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Contemplating Life...Please help
Mar 15, 2002

Dr Frascino, I have no one else to turn to. I am having trouble on deciding whether or not to live. I am just a nice, normal 22 year old kid. i had a pssible exposure risk when I thought someone had poked me through the back of my pants behind my right thigh, after they bumped into me...which felt intentional. It didn't hurt...but felt like a hair being pulled by my pants. I've only heard of things like this happening...maybe that's why I'm freaking out. Would it have hurt more if I was poked? I found no blood when I got home, and two days later my nurse could not find a puncture wound...not to say neither were there. This happened nearly three months ago. I first had diarrhea, fatigue, and dry mouth (which is still lingering) lasted for about months(Anxiety, Stress?) ...then around the 7-8 week point I developed slight lower body aches and small headaches. The thing that's worried me the most are what I think is a lymph node under my right jaw, and possibly under my arms that just feel weird. Not painful...just noticeable. I have a cold now, but the nodes were acting like this before I knew I had a cold. Can stress in some weird way cause all of this? What are my risks from this possible exposure, if it did happen? I am told it is low, but I cannot understand what my body id doing. I am going to get tested soon, but I am contemplating whether or not to live. Please help me... I am sorry for the content and length of this...God speed.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

The wild maniac stalking the streets in search of "nice, normal 22-year-old" kids, so he can poke them from behind with HIV contaminated needles is nothing more than urban legend. Right up there with 500-pound cockroaches in the sewer systems, blood-sucking vampires, and compassionate conservatives! Everyone hears about them. They just don't exist. HIV doesn't live long outside the body, and if the non-existent needle had to pass through layers of clothing, this too would decrease any possible risk of infection.

Your upcoming HIV test will be negative. If that puts your mind at rest, great! If not, get some counseling to help you cope with these irrational fears. Yes, stress and anxiety can cause all the symptoms you mentioned. A slightly enlarged lymph node here and there is also not indicative of HIV. Lymph nodes do all sorts of things for us and they go up and down in size frequently. It's normal. They are fine and so are you!

So, no more contemplation on whether or not to live, OK? If you have these thoughts again, get some counseling. Right away. Giant cockroaches, vampires, compassion conservatives, and needle wielding maniacs aside, there is a wonderful world out there for you to enjoy.

Stay well.

Dr. Bob


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