Headaches

In October 2000 I arrived in the UK from Zimbabwe. I went to live in Bristol with my then partner. Things went okay, and I went to college and then was granted a work visa and right to remain in the UK.

Since childhood, I’ve have had headaches, and in the spring of 2005 I went to see my GP because of them. My GP was concerned about my headaches and said I should go for an HIV test. An appointment was also made for me to see a specialist about my headaches.

My HIV test was positive and my headaches intensified. I went to work the day after I found out I had HIV, but the day after my headaches were so bad I had to spend the day in bed. The day after that I was admitted to hospital.

I more or less passed out as soon as they admitted me and I’m not really sure what happened for the next three weeks. Initially tuberculosis was suspected, but eventually they diagnosed cryptococcal meningitis and I was treated for it. I was in hospital for three months.

I started antiretroviral treatment, my CD4 cell count was very low at only 72. After starting HIV treatment I had strange dreams. My doctor explained that these were a side-effect of the efavirenz as I was taking as part of my anti-HIV combination.

Even though I did not feel very well I was discharged from hospital and went home. The only support I received was from a care assistant who did my shopping for me.

Soon I became ill again and spent another three months in hospital. I was very unstable on my feet, and I had loads of tests, including lumbar punctures which were very uncomfortable and an operation to remove fluid from my brain.

When I was discharged from hospital, I was provided with support from a nurse who visited me in my home and from a social worker. I’ve also received support from THT (the Terrence Higgins Trust) in Bristol and I am now a volunteer there.

My HIV treatment is working and my CD4 cell count has been steadily improving. I make sure that I always take my medicines so that they work properly.

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