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, November 28, 2009

A Glitch in the System

Some weeks ago, I got a text message. An unknown number said something like, “Your schedule for CD4 will be on November 17. Please do come as your slot may be given to others.” Nothing else followed, but it was signed with a couple of familiar names from the RITM.

You’d think I’d had enough CD4 counts done for this to be something routine. But... it was the farthest from it.

I didn’t doubt the veracity of the message, even though it came from an unknown number. But my first instinct was that this message was just missent. Why? Basically, I’ve fallen into the routine of having my CD4 count monitored every 6 months. So since I started my ARVs at the RITM, I’ve had it done August 2008, February 2009 and August 2009. So my logic was telling me November 2009 was not next in the series.

So I chanced upon Red Apple Black Mark online, a blogger friend who happened to be at the RITM one time. So I asked him to confirm with the personnel whether they had really scheduled me. I remember telling him to point out that my next CD4 wasn’t due till February next year. I thought it’d be easier to have it clarified person to person.

After a few minutes, he came back and confirmed that, yes, I was indeed scheduled for a CD4 count November 17th. When I had him ask why, he was told that it was complicated, and would just be discussed with me when I got there myself. What the?!

That’s when my paranoia kicked in. Why couldn’t they tell me why they needed to monitor my CD4 just three months after my last? It was a valid question, I believe, right? So knowing my personality, I needed to know. I needed for it to make sense. Was there something wrong? My CD4 did go up a number of points last time, from 484 to 493. Was the improvement not enough? Was it a concern? Did they find something else? Why was I not told? Believe me, my mind was going berserk. Was it the funding problem? Did they need to have tests done while supply lasted? Were they unsure that they’d still be able to do the tests next year? I just had too many questions that needed answers.

I talked to E about it, knowing that he is aware that I can be paranoid sometimes. He mentioned he’d be going to the RITM the following week to visit. So I couldn’t pass up the chance to have him confirm... yet again... whether I indeed was scheduled for a CD4 count. And I asked him to badger them with whys. I just needed to know why.

So he went, and he asked... At first he irked me saying it was something that needed to be discussed in person. Good thing he took his joke back. He was told I was one of those who was undergoing special monitoring as part of some research of Doktora. Some sort of Taser or Genotyping ek-ek. Hmm. Two words came to mind: Guinea Pig. But having a scientific background myself, it came across more like an honor. Those two words were enough to answer my questions.

So from that time on, November 17th was marked on my calendar. I was joking with E and GreenMan that I was part of a special group. If RITM was a school, I was a Dean’s lister. The chosen one. Proud, proud, proud.

So November 17th came, and my morning routine commenced an hour earlier than usual, so I’d be sure to get to RITM before the 9:00 am deadline. I think I got there at 8:30, with Ate pointing me to the back office to get my lab request from the people there. As I did, the lady there said she’d do one final check on her computer records. Nuneenuneenu... yes Madam, you should find me on that Dean’s list.

With her back still to me, she pointed out that I was still updated on my CD4 counts. Of course I am, I said to myself. And then she said I wasn’t due for another CD4 till February... and that I could go.

WTF?! My jaw dropped. The worst part, she was too matter-of-fact... very unapologetic. I don’t know exactly what expression I had on my face, but I was trying hard to stay positive. Did I just waste my morning for nothing?! Were my instincts spot on from the beginning?! My mind was spinning again, I was borderline angry already. Angry but trying to keep a smile on my face. I'm sure this mistake wasn't unavoidable. It’s no joke travelling from Quezon City to Alabang for nothing.

I made my way to the front office to Ate. Why? Because that was my comfort zone at the RITM. Getting there, she was surprised that I had had my test done so quickly. I told her what I was told. Ate sighed, and sat down and explained. She gave me the apology I needed.

She explained that the task of scheduling CD4 counts had been taken from her and passed on to someone else, which apparently wasn’t going too well. Just that day, already three of us had made unnecessary trips only to find out that a mistake had been made. She was just sooooo apologetic about the whole thing, even though it wasn’t her fault. She was apologizing for the glitch in the system. I felt her sincerity. And with that, I cooled down, just happy to have an excuse to visit the RITM.

From there, I headed off back north... late for work for a reason that was valid but totally unnecessary. Fine. This was one day that half of me wanted to forget. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have experienced this. So just be forewarned. They’re undergoing some administrative changes right now at the RITM, and may, may, may just need some extra patience from us. My lesson learned? Trust your instincts... and patience is suuuuuch a virtue. Hopefully they’ll get through this glitch soon enough. Peace out...


C said...

peace kapatid... blogging na ko .. haha!

sent you my ym on fb...

Tala ;-)

PinoyPoz said...

Yahoo! Welcome (back) to the blogging world Tala!

E said...

Hays...pasenshahan mo na sha friend, na n1h1 na nga eh...LOL

Trese said...

Quick kwento...

On my first visit to the Hills, ate ana brought me to our classroom. While we were eating a 1 week old pancit from your Halloween party, they were discussing the CD4 test schedules

E said that based from they have a primary dean's list for those who will take the test. These were the people who needs to get their CD4 count checked because of the delays in CD4 test kits.

Then Ate asked E if I can get tested ASAP. E said Ate can schedule me on the 17th.

Then Ate asked how about those who must be tested for the month of November... E said to schedule them as well.

So... E scheduled those who were late for the tests, then Ate will schedule the November pusits.

Honestly... the scheduling "system" is not effective. Even the roster list.

Oh... and some tests has been switched. Saksi ako dun. They gave the wrong blood test result to another person. Good thing Ate was able to figure out what's wrong.

I think they just need help on the documentation and a good database. And stresstabs. :)