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.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Day of O's

I had been anticipating another huge Thursday since weeks ago, it was to be my follow-up CD4 count, my first after being on ARVs for the past six months. This would tell for certain whether or not my ARVs are working. This would determine whether I was taking proper care of myself and doing the right things to keep my health up. This was to be a make or break thing.

Let me introduce a new addition to my alphabet friends, O. The one thing that stuck with me about O was the fact that on a number of occasions, people have actually mistaken each of us for the other. O and I had bumped into each other a number of times before at the RITM, but never really got to talk much. I guess we were the same type, preferring to stick with the people we already knew. But due to some extremely unusual circumstances, and with U’s help, who knew us both, we finally made contact via text messaging. It was natural for the three of us to gravitate towards one another because of the proximities of where we lived.

O and I met a couple of times after that and gotten the chance to talk, discovering we’d actually met in a group of common friends many, many years ago. Of course, we chatted about family, work, our HIV journeys, and everything else under the sun. And we also found out that we were both scheduled for a CD4 count this month, and just happened to set it on the same date, so we agreed to go together.

We had met out on EDSA at 7:00 am, thinking it would give us enough time to get to the RITM before 9:00, the time that Ate told us to be there for blood extraction in time for the running of the CD4 batch. But like a really bad joke, we seemed to have been sucked into all the possible traffic there was, so much so that we had to be constantly reassuring Ate via text that we were indeed on our way, practically begging for her to wait for us before the batch of samples was run.

And sure enough, after about three hours on the road spent chitchatting, joking around, yawning and stressing out a bit, O and I finally reached the RITM just a couple of minutes before 10:00 am, the ultimate final leeway that Ate had given us.

After several vials of blood each and with that mission behind us, O and I both decided not to report for our respective jobs for the rest of the day, not that I really could because I was just wearing a shirt and a pair of shorts. We just agreed to wait for the results to be released at around 3:00 pm. I was really the one more excited to wait, this being my first CD4 count since starting ARVs.

So some brunch, a bit of hanging around, a med refill and even a movie session at Festival Mall later, it was time for the verdict. We trekked back to Ate, and waited anxiously. Finally the call came in. The lab wasn’t ready to release the hard copies, so they just dictated the result to Ate over the phone. O and I both tried desperately to read her reaction, and figured that at least one of us had done well, as something caused Ate to mouth out a smiling Oh! as she wrote on her little paper.

Putting the phone down, she teased us a bit with a beaming Hmm!, refusing to read the results out. She handed us the piece of paper, as I heard a drum roll in my head. This is it. This is really is it.

On the piece of paper, next to our initials, were our respective CD4 counts. The good news was that O’s count went up 57 points, and that was absolutely exciting. And mine? From my first CD4 count of 343 back in San Lazaro Hospital in May 2008, to my first at the RITM in August 2008 of 328, my present CD4 count was... JANJARARAAAAN... 484! O as in OMG! Up 156 points! Woohoo!

My worry was suddenly replaced by a whole onslaught of emotions. I wanted to jump, wanted to cry, wanted to pump my fists in the air… of course I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, and honestly I felt faint… but it was all good. I just had to sit down and take it all in.

What did this all ultimately mean for me? I could and should stick to what I’ve been doing the past six months.

Taking medicines religiously? Check.
Eating right? Check.
Sleeping early? Yawn. Check.
Working my ass off? Check.
Advocacy? A definite check.
Keeping sane? Check.
Blogging? Check.
Keeping tabs on HIV documentaries? Check.
Harassing stupid people who discriminate against HIV? A feisty check.
Caring for Baby Nathan, his family and others like them? A bouncing baby check.
Keeping my sexlife barely alive? Whew. Check.
Being content with singlehood? Ngargh... but check.
Staying alive, positive and happy? Check, check and one big CHECK.

I guess one change that this result might trigger is that it’s a big leap towards my telling someone in the family. Aside from disclosing that I have HIV, I really wanted to be able to say for sure that I’m stable, taking care of myself and doing well on the medication. And now that I can, it should make things easier for people to understand and not be too shocked at the situation. Anyways, that’ll be a whole different episode.

After a bit of celebration over dinner to cap the night off and calm ourselves down, I was left with a residual high to enjoy for the rest of the evening. Actually, a natural high that might even tide me over the whole weekend. Absolutely O! As in orgasmic!


MrCens said...

happy to read these things to you, bitch... what should i say?

hmmpp... happy valentines (advance)! but beware, it's friday the 13th today.

Anonymous said...

Yay yay yay yay yay!

(O for Overacting) hehe... ^^
I was so happy when I got the text from you. Medyo delayed reaction nga lang coz I read it a few hours after you texted but it was great news indeed! ^^

I know how much you're stressing out because of this test (and your impending date (read: doomsday) with me, bwahahaha) so I'm really glad you have a reason to celebrate!

Love you hun! ^^

PinoyPoz said...

Hehehe... Perfect... PDA for valentine's day... Wala na, sira na reputasyon ko... Hehehe...

Pero seriously, thanks sa support! Mwah! (sa cheek lang na walang malisya)


bitch you deserve that because you are taking good care of yourself.

kaso di mo man lang pinaalam sa akin kahit sa offline message hmp.

inggat palagi and do more and work for a higher cd4 count next time! kaya mo lahat yan!

PinoyPoz said...

Uy... matampuhin oooo... para surprise diba! :-)

thanks. ingat tayong lahat!

karomadee said...

pray.....just try works for me every time........maybe it will work for you.....may not be in a miraculous way but in a peace-with-self kind of way.

PinoyPoz said...

wow, you talk like i don't pray. anyways, i'm happy it works for you every time. funny thing is, i don't just converse with God because there's something in it for me. :-)