A few things to keep in mind before and after you roll up your sleeve
SPEAK UP These
tests are yours; make sure you get the info you need. “If you’re not
comfortable with your first blood work, request another test,” advises
Michelle. “It might give you a second opinion.”
STEADY NOW There’s
no use comparing lab results if you’re not consistent about how you
take them. “You may take a lab test at one time of day, or fasting
versus on a full stomach, and get different results,” says Michelle.
(And if you are fasting, drink orange juice or something sweet
immediately after the test, or risk feeling woozy.)
IN A PINCH If
you can’t stand the prick of a needle in your arm, request the junior
version. Pediatric needles take a little longer to sample your blood,
but they hurt less!
MAKE A PAPER TRAIL If
elaborate digital spreadsheets aren’t your style, just keep copies of
your lab reports in a folder—and let someone know where they are in
case of emergency. Date everything and keep it ready to travel. You
might want to cross-reference your lab tests with a “symptom diary” and
your treatment history. If you switch docs, make sure your charts go
KEEP UP The
more you know about developments in HIV care (check aidsmeds.com), the
better you can interpret your labs and play a role in your treatment.
STILL HURTS? Don’t
let your doctor ignore common yet unexplained symptoms like diarrhea,
anemia, fatigue or weight loss. Push for explanations—and more tests if
you need them. “If your gut is saying, ‘This is not right,’ don’t be
intimidated,” warns Michelle.