In my last post I talked about the importance I place on raising awareness and being active in pushing HIV ‘out there’ and getting people talking about it. That doesn’t mean HIV becomes my life, or is everything I think about and all I do. In fact as I have been living with the virus for over three years now most of the time I don’t notice it’s there, or at least don’t notice any physical impact. That changes when my stomach and digestive system isn’t feeling too good. I’ve wanted to bring this topic up in the past but always ended up shying away from it; it’s not glamorous or fun and just makes you think ‘yuk’.
Sunday was a perfect example of my stomach doing all it could to ruin my day, the day before it hadn’t felt too good either, I occasionally get cramp like feelings, I bloat really bad, sometimes my belly can look massive and within a day there’s nothing there. It’s all side effects I deal with from the medication I’m on but it does bring back the reality that I have an illness.
So I had been enjoying a really nice afternoon out with my boyfriend, shopping, watching the Manchester Day Parade, some more shopping and then a bite to eat. Then the pain starts, I can feel the tightness in my tummy and know that I’m going to need the toilet. So I walk up the stairs to them in the restaurant and there’s no bloody toilet paper, gr! I end up having to rush my meal and literally sprint home to use the loo. I think I had about 10 seconds to spare or there would have been a horrible mess to deal with. And this isn’t the first time I’ve had to do a mad dash home, or into a hotel, or find a bar. The problem is that so many facilities are rubbish and I actually find myself worrying about where I’m spending the day or night and if I’m going to be should I unexpectedly start to feel under the weather, effectively planning an emergency escape route.
Not everyone living with HIV will experience this sort of thing; medication can affect people in different ways (in many cases not at all) and this isn’t something that is unique to the virus, I imagine plenty of people will have experienced a similar situation at some point, whether they have IBS or they had the joy of catching the Norovirus! We just don’t like talking about bathroom ‘issues’ but I for one am now glad to have got it off my chest.