The anniversary seems like a good time to share a little bit of the various things I do to deal with my condition. Here's a little thing I like to do in order to get a good grip on the significance of my lab test results: plotting them on a graph to get a good sense of what is dramatic and what isn't.
Above is the graph of my viral load (in copies per ml) through 44 test results over the last ten years. You can see how starting at close to 75,000 copies (per ml!!) of HIV in my system seems a bit scary, but how at the next test only 49 days later I was undetectable (below 500, recorded by my hospital lab as 499, not 0), which was dramatic indeed. The fear of my two experiences of blips (677 and 1169) really fades when seeing those incidents plotted on the graph.
Here is my absolute CD4+ count, from the scary starting position of 4 (I told you I waited way too long to get tested!) to my all-time high a couple of years ago (315) and on to my last result (210). I have long been frustrated with what seemed like the lack of progress, never reaching those lofty numbers some of my friends have managed to get to, but that stagnancy, too, seems to pale when plotted on a graph. I do feel like generally there is a levelling off, but at the top of a rather steady rise over the years.
I have been told that the CD4+ percentage is a more stable indicator than the absolute CD4+ count, and the above graph seems to bear that out. Yes, there are still peaks and valleys, but they are a little less pronounced, and the trend seems more clearly upward.
All of this to teach myself not to hang on the last number, but to follow the trends.
Ten years in, I'm not doing too badly.