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Word of Hope

Feb 25, 2006

Greetings. First of all, let me (like so many others) thank you all for your skill, insight and dedication to those of us who are poz. This note is for the many, who like me, turn to The Body for info and support. What I want to say is this: I was diagnosed as poz in 3/03 at the age of 37. I was bereft and terrified. I was referred to a fantastic Infectious Disease specialist here in NYC, chosen as one of the best 100 doctors in NYC by "New Yorker" magazine. He was comforting, supportive and is an amazing doctor. Despite this, I was ashamed and terrified that I was doomed to an ugly, excrutiating and untimely demise. Doc comforted me with modern realities at each visit, but after those visits my comfort quickly evaporated. So at one visit, as I sat with him, I had him call my voice mail using my cell phone and leave me a message, the text of which was this: "Hi, Matt. This is Dr. Y. We live in an amazing time. We have scads of medications which we know how to use, numerous options to help you, and more coming at us all the time. You are going to be okay. Once you begin treatment (note: which I did in 3/04) if you can remain committed and fully adherent to your regimen, I completely expect you to live a long, happy, and fullfilled life. I expect you to come to my retirement party in 15 years and introduce you to my successor. This is assuming you also look both ways before crossing the street and don't get hit by a cab, or have some jealous lover shoot you in a rage. That I can't help you with. But where your HIV is concerned, know that there are people out there with non-HIV conditions that I would consider FAR more threatening, that don't receive nearly as much attention or personal stigma. You ARE going to live. You ARE going to get old. You ARE going to be well. We are all here to make certain that happens." While I know the whole "no guarantees" thing is a reality in life for everyone, I felt it imperative to share with all the others who find themselves in this same position. I combed The Body for hopeful responses to answers and printed them out to read and re-read. I listened to this message from my Doc over and over, night after night, until I felt I could believe it. I do. I have been on Sustiva and Truvada from nearly the beginning, have had undectable VL ever since then, and a CD count that went from 300 to its current 720 with no side effects. It can be done. With dedication and commitment I plan on living a long, full life. Team Matt agrees with me.

If I may share three important lessons I have also learned on this journey so far: 1) your fear is not the same as your physical reality unless you allow it to be; 2) your journey with HIV is YOURS, not anyone else's, and no one else's experience is or WILL BE your own; 3) YOU CAN BE FINE.

I appreciate the opportunity to keep checking back on The Body for my one-stop-shopping updates on all things Poz-related. You are all incredible and an invaluable source of information and hope. I fear this is long-winded, but an important perspective for those who find themselves in the same position so many of us have found ourselves.

Best to all, Matt in NYC

Response from Dr. Wohl

The sirens are blaring and the lights are flickering at headquarters here in NYC as the letter of the month has arrived!!!

This is an excellent and heartfelt post that I too will save and go back to from time to time. Thanks much to you Matt for the example of your success and for sharing the wisdom of Dr. Y and your own wise words.



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