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Starting Meds!

Wednesday, Mar. 9, 2011

Posted: April 2011

Autumn Preusser

Autumn Preusser

"I'm a 31-year-old transsexual woman living in rural Arkansas with my boyfriend of five years. I enjoy dancing and music, and I really like photography. I am disabled and on SSI (Supplemental Security Income). Right now I'm just learning to live with HIV."

Well, as of 3/2/11 I started meds for HIV.

Actually it started out kind of iffy. I called the doctor's office to see what time my appointment was and, lo and behold, they hadn't written my appointment down. They worked something out and squeezed me in at 10:30.

I went back with the doctor for my appointment. I knew we were planning on discussing what meds to go on and all of that.

I was hoping for Atripla (efaviernz/tenofovir/FTC), but knowing my past medical history and mood disorder, I knew that would be an unlikely choice.

We talked about my options and decided on Norvir (ritonavir), Reyataz (atazanavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). It was at this point that I found out the test I had to wait for pre-approval from Medicaid for was actually the genotype test. The doc wanted me on meds anyways and said that if it turned out that there was resistance to the meds we could switch them later.

The doctor also wanted me on three times weekly Bactrim DS (co-trimoxazole), and 1200mg azithromycin (Zithromax) a week as prophylaxis. After I got home I kind of found this odd since most people don't start this until their CD4 is below 200. I'm not a doctor though, so I'm sure he knows what he is doing.

Before I left the office, I was told that the genotype test had been pre-approved and I needed to go visit the lab. Turns out it takes three vials of blood for this one test. Didn't help that the technician's hands were shaking. Ended up bruising me worse that time than it did the time before when they took 13 vials of blood.

Well, the doc asked me where I wanted my prescriptions sent to and out of habit I gave him the name of my local pharmacy. He advised me that it might not be a bad idea to have them called in to a different place outside of my home town so as to protect my privacy better. We opted to have them called in to the closest Walmart pharmacy, which is over an hour from where the doctor's office is, but only about 20 minutes or so from our home. Well, we got to the pharmacy and found out that they never received the prescriptions. We called the doctor's office and they assured us they had sent them and were sure they had sent them to the right pharmacy. After many calls on our behalf and the pharmacy's, the prescriptions were finally filled and we got to leave Walmart three hours later.

We got home and of course I researched the meds to death. LOL.


My only dilemma was when to take it, morning or night. After much deliberation I decided to take it that night. Now I'm wishing I had taken it in the morning.

So far the side effects haven't been horrible; the first day or so came with a lot of fatigue and nausea.

Around the second or third day, I'm not sure which, the nausea got to be a bit much and I decided to take a Phenergan (promethazine) in the afternoon. WELL, that was a mistake, lol. An hour or two later, I felt like I had taken a ton of sleeping pills or something. Knocked me right out! I did ask the doctor if I could take Phenergan with these meds and he OK'd it. I guess things just affect people differently. Now I know only to take it when the nausea is really bad and I want a REALLY long nap, lol.

Now, seven days later the side effects are very mild and I'm handling the meds really well. The days I take the Bactrim and azythromycin along with the HIV meds are the worst but still not too bad.

Mentally ... that's a different story. Up to this point, I have been handling things very well, keeping upbeat and positive.

Taking meds sort of took the wind out of my sails a bit. The idea of having to take meds for the rest of my life was and is kind of sobering. I deal with the thought better each time I take them though.

Well, that was my long drawn out story of starting meds, lol.

Thanks for reading,

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View Autumn's posts on's Bulletin Boards.

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