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New User

Reged: 08/14/09
Posts: 2
Newly Diagnosed, Medication Overload!
      #247047 - 08/14/09 06:35 AM

Sleeping away on a mid-summer’s night alone in my bedroom with the window opened up halfway, I lay there in a dream state. Dreaming of a life other than my own I explore this other world with such vividness it's almost like I've gone into realm of my life in another dimension. I toss and I turn as I find myself walking through a dark alley with sounds of someone’s unusual footsteps getting closer and closer. I can't see anything but I have the sense that I am being stalked as I walk alone in an industrial warehouse not even knowing where I am going or why I am there. I suddenly fall into a vortex of darkness and start screaming and falling with a fear so strong I feel my body go into a complete state of paralysis.

I am awakened, gasping for air, in a cold sweat followed by a sense of hopelessness. "It was just a dream", I say to my myself. Overcome by extreme thirst and body heat, I reach for a drink of water sitting in a glass next to my bed. I drink it as if I was dying of thirst. I then sit there and stare at the ceiling trying to comfort myself as I feel my heartbeat from within. I sit on my bed and think, “Why me? Why must I go through this? Why must I take medication for HIV that makes me go through this?. Some nights I fall right back asleep. Others, there is no sleep. I take Atripla, the once a day pill used for the treatment of HIV infection. And while the single pill I take every night around ten has greatly improved my health, I've traded in the serenity of a nice evening’s rest for nights of anxiety, despair, cold sweats and insomnia only for the chance at a normal life span.

I was diagnosed with HIV in mid December 2008 and was placed on HAART (highly active
antiretroviral therapy) drugs shortly after getting situated with a primary health care provider. I started taking Atripla February 18th, 2009. The first two months were crazy! I felt so bad all the time plagued by extreme fatigue and a lot of stress. My morale was in the toilet. The regimen, honestly, is a constant reminder of my status as a 25 year-old HIV positive male. For me it’s a daily reminder of this invader in my body; a burden that will never ever go away. Twenty-five years old and I am on medication for AIDS -- it's still really hard to come to terms with that truth.

Yet, as time has progressed the side effects have greatly subsided. I am able to have a normal day relatively symptom-free in exchange for nights of elevated body temperatures, extreme thirst, mood swings and unusual dreams. I think now more than ever it's the physiological impact of taking meds that is the hardest thing for me to cope with. I try and maintain perfect adherence, but hey I am not living in a perfect world and I am not living exactly what I would consider a perfect life. So, I really don't beat myself up for not following doctor's orders, even though I know the consequences of my actions can be life threatening.

That is my reality of having HIV. While the regimens have vastly improved the prognosis of HIV/AIDS to those who are live with this affliction, taking meds is no sweet ride. I am at a point in my life where I really have to make some life-altering decisions. I recently got the news that my liver was sending a warning sign that something may be wrong when recent blood work that came back from the lab showed that I had an elevated level of an enzyme known as Alkaline Phosphatase. My doctors advised me to stop drinking because of the threat of liver damage shown in my blood work. He said, “taking anti-retro viral medication and drinking alcohol at the same time is like dumping gasoline on a fire". Great, I thought to myself. My social life is over! It's already bad enough I have to deal with HIV and now this! But the reality is if I don't limit or completely stop my binge drinking, I am setting myself up for liver damage, cirrhosis or even kidney failure. And it all comes back to the pill I must take every single night in order to have a chance at a somewhat normal life.

So for me at this point it’s one day at a time. Some days are better than others, while the nights
usually are pretty much the same. I've learned how amazing and tolerable the human body can be to suffering. Even though I take medication to suppress HIV and prevent it from ravaging my immune system, in the end I still suffer. From within my soul, I still mourn the shock and fear of having HIV and what life for me will be from here on out. Yet this amazing piece of machinery I call my body miraculously pulls through every single night. What's the purpose of life if I have to live like this? I am not sure, but I know as long as I am on HAART treatment that I will have the time and chance to figure it out and find my purpose in this not so perfect life of mine.

For Beyond the Odds, I am Sergio Mendoza.

To read more personal stories from HIV+ young people under 25 go to

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New User

Reged: 10/15/09
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Re: Newly Diagnosed, Medication Overload! new
      #248123 - 10/22/09 05:39 PM

I see by the date that your post was several months ago. All I wanted to say is that is a REMARKABLE piece of writing!!

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New User

Reged: 11/12/09
Posts: 9
Re: Newly Diagnosed, Medication Overload! new
      #248384 - 11/12/09 04:09 AM

I was recently diagnosed.

I found out on October 5th of this year. So its been a little over a month since the start of a new life.

I grew up in church and i was very active in church and leadership since I was a boy. I grew up being teased at and rejection came from everywhere... school, home and church.

I was teased in school all the time for being feminine. I had to fight for respect and for acceptance. Because I had no friends, I was committed to my studies. That was my only escape from the real world.

I grew up in a pentecostal church that constantly preached against homosexuals and how they will be put in the "lake of fire" come judgment day.

I home I had a dad who constantly refers to gay people as fags and puts them down. There wasn't a day he didn't mention something against them. I started to think they were indirect comment towards me, because you know what they say.."parents know".

All these attacks were a part of my life from a little child until the age of 27. So i held these pressures inside me for many years. I didn't have anyone to speak to. I was always alone.

In February of this year I finally moved out of my parents house and there began the freedom Ive always wanted.

Little did i know that the freedom i was experiencing came with a price. I got a taste of being independent and didn't know what to do. I was still closeted and was not into the gay scene. So my interaction with the gay world was through websites (A4A). My only friends were straight and they could not relate to what I was going through. So i tried living life with my own experiences.

I grew up with low self esteem. Rejection was something i learned to accept. I never had a gf nor a bf. I was always alone. Depression sometimes took hold of my life to the point of being suicidal. This was normal since i was 12. It wasn't until I turned 27 when I learned that God still loves me regardless of my sexual orientation. From then on i learned to love myself and I gained confidence from loving myself. I met men at websites that told me I was very handsome. I was never told I looked good, until then.

I was raised in a very loving home. i have no complaints in the manner I was raised. I understand my parents and their upbringing, and so I don't blame them for anything.

So the more men I met on websites, the more i got involved in the sex scene. When I started sleeping around, i was always using protection. Until one man made me comfortable not using protection. I became so used to not using condoms that it became a regular thing not to use.

I was too trusting of people and kept sleeping around without using protection.

In June of this year i got really sick. I had muscle aches for 3 weeks along with flu and diarrhea. I never got this sick. I have always had a strong immune system. I didn't understand what it was, I just thought it was something going around. So I went to the doctor and he gave me antibiotics. After 3 weeks, the symptoms went away. IN September, the diarrhea came back. It lasted more than a week when i decided to go to the doctor to get medication for it. At the same time of my visit i asked my doctor to give me a blood test. He asked me why... and I told him i've been having unprotected sex and just wanted to make sure i was ok.
A few days later i get a call from him asking me to come in to discuss the results. My mind was racing with reasons of why he called me. I thought it was high cholesterol, since I knew I wasn't eating well. Little did i know that i tested positive for HIV.

I thought i was going to die at the doctors office. I started crying in front of the doctor like never before. I was alone and didn't know what to do. When your not educated in what HIV is, you immediately think DEATH. i called my pastor and best friend. I also told the guy i was seeing about this. They all showed support and I am forever grateful for that. The guy Im seeing still wanted to be with me and still showed me how much he loved me. i didn't understand why he would love someone like me. I still don't understand till this day why.

Since then, i have been seeing a therapist and getting closer to God through prayer, meditation and attending church. This has been a tremendous help. I started eating better and I feel great.

My next appointment was to find out my CD4 count and viral load. i didn't know what this meant until my ID doctor explained it to me. I was curious to find out what my counts were. I thought to myself... I just got diagnosed, so my counts should be close to normal. But it was a total opposite. My CD4 count is 237 and my viral count is 23000. I didn't understand why. I still don't till this day why my count was so low. We know 200 is AIDS and i'm close to that in just 6 months. WTF!!!

My next this was to begin medication immediately. I am taking Atripla now for almost a month, and It is a challenge. i stopped hanging out late and I completely stopped drinking. Friends are asking me whats wrong that I don't hang out no more and they have noticed a change. I have not told anyone else about me, and so i give them an excuse. I have been losing weight and people are complimenting me. It feels good to hear this. Since June, i have lost 35 pounds. i went from 245 to 210. I'm just worried that my weight will drop so fast that by the time I'm 30 i will be skinny. I know I would not look good skinny, so i have been getting advice from my best friend (who's a personal trainer). So I started lifting weights. Lifting weight and gaining muscle mass is a great way to increase your immune system. So it is something I have to be committed to as well.

I refuse to let this disease bring me down. I know there is a lifestyle change with this, but with God's help I will get through this. I'm not mad at anyone. There is a purpose for everything and if it took this experience for me to get my life in order, then so be it. I still have goals and aspirations. i will be getting my masters in less than a year. I have been tired a lot and at times i get moody and impatient. But i know this is expected, so I don't let that bring me down either.

I know I have a lot to learn in life and about this disease. I am taking it day by day and hope that I can meet people who are going through what I am going through. I don't know of any support groups. I am still not out to my parents. I am trying to decide if i should tell them before thanksgiving. I will be getting another blood test this Friday so I decided to wait for the results to tell my family (in hopes of getting good news). I want them to be educated and know what I am going through.

I am also trying to lessen my stresses, so i quit one of my 3 jobs. My family is priority now and I will love them and cherish them all I can, while they are still alive. I don't want to be one of those people who regret how they treated their families after they have passed. How great is it to be treated well while your still living. I have been showing so much love lately that my sister-n-law has asked me a few times if i was dying. lol. I don't take it personal, because I know she doesn't know anything.

God is love and i believe in healing and restoration... not only physically, but mentally as well. If I am never healed from this disease, I will still give thanks to God for life and for the many blessings I have... like my career, parents, nephews and friends.

if any one out there would like to comment or give advice, please do so by posting a reply. I am in need of friends who understand what I am going through. The bible mentions that "Iron Sharpens Iron". so i know i will become wiser with words from you. I am thankful for finding this website.
God Bless.

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