My Newly Diagnosed Story – NOW WHAT?
Last updated: February 2023
What is HIV? The doctor comes in face drawn with concern and worry on his face. My heart dropped. I hold my breath without realizing it. The doctor opens his mouth and speaks again "Mrs. Ward, I received your lab results," pauses "you have HIV." The room literally spins, the pit of my stomach lurches, I don’t know how or where the strength came from to remain calm, but surprisingly it was there.
I wanted to scream — 'you are lying, go and redo that test!' - but deep down I knew it was correct. Why did I know it was correct, well I had not really been feeling well in my body and this test, these lab results confirmed my suspicions.
Talking to my past self
Here I am 22 years later and I would say to my newly diagnosed self. Stay calm, many people deal with different diseases and conditions every day, including cancer, heart disease, hemophilia, leukemia, hypertension, diabetes, and even HIV/AIDS. I would say first, choose to understand HIV, and don’t disregard the diagnosis as if it will go away.
To me, choosing to understand HIV means:
- Asking your healthcare provider for information, brochures, and websites. Choosing to understand means visiting resource centers in your community specifically trained to assist anyone living with HIV/AIDS.
- Finding out how others are living with HIV.
- Taking a risk to attend meetings specifically for HIV/AIDS despite the embarrassment you may be feeling that you have HIV.
Checking on my mental health
Next, don’t live in denial; that is not an effective life strategy; denial will erode your mental state. Watch yourself Jerilyn as you are good at consciously denying your circumstances and it has led you to subconscious ANGER, REGRET, and SELF-SABOTAGE. Jerilyn you know yourself tell yourself the truth.
Next, get some help finding resources, and don’t let your condition cloud your judgment. Resources are becoming more readily available in most cities. Each city is different, but your primary healthcare provider, infectious disease provider, and internal medicine healthcare providers should have information regarding where the resources are. These providers should also have names of people who can help you navigate which resources are best for you.
Monitor my overall health
And finally, and MOST importantly, take care of yourself. Eat right, get plenty of rest, take the medication as it is prescribed, and monitor your health closely – don’t leave it to your health care providers.
How do you do that? After you begin taking the prescribed medications, watch how your body responds to the medication. Create a journal or a log with the date you started taking the medication, did you eat when you took the medication and did you take the medication before bed or in the morning before you start your day.
Monitoring your own health will put you in the driver’s seat to determine what is best for you. What is best for you may mean that you will need to change to a different medication. Only monitoring your health can help you determine that.
Finding additional support
Also, find counselors/therapists that are qualified to counsel those diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, You will need it. I would like to add pastors, trusted family members, and trusted friends. You know who you can trust and who you cannot trust, be honest with yourself as you make each decision.
This will be a journey, not a walk in the park. Journeys require different tools. Gather them and hang on to them. Live your life! You got this!
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