Saturday, October 16, 2010

8 months into my HIV treatment, 5 months into my Hep C treatment, and what else has been and is happening in my life.

Well, I haven’t been writing much on my blog lately, but I intend to soon. With only one month left of Hep C treatment I am managing and doing very well with both illnesses.  Since finding out in March 2010 I was HIV positive – I started meds right away and have been undetectable since week 4, with NO adverse effects from the Truvada/Isentress combo.  It seems to be doing the trick.  I recently started taking the 2 pills of Isentress at the same time instead of the 2x daily regimen.  The advice to take both at the same time came from my doctor and is becoming windingly prescribed as such. However do not take my advice, ask your doctor about his feelings on this. 
What has been the worst is the Hep C treatment.  In 5 months I have lost nearly 25 pounds and my energy level has been very low. The negative effects of HEP C treatment (for me) have been the psychological ones.  Mainly increased anxiety, decreased concentration, racing thoughts, making rash decisions, with a bunch of sleeplessness and decreased appetite mixed in.  The first 3 months of treatment went fairly well, but after that things seemed to get worse (with regards to the side effects).
I had already been on an SSRI going into treatment (citalopram), but then switched over to Zoloft and was up to 150 mg a day. It helped to alleviate a lot of the symptoms, but the higher dose mixed with 3 mg of klonipen had made my mind mush.  I finally got into see a REALLY good psychiatrist in Fort Lauderdale, FL and today I am feeling MUCH better. I am titrating down from Zoloft at the same time cross titrating to Lexapro (the purer version of the generic citalopram).  Currently I am taking 5mg of Lexapro and 50 mg of Zoloft. Next week I will transition off of Zoloft and will just be on 10 mg of Lexapro.
I am also working with my Psychiatrist to address my sleeplessness and reducing my klonipen usage. The plan we’ve come up with is as follows. I am down to 1.5 mg of klonipen a day now.  I take 1 mg 45 minutes before bedtime, 3mg of lunesta at bedtime and .5 mg of klonipen half way through the day. Eventually, I will come off the klonipen all together, and add a tiny dose of buspar.
I am also taking ALL of my meds in the morning now. Even with the 1200 mg of Ribosphere – instead of taking 3 in the morning and 3 at night (at the advise of my dr), and as noted above I started taking the 2 pills of Isentress in the morning as well.  I have noticed less anxiety (racing heart) at night and better sleep.
One of the rash decisions I have made while on this medicine was the thought t I would move back to Fort Lauderdale, FL and go to school there.  It was not meant to be. I have been accepted into SUNY Albany and will begin classes towards my MPH degree in January 2011. I also plan to work with the AIDS Council of Northeastern NY.  I plan to work with their peer associative program and do community outreach.
What else? I saw my apartment I will be living in.  It will be perfect for me. Right down the street from my Brother and Mom and nearby my Dad as well.  I will also soon be the proud owner of a 2010 Hyundai Accent (2 dr hatch back).  Thanks to my Brother as he is going to co sign the loan for me.
I’ve been looking at couches, beds, and other furniture. I am really looking forward to the end of my HEP C treatment, volunteering for the AIDS Council, school and finally getting on with and making something of my life.
Today – I am filled with hope, optimism, and armed with a ton of knowledge regarding my illness.  My  “new life” post HEP C and managing my HIV is beginning to take shape. Stay tuned for further updates, advocacy work, and a new approach to Health Education and Awareness I have thought of.

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