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My story -- It's a happy ending because I made it so.
May 16, 2005

Hi there! I'm hoping you can post this for others to see. Maybe add some of your wit and charm as a response, if I play my cards right...

It's Justin Case... remember me? Anyways, I'm waiting the last week before getting my 3-month HIV test. Things are lookin' up -- and I'd like to take a moment, with your permission, to share some of the aspects of my experience, so that others may laugh, cry, and perhaps see that things (regardless of outcome) will be OK.

Let's start at the very beginning. Rumor has it, it's a great place to start. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a brief, ejaculation-less exposure with a male of unknown HIV status (I was the receptive partner). Enough contact to be concerned, but not so much as to freak out. Hah. Wrong.

Next day, commence freak out. I made the fatal mistake so many people who have unsafe experiences make. It begins with "G" and ends with "oogle." But before I get in to that, let me say a thing or two about stress. It kills! Literally! Not only does it pronounce normal body occurrences to noticeable levels (such as a sore throat turning in to swollen glands), but it also reduces your immune system's "strength." So, like so many "Worried wells," my body was being utterly abused by my anxiety and panic -- to the point where I was sore all over from being clenched 24/7.

But getting back to Google, I typed in all the keywords... "HIV", "HIV Symptoms", "HIV Risk", "<whatever hurts> AND HIV Symptom", etc. Of course, I never took a moment to step back and say "Hmm... maybe my sore throat is due to allergies, or the fact that maybe, it's just... well... sore!" Or "those white spots in my mouth are taste buds." Et cetera, et cetera. I basically turned in to a hypochondriac, escalating my stress to barely manageable levels.

Anyways, I got tested at 6 weeks -- and was able to breathe a HUGE sigh of belief. Granted, it wasn't conclusive -- but it was a step in the right direction. It's almost 12 weeks for me, and looking back --- I feel foolish for whining about every little thing that went wrong. To anyone who reads this message -- please listen to Dr. Bob, and the eleventybillion other people who scream from the mountain tops -- "Symptoms do not equal HIV disease."

In fact, symptoms are triggered by anxiety, stress and guilt. Chances are, if you're reading this site, you're either awestruck by Dr. Bob's stunning physique and articulate writing abilities or are actually legitimately concerned with your health and wish to educate yourself better about HIV/AIDS. People who typically avoid a risky lifestyle (in this case, sexually), are more apt to freak out after a single incident that would put them at any risk whatsoever. It is because of this "freaking out" that everything on your body starts to hurt, trust me.

I'd actually be willing to assert that the reason so many people with HIV don't know they're infected is because they don't take the time to be concerned about their health and just dismiss any (potential) "symptoms" and continue risky behavior without being any-the-wiser. All of the "worried wells," on the other hand, engage in behavior that's the polar opposite of this -- reading too much in to ARS "symptoms" and probably taking years off their life with the stress.

Myself, personally, I'm not "home free" just yet. I can probably yell "WOO" -- and a week from now, yell "HOO." I'm not quite in the X-Files (sadly, my love for David Duchnovy will have to wait), but I'm definitely not "worrying." I hope that what I have to say will inspire some "Worried Wells" to not look so much in to an itchy elbow being an ARS symptom, and to take life one day at a time. As Doris Day says.. "Que sera sera."

So, if you're reading this in an anxious fit of errant mouse clicks -- STOP. Take a deep breath. You're OK. You have the power to shape how you life your life -- not events -- not even a disease. The more stressed you are, the more you'll look for things that aren't there, and the more you'll put yourself at risk to actually suffer from real symptoms as a result of being run down, having high blood pressure, etc.

Dr. Bob -- thanks for all you do. I'm going to try and find a volunteer position at our local AIDS foundation, inspired by you. With kindness, compassion and medical advances, we can beat this.

Everyone reading this -- stay well. I hope my experience provides you with some consolation, or at least a chuckle at my fascination with David Duchnovy.

I'll make sure to submit a quick WOO HOO in a week, Doc! :)

Sending you warm wishes,

Justin Case

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hey Justin,

Just as Maulder would say, "The truth is out there." In your case, you'll know the truth about your brief "Wham Bam Thank You Dan" episode in a week. Rumor has it even Scully thinks you'll be negative. Well, until then, "Live long and prosper." Oops . . . sorry, wrong show.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob



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