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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My Long Weekend

Yesterday, August 18 was a holiday in the Philippines, a rescheduling of Ninoy Aquino Day. A long weekend for most. But I had a longer weekend than the rest. I took the day off today, not for a vacation, but to pay the RITM another visit.

Today, I was out of the house by 7:30 am. My appointment at the RITM was still in the afternoon, but I had my day all planned out. I first made my way to the Social Hygiene Clinic at the Manila Health Department, primarily to have my fecalysis and quantitative RPR done, but also to pay the dear doctors a visit.

Only Dr. Diana Mendoza was there, attending to a younger group getting tested for something. After she was done, she looked my way and immediately recognized and greeted me. She asked me if I needed anything, guessing my quantitative RPR almost magically. I nodded, and asked if they did stool tests as well. She said yes, and immediately asked Kuya, the utility guy to run to the lab and request that they do my fecalysis, apparently because I had arrived past the deadline for accepting samples. She wrote out my lab referrals, taking those given to me by the RITM. I had gone there knowing that they conducted the tests for less than the usual cost, but surprisingly, Dr. Diana endorsed them and they were given for free! Lucky me!

So down I went to the lab, where they extracted some blood, and literally took the shit outta me. Well I had my stool sample ready, and had been checking constantly on the way there if it was already stinking up my bag. I was glad to leave my crap there. On the way out, Dr. Diana asked me how I was, complimenting that I looked good. I thanked her and headed off, saying I’d call for a follow-up of the results. This will truly always be my first HIV home.

From there, I took the LRT out to EDSA, and the MRT to Magallanes, where I made my way again via bus to the Alabang area. Arriving in Alabang early, I took my lunch first at Jollibee, a local counterpart of McDonald’s, craving from everything from a Champ to a Jolly Spaghetti, but eventually settling for a Palabok and a large order of Fries. Yum. Not being known for slow eating, I was done in about 20 minutes, with still more time to spare before my afternoon appointment, so I checked out the Alabang Starmall while waiting, but found nothing much to see after less than an hour. It was past 12 noon, so I decided to just head for the RITM and hang out there.

Getting to the RITM, I headed for the OPD room, finding only Ate there. She showed me my CD4 results… 328. I then apologized for being too early, and ushered her off to lunch while offering to man her post somewhat. Sitting there alone, I started computing:

2 months ago, CD4 count = 343
Present, CD4 count = 328
Difference = 15
Decrease = 15 / 2 months = 7.5 per month
At that rate, I would reach the critical CD4 level of 200 after… 1 year, 5 months

Am I obsessed with math or what?! I was meaning for that computation to help me decide whether or not to start on ARVs, but thought maybe my logic didn’t apply to this case, so I shoved it all out the window and just cleared my head.

Shortly after, Ate arrived, as well as some other clients. One has been living positive for 15 years, and was doing voluntary counseling for other clients there. One was like me, CD4 above 300, had never been on ARVs, but wished to start. One was just weeks on ARVs and having his side effects checked. Another one was new, first time at the RITM, armed only with his test results for being positive with HIV. We all got talking while waiting for the doctor, and came to a point where we were sharing our experiences with the newbie, who was clearly still unable to accept his condition. I honestly think it helped him a lot being with and talking to others like him, as he really calmed down and opened up by the time the doctor came around.

Being the first one there, I was served first, as the doctor showed me again my CD4 results. She told me all my other tests were clear, and asked me again whether or not I wanted to start on ARVs. Without flinching, I said yes.

So here I am, in bed with my medicines beside me. One tablet is a combination of Lamivudine and Zidovudine, to be taken twice a day at 12 hour intervals. The doctor guaranteed there are no usual side effects. The other tablet however, Nevirapine, is a different story. Usual side effects are rashes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, plus nightmares and hallucinations, i think. I’m supposed to take it once a day for the next two weeks, and guard for the side effects. If everything is good, it increases to twice a day, monitoring closely again for another two weeks. I saw one client there who had the rashes from this same tablet, so I know what to look out for. U says he had the same reaction to it as well. Sigh.

Okay it’s exactly 9:30 pm now, and here goes my first dosage… cheers.

Okay, done. And as it goes, once I start this, it will be a lifetime commitment, and I cannot miss a beat. I’m planning to get a watch with an alarm, just to make sure I never ever forget. I want to get one for U, too.

So anyways, I’ll have more details again tomorrow. For now, I want to rest early, so I can adjust to my new… schedule. I’m putting my laptop away, as I usually have it beside me in bed, just to make sure I don’t beat it up in case I have any nightmares and stuff.

I’m hoping I don’t have any adverse reactions to it, or at least it not be too bad. Wish me luck… good night.

1 comment:

E said...

wow! Its amazing you can wake up that early and whats more amazing is how you are so eager to take the ARV...

I'm hoping that i can maintain my cd4 level so I won't have to take meds yet..I'm not ready for a lifelong commitment.

you take care!