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Pill Diary: Week 4

Wed 20 Oct 2004 In: HIV

Week 4 of the edited diary entries of a HIV positive man going onto a standard 'combination therapy' pill regime to boost the immune system and repress the virus. Wednesday [No diary entry] Thursday The last few days have been miserable, depressing. Several times I more or less decided to give up. But it haunts me that every combination of drugs I leave behind is one I probably can't go back to... though I can't imagine I would ever want to go back to this one. But there are a few bright spots... the dreadful cement taste seems to have mostly gone from my mouth and the queasiness isn't so bad. For a while I even craved fruit which must be a good sign... ate a banana and half an apple and paid for it with explosive toilet trips later in the day. But they tasted good! Energy seems to be improved, though this may be because I've spent the last two days either lying in bed or sitting on the toilet. Nothing strenuous. Tomorrow I'll try to go to work for a few hours. Friday Had an attack of coughing in the night... coughing irritates my now sensitive throat which leads to more coughing which irritates more, etc., etc. The only way I can find to soothe it is to sip cold milk very slowly. But that upsets the guts so I have to down a couple of Lomotils with the milk to forestall the inevitable explosions. Worked for two hours, quiet desk work with a half hour lie down half way through. Wasn't up to anything creative but doing some pressing bookkeeping was kind of rewarding. The 2pm energy crash caught me by surprise, more sudden than usual as I returned home. Could hardly walk up the stairs and that effort had me throwing up immediately I got inside. Saturday Some of the side effects seem to be lessening... the cement taste is a vestige of itself, headaches only arrive after vomiting, retching or coughing fits. Have got used to the numb fingertips except when turning pages of books or magazines or using a keyboard or pressing buttons (microwaves, alarm clock, alarm codes, pin numbers, doorbells, electric jug, etc.) or fumbling for the right key or feeling for something small - like a pill in my pockets - when it irritates the hell out of me. Tingling is almost gone. The farts and shits remain, as do the night sweating and energy crashes. A very centred and gentle friend visited for an hour this afternoon and afterwards I felt much, much better. We just chatted lightly, I suspect my mind was wandering a little as my memory is a bit stuffed from the tiredness. But he was a joy to be with and seemed to lift my spirits without seeming to try. I'm not much of a believer in the mystical, as he is, but something happened this afternoon that I can't put my finger on. Thanks heaps Warwick. (ps: your homemade strawberry jam spread thinly on lightly buttered white bread was the first food I've really enjoyed in days!) Sunday My appetite has come back a little which is really important because some of the pills have to be taken with food. It's difficult enough summoning up enough willpower to swallow the bloody pills without having to force down food with them as well. Progress: someone mentioned butter chicken on the phone and I immediately knew I wanted some. Made a quick trip to St Lukes food hall and sat in the sun on the balcony eating half a container of heaven on rice. Bliss. It was tasty and ricey and not to aggressive and my first real food in several weeks. Paid for it later in the evening with queasiness and slight vomiting and the inevitable shits (all at once which was seriously messy) but somehow I think a corner has been turned. Monday 3 hrs work today. Bad diahroea all day (nothing new in that) which even the Lomotils couldn't stop. Because of recurring “little accidents” I now rely on my emergency kits... in the car and work desk are zip lock plastic bags with a change of underwear, some soft, moist trashable cloth and a travelers' sachet of vaseline. Basic but reassuring and used more frequently than I'm prepared to admit to anyone. Tuesday Energy crapped out all day. Stayed home and felt miserable. I am realising that my mind seems to be playing tricks regarding taking the pills. Got through the whole day before realising that I hadn't even set out the day's pills last night or this morning, much less taken any. They require a huge effort to take. And taking them regularly on time, spaced at the proper intervals seems to be impossible. It's almost as if some fed-up part of me is hypnotizing my brain into overlooking them. It's worrying as less than about 85% adherence to the regime is inviting viral mutations and problems for the future. At one stage I thought I'd count the pills I have left to calculate how many doses I have missed but, frankly, I don't want to know the answer. John Stone; - 20th October 2004    

Credit: John Stone;

First published: Wednesday, 20th October 2004 - 12:00pm

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