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As the medicines fail

I was diagnosed hiv positive in September of 1998. On the advice of my doctor, I started treatment immediately, though my counts were good when I was diagnosed. Since then I have experienced few side effects from the medications, I guess I am one of the lucky ones. Despite the massive intestinal problems caused by the viracept that I took for the first three years, and the destruction of my teeth that was caused by the azt in combivir that I still take, I've lived a pretty much normal life since 'D' day. When I was diagnosed, I weighed 246 pounds, much too overweight by any standards for someone of my size. I stand 6'1" tall. I started eating better, and the weight came off, my cholesterol dropped and in 5 years I was down to an acceptable 210 pounds, losing just a few pounds every few months or so, and not once gaining any back. I felt good about that accomplishment. Now I'm thinking it's not so good after all. A few months ago, I noticed that my face was starting to appear much thinner, and my breastbone and ribs became highly visible, along with my hip bones and elbow and wrist joints. I now weigh 178 pounds, and I don't think the weight loss is going to stop. So I ask myself, is this how it begins? The subtle, gradual decay of my body becoming more and more pronounced as one by one, the medicines fail and the virus begins to take over? I'm on an exercise program, in hopes that I will gain some muscle definition to fill out where the fat layers have all but disappeared, but it seems the more I gain, the faster I lose. I seem to be feeding the virus just what it wants... So now where do I go from here? If anyone tells you that hiv is now a 'manageable' disease, ask them how they would manage slipping away week after week, either from the virus itself, or from the poison that we must take to keep it at bay? They're already asking me at work if I'm feeling 'all right', and everyone has noticed my weight loss. I tell them that it's because of the teeth being pulled, that my gums are shrinking down and everything's fine. I don't know why I sent this, perhaps I just needed to vent, or maybe I'm thinking that someone will read this and think twice about being unsafe with a partner, who knows? Such a noble thought. If I were so noble I wouldn't be hiding behind this shell of a 'healthy' life, and I would get out there and do some real outreach work and begin to make a difference. But the hard truth is, I'm scared. Not just scared of people finding out, it's more. It's a fear that starts in your gut and grows, eats away at the energy you so badly need to fight this thing. I used to think I had the answer, to take the fear and turn it around on the virus, turn it into something that works FOR you instead of against you. But right now, the fear is bigger than I am, and there's so little left to fight it with. It's dragging me down and I don't know how to turn it around any more. That's the real fear. If this is a self-pity session in a moment of weakness, so be it. I'm allowed to be weak from time to time, aren't we all? If it's something more than that, I guess only time will tell.

 

Sent via Email June 27, 2005 from Indiana, USA.

 
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