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Hit by a bus?
Oct 31, 2003

Ok, here's my question and sadly you've answered ones like it a million times before. I feel as though you've become some sort of HIV oracle and people just need to hear it from you to be SURE. Here goes:

6 months ago I had unprotected sex with my girlfriend at the time. Now we had broken up for a few months and she assured me that she hadn't been with anyone else between. So... I figured that unprotectd sex would be a somewhat low risk scenario. Neither of us are promiscuous nor are we involved with any other "high risk" activities. Everything was fine until i noticed that I had some sort of cut on my gum that didnt heal...it wasnt an ulcer. I'm not sure why but after about 2-3 weeks of it not healing I had some strange panic attack thinking that it was HIV ( my limited knowledge of the disease at the time pointed me to that single conclusion for some reason ). Nobody seemed worried except me. I was losing it. I was completely convinced that I had somehow beaten the odds and contracted HIV in a "low risk" scenario. It was only a one time encounter with her too, seeing that we stopped seeing each other again shortly after sleeping with one another. Now, this is going to sound crazy but since I started to have panic attacks i started to learn alot more about HIV. Sadly, though, along with my growing knowledge, it seemed that the more symptoms i would develop. The logical part of my brain would keep sayin...its complete coicidense that you would read about something and then develope it. But my gut would tirelessly warn me of the impending doom. I litterally thought i was losing my mind but like i said more symptoms:

Week 4-5 First came the ulcers ( i've always gotten them when stressed but now seemed more frequent. One would heal only to make way for a new one ) Also, I developed pain in my groin and even testicles. This seemed to worsen with my anxiety. If i could calm myself these intermintant sharp pains would subside. These symtoms lasted for a couple weeks but the ulcers are still continuing on and off along with a strange general sensitivity in my mouth and tongue( seems to burn easier now which will cause light blistering after eating ). I got tested right away which would have been at the one month mark. Came back neg. Doc thought it was all in my head and that anxiety was the culprit. Things felt a lot better after the test results but the relief was short lived for the symptoms would not subside. Lowwer back pain and a strangeness to my vision added to the ranks of symptoms. My eyes seemed a bit blurred when reading text on the computer and i developed an army of transparent thread-like floaters. Saw an eye doc. Said everything was perfectly healthy and that floaters happen. Ofcourse I was expecting him to say that( after reading the posts regarding them on this site ) but somehow couldnt believe him due to the fact that my brain was already concretely outlining the ( in my mind ) clear connection that all this could simply not be a coincidence. Since then I've had body aches on and off but no severe bowl movements, vomitting, headaches, fever, sweats etc. I havent even really had a cold. This brings me to 3 months after ground zero. I started to come to grips with the fact that all this could be in my head and that perhaps i should see somebody for councelling. Needless to say they put me on some meds, celexa to be exact. I also took another blood test because i was at the all too familiar "window period" of 3 months. Test came back neg. The doctor assured me that i was fine. Again I felt releived and "close to normal" again. I think the meds started to help too and I started to move on with my life. This brings me to today, 7 months after the possible exposure. I have since gotten a great new job and have a new girlfriend. I've told her everything that I went through and she's very supportive. Now...i'm not too sure why exactly...maybe it was the fact that i still have "symptoms" ( hip/groin pain, eyefloaters, the occasional ulcer in mouth, sensitive mouth, and even pain that i swear comes from under my armpit once in a while ) or the fact that she has trouble with my lack of intimacy ( i still feel like i'm a disease ) maybe its a combination of everything....but I'm all stressed again and can't stop thinking that I am the "enigma" and actually DO have this terrible virus after all. I once read an article somebody addressed to the "worried well" saying that the odds of someone actually being unlucky enough to end up sleeping with someone of "low risk" stature that has HIV, then actually contracting HIV, and THEN being one of the minority that will seroconvert after the 3rd month would be the equivalent of getting hit by a bus or something like that. Well my good doctor, this brings me to my point. Why, even though everyone except me seems to believe it is impossible ( including doctors ), do I feel like I have bus tire tracks running across my chest? I want to take the 6 month test but this time I'm scared to death. Especially now that my current girlfriend could be infected aswell. I feel horrible and much of my day is spent supressing a sometimes overwhelming fear of the unknown. Please advise...and sorry for the long post :(

Sincerely, A big fan

p.s. I'm not sure if you are indeed an oracle...but I'm convinced that you truely are a modern day cleric.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Well, actually your estimate of my having answered questions like yours "a million times before" may be a bit low. I've stopped counting. Not surprisingly, my responses to questions that are similar are also indeed also quite similar!

So rather than detailing exactly why I think your risk is indeed extremely low, and why your symptoms are not suggestive of HIV, and why you are not the rare exception, or etc., etc., etc. . . . let's just use your bus analogy, OK? I agree you do have a bus trying to run you down. But not all buses are the same, now are they? A school bus heading to kindergarten is not the same as a bus full of blue-haired little old ladies heading to Chippendales for a night of stuffing bills into the sparkle thongs of male strippers, right? So what I'm trying to say here is that the bus chasing you has a sign on it that reads, "Anxiety Express" and not "HIV!"

You need the help of a psychiatrist to help you cope with your totally irrational fears. Without that, you'll continue to have difficultly telling one bus from the other, especially because all you are seeing are the tire tracks running across your chest. The tire tracks look alike, but the buses really are very different. OK?

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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