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, January 01, 2011

Holiday Count Down

The eve of Christmas, mass and dinner with my mom’s side of the family. And on Christmas itself, home recovering from the holiday stress. And then back to work for the few days before the turn of the year. That’s how it’s been in previous years. But this year was quite different. Good or bad? Let’s see.

The eve of Christmas was still marked off for the family. But more than my being stranded between the generations, this year I’d be the star. Oh wait, more like I’d have the star. The Li’l Bastard was to make his first appearance as the family’s new bunso at his first Christmas. He was dressed in a little grey shirt with blue piping that matched my own outfit. New places and new faces, kept him quite overwhelmed.

I successfully weaseled out of mass since pets aren’t allowed in the chapel. So we walked around the village to while away the time. Then it was time for a change of costume, as Santa Paws of course! Yes, the Li’l Bastard loves to dress up. And naturally, he became center of attention, the fashionable little whiny pup that always had his left paw up like a limp-wristed twink. Hahaha. Oh well. Mana mana.

By the end of the evening, I was just glad Christmas only happens once a year. Oi, pardon me for thinking that way as early as Christmas Eve.

Christmas Day, I had planned to stay home. But no. I had find internet access because I had work to do. Work?! I knowwwww! Work! So I spent the morning in a coffee shop at the mall, stalling enough through my iced mocha to get everything done. And then I headed back in time for lunch and to spend some home time.

The 26th and 27th continued in the same fashion. No plans, just rest. I did go out for a while to bump into a former college professor of mine to catch up on stuff over a couple of beers, but that was it. Recharge. Recharge.

I had the 28th planned out. I badly needed to go to RITM for med refill… as in two weeks ago. I had already borrowed a month’s supply of ARVs from W, with whom I share the same combination. So like a workday, I left the house at 7:00 am, but this time braved the MRT. Thankfully, it wasn’t as jam-packed as the usual workday rush hour. I actually got to RITM in under an hour, which I found amazing.

There, I texted an online friend. We were eyeballing. Meeting was easy since there were just two of us there at the clinic that early. We talked a bit. He told me about deciding to get tested after noticing he was getting sick a lot, and because he had come from a relationship with a particularly promiscuous guy. I found that amazing that he instantly thought HIV may be the culprit, not your normal reaction. He was barely a month on ARVs, and was there to complete some other baseline tests.

Ate came in and arranged for my refill. Leafing through my records, she pointed out some results. My viral load. The viral load is a quantitative measure of the HIV virus in the blood. The lower that is, the better. I’d never seen my results before. Apparently, my viral load, which is measured annually, has been UNDETECTABLE both in 2009 and 2010. I know I should’ve been jumping for joy, but I was probably in disbelief. Really?! Then my lifestyle, the medicines, and the yoga are working that well. Wow, well I’ll take that.

I left my new friend at the clinic while I went to the pharmacy. Mission accomplished. Ate also sent me to the back office, to submit some stuff for Philhealth. Oi, Philhealth is a long story...

So anyway, that done, I tagged along with my new friend for his errands. Back at the clinic, we caught the other nurse, Ate S. While figuring out my friend’s ARVs, she mentioned they’d started ARVs at the same time. Say what?! Sa kanya ako nahawa eh! I was aghast. Did they have unprotected sex? Did we have a pusit nurse all along?

Well, not quite. Apparently, Ate S suffered from an accidental needle prick injury while administering a PPD test to my friend on a previous visit. So however small the risk, she needed to have a prophylaxis, which meant a month of the very ARVs we‘re taking, just as a precaution. Talk about immersing yourself in the patient’s world, huh? A firsthand experience of ARVs. Not everyone can claim that. But she was in good spirits and was already joking about it.

Oh, and Ate S’ short stint with the RITM is about to end. She said she’d no longer be with us in 2011. Nope, nothing to do with the accident. She’s going to go to med school. I was saddened by the news a bit, she grew into such a competent nurse for us, but I know it’s for the best. You’ll never know, she might come back as our Doc S someday. Hmmm.

From there, we headed off and had lunch at the mall. An early lunch, he was, after all, coming from fasting for all his blood tests. From there, I headed back home to prepare to spend the afternoon with the hubby. Mmm.

Wednesday, the 29th, was Yoga for Life day as usual. But just after lunch, I was off on a mission in Manila. BFF and I met up and took the LRT to Tayuman. We walked a couple of blocks, and finally found our destination. YAFA. Youth AIDS Filipinas Alliance, an HIV advocacy group.

We found the address, but weren’t sure, since it didn’t look right. We knocked. The door was unlocked and opened up to a stairway. We walked up. Tao po? Someone walked out in just his underwear. Oh, welcoming committee? Hehe. Well, we seemed to catch them at the least perfect time. Let’s put things in context, they had scheduled a general cleaning that day, and there was a power interruption, thus, the outfit, or lack thereof.

As soon as they gathered their composure, we got the honor of sitting down with the famous DyingYoung. He told us all about YAFA, and BFF was able to ask his questions about one of their projects. It was actually very interesting, and reinforced the respect I have for YAFA. For such a young group, they’ve really been making waves.

From there, I got BFF to accompany me to the Manila Social Hygiene Clinic. It’s maybe been more than a year since I was last there. Nurse Malou Tan is no longer connected to the SHC. But I got to see Dra. Diana Mendoza, rebond and all. I don’t even think she remembered my name. I left some Positivism brochures with her and asked how the SHC was doing.

They still have free HIV rapid testing there at the Manila SHC, so she asked that we refer people to them for screening. They’re open Mondays to Thursdays, 8:00 am to 3:00 pm, and Friday mornings till noon.

And from there, we took the LRT-MRT route to Ortigas. After a quick snack in Shangrila, we headed to yoga early. Yoga was special today. A hundred and eight sun salutations. Yes, 108 forward bends, halfway lifts, pushups down, and upward- & downward-facing dogs. Was I confident I could do it? Not particularly. But I was going to try. And try I did.

After it all, up to today, two days after, biceps and triceps, quads and calves, back and chest, basically from the top of my neck to the soles of my feet, I’m sore. Sore in a good way. And the fulfillment of getting through the 108 sun salutations is phenomenal. Roarrrrr!

So that was my itinerary for the week leading up to the turn of the year. Sounds like a lot for just a week, especially for me. If that’s going to set the stage for 2011, then it’s going to be a busy one. Bring it on. Bring it on. With that, I hope everyone has all their fingers intact, and had a very Happy New Year. It's 1-1-11. Nagpaputok ka ba?

1 comment:

InfinityStrip said...

Oooohhh, I wish I was at last week's YFL practice!

I so want to feel sore :D

Have a blessed New Year!