I am looking at it from the view that if I leave it any longer, then I will not have the opportunity to look at the different possibilities; as one particular regime may be right for one person but not always for someone else. In that respect, I need to consider what best fits in with my lifestyle, not just about what possible side effects there could be but also the type of regime; how many pills do I need to swallow? How big are they? Do I need to take them with or without food? A few things to think about then.
A common consideration for starting antiretroviral medication maybe based on the CD4 count being between 300 and 350. At present, I am only just above that, 360, but I think all the time that I am well, despite close to the CD4 count that would typically trigger the introduction of an antiretroviral drug regime, it gives me time to think about and research what medication is available for me. Times have changed dramatically and today’s choices are far greater than ever before. Specialist HIV Consultants are more knowledgeable and have a better understanding of which is the right medication for an individuals needs. They are also more efficient at monitoring the initial side effects and reactions.
So then, what is best for me? I am now aware of the chance that I may be given one drug over another based on its cost. What I’m not so sure of is how much attention is paid to the cost over the efficiency and then the thought of how toxic the drugs will be and the extent of their side effects. These factors I have to think about and not make any rash decisions.
Becoming HIV positive certainly is a lifestyle changing illness in its own right… starting meds then changes it again, so just when your mind and soul starts to cope with the news of the diagnosis, along comes the realisation of needing to start a toxic drug regime, re-surfacing all of those fears once more!
As I sit in the clinic waiting room, various thoughts run through my mind; today may be the day that I start antiretroviral medication. So what choices are available to me? Or maybe, how will my day change in relation to taking medication?
If I am to believe all that I read, I am apprehensive and fearful of what I am about to start taking and how it may change me. But it is combined with an excitement of knowing that hopefully, after only a few weeks of initial illness and discomfort, that everything else will improve; my health, my CD4 and in time, an undetectable viral load. Therefore, I adjust my mindset and accept that some side effects are worth enduring for a short period of time if, in the longer term, I will be able to manage better and be more well, day to day.
To be continued…
One Final Thought…”If A Smile Lights Up Your Day Then Pass It On”