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.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Half A Day Off

I’m on Day 12 now of my ARV trial, still everything is green and go. And I’m thankful. Two more days, and I graduate to the higher “test”.

I had planned to take Friday off from work to accompany an online acquaintance to the RITM for his first steps since finding out he was positive. Good thing I took U’s advice and sent Ate a text message a day before confirming if the doctor would be there that day. She replied that the doctor wouldn’t be holding clinic there that Friday, and told me to come on Monday afternoon. I relayed the information to my referral-to-be, and he agreed.

So I had a bit of a change in plans, and took just the morning of Friday off instead. I needed to drop by the Social Hygiene Clinic in Manila again, to get the results of the lab tests I had done the week before, and have more tests done.

So I took the trip straight there first thing in the morning, and greeted Dr. Diana Mendoza, who was still alone when I got there. I can’t explain the warmth I feel from all of them whenever I go there. Dr. Diana, Dra. Malou and Ate Luz, and even the utility guy Kuya Gerry have been there since my day 1. I have nothing to hide, nothing else to be ashamed about, and I’m just really comfortable there.

Dr. Diana greeted me with a smile, and asked what more tests I needed done. I reminded her I was there for the lab results of my RPR and Fecalysis, which is when she called an Ate Olive and requested to check with the lab downstairs for my results. Ate Olive was sort of assisting the doctor that time, doing the things that Kuya Gerry would do before.

While waiting, Dr. Diana sat me down and eagerly asked me how I was doing. I mentioned I had just started on ARVs, which made her pleasantly surprised. She found it wonderful that I was up and about being just over a week into the trials, noticing that I was taking it well, and even said, “It didn’t even make you darker?!” Darker? Yikes, nobody told me about that side effect. Oh, well. After all, I’m dark enough. How much darker can I get?

So anyways, she went on asking how it was at the RITM, as compared to San Lazaro. I never felt afraid of admitting to them there at the Social Hygiene Clinic that I had transferred to RITM, mostly because I know they’re not tied to either. It just so happened that they were just across San Lazaro, so it made sense to refer HIV cases there for profiling. I just said that the facilities were better, to which she replied that others had given the same feedback as well. But I explained the real reason why I needed to transfer, about how I was left hanging by the San Lazaro doctors.

She was obviously surprised by the difference of the two centers in handling HIV cases, especially that one could start on ARVs without confinement or disclosing to family. She understood my sentiments, and promised she’d bring it up with the San Lazaro people.

She mentioned she knew of others who had made the same move as well, and that the dilemma with San Lazaro was making it hard for them at the SHC to keep track of their “babies”. Apparently, since they started their HIV screening program there at the Social Hygiene Clinic in November last year, they’ve had 15 cases of positive results, I being one of them. With fifteen being still a low number, they could still keep in mind by face or by codename, so they’d be constantly wondering how we were all doing by now. Technically, we would not have any need to come back to the SHC after the referral to San Lazaro. So she found it great that I was still dropping by there, just so they knew how their “baby” was. It was nice. Their concern is truly, truly genuine.

Some more minutes of chit chat later, Ate Olive came back with my results. Okay, okay, not entirely good. My Fecalysis results were fine, but the Quantitative RPR, which is a test for Syphilis, still came out reactive, of higher concentration since three months before. Yeah, yeah, I got it, and it’s not something to be proud of.

Dr. Diana initially thought of administering another round of treatment, but just told me to refer it to them at the RITM, being cautious that it may interfere with my ARVs, or that they might have a different protocol of treatment at the RITM. I agreed. I then remembered to ask her if they did Hepatitis screening there, which they didn’t. Yeah, yeah, Chronic Hepatitis B. Alas, another possible problem for me. But I’m just thankful that we’re doing the test, something that wasn’t part of the protocol at San Lazaro.

So she sent me down with Ate Olive to get a referral for a nearby private clinic which did the Hepatitis screening. I left shortly, thanking them all, with a note in my hand signed by Ate Marina of the laboratory department, which was my ticket to a discounted price at Jubilee, the private lab along Bambang, just walking distance from the SHC.

I walked there, just a couple of blocks, got pricked yet again, and headed off. It was around 9:00 am, and I was anticipating where my medicines time would catch me. So I took the LRT south to EDSA, stopping at the Metropoint Mall to buy a bottle of water just in time to down my tablet. Then back to Ortigas via MRT, just in time to catch the Robinsons mall opening. I still had a couple of hours of my half-day off, so I checked it out, the mall being on sale for the whole month of August. I ended up just buying a small drinking bottle, supposedly to lug around in my bag just enough for a gulp, in case I’d get caught again outside in time for my 9:30 habit. Oh and I got another one for U, too. Hope he likes it.

So anyway, that was that. A lot done in less than half a day. I was back at work and back to ordinary life. More updates soon. I need to do my research on Hepatitis, and refresh on Syphilis as well. I’m trying not to hide in a closet within my closet, so I’ll just take things in stride. What else could be next?


Kiks said...

Syphillis is curable because it is bacteria. But the penicillin shots can be painful.

I had it twice and I had to undergo lumbar puncture to see if it got through my nervous system.

It pays to play safe.

Anonymous said...

Hi, its good to know they are taking care of you at RITM. I really admire your positive outlook in life. Keep up the good work and never give up. Keep blogging and I hope you get better soon esp with the other diseases. Take care buddy. I want you to know I am thinking of you and I hope everything will be ok. God bless you

pozmanila said...

I'm glad we know who each other is - and we still need to met for that coffee!

I could text you of course and ask, but here is more useful to others! How are you doing with beginning the ARV increase - still OK?

Well over the initial shock now - and know what to expect in my long and healthy life ahead, but the one concern (ok ... fear) is starting the ARVs!

Hugs buddy,


PinoyPoz said...

Not to preempt a future entry, but today, September 2, was the scheduled increase in ARVs. Just took them at 9:30 this morning, and so far, so good. It leaves me damned hungry though!