Thursday, February 15, 2007

My Dear Friend's PEP Experience

While sending out a group mail to us about an up-and-coming social event, my friend casually dropped the line in that she had to start on ARVs. Apparently there had been a bit of an accident in her medical research lab.

I realise we all get a bit blasé in our respective lines of work. Even I used to so nonchalantly sit for ages condomising the office’s green penis demo model with the cratefuls of free latex doms, during bored coffee breaks, while chatting to my 60 yr old Muslim admin lady. Occasionally she’d glance over from her computer & comment, “Yes, that’s right. You’re doing it right”. Even the security guys stopped passing comments it became so everyday to see on their closed circuit cameras.

But I was a little surprised that my dear friend’s single-worded response to her serious medical dilemma was “Argh”. Nothing more. Even I uttered more profanities and attempts at sympathy-seeking when my car brakes were grating recently, and when my phone took to two days’ worth of aqua aerobics.

Then, two weeks later, I finally received the following email.
Thank you to her for letting me show all of you a quick glimpse of how it feels to be on a mild course of ARVs for a short period (remember the whole PEP post…)

Subject: oh my failing liver
…..[Personal banter not for the public eye]….

I'm feeling really shite at the moment. was feeling top of the world for 1st 2 weeks of ARVs, thinking that my scottish constitution was a match for cytotoxic side effects. but alas my liver and kidneys have started lamenting. I have constant headaches, nausea and hypersomnia. (more than usual).

monday i drove all the way into med school then decided i couldn't face it, and drove all the way home and slept for like 18 hours. then went to bed again. amazing. normally i'm so insomnia prone at night.

how do ppl take them everyday for rest of their lives. it's awful, and i often forget the 12hr rule so no wonder there's non compliance... it's been really good to step into those shoes. taken the wind out of my developing-a-new-drug sail.

Thanks my dear friend for letting me post this! And I hope you are feeling top of the world in no time, especially for the 3rd of that month with the roaring show!

If any of you do want to read an excellent book about a South African’s experience with finding out he has AIDS (when his CD4 count was as low as 2!) and then what he went through on ARVS – read Adam Levin’s AIDSAFARI. ….actually, in googling the book to get a link for this post I have just come across the most fascinating website set up as a result of Adam Levin’s memoir…. So excuse me now, I'm off to do some non-blogosphere-related reading….


Phlippy said...

OK, the condom things were interesting, I will go give the sites a read later :-)

Lollipop said...

Ugh, sounds like my weekend,although that was very insightful. Thanks, it has scared the bejesus out of me and I am now going to be 110% more careful.

What are your thoughts on the Carte Blanche circumcised=less chance of catching AIDS? I say WTF?!

Jam said...

Since I've been on ARV's once for a month (reasons to remain hidden), I can agree with this. They're awfully strong, make you tired, give you headaches, nausea. And taking medication twice a day is tough, tough to remember. I had to set a reminder on my phone.
Luckily since this experience, I've been tested and I'm fine so I'm one of the lucky few that does not have to experience this every day. Still, it's amazing that there are drugs out there that can save your life post exposure. And that can prolong the lives of others.

Jam said...

Lollipop - I did a doccie around the issue of circumcision last year when the intitial research came out. The sad reality is that people are not using condoms, and this could be a way of reducing the rate at which infections are being transmitted. Still, it's a subject fraught with moral and ethical dilemmas.

Jam said...

Lollipop - I did a doccie around the issue of circumcision last year when the intitial research came out. The sad reality is that people are not using condoms, and this could be a way of reducing the rate at which infections are being transmitted. Still, it's a subject fraught with moral and ethical dilemmas.

Champagne Heathen said...

Phlippy - good good. Good to know I am keeping you informed

Lolls - Just be careful & you should be fine.

I caught a bit of the programme. It was a study done quite a while ago, so actually, I thought they were a bit behind the times. It REDUCES the risk, & is not to be used as a main prevention method. As JAM says though, even with awareness & info sessions, people are still not changing their behaviour, so we have to seek out all means to save people (from themselves sometimes).

Read my doc friends' blog on the programme - and my follow up comment to it:

Jam - thanks so much for saying that!

ChewTheCud said...

thanks for saying it twice too jam ;)

suave should have your number now champers. expect big smooches soon. said...

Many thanks for revealing what is truly a brave way to face the world each plodding miserable day of ones life. I say plodding and miserable because as humans we will fall off the motivated and happy pedestal at times. Today I am reveling in a moribund state.

Your friend brings perspective into my otehrwise mundane 'splinter in finger illnesses'. However today I had to use my Nitromin and all I want to do now is sleep. I should but work is work and so it goes.

I am no longer in a frivolous mood. I am sombre and gloomy and hacked off that only a bypass will sort out two blocked arteries(minor) at the back of my heart.

Reading this post makes me too aware that in the grand scheme of things, what I am going through today is only a 24 hour journey. I will feel fine tomorrow.

However your very brave friend must endure his condition for ever and that truly a is very, very, very sad and extrememely tough realisation to square up to and accept each second of the rest of your life.

God, I am so shockingly self-centred.

Champagne Heathen said...

Chews - I am more than eagerly awaiting!! Did you get any tongue then??

My darling wonderful Robs who brings smiles & giggles into my daily life, what are you talking about??!!
ANY heart problems are not good, so you take EXCELLENT care of those pretty arteries, ok?!

My friend should be ok and not have been infected. But it made sense why she went onto them for a few weeks.

And always remember, as I have been taught, pain/love/illness/dilemmas are all very relative. The biggest things might not throw you, and the smallest hiccups can throw one's life completely out of wack. So if you feel kuk, feel kuk! Don't worry about how the guy next to you is feeling.


Insano said...

Funny how, when you add a life threatening disease to the equation, the things that you bitch about seem rather pointless. said...

As always I can count on Champers to make me smile again.

Methinks I need to relocate!

Revolving Credit said...

Sounds like anybody on ARV's should steer clear of tequila or any such substance which may fuck with you liver further.

Shit, no drinking. HIV really does fuck with your life.

Champagne Heathen said...

Insano - it does add perspective. Just you also have to be careful to not get lost in the perspective!


Rev - Can you imagine!! No more tequila! Although, 'positive' living actually says you should give up smoking and alcohol can be consumed moderately.

Urk said...

i had a freind who had a PEP experience, which was altogether nastier. The quality of clothes there is terrible. and the queues. Dont even get em started on the queues.

Champagne Heathen said...

Urk - Ha ha ha!!