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, June 25, 2010

Shtatus: Shingles

Last weekend was a long weekend. I went to work Friday, but I didn't work. Huh?

Well, let me clarify. It was our company outing. Hmm. I know, a bit odd that it happened just as the rainy season stepped in, but hey, who's not up for some fun, right? So I woke up early Friday morning to make the meeting time of 6:00 am. I know, 6:00 am is aghhh. But I made it with time to spare. After a few delays, we were on our way. Are we there yet?

By around noon, we got to the place. A huge house with a pool, nestled in a quiet neighborhood in Batangas. It was three days of a lot of things.

A lot of food. There was a yummy spaghetti with uber crispy fried chicken. There was sinigang. There was a milieu of comfort breakfasts from hotdogs and fried eggs, to crunchy boneless bangus. And so much more. And mind you, some of these meals, our big boss cooked himself!

A lot of fun. There was a videoke for a while. All the vices available... I had a few drinks, not enough to get me drunk, and some drugs too, a.k.a. ARVs... hehehe. Games in the pool, from Doctor-Quack-Quack to Shout-A-Word-Underwater-And-Have-Us-Guess-What-You-Said. And of course, there was Taboo. Conveying a word to other people is hard enough for the socially- and communicably-challenged as myself. Add to that some words that you're prohibited to say? Agh, pure torture.

A lot of sleep, especially for me. My bodyclock would still wake me up at around 6:00 am, but I'd just go to the bathroom and head back to bed and sleep another couple of hours. I will also be the first to admit that I do NOT need a tan, so I made a habit out of sleeping through the sun, and coming out to swim only at night or when the sun had set. Teehee.

A lot of being one of the boys. I got bunked in the huge attic with all of the straight guys! You'd think it was heaven for me, but it's not like I was planning to grope them all, ya know. And like like-poles, each of us sort of repelled each other into our own little alcoves scattered around the vast space. Funny, really, but all of us were comfortable that way. Hehehe.

But by the third day, I sort of felt it was too much of a lot. Three days of isolation... I'm talking no TV, no internet, no mobile phone signal, even... it was driving me mad! I was happy, not bitin at all, and I found myself welcoming the time to go home.

Got home Sunday evening, hell tired, despite all of the sleep and relaxation I claimed to have had. But not much time to rest. Another Monday to start another work week loomed.

It was to be a normal work week, jumpstart-worthy, but normal nonetheless. Until... one of my colleagues at work confirmed a couple of red bumps he had on his chest to be... shingles.

Shingles. It's the nickname to herpes zoster. It's related to the varicella virus, which also causes chickenpox. If I'm not mistaken, this is how it goes: Basically and commonly, a person only gets chicken pox once in his or her life. I got it back when I was in grade 4, I think. Even if you've gotten it and recovered from it, the virus remains in your body. And it is a recurrence of this virus that causes shingles. So it's like only persons who have had chicken pox can get the shingles.

I don't know about you, but I think when the common person hears "herpes", he'd usually think it's one of the Sexually Transmitted Infections or STIs. Partly true, because a close relative of the shingles would be herpes simplex, under which falls genital herpes.

Okay, for the record, I've had herpes. What kind? The shingles as well.

I think it was back in 2007. I developed a rash around my midsection. Fortunately, my boyfriend at the time was in the medical field, and it didn't take him long to figure out it was the shingles. I remember he prescribed some medicines for me, and that was it. It wasn't too hard for me, nor was I worried. Mostly, I wasn't worried because he showed me he wasn't worried. We were still sleeping together on the weekends, and he'd apply some ointment on the rash as it crusted up and healed. No big deal. I don't even think my mom was concerned or was even aware that I had it. No harm done and no marks left.

So now, even after spending a day with my colleague who got the shingles, I wasn't worried. Even if we were swimming in the same water the whole weekend, I was okay. Even if he is actually my seatmate here at work, it wasn't a big deal. I'm sort of in the mentality that if I catch it, then fine.

Of course it doesn't help that I'm not able to instantly feel any itching around my midsection because of the burn in the abs that I'm left with after yoga. Hehe. But I'll be fine. When in contrast one of my other officemates broke down in tears worrying that she might have caught it.

So there. Actually, reasearch tells me shingles often hits people who are in their 50s. Otherwise, one's immune system is usually able to keep it at bay. But the immunocompromised? Watch out. I know a couple of my pozzie friends whove gone through shingles as well, some of theirs even coinciding with the time of finding out they were HIV-positive and immunocompromised.

Well, of course, right now - the immunocompromised thing - that's possibly me. But back in 2007? Hmm. That sort of brings the thought that I just may have been immunocompromised already back then. Remember, I only found out I was HIV-positive in April of 2008. So I wonder, could I have been HIV-positive already way back in 2007? Heaven knows.

So there. Right now, my colleague is on leave recovering from his shingles. My other officemate got herself checked up, and is relieved to know she doesn't have it. And me? Life goes on. Shtatus? No shingles.


Ming Meows said...

yun pala ang shingles. akala ko kung anong sakit yan.

odin hood said...

nagka shingles na rin ako before nung college... tapos nahawa 2 classmates ko, nagka chicken pox sila hehe, pero buti di nila alam nagka shingles ako, kasi baka magalit sila sakin hehe

Anonymous said...

hello there just read this and what your research says about shingles is very true, i know having had it firt hand before my hiv diagnoses, i have been told by an expert in the uk that when u get shingles at a age below 60 its usually hiv infection that causes it or diabetes

PinoyPoz said...

@Anonymous: Thanks for that info! So yep, maybe having shingles is a red flag for one to get tested for HIV. But then again, everyone - shingles or not - ought to get tested. :-)