The name of this entry sounds like some kind of weird paperback title you’d find in the 99p “romance” section at your local Tesco… Oh well. We can’t all be literary geniuses!
Well, it’s officially been 100 days since my diagnosis. I wanted to write this post as an update of sorts, to show that life doesn’t have to simply stop if you get diagnosed as HIV+
I remember when I got my diagnosis, the world falling away from my feet as the heavy weight of dread settled in for the long haul on my shoulders. I remember the panic in my gut as I contemplated my future and the stigma that I would inevitably face. Worst of all was thinking that I would be single for the rest of my life because of my status.
As it happens, I was wrong.
It’s been a fair few months since I got my news and following that 30 minute appointment and an emotional roller-coaster, a new me was born. After the initial shock subsided and I began to think about things more rationally, I began to do the one thing I could. Take control.
Many people speak of this when they talk about diseases or illnesses, but the one thing that stings the most above all else is losing control. We barely realise that we have it until it’s taken away from us, and by then it’s too late. We sit there and wonder how we ever got into this mess and how bleak and hopeless everything seems because there’s nothing we can do about it.
We’re all guilty of this. You sit there in a job you hate for 8 hours a day, commuting God knows how many miles and put up with a meagre wage because we’re too afraid to take a chance and jump at something new. We’re afraid to take control.
In a way, being diagnosed as HIV+ helped me take those plunges into the unknown, because hey? What’s the worst that could actually happen? In the past 100 days, I have reached back out to distant family members, rebuilt bridges that were burned long ago with friends, bought myself a motorcycle, taken charge of my finances and finally taken that plunge into getting a new job I can be proud of.
Now, I can see that this appears all sunshine and rainbows, but that combination always comes with a bit of rain. Being diagnosed does of course mean making certain adjustments. Currently I’m not on treatment (although my next set of quarterly blood tests is due in late December, so fingers crossed!) and it seems that my immune system is suffering more at the moment.
I seem to have had more bugs recently than there have been days of the week (maybe I should get some shares in Lemsip?) and even just the routine sniffles can mean more to you when you know that your body can’t quite defend itself as it used to, and coming to that realisation can be more than a bit daunting.
As a young adult you feel invincible, the world is at your feet and nothing short of a monumental hangover can get in your way. But that’s not the case any more… When a cold knocked me flat on my arse for 72 hours, I suddenly felt all those old initial feelings resurface, all that doubt and insecurity flooded back in, even if for the briefest of moments.
As was said in the initial entry, my friends and family have been invaluable during these past few months. Not once has a moment gone by when they’ve not been there when the bad days do come around, whether to lend an ear or a shoulder or even just listen to me whinge… A lot.
You’ve all helped, and continue to help me, each and every day. I love you all and cannot thank you enough.
100 days ago, it seemed that my life was ruined.
100 days later and here I am, genuinely excited by what’s just around the corner.
With this being National HIV testing week (http://goo.gl/fV1vVW) I thought it would be even more appropriate to sign off by urging everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, to get tested. After all, HIV does not discriminate.
Getting tested is easy; you can pop into your local Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and get tested there and then. If you can’t make it because of other commitments, you can order a free postal home testing kit here: http://goo.gl/gt91CC
Together we can stop HIV.
Thanks for reading — Tom.