Living Well with HIV
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Hey there. I'm coming up on my 11th anniversary of being diagnosed HIV+. For the 8 months prior to my diagnosis, I was pretty sick. I was on oxygen 24/7. Every few weeks I had to turn up the volumn on my O2 tank.

On 31Jul, I went into the hospital for wound care (I had several big open sores). The next day, I remember waking up and feeling pretty good. I chatted with some student nurses who were there to watch my wound care. The next thing I know, it's 18days later. Apparently at some point on the day after surgery, I crashed. I was no longer able to breath on my own. They put me on a ventilator and moved me to ICU.

At about 10 days, they tried to move me off the vent, but I was still not able to breath on my own. Finally after 18 days, I had recovered enough that they could permanently take me off the ventilator.

That's when I found out that was not just HIV+ but had developed full blown AIDS. It was a bit of a shock. The next day was not very good. I was depressed and cried a lot. I wanted to just close my eyes and die. Of course, that didn't happen. I told myself, "get over yourself". "You have people who still love you and depend on you". "No more feeling sorry for yourself".

From that day, I pushed myself to get better. I stayed in ICU for a month, mostly so I could get their specialized wound care. I had a great doctor, who I did not meet until after I woke up. The whole ICU staff was really great and supportive.

After the month in ICU, I moved to a rehab center. I had no idea that lying down on my back for a month, my legs would be so weak. I had to build up strength to just walk again. I had to be able to climb stair if I wanted to go home. I remember the first time I got to actually take a shower. Oh, did that feel good.

Anyway, I stayed in the rehab center for a month. After a total of two months, I was finally able to go home. I started meds - Atripla. My viral count dropped all the way to "undetectable" in just a few weeks. However, I soon found out that I was allergic to one of the medications. I developed spots. Little purple spots started appearing all over my body. They didn't hurt; they didn't itch. They were just spots. Needless to say, I had to change meds.

Over the last 11 years, I've gone through several changes of meds. I'm currently on Triumeq. Just one pill a day. My viral load has continued to be undetectable. Then finally last year, my CD4 count went above 200. My doctor and I were both pretty excited by that milestone.

Anyway, here I am, getting on with my life and enjoying myself. I have a great job. I've been with the same company for 25 years. I've got good insurance and a supportive family. All in all, I'd have to say that I'm pretty blessed. If it weren't for this HIV nonsense, I'd say that I'm in perfect health. My doctor keeps reminding me that the HIV is not going to kill me. I'll die from normal things, like heart disease or something like that.

So, this has been my HIV story. I've never really told anyone the entire story. I've certainly never written it down. I'm happy. I'm relatively health. Getting fat, but working on that. I'm just got the humdrum normal everyday problems.

Life goes on.

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