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Author Topic: First Labs, Treatment, and a Better Outlook  (Read 1911 times)

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Offline JMMich

  • Member
  • Posts: 18
First Labs, Treatment, and a Better Outlook
« on: July 04, 2013, 10:53:46 AM »
Hi all,

First off, again a big thanks to everyone who responded to my very first post over in the "I just tested poz" forum. The kind words and advice were exactly what I needed, when I needed it. Much appreciated!

I figured this post would be more appropriate over here. I saw my ID doc for my follow-up visit on Tuesday evening to get all my lab results. (First appointment was on 6/18, so this is 9 vials of blood and 2 weeks later...) In brief, the doc said I'm the "picture of health" other than the obvious issue of the HIV. I knew that all that healthy eating and exercise over the last year was paying off.  8)

As for the numbers, my CD4s are at 817 (37%), VL is 15,900. The virus was genotyped and has no resistance to anything (huzzah!). And I don't have any pesky co-infections like any of the hepatitis strains. (In fact, I was apparently vaccinated against A and B at some point when I was much younger. Thanks mom!) I did have to get a couple vaccines (the tetanus shot hurt just as much as I remember, my arm is still sore but at least it's fading) and a TB test (36 hrs + and still no reaction...yay).

After doing a lot of reading on here, and talking to my friend who is poz, I decided that I wanted to start treatment sooner rather than later. I'd rather try to keep myself where I'm at in terms of my immune system health than have to try to work back up to it down the road. My family's medical history on both sides is also a genetic soup of health issues that I'd like to minimize my risk for, and from everything I've seen and heard letting HIV run rampant for a while and cause inflammation probably would not be helpful.

So, my doctor recommended Atripla. I was understandably a bit hesitant after reading about some of the side effects that people have been dealing with. My brain is my moneymaker, so I'd prefer not to mess it up. The doc and I had a very long discussion. He said the majority of his patients tolerate it very well, and if I have any issues then we can switch to something else. Also, my poz friend is on it, and he said that in the 18 months he's been taking it he hasn't had any issues at all. I figure since everyone reacts differently, there's no way to tell what I will or will not experience. So, I'm going to give it a try. Several of my friends said that if I start acting abnormal--or, more abnormal than usual--they'll let me know.

I picked up my first RX (side note: holy crap is that stuff expensive...before the pharmacy had my insurance info it was going to be $2,018.33, then dropped to a $20 co-pay once they had my info. YIKES.). Doc said to start next week so that, if there are side effects, I don't ruin my long holiday weekend.  ;D I plan to follow that advice, and I will be sure to update on how it goes.

All in all, I think my outlook is a lot better than it was just 2-3 weeks ago. I'm coming to terms with my diagnosis, I'm getting lots of good information from a variety of sources, I've got a great support network, and I plan to be around for a long time to come!


Offline mitch777

  • Member
  • Posts: 4,087
Re: First Labs, Treatment, and a Better Outlook
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2013, 11:13:13 AM »
Hi JM and welcome!

It sounds like you are dealing well with everything. :)
Nice to hear you have a great support system and good communication with your doc.
A sense of humor does wonders.
Never heard of the word "Huzzah!" but I like it. Lol!  :)

33 years hiv+ with a curtsy.

Offline SteveS

  • Member
  • Posts: 73
Re: First Labs, Treatment, and a Better Outlook
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2013, 01:38:19 PM »
Hi -

I am - like you - very recently infected / diagnosed. Just about 7 weeks now. It was, for sure, a mind blower.

I just wanted to encourage you regarding Atripla. That is what I am on also. For me, I had very minor and random side effects for the first few weeks, which only lasted a few days and faded. For example, for some reason, I had about 10 days of my eye twitching slightly for hours (could not find ANYTHING about that anywhere on the web - but it happened!) but that has stopped completely. Also, the "drunk" feeling is almost gone now - only lasted maybe 2 or 3 weeks, and if you take it at night, you are sleeping it off so don't notice it.

I would say that I really do notice that I do MUCH BETTER if I do NOT eat past 8 PM and then take it before bed. Having food in the stomach really does make this med harder to tolerate. I learned that the hard way 3 or 4 times. I would really recommend not eating anything at all 2 or 3 hours before taking it.

The only thing I am continuing to struggle with is fatigue - but there is no way of knowing if that is the meds or the HIV or just stress / adjusting. It is not awful. I have learned to take a quick 20 minute nap late afternoons and that helps a lot.

Overall - for how terrified and worried I was 7 weeks ago - the meds so far have been very, very easy to tolerate, and I feel, getting easier week by week.

One other thing - (hope this is not too much unasked for advice!) but, though I have always been in great health - I have not been much for exercise, and I have always been a little heavy. I have now become VERY disciplined in my diet and exercise, and really, find it makes all the difference mentally as well. I actually have seen two articles from reputable medical sites hypothesizing that some HIV poz people with these new meds, etc, may actually have LONGER life spans because they pay so much more attention to their health issues (more frequent cancer screening, lowering cholesterol, etc). So - I am choosing to hope for the best, and it seems that just in the two months I have been poz that there have been so many encouraging signs regarding really good improved treatment and maybe even a cure in the next decade or so.

Good luck to you.

Offline JMMich

  • Member
  • Posts: 18
Re: First Labs, Treatment, and a Better Outlook
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2013, 01:50:19 PM »
Thanks Mitch! Glad to be here, all things considered.  :)

Steve, I don't mind the advice at all. In fact, I welcome it. I was already planning to take it before bed (bedtime is usually 10:30 or 11-ish during the week), and I usually have dinner done by 7 or 7:30. Sounds like I should be in good shape from that angle. I've already been dealing with some fatigue that last couple of years generally, which I have chalked up to work (I need a vacation...soon). I am hoping this doesn't exacerbate it. Thanks again, and good luck to you as well!

Offline darryaz

  • Member
  • Posts: 450
Re: First Labs, Treatment, and a Better Outlook
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2013, 02:27:07 PM »
I would say that I really do notice that I do MUCH BETTER if I do NOT eat past 8 PM and then take it before bed. Having food in the stomach really does make this med harder to tolerate. I learned that the hard way 3 or 4 times. I would really recommend not eating anything at all 2 or 3 hours before taking it.

This may lessen over time.  I have a snack around 30 minutes before bedtime almost every night and never have a problem.


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