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Interview 16

Age at interview: 52
Age at diagnosis: 44
Brief Outline: He was taking a combination of anti-virals (zidovudine, nevirapine and abacavir) with no side effects. He has less energy than he once did, but is not sure if this is due to HIV or getting older.
Background: A retired solicitor in a 20 year-old relationship with another HIV positive man living in a quiet coastal town.

More about me...

Age at interview' 52

Age at diagnosis' 44

Sex' Male

Background' A 52 year old retired solicitor in a 20 year old relationship with another HIV positive man and living in a quiet coastal town. Diagnosed 6 years ago.

Outline' A 52 year old retired solicitor in a 20 year old relationship with another HIV positive man and living in a quiet coastal town. He was diagnosed at the age of 44 and believes he was infected in a casual encounter that 'went slightly wrong'. He believes he would have died without modern HIV treatments. He was taking a combination of anti-virals (zidovudine, nevirapine and abacavir) with no side effects, as well as citalopram for depression and enalapril for high blood pressure. His CD4 cells were around 300, and his viral load was undetectable. He suffered severe depression when life stressors mounted a few years ago, and was able to recover with medication, counselling, retirement and hypnotherapy. Although he does get KS on his foot, he believes in staying optimistic and feels mentally prepared to cope with the anxiety of not knowing what will come up next due to HIV. He has less energy than he once did, but is not sure if this is due to HIV or getting older. He has decided to dispense with condoms in his relationship since both he and his partner are HIV positive.

 

Retirement has meant keeping busy while surviving on less money.

Retirement has meant keeping busy while surviving on less money.

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I mean you don't have as much money as either of us did when we were both working, but we have far less stress and far more time available. And also, with my other half's other problems, I mean apart from anything else he's got his dialysis, with renal failure, he has that three times a week. We've got a machine upstairs in the spare bedroom. So I mean, I've got a part time job basically looking after his dialysis. It works out at something over just over 20 hours a week anyway doing that. But that's divided up into four segments. So I mean you know, the' there's quite a bit going on plus innumerable trips to and from various clinics for him and tests and heaven knows what else. Plus a certain amount of trips to and from the clinic for myself as well. So I mean, it's not a life of sort of lying out on the sun lounger in the garden all summer, we're quite busy for most of the week.

 

Believes that being optimistic can help people to cope with health problems if they arise.

Believes that being optimistic can help people to cope with health problems if they arise.

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I mean it helps if you're an optimist basically, as opposed to the opposite. I mean, if you're too much prone to sort of giving in too easily and doom and gloom and nothing easily and nothing else is on your horizon, then you're going to have more of a problem with these pills because there will inevitably be days when one of the pills is upsetting you in some way or another. There will be problems with occasional side-effects from them, or indeed some of the HIV symptoms may themselves blow up, and it takes you a little while to get treatment for the individual symptoms, and for these' for the treatment to take effect upon those things. So there's no point being worried, you just have to accept that' 

I mean if you, I mean I occasionally get the KS, the Karposi's sarcomas. I mean there's no point panicking, if one turns up, you just wait until the next time you see the doctors, and then advise them and if there's anything to be done about it, then it's done at that stage.

 

Although sceptical he did feel better after hypnotherapy.

Although sceptical he did feel better after hypnotherapy.

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I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to these sorts of things. I did go' went through the Terrence Higgins Trust, they put me in touch with a chap who was a hypnotherapist and I went thinking to myself this is going to be a waste of time. But actually, although I didn't get very deeply under any sort of hypnosis, it was a bit like sitting there listening to a man telling me a story rather than actually a feeling of floating away and believing it. But all the same, I came out of it sceptical thinking well that was a waste of time. But within a few days I was feeling a bit better. So I have to admit grudgingly that it probably did me some good.

 

If you are optimistic yet anticipate side effects and illnesses you can cope with them better.

If you are optimistic yet anticipate side effects and illnesses you can cope with them better.

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I mean it helps if you're an optimist basically, as opposed to the opposite. I mean, if you're too much prone to sort of giving in too easily and doom and gloom and nothing easily and nothing else is on your horizon, then you're going to have more of a problem with these pills because there will inevitably be days when one of the pills is upsetting you in some way or another. There will be problems with occasional side effects from them, or indeed some of the HIV symptoms may themselves blow up, and it takes you a little while to get treatment for the individual symptoms, and for these… for the treatment to take effect upon those things. So there's no point being worried, you just have to accept that…

 

With 8 years of experiences, he talks about how to reduce the impact of health problems.

With 8 years of experiences, he talks about how to reduce the impact of health problems.

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Well simply be of good heart. I mean, nowadays it is possible to live a good life, a reasonably full life. And certainly I was working for a number of years before I was overcome by the effects. You have to expect that there will be occasional surprises and some rather unpleasant ones but I've' my experience has always been that I've always been able to overcome the nasty symptoms by simply traipsing back to the clinics and obtaining the appropriate medication. I mean the' I have been fortunate in that respect. And certainly without the medication I'd be dead, I would have died some years ago.

So the nasty surprises don't have to blow you out of the water is what you are saying?

No, I mean it's easier to say that than it is to actually, you know, put into effect at that time. But you, I think if you have a frame of mind whereby you're prepared for disasters, potential disasters brewing up, and then perhaps you're not prone to be quite so surprised. It's easier once it's happened once or twice to you' you know, the third or fourth time it happens you're not quite so bad. The first time or the first couple of times it can be a bit dramatic, it's true. But I mean, you just have to accept that life is going to throw up more unpleasant surprises quite by random and without any explanation and quite often without any warning. And you just have to be prepared to deal with it.

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