Two blog posts in one week? I know, I’m spoiling you, but read on…
Possibly the single biggest issue for me about being HIV+ isn’t my health, the medication etc, it’s actually the rejection that you can face when you tell someone your status.
One of the first people I ever disclosed my status to was a holiday romance. We’d been hanging out for a couple of days, drinking, swimming, holding hands etc, all very romantic. One afternoon I got a text asking me to spend the night with him at his hotel, I thought it only fair that I tell him my (fairly recently found) HIV status. That was one of the most difficult texts I ever had to send not just from my nervous clammy hands or the heart beating in my mouth.
He replied shortly saying that he was “OK with it”, but at the same time said that we’d have to postpone the night at the hotel because of plans with his friends. That was the last time we ever had a proper conversation. I tried chatting to him a couple of times after that, mostly he just ignored my calls/texts – the final time he answered but pretended to be someone else. I’d been well and truly rejected. Gutted.
Since that day I’ve had a policy of telling people I plan to sleep with/date as soon as possible. If someone messages me on Gaydar/Grindr asking for a fuck I have no problem saying right up front “By the way, I’m HIV+. I hope that’s not an issue?”. But as I found out last night it’s still pretty nerve-wracking telling someone you have feelings for.
Last night I agreed to go on a date with someone I’ve been talking to for a while. He’s very handsome, totally buff and a bit shorter than me. Amazing. Then it dawned on me that I was going to have to tell him. I decided to do it then and there, seeing as we were already chatting.
I said “In the spirit of openness and honesty I need to share something with you. Plus it saves us both heartache if it’s something you feel you can’t handle. Please be honest with me either way. I’m HIV positive”. Cue a ridiculously long wait. Why wasn’t he replying? Was it too much? Fuck, fuckity fuck.
He *eventually* replied “Hey, don’t stress about it. My ex had it, and we were together five years”. Overjoyed. He was absolutely fine with it and thanked me for being so honest. We’ve even planned our date for this Monday night coming.
Disclosing your status isn’t an easy thing to do, no matter how readily we might do it. All that we ask is that the people we tell are honest with us. If you’re uncomfortable being with someone that’s HIV+ then tell us (nicely!), we’d much rather that than being lied to – then ignored.
So it was only three days ago I was blogging about my Valentines Day Hope, and here I am three days later minus one boyfriend. You couldn’t make this stuff up really could you?
I don’t know if blogging about it “jinxed it” in any way, I’m not sure I even believe in jinxing/luck/fate/destiny etc but the timing couldn’t really be any worse either way. One day you blog about your love for a guy, and how it’s giving you hope for the future, and the next day he breaks up with you via text message.
So what happened? Basically our three month relationship had shifted largely to me supporting him emotionally, whilst he (on his much much larger salary – and unrequested by myself) spoiled me to keep me supporting him. It’s strange how you never see this stuff at the time. I felt uncomfortable with the constant gifts and guilty that I couldn’t reciprocate in kind, and it came to a head on Wednesday when it was made clear to me that my home-cooked candlelit dinner and card “wouldn’t cut it” and that because I wasn’t buying him things that I clearly didn’t care for him.
I asked to take a day’s space so we could consider the situation, and what we’d do going forwards. The next day I received a text telling me that I wasn’t a “suitable” boyfriend, and that it was over. Followed by several incredibly abusive texts including ones deriding my appearance.
The worst one however, was when he used my HIV status to mock me (not a first for my ex’s). He’d always been very supportive of me throughout our relationship but apparently now he’d stop caring it was OK to say “I can have any guy I want – especially as I’m HIV negative!”. That’s something I cannot and will not ever forgive. It has shown him to be way more immature than I ever thought was possible, and I feel saddened for him that he felt he had to stoop to that level.
So now I’m single, again, but this time around I don’t mind. I’m in a better place than I was three months ago, things are happening in my life and I’ve got a great group of friends around me, and do you know what, that last paragraph from my Valentine’s Day post:
It gives me hope, not just for me, but for everyone else out there, that if this mess of a person can find love again, then so can anyone. So if you’re sat reading this, feeling sorry for yourself today, STOP. There’s always hope. You never know what’s just around the corner. You might just surprise yourself.
I still believe that. I still hold that dear to me. There is now, and always will be hope. The world keeps turning, and I keep smiling.
Happy Friday boys and girls,
Yesterday morning I awoke to a tingling on my upper lip. I sat bolt upright up in horror, and looked in my mirror. Sure enough, there it was, another coldsore – and you’ll remember that only a week or so ago I had a huge one on my bottom lip. Gutted. I tried to call my local GP (who you’ll remember I don’t have a huge fondness for), to see if they could dish out some Aciclovir to nip it in the bud, but despite calling all morning no-one answered the phone, I can only assume that they were closed, or busy laughing at patients.
Then I tried calling my HIV clinic, which isn’t exactly local, and they said that they could see me if I got there within 30 minutes. Some hair-raising driving on the boyfriend’s part and we made it – just. The doctor saw me fairly quickly and gave me another week of Aciclovir (three times a day), apparently whilst unpleasant the coldsores are a good thing, a sign that my immune system is asserting itself again. He also treated me to a Hep B booster in my left arm, I know, lucky me!
After that he took time to go through my latest blood results with me. My CD4 has risen from 332 to 381 and my Viral Load has dropped dramatically from 354 to 46 – almost ‘undetectable’! Also of note was that my Vitamin D levels are rising steadily as I take my daily supplements. I was so pleased, it gives me a real feeling that I’ve got control of the situation, I won’t be beat by HIV.
For those of you worried about starting treatment, or those of you considering starting treatment early (like I did) – DO IT. It’s the best decision I’ve made for myself in a long time. I’ve gone from a Viral Load of 79000 to a Viral Load of 46 in three months. I feel amazing. Here’s to the rest of my life…
Just a short blog post today, more a diary entry if you will.
I had a bit of a realisation last night that I’m finally becoming comfortable with my ATRIPLA (HIV medication). A bunch of my friends had all congregated at my friend Paul’s house last night for movies, wine and a catch up. We’d not seen each other since before Christmas, so there was much to talk about. Some of the people in the group know my HIV status, some don’t – one of the guys in the group is HIV+ himself and has been a great support to me.
So we’re part way through watching a horror film when suddenly my phone starts buzzing, it’s my nightly reminder to take my ATRIPLA. Normally I would have made an excuse and escaped into the hallway or kitchen to take my pill, but last night I thought “No! Fuck it! Who cares? These are my friends. If they ask about it I’ll tell them, I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of!“. So I just got the pill out of my pocket and necked it with my beer, right there on the sofa. The thing is, no-one even noticed that I took anything – what have I been making such a fuss over?
“No! Fuck it! Who cares? These are my friends. If they ask about it I’ll tell them, I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of!”
The whole thing has made me realise how much more comfortable I am about taking my medication, much more so than when I started – just two months ago. Back then even when I was on my own I’d stare at the pill and think about it before I swallowed it, sometimes for minutes at a time. Now I take it without thinking about it, and am even happy to do it front of my friends.
I think this is what they call progress!
Hello hello, pull up a seat. Biscuit? No? Probably wise.
Welcome to 2012, and my first blog post in this the olympic jubilee year.
January, I find, is always a time of year spent in reflection. Looking back on the previous year, identifying your mistakes, trying to work out how to avoid them and make the coming year better than the one that has just gone. This January has been no different.
In 2011 I managed to:
- Lose my job
- Become HIV+
- Have my HIV status “outed”
- Crash my car
- Have a relationship end in a rather unpleasant way.
So I’ll have to do doing pretty well to have a year worse than that really won’t I? In fairness there were some great parts to 2011 as well, especially when it came to making new friends and spending more quality time with my existing ones.
Like most people I’ve set myself a few goals or “resolutions” for the new year and unlike most years I think that last year actually has given me the kick up the arse that I need to set some of them into motion. I spent too much of 2011 worrying about other people and keeping my head down to actually enjoy life and put me first.
- Get Fit: I know this will probably feature on quite a lot of your resolutions, and it’s a noble one. But it’s never been as important to me as it is now, as a HIV+ man I need to take much greater care of my body, this means joining a gym and cutting down on the junk food.
- Better career, Better house: After I lost my job in 2011 I found employment again quite quickly, which I know makes me very lucky, but I don’t necessarily enjoy my job all that much. So I’m going to make a concerted effort to seek out a wonderful new job in the next couple of months. The same goes for where I’m living, it’s alright – but it’s not me. I need to be out of the suburbs and in the middle of the action, and I’m hoping I can get the ball rolling on this sooner rather than later.
- Find a decent man: When I first was mulling over these resolutions a few weeks ago I was single, proper Bridget Jones single, desperate and dateless if you will. But only in the the last week or so I’ve actually found someone rather special. He doesn’t care about my past or my HIV status. It’s very early days, but I’ve got a good feeling about this one.
As I look out of my tiny office window there’s a warm sunny glow reflecting off the buildings, and for the first time in quite a while I’m actually feeling positive about my future. My life may never be perfect but I can certainly make it great – it’s in my hands.