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"Symptoms", worrying and guilt : Deadly Combination

May 31, 2006

Salut Dr. Bob

Tout d'abord il faut que je vous remercie pour tous vos conseils et pour le temps que vous passez à lire tous nos emails. Vous avez vraiment une âme généreuse et ça, c'est pas évident chez tout le monde. Merci pour tout ce que vous avez fait, indirectement à travers les archives, en ce qui concerne mon état d'esprit récemment.

An avid reader of your site since believing that I was HIV positive (until my test confirmed otherwise, today), I think that these words of wisdom will help your readers. SO, here's my story for all the worry warts out there who are CONVINCED that they are HIV positive:

1) Tested negative for everything last fall

2) Within a couple of months dated a guy (for a period of 4 months), of unknown status but who told me he had been tested before (found out that that was pretty much a lie)

3) Multiple (!!!) unprotected oral sex exposures, during which I either spit or swallowed. One instance where the condom broke inside of me (literally split wide open...)

4) Within first month of dating, I had a small localized nonpruritic pustular/papular breakout on my upper outer thighs (symmetrical) and a couple spots on my lower back (and two near the belly button). I had NEVER before in my life had such a breakout. They were similar to pimples, but remained there for more than a few weeks, then scabbed over and left noticeable scars. At the time I didn't think anything of it because they seemed to be just your regular pimple.

5) Shortly thereafter, I came down with a short flu-like illness (during the winter months mind you, and during a stressful period). Not a high fever, but enough to know that I had "malaise" for a short time. Again, did not think anything of it at the time.

6) Broke up with the guy, realized that my former ex and I had a future together. ENTER my guilt complex. ALL these thoughts ran through my head: WHAT were those "pimples"??? WHY had I been sick at that time??? What IF "he" had done drugs before? Or what about his promiscuity before me??? HOW could I have done this to my ex, dated someone else and put my health at risk?? All I did was go over and over all the symptoms I had previously had, trying to piece together any ARS symptoms.

7) THEN, I come across The Body and all of the wise information given to us by doctors like Dr. Frascino. My frantic research then turned into massive amounts of hours spent studying pictures of "rashes" online, reading people's stories, anaylzing symptoms.... I couldn't sleep, I couldn't do homework. I was a real depressed mess. Convinced that those "pimple" like things HAD to have been HIV, since I had never gotten anything similar in my LIFE!!! Plus I had been sick right after!!!

8) This turned into me beginning to imagine symptoms, a small rash I had on my neck (caused by my necklace I think) and a small yellow bruise on my arm (caused by my head resting on it while I sleep). Dry lips (from not drinking enough water??). Canker sores (stress, menstrual cycles, hormones). Everything and anything possible I linked to ARS symptoms!!!

9) As if imagining symptoms weren't enough, I spent time studying statistics, seeing how possible it would be for me to actually have it, given the country I am currently in and the age group, and the sex, the type of exposure I had, the number of exposures, etc, etc. Statistics for EVERYTHING.... until I had them memorized.

In conclusion, I decided last week to just go get tested. The past week had been like hell for me. I stayed in almost the whole week, pretending to do homework, but really just repeatedly clicking on Internet Explorer to look up more facts. I was killing myself inside with worry. It was eating me, and so was the unnecessary guilt from my past relationship. In short, I went today, got the results, and I am negative. For HIV and for syphilis. That's it. Months of worrying, weeks spent researching online AND the worst, SELF-DIAGNOSING, and in the end, I was not positive.

People. Listen up. Symptoms don't mean a thing. Blood is the only concrete indicator as to what is wrong, so just GO GET TESTED!!! Living in a purgatory where all you do is go to site after site after site, with no real answers, is not the way to spend your life. Be strong, take a friend if you have to, and go get tested. Trust me, I was ready to hear anything the doctor had to say. I just wanted some sort of clear, precise, real answer, so that I would no longer have to deal with not knowing my status.

The mind is a powerful thing. I thought mine wasn't playing tricks on me: I hadn't been worried at the time of the actual "symptoms", only afterwards. Should you trust your gut? No. You are not doctors. Just get a test and I swear, you are probably fine.

Thanks encore une fois Dr. Bob for all that you have done for me during my worried-sick illness. I'll still return often for all of your Bush jabs, cuz those are simply to die for, lol. You're a great man and your words of wisdom are invaluable. A donation is on its way. The best to you and GROS BISOUS!!!

From a dedicated Dr. Bob reader

Response from Dr. Frascino


C'est moi qui dois te remercier! Premièrement de partager ton histoire, ensuite de ton don généreux et finalement des gros bisous ! Ça, c'est formidable !

Bisettes et Crêpes Suzettes !

Dr. Bob

An Oberlin guy to an Oberlin Alum
Scared in the Bible belt....

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