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Sunday 28 May 2006
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Not the final countdown

Dear Diary

The day to get my CD4 count done, to see how I've been coping with the anti-AIDS drugs these past four months, is drawing closer.

A check on my weight just before last December read 72 kilograms, down from my usual 95 to 98 kilograms.

I spent that December holiday with my family, and whether out of good manners or just not to scare me, nobody brought up the topic of my obvious weight-loss.

Along with them I pretended not to notice, and at that point the weight-loss was the least of my concerns. I was also experiencing a dramatic loss of appetite; and what a time too, with all the lovely festive treats being prepared.

Not even my mother's tasty Christmas lunch was enough to throw me into that trademark feeding frenzy my friends and family had come to know so well.

Although I did not show it, I was worried, and was confronted with a reflection of that worry every morning that I greeted my mother.

The time with my family wasn't anything like the other holidays. In fact, I was quite miserable and I just wanted to get back to Johannesburg and to the safety of my doctor's examining room.

As suspected, my CD4 level had dropped. I had somehow lost count of it when I foolishly decided that what was more important was keeping track of the number of days I actually enjoyed life.

I should have noticed the symptoms, which by now were quite clear. The painful boils on my right leg, the nausea at the sight and smell of food, the headaches and the constant exhaustion, despite the extra hours of sleep put in above the recommended eight.

Maybe I did not want to accept the rapid progress of the disease, or maybe I just was not ready to admit what at the time I thought of as defeat.

Since my diagnosis, it has taken a great deal of strength for me to accept and adjust to being HIV-positive. And just when I thought I could go on forever, comfortably co-existing with the virus, it reminded me that I had no say in the matter.

After the new blood tests revealed that my CD4 was 25 below the 200 mark where HIV-positive people have to begin treatment, it felt like that first time I received my positive result.

A part of me wanted the test to be done again, in the hope that the first one was off the mark. Another part remembered how hurt and desperate I felt after requesting additional tests on my initial diagnosis, and still they read positive.

Once more I felt as if all of this was just a horrible nightmare, and I would wake up sweaty and shaken but relieved that I was healthy, and able to go on realising life goals and planning for the long term.

But this dreamlike state did not last as long as all the other times I'd visited that place in my head. I realised right away that it was time for the real fight to begin, and that everything before now was just a scene-setter.

So its been four months since I started taking the drug cocktail despite the frightening tales about its toxicity and ensuing side effects.

And so far, its been hell. But I'm still here, and that's all that really matters.

In the meantime, my appetite is back to normal and I've eased right back into those good old throes of ravenous feeding. Completely devoid of guilt about never achieving the 'body-beautiful'.

I can feel my body getting used to the poison I'm using to keep this virus under control. And it's become almost second nature to pop one Purback and one Combiver tablet first thing in the morning for a fresh bout of nausea, followed by another Combiver twelve hours later for a short recap, and then three Stocrin capsules just before bed for vivid nightmares.

I am looking forward to seeing the results of my CD4 count when I get tested in two months time. But for now, the poison can flow and let me prove to this virus that I do have a say after all.

Forever Positive

Hayden Horner

Previous Entry :: All Diary Entries :: Next Entry
Diary Entries
Celebrity and HIV/AIDS: Limelight versus Social Responsibility
HIV/AIDS Coping Mechanisms: "What would a mayfly do?"
Beyond the Borders of HIV/AIDS Treatment Strategies
HIV/AIDS Feminisation: A new wine in an old bottle
Antiretrovirals - The Wind Beneath My Wings
The Mis-education of HIV/AIDS Clinicians
HIV Prevention 101: Ignoring the Church's views on condoms
Stigma and HIV/AIDS: lethal bedfellows
In remembrance of our women and children
Maids, madams and the "terrible thing"
Internet love and inter-related HIV-prejudice
Previously eyes-wide-shut on HIV and religion
Love, lies and disclosure
Black pot and blacker kettle
Things better left unsaid on the bus
Food for thought while waiting to die
Test results not all good
Diary speaks back

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