Visiting your HIV clinic can be daunting initially, but even for those of us who’re used to it there are a few tips to help you get the most of your trips to the clinic.
In the run up to your first appointment you’ll doubtless have lots of questions for your doctor, instead of fretting about them and possibly forgetting them jot them down. The same applies for those of us who’ve been visiting the clinic for years – we all forget things sometimes. So why not keep a notepad handy, or if you’ve got a smartphone use the notes app on your phone.
We’ve all been there. You’ve got a cough, or a problem with your computer, it drives you mad so you make an appointment to get it looked at, then hey presto as soon as the expect is in the room everything’s fine and you feel like an idiot. Our bodies are unpredictable and don’t like performing on cue. Keep diary of your symptoms for your doctor – dates, times, what part of your body it’s affecting and whether anything seems to make it worse – this will help them diagnose it more easily and help you feel like you’re not making it all up!
Fluids, fluids, fluids
A week or two before each doctors appointment you’ll be asked to provide blood and urine samples so that the clinic team can ascertain your CD4, Viral Load, kidney and liver functions and many more. It’s important that you have had something to eat to make sure your blood sugar is normal and that you don’t pass out. Make sure to have plenty to drink so that you can provide your urine sample, but not so much you’ll be wriggling in the waiting room. If you have a problem providing urine samples on cue your clinic may be able to provide you with sample bottles to take home so you can fill them before you head out.
The team is there to look after you. The doctors, nurses, dieticians, health advisors and counsellors can only help you if you’re completely honest with them. It doesn’t matter if it’s the number of sexual partners, what you get upto, whether you drink, smoke or dabble with drugs – they won’t judge you, they’ve heard it all before.