I realize it has been quite awhile since I have posted an update. All two of you have probably wondered how the trial is going, whether or not my counts came up (or down, as the case may be), or when I might pronounce that I'm cured. As the case actually is, I decided to end the trial around Christmas time.
This past fall, I hit quite a rough patch. Physically and medically speaking, things just weren't getting better. I had begun to adjust my routine to fit the chronic diarrhea. Some days I could eat, some days I couldn't. I began losing so much weight so fast that people at work started doing double-takes when they'd see my gaunt face. Miraculously, I can now wear size 32-waist jeans. OK, although that might sound appealing to the waist challenged, I wouldn't exactly call it the quintessential weight-loss holy grail. A year ago, I was a whopping 228 pounds; as of the other day, I was holding steady at 174.
Despite the AIM case manager's insistence that all of this was a good sign -- my body was supposedly purging and detoxifying -- I had basically crossed into the AIDS zone. My CD-4 count remained at or below 100 and my viral load peaked at about 165,000. After being poked, prodded and "-scopied
" from above and below, it turns out that the ballistic bowel movements were related to "candida esophagitis
," essentially a yeast infection in the digestive tract. Can you say, "opportunistic infection?" Not surprising, really, given the persistent thrush I had been experiencing for months and months. If only the coolly
clinical but decidedly non-intuitive GI doc had thought of that... (No wonder medical costs are skyrocketing.)
To top things off, my mental state was deteriorating at roughly the same pace as my weight loss. The various "vertigo" (i.e., dementia
) symptoms were getting worse, and I was having a hard time coping with everyday, routine tasks and conversations. This all came to a head in Europe when, after working at a trade event for three days, I had a major meltdown. Let's just say that health care
may be free in Europe, but I wouldn't exactly call it compassionate or caring. And then, there was the fatigue. My energy and stamina had all but left me, and I eventually spent most of Christmas day feeling miserable and/or sleeping on the couch.
Anyway, back stateside, I began to seriously consider a more conventional anti-retroviral
therapy. I ultimately decided to give AIM until the end of the year to produce some tangible results. When my December labs came back with a lackluster, status-quo
result, I realized it was time to quit risking my health -- and probably my life -- on an unproven and unsanctioned treatment that, for all I know, could be one of the unapproved "goat serum" derivatives, about which the FDA has posted the following advisory:http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/ANSWERS/ANS01061.html
I have no way of knowing whether or not AIM is related to or derived from goat serum, but I do know this. When I began treatment, I was asymptomatic, my counts were stable and I felt pretty good. My goal was to avoid life-long drug therapy and it's reported side effects. However, as a friend duly noted, I was certainly experiencing a lot of negative side effects while on AIM. I can't say with certainty that AIM produced those effects, but six weeks after ending the AIM experiment and three weeks after beginning conventional drug therapy, I'm already seeing a difference. The diarrhea is becoming less frequent, my energy level is improving, and my mental state is improving. My next checkup is coming up, this week. I'll let you know how it goes.
Labels: AIDS, AIM, false hope