I found this in a plastic-covered folder in my Rubbermaid file drawer:
My physician at that time, the late Ed Kamski, ordered these tests as a baseline after giving me the results of my “positive” HIV-antibody test. (He also told me that a blood sample taken about a year earlier, in May of 1989, had also been tested and was positive. I remember how sick I was feeling at that time.)
One of the early AIDS treatments, AZT, was starting to get some good press as a possible prophylaxis to head off AIDS-defining illnesses, also known as opportunistic infections. I had made up my mind that I would like to start AZT should I qualify. The benchmark for starting therapy back then was a CD-4/T-4 count at or below 500. My very first result was 400. Game on!
Twenty-two years later I don’t have the bodily memories of the shock I was absorbing – positive first, AZT-ready next.
I do remember leaving the doctor’s office and going somewhere – quickly – to cry. Later that day I went to a meeting of friends, many of whom were either living with full-on AIDS or were in the early days of an HIV diagnosis like me.
AIDS was no longer theoretical. HIV/AIDS quickly became my constant companion – with all of the smothering that can go along with such a relationship.
When I left work, Dr. Kamski suggested I look upon my time as my retirement (and predicted I might have ten years).
It’s been 22-23 years but I still do not take my health for granted. However it’s only been a few years since I stopped feeling my death-due-to-AIDS was imminent.