I got the results of last Friday’s (4/13/12) blood draw via phone today. It seems that my T-cells have almost doubled in the last month! I was at just under 240 and am now over 400. I will see the actual results in writing tomorrow, along with the results for the viral load / viral burden testing that was done that same day. That test will tell me how much of the HIV is active in my blood stream; how much infection is still there trying to attack my good blood! The T-cell count is the count of the “helper” cells that are in charge of your body’s immune system. Normal individual women generally have between 500 and 1000 of these per ml of blood. I once tested at 1286! Which is more in the normal range for a man, which is 800-1500 generally. The T-‘s tend to bounce a bit from day to day, but I usually have the test done every 3 months, trying to stay with the same time of day for each test. Somehow this also gives a slightly more accurate picture of what’s going on. So I usually go before 11am each time, thus I am not worn down from a day of activity before the count is checked.
I have been on a “cocktail” of drugs to combat my HIV infection. Issentress, Prezista, Norvir, and Viread are the current names of the drugs in the cocktail. I take 3 of them once a day and the Issentress I have to take twice daily. It’s not a big deal anymore. Years ago, back in the 90’s when I first tested positive the drugs were few and far between, and as we did get more ammo in the munitions pile toward the end of that decade the drugs left us with horrific side-effects, sometimes intolerable, and you had to swallow fist fulls of pills sometimes up to 6 times a day! I recall that at one point I was taking 28 pills a day! A huge difference compared to today’s 5 pills. And I must say the side-effects are no where near as bad now, they’ve honed the dosages and compositions of the drugs, and made them much more tolerable and manageable today.
I am feeling the good effects of the cocktail working inside of me. My energy level has DEFINITELY returned to somewhere closer to “normal”, especially in the last 2 weeks. And my mood, anxiety and overall attitude has definitely improved. I have been working outside in my gardens quite a bit, getting things done that have been waiting for my energy to return for months, and generally just making it happen! I have taken on a much more positive attitude and I know this is probably responsible for some of these changes, but the energy level alone was being squashed hard by the virus itself. So with less virus, more T-cells and less stress I have managed to re-find that positive attitude within myself to make the rest happen accordingly.
I realize that I am one of the lucky ones that has managed to survive 20 years of living with HIV in my life. I still mourn those friends that I lost in the early 90’s to AIDS and suicides cause by AIDS and the feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. I still strive to educate others, support others and as well as those who love ME through all of this; despite it. I continue to refuse to let HIV be my death sentence, or to run my life. And I allow it to live within my blood, as long as it allows ME to live on this planet. It’s a deal I made long ago. And it holds true to this day. A done deal.