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If you've made an error in judgement - if you're going to Google symptoms, do it for "anxiety"
Dec 12, 2012

I made an error in judgement (in part thanks to being drunk, which is another issue) just over 4 weeks ago and have been paying for it ever since. It's been somewhat amplified because I can't remember the events of the encounter clearly. I do no there was no condom involved, but can't recall if there was any penetration or not. Like many people out there who have an unsafer sexual encounter and start freaking out about it, I was a textbook case.

About 1 week later, I caught a cold. Head cold with cough. Jet lag and not sleeping due to worry only exageratted things. Sore lymph nodes, a cough that would leave me sore from hacking. Much like many people in my city this time of year. Being jetlagged probably didn't help.

If there was a symptom of HIV acute infection, I had it, or could whip it up in 10 minutes or less. Except at no time did I have a sore throat.

Panicked, I had a rapid test at the 2 week mark which came back negative. I was supposed to be leaving on holiday with my partner (yeah, I know) and the nurse told me to go and have fun, that GUILT was what I was suffering from. She said it a little more acerbically than perhaps I would have liked to hear. Anxiety is a vicious circle and the mind/body connection is very strong.

Having a good holiday was easier said than done. I got to our destination and have felt sick to the point of nausea, haven't slept without the help of heavy medicines that a friend gave me (yes, I know...another no-no). Basically, ruined our vacation together, but I have not told him any of this as I didn't want to spoil his vacation.

The other night I thought I was going to either have a stroke or a heart attack. Sore muscles, shallow breathing, not getting a good nights sleep in over a month. Although I promised to stop Googling symptoms I looked up anxiety attacks. BINGO. There were dozens of symptoms there that I'd had on or off over the past 4 weeks. As soon as I finished reading this article, I felt better. They suggested taking B vitamins and kava root, if you can find it. It takes like dirt, but boy did it ever help me feel better.

I have my 4 week rapid test this afternoon and yes, I'm STILL terrified. My mind has me convinced that I'm positive, in spite of others telling me that so many conditions would have had to be perfect (and I don't know anything about the other persons status). I've basically made myself sick for a month, to the point of worrying about dying NOW from a stroke, worrying over something that is already done, or not.

Please... stop Googling your symptoms. The initial symptoms of HIV infection are so general that a simple cold could be the culprit, and if you get yourself riled up enough, you're going to create some of those symptoms and the vicious circle begins. Before you know it, you're a wreck. I remember little of the last 4 weeks because I was constantly, and I mean CONSTANTLY thinking about infection, feeling lumps, pains, etc. I went for a massage and even she said I was a wreck.

I don't know my result yet today, and will still test at 3 months but I have learned that I have a loving partner that I don't want to lose, that I have a problem with alcohol that needs to be addressed, and I need to come clean with my partner soon. We both work odd hours often in different parts of the country.

Sadly, there were two traditional Drs. involved in seeing me during all of this. Neither one of them took the time to reassure me, just telling me "get tested in 3 months". Again, easier said than done when the anxiety attacks kick in several times a day in week 2. It would be nice if Drs. were more attuned to the needs of patients going through the anxiety of this.

Response from Mr. Cordova

Hi there:

You are correct, anxiety can really get the best of us in situations like this. I'm glad you recognize that it's the guilt you feel over the indiscretion that is causing your symptoms, and not HIV. It seems like you are on your way to figuring everything out.

Good luck,

Richard



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