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Aging With HIV/AIDS

March 3, 2014

This piece originally appeared in Rae's blog, Diva Living With AIDS.

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All of this means my sleep is deprived and I have to then get up and start the day tried on top of the HIV fatigue that I have a few times a week. I'm not sure how I've been making it these last few months and keeping up with my projects. Somedays I press through it, never really complaining.

Saturday night was the worst in terms of the level of my wetness so far. Needless to say, I woke up scared. I thought that I had peed on myself . The first thing I did was smell my gown and sheets. Finally it hit, there would be no way for urine to make it to my pillows. Relieved somewhat, I got up and changed my gown and sheets. I eventually fell back to sleep and when I woke for the day, I was wet again. It was one rough night.

For sure, waking up in the middle of the night 3-4 times a week is interfering with sleep. We know that sleep is important for everyone, it is especially important for people who's immune system is compromise. Lack of sleep in and of itself does a number on the immune system, people living with HIV/AIDS don't need anything extra to effect the immune system negatively.

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Then on top of the night sweets, which are depriving me of sleep. Some nights I have a hard time falling to sleep. The doctor prescribed medication back in the fall and for sure, if I don't take it, I'm still awake come 2:00 AM. I've learned my lesson so I take it, but it makes me a tad groggy in the morning. This means a few mornings out of the week I'm groggy from the medication and tired from waking in the middle of the night from the night sweats. It has been a vicious cycle.

Additionally, perimenopause has caused me to have what's call atrophic vaginitis, which is inflammation of the vagina due to the thinning of the lining. Now some women actually have a very dry vagina. For me, I have thinning in the uterus, which makes it raw and sore. I also have this rawness on my vulva area at times. It is quite uncomfortable to say the least.

While most perimenopausal women are at risk for Osteoporosis women with HIV are at an increased risk. HIV actually causes bone deterioration for both men and women living with HIV. A year ago I had a bone scan to get my base line and we discovered that I have already started to lose bone.

This is one reason I keep trying to convey to people who are not infected. You do not want this infection. We can treat you and you will live a long time, but there will be problems the longer you live with HIV, no matter how good you feel today. HIV does damage to the body, bottom line.

Lastly, these freaking mood swings. One day I'm happy go lucky and the next day I'm not in the mood for bullshit. In the scheme of things, I'm happy. I feel good about life and what's happening in my life so I shouldn't be this emotional.

The biggest issue for me is that the mood swings have effected my productivity. Somedays I have to make myself push through, especially when I'm sleep deprived.

There is also an impulse to eat emotionally. I gained 5 pounds back over these last two months from not working out and emotional eating. I'm trying to eat back on track but it's a challenge. I've decided that I can not bring certain foods into my house. I just can't.

Needless to say, I'm headed to my gynecologist Tuesday! I'm fed up right about now and need a solution to this madness. I know that diet and exercise can help some of these perimenopause symptoms and I'm trying to get back on track. For sure, I need some extra help and I'm going to seek it out. I always want to live my best life and so I do the things that will render the best outcome.

This weekend was really really rough for me all the way around. Oh, by the way, it's 5:00 A. M. Monday morning and I'm up writing this blog. I woke up at 4:00 A. M. to change my night clothes and I couldn't go back to sleep. Yes, I'm glad to be alive. Yes I'm tough beyond understanding. Yes, I will work through it all. I always do, that's what makes me me. But, being super woman does not take away the super hard and that is a fact.

For sure living with HIV/AIDS long term has presented tons of challenges. Now as I age, I'm having to consider the issues that effect every aging woman at an even more complicated level. HIV is the gift that just keep right on giving; that is for real and it ain't never pretty and some days I wish that I could just give it back.

Read Rae's blog Rae Lewis-Thornton Speaks.

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This article was provided by TheBody.com.
 
See Also
More Personal Accounts of Older People With HIV/AIDS

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