HIV and Diarrhea… It’s Sh*tty!

Tips to help relieve one of the worst parts of treating your HIV– diarrhea

As I often say at the beginning of my articles sharing the ways to survival that I have learned during my journey living with HIV, I must repeat again– I am not a doctor, therapist and I have no formal training to offer advice to anyone with any medical condition.  With that said, it doesn’t take a doctor or someone going to medical school to realize just how ‘sh*tty’ HIV can be.

The attack of the big D (diarrhea, which isn’t even that fun to attempt to spell) hardly arrives at the right time, right?  For me, after getting through the initial phases of Acute HIV Infection, of which I think I accidentally married the john, I thought I was all good.  And you probably did as well– since this is a major issue for people that are newly infected with the virus.

But, actually, diarrhea, in all of its glory and in spite of the uncomfortable conversations about it that we actually never find a way to have, can continue. Regardless of our desire for it to be the first one to leave the party, it can continue.   So, what then?

Here are a few things that I have learned a long this journey of accidental squirts:

1. You are not alone in bathroom.

Well, actually you are — hopefully. Unless it happens in a grocery store or at school.  And heaven-forbid it show up while you are on a date with a new hottie.  Forget deciding when to disclose to him–when do you share your magical fire power news with him? NEVER! 

But, actually, estimates I’ve read previously, show around 74% percent of Americans are living with gastrointestinal issues (which include: gas, bloating, abdominal pain and diarrhea).  AIDSmap reports that up to “60% of those living with HIV report diarrhea.”  40% report that HIV diarrhea affects their social life.

2. Jokes are okay! 

If you haven’t noticed, I find great comfort in hard issues and tough times by making inappropriate jokes and saying all the wrong (but personally funny) things to decrease the anxiety of it all.  By the way, I would love to hear any funny ones that I have missed!

A fellow HIV activist, Rae Lewis-Thornton has a great two-part series: And Here Comes The Shit!  It’s a riot and she navigates her pain with humor!  I just love her!

3. Make food choices that help you. And stick with them.  

For some, that may mean limiting caffeine and sodas. Others may want to ramp up the water intake, and I certainly had to limit milk products and ice cream. Healthline has some great tips as well.

4. Finally, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor. 

We sometimes forget that our HIV doctors have already heard it all, right?  Like, literally.  And if they haven’t, like mine by way of the looks she gives me when I start talking sometimes, I have learned how to deal with that too– OWN IT!   But, talking to your doctor is a smart move.  Why?  That’s why they are getting paid.  We love them– and you’re paying for it… so ask the questions people!

And of course, the FDA approved a medication designed specifically for people living with HIV that are having these types of issues.

Take control over these sh*tty situations and laugh about it later.  Trust me, I’ve been there a time or a million.

Otherwise, you might be sh*t out of luck.  (I had, too.)