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.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Early Christmas

It’s Saturday. A rest day. But surprisingly, I did everything but rest. This day left me with feet sore from walking all day, and poorer than when I got out of bed this morning. What the hell happened?

E had sent me a text message midweek, asking if I had some extra dough on me, because someone at the RITM needed help. I’m really not the type to give alms to beggars, but this case was so different. It just had me reaching for whatever I had. And I hope it does the same to you too.

E’s message was practically begging me to help. He needed milk and diapers. Milk and diapers? I was half wishing this was one of E’s little attempts at pulling my leg, but I scrolled to the end of the message not finding the punchline.

So here’s the deal, there’s a one-year old kid confined at the RITM who’s been HIV positive since birth. I know, even to me it’s unreal. But it’s the harsh reality. Having HIV was one thing, but apparently, after being ravaged by bouts of infection and diarrhea, the baby was, as E described, reduced to skin and bones. I couldn’t imagine how bad it was until I saw the kid myself. E had visited the kid before, bringing some diapers, milk and other supplies they needed, that admittedly weren’t enough.

So I forewent my Saturday restday to meet E at Festival Mall. Okay, I won’t even mention that he was late, as usual. That’s besides the point. I had peeped at the prices earlier today while I was at the grocery with my mom and fortunately, my so-called cellphone fund would be enough for now. I was just trying to save up for a cheap phone, so it was really just a small fund. At Save More, it was just enough to buy two big boxes of Alactagrow, and a pack-of-54 of EQ Dry diapers. Alactagrow was the RITM doctor’s brand of choice, because the goal was to fatten the kid back up, while EQ Dry was the cheapest brand there was, so the money could go further.

From there we headed towards the RITM on foot. It would be my first time up on the second floor where the patients’ rooms were. We were welcomed by the nurse, who ushered us into the room of the baby. And there he was, all skin and bones of him, just like E described, on his dad’s lap. It was heart-wrenching. Ever see pictures of Somalian kids ravaged by malnutrition? That should give you an idea.

We greeted them, as the kid’s dad welcomed us with a smile. This person had his helpless child in his hands. This person had not yet eaten, because they had nothing to eat. So that smile just broke the ice for me. It was refreshing to see he was happy despite what little they had. It was uplifting that he was being strong for his kid.

I put the presents down by the side of the bed, while E introduced me and started chatting up with the dad. I was looking around, the small room had the bed placed against one wall, a sink against another, a small bathroom, and a door leading out to a balcony. I thought it was decent enough, compared to having to share a common ward with other patients. On the wall above the bed, I saw some pictures of an adorable healthy baby boy, only to realize this was what the kid looked like months ago. It was heartbreaking to be able to compare that with the condition he was in now.

Apparently, the kid’s health, still grim as I saw, was improving. This child, at a year old, is already on ARVs, Lamivudine, Nevirapine and Zidovudine, the same ones I started out with, but in liquid form. Imagine that? He was now already able to move his arms a bit, and even able to stick his tongue out at E, which, as his dad said, was the child’s attempt at playing with us. Obviously, this child wants to live. Let’s help him live.

And so, E and I are begging for your help. Let’s all help this kid live. The big box of Alactagrow, which lasts the kid 3 days, costs around P 360.00. The smaller box of Alactagrow, which lasts a day and a half, costs around P 190.00. The pack-of-54 of medium-sized EQ Dry diapers costs around P320.00. The pack-of-84 costs around P 560.00. Although whatever help you can give will be much appreciated, we think it would be better if we do not give cash.

Another HIV positive guy confined at the RITM needs some help too, in the form of food and toiletries. He was confined with nothing but the clothes on his back, has no family to care for him there, and is suffering from so many different infections. I don't know the full story, and we couldn't see the guy because he was in isolation, so you can read more about him in E's blog entry.

You can get in touch with me or E via e-mail. My e-mail address is pinoycumeater@yahoo.com (yeah, yeah, I saw your jaw just drop...), while E can be contacted through echronicles@gmail.com or through his blog, Chronicles of E. You can also contact the office of Dra. Ditangco at the RITM through 807-2628 and ask how you can help, and course your donations through them.

Thanks everyone. Just think of this as an early Christmas gift. Christmas is for the kids, right? I really need to go to sleep now, because I’m just fighting through the dizziness of the ARVs. Thanks again in advance.

7 comments:

E said...

ok fine! im always late hehehehehe oh well at least im consistent hehehehehe


peeps! i hope you can find it in your heart to help this baby. Better yet, if you have time you can personally bring your gifts to him at ritm.

PinoyPoz said...

Hoy, grabe ka, I didn't mention it na nga eh... Hahahaha.

To those not in the position to give donations themselves, just help us spread the word. That will be more than enough. And prayers of course will help. Thanks again.

jon said...

Thanks for sharing this. I'll help spread the word through my friends from high school who are all generous and willing to help. I'll go and visit the child as well this Christmas break (my vacation time in Manila).

Been reading your entries. Some heartwarming, some heartbreaking yet full of courage. I admire people like you. When everyone is about to surrender, they should look at you, fighting the battle and willing to live.

PinoyPoz said...

Thanks Jon. Your support means a lot.

We'll be posting updates on the baby's condition regularly. You'll never know, by the time you're in Manila for Christmas break, the baby might be out of the hospital already... which should be a good thing, of course! :-)

jon said...

That will be good news, but still, I wanted to know how he will be and we might still be able to extend our help. I am a preschool teacher so my heart is with children. Thanks a lot!

BLACKPOOL said...

will i be allowed to visit the kid?

i want to see him and the parents so i can offer them any kind of help that i can afford to......

PinoyPoz said...

Yep, they do allow visitors, though they of course observe visiting hours. :-) updates on the baby soon soon soon!