"Looking after my health TODAY gives me a better hope for TOMORROW" - Anne Wilson Schaef
DISCLAIMER: What failed on me does NOT mean that it may not work on you. PLEASE listen to your body and go by it accordingly. I know some of my friends who are doing well on Efavirenz. Unlike mine, their CD4 has improved to higher numbers while on that medicine. Depression is one known side effect of this HIV medication, but does not happen to everyone.
OMG…. Can’t wait to try!!! Changing my meds - bring it on!!!!!
I recall posting happily on facebook, telling friends with a bit of excitement how I am ready to be on 3rd switch. I had been on two other medicines before that and each lasted about four years, with my body tolerating it well till it was time. I was finally put on an Efavirenz-based drug. Little did I know that it would severely affect my quality of life! And SEVERELY it did.
"Jyoti, I think you need to change your medicine once again", said my concerned husband after I snapped at him over a small thing. I defended Efavirenz very strongly. I loved the "dreams". I loved how it made me feel after popping the pill. The dizzy woozy feeling as if you are high. Until one fine day-----
"Here, sign it", said the police on duty. I weakly signed the FIR report. I was exhausted and drained out. I had ten stitches on my left arm. Then it dawned on me: EFAVIRENZ!! I don't have suicidal tendencies, but I feel like it must be a side effect of my treatment. I needed to come out of it. It has completely taken control over me, and even my life. It made me angrier and bitter, just a few weeks after I was put on it. My mood was going for a toss. As an outdoorsy person, I was most of the time indoors – sleeping for 15-18 hours a stretch. I tried to fight it but it made me get tired very easily. I had stopped visiting the beauty parlour, had stopped pampering myself which I loved, had stopped interacting with friends, even my social life had come to a huge standstill. I started missing out on events, failing on promises made and was not able to deliver my work on time. What was happening?
I remember my doctor saying to give myself time - at least three months - to help my body get used to Efivarenz, then all would be well. Instead of being better, I was getting bitter. Until that fateful day when I slashed myself. I decided that enough is ENOUGH. I couldn’t wait for another month, I can't wait for my body to get USED to the drug before it does much damage to my mentality. Three months was more than enough for the trial. I had fought long and hard. So had my husband who was patient enough to deal with me. But I knew that he too was suffering. Why do I want others to go through hell because of this medicine's side effects on me? On the fourth month, I went to the doctor, who too was surprised to note that this drug had such an adverse effect on me within a short duration of time. And I am glad they too agreed that I needed the change.
No matter how much I had tried, the rules I followed during the intake of this tablet, it had FAILED. So bye-bye Efavirenz. But there is one mark you have left behind: Even the SCARS could not and will not affect our marriage. TILL DEATH DO US PART!!
So glad that you made a switch!
Mumbaiyyagal, Thank you for having the courage to share your story with us of that others can learn. As you and I have talked about elsewhere, your struggles with Efavirenz are not all that unusual. One of the mysteries of the drug is that some take it with little or no side effects while others have reactions like you and I did. As your post so powerfully demonstrates, it is important to listen to your doctor and to listen to your body. If the side effects are not improving or getting worse, it is time to explore other options for treatment. I hope your med switch is going well.
Thank you so much for your guidance and blessings, Martha. I feel so much better now and doing everything that I used to love.....My life has become sunny again :) :)