“There’s been a problem with one of the tests……….the HIV one…………It’s positive!”
I heard those words at 13:10 on 23rd September 2013. A complete shock, I had tested negative only in August. It was found as a result of tests for ongoing health issues.
A few weeks prior to this I had been quite unwell one weekend. A visit to an emergency GP and A&E and everything was blamed on my ongoing health issues worsening. Despite my protestations that I hadn’t felt this unwell ever before, I was sent home and left to get on with it. It appears this was seroconversion.
Hearing those words from my consultant who has been looking after me since April was a shock. My reaction was simply me staring at the floor, fiddling with the ring on my finger. He sent me for some bloods – a confirmatory test and to find out my CD4 and viral load.
A consultant who is from the infectious diseases part of the hospital came and spoke to me. He would be looking after me. He spoke to me, and to be honest i have no idea what he said. Other than knowing I had an appointment to see him in a weeks time (yes a week), I left the hospital with no literature, no information, no support, nothing. Now, I’m not the type to go and do something to myself but I could totally see how someone could.
At this point there had still been no tears. I arranged to meet a friend within half an hour. I met him, and I saw him from across the road and burst into tears. He had no idea what was going on. We went for a pint and I explained. He was amazing, he himself lives with the virus and is doing very well.
I left him and headed home. As soon as I got home I crawled into bed and broke my heart.
The next morning I got ready for work. It seemed the best thing to do. I got ready and left the house and burst into tears. This happened every morning of the week. It still happens even now, just not as frequent.
On the Wednesday I told my team, some of whom I have worked with for over 5 years. We are a small close-knit team and if I started taking more time off sick (i have only had three days in that last six years) it would raise questions. They were amazing; one sent me the following email:
“Sorry I didn’t say much in that meeting, I am traditionally terrible at providing any sort of comforting words when it comes to bad news, especially in front of people. Just thought I would drop you an email to say that I am here to talk to if you need me – we have known each other for a number of years and the last thing I want is to see you in pain or upset, so I will do all I can to help. It was very strong of you to be able to tell everyone on the team so soon, and I have no doubt that you will be able to come through this with your head held high. (see, much better at typing words than saying them, I should become a novelist rather than a wannabe fraud fighter!)”
I cried when I read it. I still do.
At this point I was adamant I would never tell my mam. I have seen her cry only two times and there was no way I could see it again. However she is my best friend. I told her on the Thursday. I caused her to cry again. It broke my heart. It was my fault. She has been great and is of course worried but she knows i will be OK.
The hardest part I have found so far is how much it fucks up your head. I felt like i was walking around with a big massive neon pink plus sign above my head. I still do.
There are days where I walk around and am certain I am living someone else’s life. This isn’t my life I am living.
Everyone tells you, you are going to be OK. I know this, but my brain doesn’t agree right now. This is the thing I need to work on and get over. Its just when will that happen?
I have found the forums on Terence Higgins Trust a valuable source of help. The people on there have been incredible.
So here it is the start of my journey of being an HIV+ gay man. So far its an incredible roller coaster that I really really want to get off.
To be continued . . .
About the writer: “I am a 30 year old gay guy living in the north of England. This blog is a way for me to vent my emotions but also document my journey from diagnosis to the future and how the journey continues”
You can follow newlyhiv on his own blog here or on twitter @newlypositive.
This post originally appeared on newlyhiv's own blog here.