You know those dramatic scenes in films, where the person is sitting in the consultation room hearing bad news… the sound fades out and the camera zooms in on the doctors lips moving. Well, for me, that’s what it was like.
I don’t mean to be dramatic, I guess it’s just in my nature. Over the next month or so I was in and out of hospital more times than I care to count. In fairness, the more I went, the easier it got.
As I walked through the corridors of the hospital, I felt that everyone was looking at me as if they knew what I had and what clinic I was going to… sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
The first few appointments felt like information overload. They must have told me the same thing about how the virus works and what to do with treatment so many times and by the time I got back to the car I found I hadn’t actually taken much of it in at all. Thankfully, the medical team had plenty of leaflets and links to great websites that really helped. I’ve included some of those here.
Each time, they take more blood samples and various other jabs to boost immunity for other things like Hep A, B, C etc. Luckily, I have no fear of injections, needles or anything like that… don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to know the in’s and out’s of what’s going on while they do it, but as long as I’m looking away it’s fine.
At this point I would say, if injections aren’t your thing, it really isn’t that bad. It’s over and done with in minute or two, a scratch is all you will feel and, at the end of the day, it will save your life.
The treatment for HIV, in my case at least, has been fairly straightforward. Two tablets once a day. Everyday. It sounds really simple, but its the ‘everyday’ thing which is the hardest. I’ve never been good to sticking to new routines…
I’m the sort of person who joins the gym in January and goes religiously for two weeks, forgets to go one day, is busy the next and before I know it, summer has been and gone and I’m writing Christmas cards thinking “I really should go to the gym again…”
But this was serious. My doctor had explained why it was vital I take my meds at the same time every day without fail.
“If you don’t, the virus can build an immunity to the treatment drug, rendering it useless…”
There are a variety different combinations to try, but the more options you keep open, the better. I take Truvada and Dolutegravir and the only side effect I notice is some rather vivid dreams… but if I’m totally honest sometimes they’re hilarious so I really don’t mind them.
Deciding on the best time of day took a bit of thought, but in the end I settled for 8am. I know that I’m usually just getting out of bed around that time if I’m working, and if I’m not, my alarm goes off, I take them, I roll over and go back to sleep. I travel a lot for work so I keep a pill pot in my car and I carry some in my bag too. That way, I know if I don’t take them at home, I have plenty with me.
When I hear the alarm, it is a reminder that I have HIV. At first it, inevitably, played on my mind. There are a couple of things that keep me going; The first, it’s just two tablets… there are people who have it far worse with treatments for other illnesses. The second, I never begrudge taking them… by that I mean, at first it really did feel like a burden knowing I had to take them. Now, if ever I feel like it’s a chore, I quickly remind myself that those small tablets are the thing that will keep me alive and well. It’s amazing how that thought can give something so tiny so much weight…
As always, please feel free to comment with your experiences or ask any questions you may have. You can comment anonymously below.