Sunday, December 19, 2010

Early Care

I have been posting a lot lately about "knowing your status" which everyone should know but I have not been talking enough about what to do if you test positive.  A friend reminded me of that today and asked if I could share what she is currently going thru to express the importance of seeking care if you test positive.  Finding out that you just tested positive for HIV is life changing to say the least but it starts a whole new chapter in life.  You know must put that knowledge to use by beginning you long term health care.  Find a doctor and start educating yourself on what you need to do to stay healthy.

Here is what she asked me to share:

I was talking with my friend and asked him if I could share his story with you....
I've known him since I was 10 and he was 11. He got into drugs around age 16. He had a rough upbringing and once Meth got ahold of him, it rarely let go. He's been in and out of prision his whole adult life. On one of those trips to prison when he was about 19, he found out he was HIV positive and HEP C positive. It took him many, many years to acknowledge that the docs in prison weren't lying to him. His head was so clouded with Meth. He didn't get the care and treatment that he needed and he didn't quit drugs for any extended period of time. He's now 31 years old and he's in the hospital and it doesn't look like he'll ever be coming home. Many of us have stuck by him despite the drug use and it breaks our heart to see him like this. He's finally acknowledged that "all the bad things I did to myself finally caught up with me." Yet, he doesn't want to face facts and start planning for what seems to be inevitable. His T Cells are zero so the dr's have decided against removing his gallbladder. He's down from 200 to 119 pounds.
I'm sharing this with you because I think that as important as it is to get tested and know your status, it's just as important to do something about it once you do. I am proud of you for being proactive and getting the word out there.
I am going to miss my friend.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Holidays

Back in December 2005 I had a really difficult time with Christmas.  Having just found out that I was HIV Positive and being out on a cruise ship and away from home at a time where I wanted to be at home.  Here I was stuck on a ship hiding this secret from pretty much everyone and trying to research and get information and educate myself on HIV.  I had told one person at this point then I told my long time best friend Shannon and then I told my adage partner, best friend, fiance, you name it she is it to me, Valerie.

At one point on the ship Valerie came to me and let me know that someone had told others about my status and people were talking about it behind my back.  That was all finally cleared up and brought to light and thank god for Valerie and her always having my back.  One day after a rehearsal two on the ship two people came up to me and told me someone was still talking about it and sharing my status with others.  (just so everyone knows it is never okay to reveal someone status without their permission that is for them to share not you) I had reached my limit at this point and blew up and it was a scene straight out of every diva movie you could imagine.  I decided at this point it was time just to bring it all to the table so people would stop talking about behind my back and told cast members that were still there.  I then went and confronted the person that was supposedly telling everyone.  I blew up at this person and we didn't talk to each other for a while.  Unfortunately this all happened but it helped me to start talking about it and building my support system and my friend and I have a stronger and better relationship than anyone could ever imagine.  He is such an amazing friend and rock in my time of need.

The point of this blog is that you need a strong support system to get thru the rough times.  There were times when I just wanted to crawl in the corner and cry my eye out.  I was scared to tell people about my being positive mostly out of my own embarrassment and shame actually not because of how someone else was going to react to me.  Once other people knew about my status I had a support system and it was so much easier to get thru the day.  

I have been talking to others recently about being newly diagnosed and they struggles they have face so I wanted to share my story because I was stressed about keeping my secret when there was no need to keep it a secret or be stressed about it.  If you are reading this and looking for a support system talk to someone close to you or start building a new support system.

Monday, December 13, 2010

5 Years

on December 12, 2005 I was working aboard the NCL America Pride of Aloha and I received a phone call informing me that I needed to schedule an appointment to go in and speak with a Doctor at the Maricopa County Public Health Clinic.  Seeing as I was in Hawai'i for at least six months this was not an option and I spoke with an HIV counsler and he broke the news to me.  The whole story can be read in a previous blog.

5 years later I am doing wonderful.  I am healty and on medication that is keeping the virus under control.  I am currently undetectable and have a great CD4 count. 

Please get tested and know your status.  Most importantly keep the conversation going

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blood Work Results

Today I had my follow up appointment today with Dr Parks and received the results of my blood work. 

My weight was 211
Temperature was 96.4
Blood Pressure 130 over 61
Viral Load is undetectable
CD4 Count is 612

Viral Load refers to the number of copies of the virus per milliliter of blood plasma. An undetectable generally means that there are less than 50 copies of the virus per milliliter.  Doctors look at your viral load and CD4 count to determine if treatment is needed.

CD4 or more commonly referred to as T-Cells give an idea of how healthy your immune system is.  A normal CD4 count is 500. 

The reason my doctor placed me on a treatment program was because of my low CD4 count after my Achilles re-attachment surgery.

The next blood draw will be in March to ensure that my body does not develop a resistance to my current treatment.

Keep checking back for more and don't forget to go for regular testing.