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American Dream...So what's my problem?
Dec 4, 1997

Michael,

I'm a 34yo married male diagnosed in Feb 95. At that time I had 3 T-cells and my doc said I had about a year to live. The girl I was dating at the time still wanted to marry me (thank God she turned up negative) and take care of me til the end.

After I left the hospital I continued to work (mid-level executive) and try to learn all I could about this disease. Well now almost three years later I'm 40 lbs heavier, stronger than I have ever been in my life, still not great t-cells or VL (30 & 19000),

but physically doing well.

I went out on disability, my wife works a great job, we have a nice home, cars, good health insurance and good income. I should be the happiest guy in the world-right? Well I'm not doing so good emotionally. I feel as though I want to be on my own. I out lived the time that was given to me and I'm not sure "where to go" now. My wife has been so supportive, she is so good to me but I feel as though I need to be on my own to do things that I want to do when I want to do them with no restrictions, total freedom. I don't know if this is a phase but I'm so scared of unconsciously sabotaging my relationship while I look for the utopia that may not exist. I also may get sick tomorrow and die. I don't know what to do. Am I alone? Is this sick to even think of throwing away what others would give their left arm for? Please answer and let me know what you think. I can't seem to get out of this limbo. Thank you so much, Michael.

Response from Mr. Shernoff

Quite a few people are in situations similar to yours. They had adjusted to the reality that they were going to die soon, but have not been able to readjust to really living WELL with AIDS. If you are not in your own individual therapy I would urge you to begin with someone who is skilled in working with people with HIV. You are now what is known as a long term survivor, and have unique emotional and social needs that must be met if you are going to be able to adapt in a constructive way to the myriad challenges that you face on a daily basis. Couples counseling with your wife would also be appropriate and hopefully helpful to you. You are certainly entitled to all of your feelings, but why not try to sort them out before you make any decisions that you might wind up regretting later?

Michael Shernoff, MSW



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