases, absolutely.  In others, the “symptoms” have always occurred, but you have never examined your body so hard before and did not notice.  As an example, your skin appears pink or reddish after a hot shower in the morning and panic sets in … it must be a rash.  Guess what?  Your skin always looks pink or reddish after a hot shower, you just failed to notice or care before.

Finally, 3 months is conclusive.    In my case, I didn’t need to test to begin with (easy to say now).  This is odd to say, but looking back I think my health care provider basically felt the same way, but for some reason continued down the path of a baseline, 3 and 6 month test.  If I had to venture a guess, and this is only a guess, she felt that the only way my guilt and fears could be relieved was testing, testing beyond reasonable timeframes.  In my case, she was probably right.  I can interpret the CDC guidelines as well as anyone else.  Despite what you may think of governmental agencies, in general, they will be conservative.  They say 3 months is the magic number for now.  I’m confident that this number will be reduced in the future. 

If you too happen to end up in a situation similar to mine, please don’t waste precious months of your life like I did.  Learn from my mistakes and the 6 months of my life I spent reaching this conclusion.  Move on and be safe.

Regardless of the responses, I’m out of here.  I wish each and every one of you well.

Offline RapidRod

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Re: Anxiety is a Terrible Thing
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2009, 10:59:00 PM »
So long...

Offline tracks75

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Re: Anxiety is a Terrible Thing
« Reply #5 on: January 28, 2009, 11:45:35 PM »

Thank you for your message. I can relate to your nightmare. I share many of your irrational fears, but they are fears nonetheless, and I can appreciate that. I am happy to hear that you have moved on, and that you and your wife are working things out. I, too, have found love, and I realize how lucky I am to have found it. Not too many do. It's crazy, nightmares like these can lead to such personal awareness. Anyway, I just wanted to drop a line and tell you that you accomplished your goal: you made me feel better. Be well, RioGrande.

Offline RapidRod

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Re: Anxiety is a Terrible Thing
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2009, 04:43:56 AM »
tracks75, Do Not Posting in any other thread on this forum other than your own. Please read the posting guidelines found in the "Welcome" thread. 


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