Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Brain Overload

brainMy Thursdays still have not managed to let my guard down. Again, it was H4 day. I was out of the house by 7:00 am, and a tricycle and a jeepney ride later, I reached the HIV ward of San Lazaro Hospital. It was just 8:00 in the morning, and lo and behold, I was first on the list!

I don't think they expected anyone that early, so the nurse just sat me down by the seats by the door of the building to take a breather, before they took down my vitals and while they finished their duties and reports.

After some time, more people poured in, and I gamely sat in their midst. It was not exactly in my comfort zone to mingle, but it was nice. I was finding it a bit hard to keep up, but I surprised myself by being comfortable in that crowd. There were around 20 of us there, and I got acquainted with a number of them, as they introduced me as "the new one".

I noticed a couple of them whip out what looked like white bank passbooks. I read what was written. Health Regimen Booklet. Hmmm, so I figure this is how their ARVs are monitored. I wasn't looking forward to getting one of my own though.

By 9:00 am, the doctors came. My usual doctor wasn't there. So the other doctor and a new one were on hand. They started off making rounds of the ward and checking on those confined. By about 9:30, they headed for the doctors' office and I was called in shortly.

She already had my folder on her desk, but still asked my patient code. She then flipped through another folder, where she was looking for my CD4 test results. Finding it and taking it from the folder, she sat down and looked at me sternly. She asked me some old questions again, like who knows, if I had a partner, and how I'm dealing. She reiterated the need to tell someone in the family. Rebriefing I guess.

At this point, she stared at my results, and asked me what I wanted to hear. Whether I wanted to hear the number flat out, or just if it was bad or good. I sort of giggled a bit at the question, and just said I wanted it all. She still held back a bit, looked at me, and said it was below 350. My mind raced at that point, but I kept a straight face. Normal is above 500, so it's not that good. But how far below 350? The critical 200 was below 350. Absolute zero was below 350, too. Tell me! Tell me!

Finally, she said it. My CD4 count is 343. Not entirely bad, but not good either. Almost midway between normal 500 and critical 200. She then said that she'd advise I get started on ARVs. But not before more counselling. And not before I have a support system behind me. Family preferably. Friends possibly. Anyone really. I said I was planning to tell my sister, and realized this development just made it more urgent. A lot to think about in the coming days.

The doctor then sent me off, but not before leaving me her mobile number, so I could contact her when I was ready to get counselling with whoever I chose.

I was honestly a bit defeated that I wasn't doing as well as I was feeling. I bid goodbye to my new friends out front before heading off back to work. I didn't even drop by the Social Hygiene Center. I was planning to just check in on Dra. Malou and the gang there, but suddenly didn't feel like it. Maybe another time, when I was less distracted.

I'm a bit glad that I have work to think about, and colleagues to laugh it up with and get stressed out by. But I won't be avoiding this for long. I'm left with a lot to think about right now. Head... hurts... hehehe.


thonnibg said...

Well,this isn`t the news I was hoping to hear.But not that bad too I guess.


Anonymous said...

hey there. im here again. i just read your blog and seems you got low CD4 cell. you should take care of yourself and drink of lots fresh juices and eat ampalaya on the other side. but that doesnt mean you eat that everyday. that will gained more of cd4 cells. this would help your body system to be stronger. nothing will lose if you follow. AMPALAYA AND FRESH JUICE. you take care of yourself. i havent meet you at san lazaro.

PinoyPoz said...

Thanks Toni & Anonymous... I'll just need some time to digest everything that's happened, and I'll be back to my sane old self again :-) Thanks for the support.