I'd like to share my story in hopes of helping others (ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF SYMPTOMS BEING UNRELIABLE, 2011)
Dear wonderful Dr. Bob,
Please allow to share my story with HIV. I hope I can help others who are living in fear or with extreme HIV anxiety....
In my young 20's I lived a very risky life- drugs, alcohol and sex. I had many high risk encounters with unprotected sex which still to this day, I have a hazy memory of due to always being drunk and high. Truth be told, I never thought too much about HIV, I was more worried about getting pregnant.
Once I recovered from this life, I pretty much "forgot" about HIV although every once in awhile it would manifest as a little voice in the back of my mind. But Because my life was ruled by fear, I never got tested. I was too terrified. I recalled after a brief "relationship" of unprotected sex that I became sick with flu-like symptoms: fever, swollen glands, and sinus problems. I wondered if it could've been ARS. This period of unprotected sex happened in 2002 and I wasn't until recently around Christmas of 2010, that strange symptoms began to show:
I had a sudden explosive case of seborrheic dermatitis on my scalp and face which spread to my neck. Once the initial explosion went away after about 2 weeks, I continued having bad seborrheic dermatitis on my scalp, behind my ears, IN my ears and around my eyes. My face itched like mad!
And like many people who are scared of HIV, I went straight to Dr. Google, Dr. Yahoo and Dr. Bing and of course, HIV came up with every symptom I researched. This only put my depression and anxiety into overdrive. I felt like I had receive a death warrant, signed and dated all while never having been tested. Researching the internet became and obsession and an addiction.
For me, I was even more certain I had contracted HIV because it had been about 9 years and that's (from what I read) when AIDS symptoms begin to appear. I had textbook symptoms- seborrheic dermatitis, horrible peripheral neuropathy like symptoms, on and off swollen glands all over, nausea, reduced appetite, and weight loss.
So the symptoms and timing was right. Right?
Wrong! After literally making my self sick with anxiety, I went down to a local testing center and did a rapid finger-prick blood test. I could no longer take not knowing.
And guess what? I am NEGATIVE. NEGATIVE. NEGATIVE. NEGATIVE! I know Dr. Bob is giving me a wooohoo!
I know Dr. Bob and other Doctors on this site say over and over until they are blue in the face or their fingers give out from typing the same thing over and over that symptoms mean NOTHING and only the test matters.
I was especially freaking out because "Am I infected" forum consisted of mostly people freaking out over possible ARS symptoms. But for me it was almost a decade later when HiV may start progressing to AIDS.
I am beyond thrilled to accept my negative results. The wonderful man who administered my test said there is a 0% chance of a "false negative" for all of you who question that.
I spend nearly a decade of my life controlled and consumed by fear- a decade!!!!!! Do I wish I had done the test sooner? I'm not sure only because of the fact that as humans, we deal with emotions differently especially fear. And even when Dr. Bob tells the "WWs" not to worry, I believe they have to find out for themselves whether they had a real risk or not.
Now I know that symptoms mean NOTHING. I will continue to see my doctor to try and figure out what is causing my symptoms but I rest assured that it IS NOT HIV. The test is definitive. A person can have many or even ALL the Dr. Google symptoms of HIV and still be negative.
I can now close a long chapter in my life and move forward. Good luck to you all and God bless!
I love you Dr. Bob. Your positive attitude is amazing and some of your answers and blog entries- hilarious!
From one classical pianist to another- may music continue to enrich your life and my FINAL question to you is....
Who is/are your favorite composers??? I'd love to know. Mine are Chopin and Rachmaninoff :)
Hello WOO-HOO-ing Rachmaninoff and Chopin Lover,
Thanks for taking the time to write in and share your story and and your good news. WOO-HOO!
It is indeed true that "Dr. Google, Dr. Yahoo and Dr. Bing" tend to "diagnose" HIV way more often than I do. (And they usually do so inappropriately!)Your testimonial is yet another example of how unreliable "symptoms" can be. I'll post your story in the "I'm Positive I'm Positive" chapter as well as "Symptoms" and "HIV Test Results" chapters. I'm confident your story will indeed help others still trapped in their own self-induced worried-well hell.
Finally I, too, adore Chopin and Rachmaninoff as well as many others -- Liszt, Scriabin, Prokofiev, Gershwin, Schubert, Debussy, Ravel . . . .