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confession time...Again


captainrick

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October 10, 2008

Well, heh, obviously I?m not a big blogger since I haven?t posted anything since LAST summer. I guess I was waiting to see just what other weird turns my life would take, and I was sure I would have started another story by now, but it just wasn?t to be.

Where to start? Hmmm, well, I?m still married and we?re still dealing with the obvious problems that a mixed orientation marriage can cause. I?m okay with that for now. But so much more has happened. I did get a new job last September that I really do like. I?m back in government service so the hours are regular and the caseload tolerable. Plus it has decent benefits which is a good thing, cuz where I?m headed next is well.. I guess the shocker of this blog.

I started getting sick back around last thanksgiving. You know, fever, sore throat, swollen tonsils, etc. etc. I went to my doctor but he had been reassigned and was handed off to a nurse practitioner who got me some antibiotics and referred me to an ENT doctor who was convinced it was pharengitis (bad tonsils) and wrote me another scrip and that was that. Well I seemed to get some better, then the whole process started over again in February. Went back to the ENT doc and he said the same thing, gave me another scrip with a warning that we may have to remove my tonsils. I personally prefer all my body parts where they are thank you very much?

Anyway, I seemed to get better again till late April then I started running fever again, usually just at night after I got home from work and was usually mild, just a degree or so. Then, it became every night and sometimes during the day. I had no absolutely no energy, and finally Suz (wife) made me find a doctor. I finally got through to this Doctor I know through our church and some mutual friends and he worked me in. He examined me, took some blood and sent me home with instructions to call him if I got any worse. I did, and I did. My fever started spiking over 102 and when I got him on the phone he said some of labs were back and my white counts and platelets were really low and I needed to be in the hospital right away. By then it was the first week of June.

I spent a week in the hospital being poked, prodded, CT scanned, and tested. They tested for West Nile, meningitis, everything. Then there were bone marrow tests (ouchy), etc. The doctor had prepared me for a diagnosis of lymphoma or leukemia. I was getting pretty depressed at this point. Then one day he came in and asked, ?Have you ever been tested for HIV??

?No.?

?Well, the quick test came back positive. We have to do a more definitive test to be sure.? I was like ?WHAT!!!!?

Well the ?more definitive tests? were more than positive, they were devastating. I had an extremely high viral load count and a very low CD4 (t-cell) count -- about as bad as it could be. Technically, under the CDC guidelines set back in 1993 before modern therapies, I was in full blown AIDS, but I hadn?t had any of the ?opportunistic infections.?

No. I do not know how I got it. Yes I have had male-male sexual contact but I was ALWAYS careful. The docs say based on my labs I probably had been infected for 8-10 years which means it could very well have happened during a surgery I had back in 1999.

No. Suz is not infected thank God. The only thing we can figure there is that we know she is descended from northern Europeans on both sides of her family and there has recently been identified genetic mutations of many northern Europeans and their descendants that makes them either highly resistant or even immune to this thing. Well, that?s the theory we?re traveling under at this point anyway. Insurance won?t pay for her genetic testing. The important thing is she?s clear.

I was started on one of the latest drug therapies out there. It?s actually three different antiretroviral drugs in one pill that I take once a day at bedtime. I also take antibiotics to prevent certain infections, but I was feeling much better within days of starting the drug therapy. That?s where what I said about my benefits earlier being so important. The HIV drug costs $1,200.00/mo. Yes, One Thousand Two Hundred Dollars for 30 pills. My insurance is covering it except for my $25 co-pay.

Now, my viral load is basically undetectable, but my CD4 count is still critically low, meaning I am still at risk for about any type of infection, but I have also gained back over 15 pounds of weight I had lost. Yes, HIV wasting had already begun, as had the diarrhea, night sweats, and other HIV symptoms which are now thankfully all gone.

I?m not writing this because I want anyone to feel sorry for me. I?m not using it as an excuse as to why I haven?t been writing. I?m doing it because I want everyone to know YOU ARE AT RISK. I never got tested because I never saw the need. I still wouldn?t have had I not gotten sick. By then it was almost too late. Please, everyone reading this, don?t send me sympathy notes or anything. If you want to make me feel better, tell me you have gone to get tested or will go get tested.

Next Blog: My finally ?coming out? to some friends. :icon_rabbit:

Hugs all,

Rick

7 Comments


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Wow, Rick. What a brave post. First, you can count on my support -- whatever that moral effort may mean to you. Second, keep the faith. As you know, this isn't a death sentence anymore. We all want you to stick around for the long haul. The fact that you've had it on and off for such a long time and are still here kicking around (or being kicked around) is a testament to your strength.What an impressive dude you are. We love ya' baby.

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Wow is all I can say too. Wibby's right, that was a brave post.David and I have been in a monogamous relationship for 10 years, and we were tested before we did anything. But now I'm thinking that it'll probably be a good idea to have another routine test. It's amazing that for all the thinking and introspection that we as writers do, how complacent we can all become.

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I want to say a heartfelt Thank You, Rick. Your post is brave, yes indeed it is. It is also IMPORTANT and for that you deserve thanks from all of us. I hope the CD4 count improves and the viral load continues insignificant. I know others on the three-drug cocktail and it seems to be very effective. One guy I know is still healthy 15 years after diagnosis.May your beard grow ever longer, or, as the Scots would say, Lang may your lum reek!Bruin x

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Dear Rick,I have waited some days before responding to your posting - this because I have felt like a deer caught in headlights ... not knowing what to say, in a private message or on your blog etc. I finally decided to post my reply on your blog - both to honor your openness, and to make my message available to other hivpositive persons who may read this post.I send you empathy - I have been hivpositive since 1993. There are somatic and mental ups and downs, and as one gets older even more questions regarding additional diagnoses, what medications go well together with hiv meds and which do not, many questions regarding the effects of medications over time and the effects of the virus which hides itself in places such as the brain and organs, etc. Reading up on latest research will take up a bit of your time, but one also needs time to get other questions about life (and death) in perspective. Creative expression is a necessity for many artists and writers diagnosed with hiv/aids. It has been essential to me. hugs and kisses,adam :icon6:

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Hey Rick - Very, very sorry to hear about the diagnosis. As you were telling about the symptoms I was getting a sick feeling in my gut, 'cause I was pretty sure where it was headed. Your post hit me hard, because despite a ten year slut phase that ended about 3 years ago, I somehow have remained negative...purely by the grace of whatever powers watch over fools, I'm sure. I still get tested on a yearly basis, though I'm living the life of a Benedictine monk these days, at least as far as physical intimacy with anyone else goes. I wish you a fast return to health and vigor, and many long days.aj

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