I booked an appointment to see a GP today, and I feel great about it. Please read this and answer the poll.
Like many people on this board - I've been doing my own research to self diagnose rather than biting the bullet and going to the GP. A case of trying to put off the inevitable whilst hoping the situation rectifies itself. In the meantime, every little bump or lump or cough makes you search for that particular symptom, for weeks, months on end giving you intense anxiety! And when your partner coughs - well, your stomach just drops and you start looking at them for more symptoms like a crazyman and start searching the net even more.
I've posted this - as I think, that if I searched and found this posting - it would have relaxed me a bit. And Im hoping it does so for others who find it. The fact that you are reading in this forum, means that you are going through the same anxiety and concern as me and many others who are searching the internet looking for 'something' that says 'I dont have HIV - PLEASE, show me something that proves it'. Does that sound familiar?
Of course - anyone that has risky sexual contact who then develops any type of symptoms, will start to come across all sorts of pictures, quotes, stories, symptoms that are highlighted in relation to HIV online. Because we have come to trust the internet, we start to assume they must be correct. It's like a smoker finding an ulcer on their lip and assuming the worst - when, it is just an ulcer.
I've learn't two things:
1)The internet is full of websites that contain information that relates only to areas of popular interest or concern. Anything that is 'uncommon or unpopular as a subject' is never really covered in detail, therefore less chance of appearing in results or Image results etc.
2)HIV, as it is related to the immune system, has many symptoms from all stages that are related to other common conditions and diseases, including common yeast infections and the flu - so anything you search for, could be (most likely) common - but you assume it is related to HIV!
If you put the two together, if you type 'HIV, Rash' or 'Back Rash, STD' 'Fever, AIDS' into Google - you will often get results back that scare the hell out of you. You then find words and terms, that you would never have typed in at all, that are related to HIV (ARS, folliculitis etc) and then search for those - scaring yourself even more.
I know - I've been doing it for nearly 9 weeks, every day - often late into the night. Sound familiar?
I've also posted one question about my symptoms, here, on the STD forum. I wrote 500 word essay - just in case I missed something out. Grace told me that it didn't sound like an STD, but of course to get it checked out. - However, I would keep looking - because I did not have my mind put at ease. Sound familiar?
My own exposure of concern - was from unprotected insertive oral sex with a high risk contact for around 45 seconds. Something I shouldn't have done (morally) and risk-wise. However, was I to know that I could get HIV from this? No. Did it even cross my mind when I got a burning symptom in my penis 2 days after exposure? No? Did HIV come up as a result when I typed in 'Oral Sex STD' - YES.. Because some websites (those that take google advertising) tell you that you can get HIV from oral, without giving the exact details or references - you believe it to be true. Did I then start freaking out on a downward spiral - yes. I felt cheated that for all that 'you must wear a condom for sex or you get HIV', when I was growing up - no-one had told me that Oral Sex was a risk factor!
Well - that's because Oral Sex is NOT a major risk factor. If it was, you can bet there would be adverts about it in every college restroom. I cannot tell you how many boards like this with health experts have repeatedly said 'Insertive Oral - no risk' etc.. These are EXPERTS, DOCTORS and Health Organizations. My new dread and infatuation with HIV symptoms outstripped any sane reasons for my symptoms and i kept ignoring the fact that all these people said 'no risk, no risk'. The mere fact that I was thinking of HIV symptoms 4 days after exposure is just silly. But I was.
So - when do I calm down? My fever has gone. I still have strange itchy papules (you can bet I didnt know THAT word before I googled) that appear and disappear on my arms, scalp and body. I'm always lethargic ,sore stomach, even 9 weeks after possible exposure. My girlfriend now has a dry cough, lethargic, vomiting and direhea - and had a few papules on her wrist. She will recover then get ill again.
I know that we have 'something' wrong with us, but reading all the advice here from Teak and others and on other boards- tells me that my symptoms don't fall within the time frame nor 'all happen at once' factor etc for ARS (fever was BEFORE spots etc) - so I am starting to relax about the HIV thing. But - the question is still 'what' is wrong. It's still not a pretty situation, but - I have finally accepted that these symptons are most likely to be something else and I should stop freaking out about the HIV bit.
What is wrong, I have worked out today - is that I am scared to tell my GF about what happened. If she find's something out about herself before me at the doctor - I can act 'surprised' and maybe push blame on her (sound familiar). Whereas - if I just go to the doc for an STD check, I means I have to approach it with her and highlight my infidelity. If I was single - then, I wouldn't have a problem getting checked out. It's wrong, again Morally and Ethically and for both of our health. But - it's a reality I have realized and have to deal with.
Her health is important. The longer I leave it, if there IS something wrong with us - I am intentionally hurting her and myself. I cannot continue to do that. We would need treatment WHATEVER we have and the sooner - the better, as no amount of searching will make it go away by magic and time keeps on ticking.
So - today - I booked an appointment with my GP for next week. To finally get a proper TRAINED, EXPERT up close and personal opinion and stop panicking over results online that I assume to be my diagnoses from some very poor quality images on a website that may or may not look like what I am experiencing.
I just read this over again. I really do think it would've helped calm me down a bit and I hope that someone else finds it useful. There is no substitute for a professional doctors appointment and tests and the longer we leave it - the worse we can get.
I will let you know what happens, but with my new confidence I actually feel that the results wont be anything too scary - and that is making me feel a lot better already!