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.

Monday, October 04, 2010

The Verdict

It’s that time of year again. It’s been a long awaited day.

Long due, and long overdue even.

I‘m kinda excited, yes. But with a tinge of anxiety maybe.

It's time. It's time. It’s time to go and get my CD4 count.

I need to have my CD4 count done twice a year, every six months. Supposedly, my schedule is to have it done every February and August. I had been coordinating with a number of people who wanted to tag along with me. There was my calf-caressing friend, who was also due for his CD4 count, and there were two newbies who needed to go to RITM. One needed to get his confirmatory test, while the other already had his confirmatory result with him and was meaning to start his own HIV journey.

If you recall, I got a med refill just in the third week of August. I could have, but purposely didn’t get my CD4 count done that same day just because of the plan we put together. At first, we planned to go on the last Friday of August. Fortunately, I was able to text Ate a couple of days before to advise that I was planning to go. Unfortunately, Ate informed me that they were having problems with the CD4 machine. So I had to call the plan off.

It was a bummer because coordinating four different schedules wasn’t an easy task and at this point all went to waste. Even worse? On the day itself intended to go, Ate texted me that they were able to have the machine fixed. But the advise came only in the afternoon. Too late for the 10:00 am cut off for CD4 batching. Too late as well to even try to salvage our little plan. Argh.

Our little group fell apart. My calf-caressing friend had gone to get his CD4 count alone before I could put together a new plan. One of my newbies couldn’t take a leave from work anytime soon to make the trip. And then there were two. My newbie and I came up with another plan to go September 23rd, a Thursday. We had already both filed our respective leaves from work, and so it was set.

I arrived at the meeting place exactly as planned, 7:00 am at the Ayala MRT station. I was texting constantly with my newbie, and unfortunately, he was running late. It was fine. I sat amidst all the other tambays and waited patiently. In about half an hour, he arrived. Apparently, he had opted to take a cab and got stuck in traffic. Not so bad, there was time to spare, anyway.

So we hopped on a bus to Alabang, as I made sure to point out some landmarks to give him an idea of the route we were taking. We got talking about different things, but nothing too cerebral or serious, as we were both nutritionally challenged and possibly mentally slow, as we had both been fasting wince the evening before in preparation for our blood tests.

We got to RITM past 8:00. We went straight to the clinic. Ate wasn’t there, but our two other nurses were. My purpose there, to get all my tests done, was simple enough. Routine even. But for my newbie, we were really trying to get everything he needed done within the day because it wasn’t easy for him to take leaves from work.

Based on experience, they would have newbies talk with the doctor first, and schedule tests another day. My newbie didn’t have that luxury of time. So I had asked Ate prior to our even planning to go if it would be possible to get everything done in one day. Fortunately, they were willing to give it a shot, with the condition that we show up early, before the cut-off time for the CD4s, and be ready for all the tests, fasting and all.

He sat patiently while waiting for the doctor, while one of our nurses put together all the requests for my blood tests. Apparently, sonce it was the anniversary of my pozzie-ness, a lot of tests would be done in addition to the usual CD4 count, CBC and blood chemistry, especially since my HIV infection came with some “friends“.

First, I needed to get my Hepatitis profile done, apparently to check if my Hepatitis B was still active… although I thought once you had it it’d forever be active. I needed to get a Quantitative RPR done too, to check how my Syphilis infection is doing, or the lack thereof. There were a couple of more tests I needed to pay for. All in all, it totaled to over PhP 2,000.00. Argh. A bit steep, but it was needed and I was prepared.

So took my route through the cashier, to the x-ray section, and onto the lab to have my blood extracted. When my turn came, I tried to make it a good experience, for myself and for everyone. Despite the many times that I’ve had my blood extracted in the past, I’m still not overly excited to have it done. I gave the stack of requests to the med tech on duty, and braced myself.

I joked that my lot of blood tests would seem to correspondingly require a lot of blood. She said it’d take around four vials. Not so bad. So she got going. I turned my head away from the prick as I still get queasy seeing blood flowing. In all fairness, I was able to keep a smile on my face the whole time. It was a mix of thinking positive and feigning courage.

When I was done, I went back to my newbie at the clinic. I passed him at the cashier. Good thing a doctor was on duty that early in the morning. He had already talked with the doctor, and now needed to pay for some of his tests as well. He was actually a bit short in funds, so I lent him some cash. Fortunate that I had enough to be able to. From there, we went to the lab.

Apparently, he was just as bad with needles and blood as I was. Hehehe. I understood completely. I assured him that the med tech on duty was good at what she does. He made it through without problems. Just a bit of stress, that’s all. His x-ray was much easier, of course.

Making it back to the clinic, I got a surprise. They had forgotten one final lab request, one for Hepatitis C. Another prick?! I headed back to the lab. I requested that they allow me to rest a bit before another prick, so they entertained other clients first. The next time they asked if I was ready, I took my seat once again in the pricking chair, ready for another one in the other arm.

I was ready and game, I really was. Fortunately, they said the blood they’d extracted earlier was still enough for the extra test. Though I sighed a sigh of relief, I kidded with the med tech that she missed the chance, considering I was extra generous with blood today. She laughed and retorted the next prick would’ve been one in the jugular. Hehehe. That was fun.

From there, having accomplished everything we needed to do, we headed to Metropolis Star where we were to get a ride back north. We had lunch as well, after deciding we couldn’t last another minute without food. After a quick meal at Jollibee, we were off.

We both were able to nap a bit during the trip back, having been up since so early in the morning. We both got off when we hit Mandaluyong, he to get a ride home, and I to meet up with the hubby in Shangri-la. I accompanied him to have lunch, we had some of our favorite frozen yogurt, and caught a movie... creepy Devil of M. Night Shyamalan. Even though I spent most of the movie with my face buried in his armpit - yes, I’m not so good with horror movies - I’d recommend it.

Oh wait, wait... back to the pertinent issue of the moment. I texted Ate the day after, requesting her to “chismis” our CD4s if and when they became available. She replied promptly. My newbie had a whopping 553. Coolio!

Me? Let’s recap. A year ago, I was at 493. Six months ago, I dropped a bit to 447. And today... the verdict? Drumroll please... 493! Right back where I fell from. Not bad! Now whether I can attribute it to anything from ARVs and stress to love and yoga... only heaven knows. I’m happy. I still want to go past the 500 mark, though. But for now, I’ll take it!


Anonymous said...

clap clap... I'm so happy for you!

InfinityStrip said...


It is always heartening to hear stories like this one. It is so hope-inspiring, specially for other PLWHA who are still struggling with this condition.

Thank you for being an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

wehehe...major major winner pa rin's my statistics:


lets have pizza in my condo view deck soon...(you should know who am i, unless kung saan saan deck ka na nagpupunta.bwahahaha)

Anonymous said...

Why is the CD4 count not part of Canada's, Australia's, Europe's or UK's AIDS marker?

If you have less than 200 CD4 you'll be categorized as an AIDS patient in the US and well, not to be surprised, in the Philippines. However, if you step inside Canada's border and re-test, you WILL NOT BE CATEGORIZED as an AIDS patient even if you have a CD4 count of 1. Why? Any explanation?

Anonymous said...

hey its good to hear ur health is good by the way i think u knw me briefly im a fellow poz n ur friend from the dark continent hope the weekend was great

Green Xuanya said...

Way to go! :)