March 4, 2012: Recap of the past few weeks…

Quite Positive - This is my life after the test came back.

As of the day that I am writing this, it’s been more than a month since my HIV diagnosis, and around three weeks since my breakup with Tom.

Today has been a good day. It’s Saturday, and I find myself blogging from my parents’ house in Oklahoma City. As I have done each weekend for months now, I came up last night (Friday) and plan on staying until tomorrow morning (Monday) before driving back to western Oklahoma for work.

In my previous post, I left off at my breakup with Tom, my ex-boyfriend. Life since then has been hard, but it’s getting better.

A Psychological Disease

I’ve started realizing something: as dangerous and life-threatening as HIV itself may be, it’s a maintainable disease and I may in fact be physically healthy for decades to come.

Yet, what the MDs and HIV Specialists can never convey to you is the intense psychological impact of a HIV/AIDS diagnosis.

Since my breakup with Tom, I’ve had good days and bad days.

On good days, I realize that I’m healthy and the same old Tim that I always was. I realize that as long as I’m on my medication, I’ll be able to enjoy the same activities I always did and pursue the same goals that I had before my diagnosis. I feel hope and optimism, and feel compelled to help others that are struggling with this same illness.

On bad days, I realize that my life has been changed permanently. I feel hope slipping away when it comes to my dream of finding a meaningful, loving long-term relationship. I see my old social circle falling away as different people ‘write me off’ and label me as broken and doomed for death. Some days, I just want to cry… inside, I feel like the same person. Yet — to everyone around me — I have changed for the worse.

I got over my breakup with Tom fairly quickly. I had initially been sad and frustrated, but the fact that we hadn’t been dating for long really helped my ability to ‘move on’.

I still miss him. I think we had a great connection, a lot in common, and wonderful potential for the future. Right before our breakup, I even felt myself falling in love with him.

I suppose the timing for the breakup was good. It happened before I let my feelings for him grow any stronger.

I was not upset by his reason for breaking up with me. Had the situation been reversed, and he told me that he had HIV, I would have strongly considered breaking up with him also due to the risks that I would have been perceiving.

I do feel like he overreacted. The truth is, we could have still enjoyed a safe sexual relationship. We could have still had many, many normal years together.

Yet, how do you explain all of that to an uninfected person who’s been bombarded with years of media coverage about the ravages of AIDS? You don’t. They have to learn the truth themselves.

Tom and I are still on speaking terms, but we don’t communicate much these days. It’s hard to be someone’s ‘friend’ when you still have feelings for them.

I find myself moving on from Tom more and more each day.

At some point, I’ll likely ask my physician for a prescription for some mild nerve pills. On bad days, I sometimes have panic attacks or experience unreasonable paranoia. I think a mild benzodiazepine would help even me out during the rough times.

But I’m also confident that my attitude and emotional stability will improve as time goes on. Hell, it’s only been a month!

My HIV Meds

Since my last post, I also started my HIV meds. I’ve taken them on schedule each day since getting the prescriptions filled on Friday, February 17, 2012.

OU Medical Center’s Case Management office was able to qualify me for financial assistance to cover my massive copay, and have been very helpful in ensuring that I will be able to afford and stay on the medicine long-term.

I’ve only experienced one bad side effect to my HIV medication so far, as you will find out below, and am doing very well with them on the whole.

I take Prezista and Norvir at 9:00 A.M. each morning, Truvada at 3:00 P.M., and Prezista and Norvir at 9:00 P.M. each evening.

Prostate Infection

Healthwise, I’m doing okay. I am experiencing no significant issues with my HIV.

Last week, I went to my doctor for some urinary problems and was diagnosed with a prostate infection. He advised me that it may or may not have been intensified or caused by my recent Acute HIV Infection, but either way it was a simple issue to treat.

I was prescribed one-month rounds of Cipro (Ciproflaxin) and Flomax (tamulosin). So far, there has been no negative interaction with my HIV medications.

HIV Medication Side Effects

Last week was also the first time that I’ve had a negative side effect from my HIV meds (Prezista, Norvir, and Truvada).

My HIV doctor gave me specific instructions to eat each time I took my meds. I found out just how important that was.

One day early last week was particularly hectic for me. I woke up late, and didn’t bother to eat breakfast before I rushed off to work. I didn’t even grab a protien bar or an Ensure (nutritional shake) to put in my bag for my midday medication as I usually do.

At 9:00 A.M., I took my Prezista and Norvir.

Noon rolled around, and I found myself in the midst of a million different work-related dramas. I skipped lunch.

I was still busy at 3:00 P.M. when I took my Truvada, and didn’t think to have a snack.

By 3:30, I was sick as a dog. I vomited three times in the span of fifteen minutes, and my stomach began to rumble. Soon, diarrhea set in and I had to go home.

By 5:00 P.M., I had eaten a full meal and the sickness had passed. I was back to normal.

I’m certainly no physician, but the only variance about that day (that I can think of) as opposed to others was the fact that I did not eat all morning or afternoon.

Needless to say, I am a lot more diligent now about eating something when I take my medications.

Work, Insurance, and Moving

I put in my resignation with my employer about two weeks ago. My last day will be Friday, March 30, 2012.

My boss and coworkers are sad to see me go, but I think it’s for the best. Given what has happened, I really want to be back in Oklahoma City where my support structure is. Plus, as I mentioned in a previous post, I feel more comfortable in Oklahoma City than I do in western Oklahoma due to the availability of better physicians and medical facilities.

I was initially worried about keeping my insurance coverage, but my boss has helped me out in that department.

In exchange for me performing some contract work from home in Oklahoma City, he will be keeping me on the company insurance plan for 3 to 4 months while I find another job that offers group insurance.

He has really been great throughout this whole ordeal.

I have about five resumes out right now for various positions here in Oklahoma City, but no offers or serious talks with prospective employers as of yet. The job market in my industry (creative/marketing/advertising) is tight right now.

I’d love to have a job prior to moving back on March 30… but in the worst case scenario that I do not, I will still have my insurance for 3 to 4 months while I find something.

I’m not too worried.

Aside from all of that, I have also put in my move notice with my landlord. I will be vacating my apartment by March 30.

If I have a job by then, I will likely move straight into another apartment in Oklahoma City. If I don’t, or I haven’t yet received my first paycheck, I may end up staying with my parents for a few weeks. I’m not really sure right now, but I will keep you updated.

OU Case Management has mentioned a few times that they offer housing assistance for HIV-positive individuals, but I have not asked about the details of those programs.

My assumption right now is that those programs may be for indigent or low-income individuals. I’m a working professional, so I’m not sure what — if anything — might be available for me.

In any event, the actual process of moving is perhaps the thing I least look forward to here in the short term. I guess I’ll start ‘buttering up’ some of my friends and acquaintences in preparation to ask them the question that everyone loves to hear: “Wanna help me move?”

Ugh.

That’s about it for now, my friends! I may post a little more later on today about some HIV-specific issues that I experienced last week, but don’t be shocked if I get lazy and wait a day or two. After all, I do have a few other things to do aside from sitting in front of my computer!

Until then…….

Quite Positive - This is my life after the test came back.

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