As we now approach the end of April and the beginning of May it always amazes me to see how fast time flies by. As a kid it seems impossible to imagine what it’s like to live at 25 years of age likewise as it seems hard to see what it will be like 20 years from now. Throughout the most critical time in ones life , I have had a lot of challenges certainly thrown my way. Living with HIV has certainly been a journey and it is a continuous daily battle, this is for life. As each day passes new things happen and new goals are made. Everything that happens to us in life wether it be good or bad has a rhyme and reason, everything is an opportunity to grow stronger. We wear different hats in this life wether it be at work, home, or school. I am an HIV activist but am so much more than that as well although HIV activism is something I have a major passion for as it is a subject so deep to my heart. In addition to helping promote HIV education / prevention methods, the ever changing roles that encompass my life also make up a part of who I am as Joshua Middleton. This is an update on recent activities in my life and “what’s new in the zoo” as the old saying goes.
I am currently doing very well on my antiretroviral treatment Complera, also known as Eviplera in the United Kingdom and throughout other regions of the world. It has been a major change from when I was on Atripla which I had debilitating side effects for over a year. Despite trying to tough it out, it really was time for a change. I have been on Complera now since January of 2014 and everything is going great. The only side effect I am experiencing is rapid weight gain, nothing major, however it is something noticeable and something that needs to be managed. I always feel hungry plain and simple however that isn’t always a bad thing, especially when at a really nice buffet lol. When I started Atripla I was having the opposite issue and went down to 170 lbs due to side effects which is the lowest weight I have been in over a decade. It wasn’t an unhealthy weight for me and my height, actually the optimal weight for myself is lower than that, however the way that it happened was not healthy. Now with Complera I experience the opposite issue and simply have to be more careful about what I eat and exercise when I can in order even if it is doing something minor like taking my puppy Lobo for a walk, simply to keep the weight to somewhat normal. This is a constant struggle especially with my work schedule as hectic as it is, however it’s a work in progress. Despite this minor side effect compared to what I was experiencing before it has been a night and day difference and I have absolutely no regrets making that decision alongside my doctor and taking the risk by switching to a new ARV regimen. Atripla will always be there if I need it as it worked great numbers wise however for right now Complera is doing just fine for me.
I went for my most recent set of labs a month or so ago and am happy to report that HIV remains undetectable in my blood and I have 666 white cd4 blood cells (Yes the number shocked me a little bit too lol). Have no fear I come in peace :). I have maintained daily adherence to my Complera and the remainder of my blood tests came back normal. I also took a new set of STD tests as I believe it is important wether in a monogamous relationship or not to get tested if sexually active at least once every six months. Good news is my liver counts that were slightly spiked since switching to Complera have come back down to a normal range therefore that makes me happy to know my body is adjusting more. Overall I am in good health although there is always something we can do to improve. I’m looking to get back to the weight I once was on Atripla however this time doing it the right way by hard work and dedication. I’m going to be starting to eat a lot healthier, exercise more, and get back on my vitamin regimen to help me reach these goals. Anything is possible if I put my mind to it, nothing can stop me now :).
Since I last posted I am sure many are aware however for the ones that aren’t I am happily in a relationship now with my girlfriend Maria who is HIV negative. We have known each other for years however have been going out now since December of 2014 and are enjoying growing as a couple. Although she fully accepts my condition unfortunately we have both had to face stigma from others due to our relationship from others within our work industry amongst others. People always don’t understand serodiscordant couples or why anyone in their “right mind” would want to date someone with HIV. Well it’s plain and simple, we care for each other, and see past a condition to who the person truly is. For the most part people have been supportive but as with anything there with always be a hater or two that wants to rain on ones parade. We are taking things one step at a time and have experienced some pretty life changing things together in the short time we’ve been together which I am not ready to talk about at this time, but will in a later separate blog, a life changing event that I will never forget. HIV is simply a component of who I am and I am glad to be with someone who is educated about it. Who knows what the future holds for us but I know for right now in this moment I am happily in a relationship with someone I care about and that cares about me. La quiero mucho !
Lobo is doing fantastic and sends furry warm Samoyed hugs to all that continue to follow me here on #PozitiveHope. He just got his summer cut since we live in a hotter part of Southern California and we have the a/c on full blast at all times. There are really only 3 months it is really hot here and the rest is just above average for Southern CA. He still gets lots of trips monthly up to our cabin which he absolutely loves, he is a true out doors dog that loves nature. He will be getting neutered this next month as he is coming up on two years old, hard to believe my baby boy is growing so fast ! Although it is a hard experience to put him through the benefits of him being able to play with other dogs at doggy day care, dog beach, ext are worth it. I’m sure he won’t be happy at the moment it happens however its all done in love and for his overall well being/ long term health. Myself and him actually got lost a couple weeks ago hiking up on a trail in Big Bear with 2 – 3 feet of snow in some areas. As the sun started to set I thought for sure we were going to be stuck out there fore the night however Lobo actually helped find our way back to the original trail, he is very intelligent. Good thing he did because as we climbed higher and higher, we started to see mountain lion and bear claw prints. I didn’t have anything I should have for a hike with me however lesson learn, always be prepared. What planned on being a short hike turned into a 4 – 5 hour adventure , lets just say, legs were pretty sore the next day 🙂 Lobo loved it, he didn’t know we were lost it felt like, and was simply enjoying the cold wet snow. Samoyeds are original from Siberia and were used to herd reindeer, they are used to being in such cold weather. They blow their coats during hotter months and grow their heavier coat back for the winter. Lobo was in heaven even though his dad here (ME!) was scared that both of us would be roughing it for the night lol, an unforgettable experience, but one that bonded us together. It was his first really long hike besides his daily walks so he was in doggy heaven 🙂 Snow, his dad, treats, new smells, crisp air, birds chirping, what else can a dog ask for??? 😉
I continue to work at my job Aladdin Bail Bonds as a licensed bail agent here within California. I work a rotating schedule so I work three days 6 am – 6 pm then off three days then I work three overnights 6 pm – 6 am followed by three days off. It is sometimes a confusing schedule for my body as it doesn’t always know when to sleep or when to be awake however I grew accustomed to it very fast and am loving my job. I work about 45 minutes from my house in Vista, CA which is also where Maria lives at. She works in the same industry however for a separate bail company. I love what I do and take pride in my work. I’m very strong on having a good work ethic and I make sure the job is done right. If you ever need help getting someone out here within California feel free to contact me and I’d be more than happy to assist in the bail process.
I hope everyone has a great rest of the week and know that there is hope even when HIV Poz #PozitiveHope. I am working on revamping my blogging website as I am sure many of you can see so please bare with me however I am excited of how it is turning out so far. I have posted lots of great links for people to access as well as groups online to find support. Your feedback is always appreciated and thank you to http://www.positivelite.com for continuing to share my blogs as well as A&U Magazine who has provided me some great opportunities to participate in as can be seen in previous posts as well as future articles in the works to help share my story. You all rock and am glad to stand up and be a voice for the community, together we are one ! I have added a contact link page so for anyone looking to contact me please click “Contact Josh” Page at top right hand corner and find out which method works best for you. Many hugs to all and until next time!