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.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

PGH with a capital ACHE!

I met a new friend at Yoga for Life quite recently. Despite starting from zero, and being almost a whole generation away from each other, we clicked. Blame location, blame the zodiac, blame Chinese astrology, we just clicked.

So I swore I’d take care of him, as a friend and as a newbie to the HIV scene.

So we were headed home from yoga one Wednesday when he mentioned he was going to PGH for his lab tests the next day. He asked what I was going to be doing. Work as usual. Hey, I’d be a newbie to PGH as well, right? “Sayang, magpapasama sana ako...” and he laughs it off. I didn’t.

The following day, I left the house at 7:00 am as usual. But whether I was going to work or going to accompany someone to PGH was still undecided. Deep inside I knew I wanted to go with him to PGH. I honestly did. He was just hesitant to have me take a leave just for him. If hiya was all it was, then darn. So I decided. I would go with him.

After scurrying about with last minute plans, which entailed a misunderstanding as to where we were meeting, we finally caught up, as his sweet smile and thanks told me I made the right decision.

We took a familiar route, one that I took to the Social Hygiene Clinic in Manila, and the same one I used to take when I used to date someone who lived in Sta. Cruz. A jeepney ride, and a short LRT trip to Pedro Gil Station, and we were at PGH. It wasn’t my first time at PGH, I’d been there for a meeting before. But for medical services? Never. Here goes nothing.

He suddenly realized he didn’t seem to have his lab requests with him. No problem, right? I’d just ask Ate for another set, and that would be that. So we headed to the Infectious Diseases Section (IDS) and knocked on the door. A nurse opened the door, and greeted us, but not so warmly. She was short of asking who the hell are you and what are you doing here. PMS, teh? Okay, stay cool.

So he relayed his problem. And with a furious frown and clearly peeved, she told us to wait outside for the doctor. Hmm. I had to ask, is this nurse always this bitchy? I could not help compare to how Ate takes care of us at RITM.

So we sat along the corridor for a good half hour. We talked about anything and everything, thankful that neither of us had to experience such a thing alone. We fidgeted in each other’s bags, for fans, clothes and books... Good enough as we found his lab requests hidden under all his stuff. Whew!

So we walked down to the cashier and lined up. At the window, we got asked about a Blue or White Card. What card?! I just answered that we came from the IDS. The cashier mentioned something about Charity, and I just thought, okay, if you say so.

From there we walked a short way to the Express Laboratory. But only to get pointed to another lab, Laboratory Info on the second floor. Then we were pointed to the OPD Lab in a whole other building. We managed to walk the whole PGH block to the Faura end, near the Supreme Court. It was the building that housed the OPD. Made sense, at RITM, we were at the OPD department as well.

Inside, gasp! Long lines, hot air and dismal faces. And not just any lines. You were supposed to line up to get a schedule, and come back another day for the actual test. Seriously?! We walked back to the IDS to ask. That just couldn’t be right.

Nurse PMS opened up again. Fine, she was calmer this time. Apparently, we had gone to Charity indeed, which explained the long lines. We were ushered back to the Express Lab. There, we were told we had paid the Charity rate. So once again, we had to line up at the cashier to pay for the upgrade to the Express rate. And again, back to the Express Lab.

So apparently, only blood tests could be done there. No sputum tests. No x-rays. Fine, fine. He took a seat. Before he got pricked, the nurse asked what he was getting the tests for. He hesitated, so I just answered we came from IDS, hoping that she’d understand without us having to spell it out. But she continued to badger. Was this for employment? A check up? Close tayo, teh? I was fed up. Just blurt it out. You want to know? Fine. He said HIV. Happy now? She went on telling my friend not to be too paranoid about the tests and all... Hmmm, free counseling I see. Interesting.

From there, we were pointed to the x-ray section, where we were pointed once again to the OPD building. We got there and it was closed for lunch. Let’s try the sputum.
We headed back to the IDS to ask where we were supposed to go, and nursey pointed us to another section, Lab Info, the same one we passed earlier. Okay, we were really making the rounds.

So apparently, we again weren’t charged the right rate at the cashier, so we’d have to line up. Again. At that point it was noon, and we gave up. He needed to be somewhere after lunch. We agreed that at least we got most of his tests done. And at least we got to tour the PGH, albeit mostly unnecessary, but together.

From there, we had a well-deserved lunch, just some pasta and chicken at McDonalds across the street. Remember, he had been fasting since the night before for his blood tests. So I’m sure he was happy.

We were both skins sweaty, both bodies tired, both legs aching, both tummies finally full, and it was time to go. From there, we were off. He was on his way to school – yes, school – he was enrolling that afternoon... and I was on my way home.

PGH was an experience. It was a long arduous day. But it was a good one. I got to spend the day with my favorite new person. He was happy not having to go through all that alone. And I was happy that he was happy. And I apologize in advance, but let me just say, at the end of the day, I was happy I was with RITM.


positHIVe said...

i smell something fishy! lol! sana sa FMAB building nlng cia ngpa-laboratory mas okay facilities dun same din ng charge sa express lab, ndi ka na pipila ng super haba super organized pa, sana ngtatanong kc sa akin! :)

and about the nurse ganyan tlga 1ng cia parang laging hagard kaya masungit, buti nlng mabait na cia sa akin. hehehe...

Felipe said...

alam mo, i admire your positive attitude. :) and it's nice of you to accompany a new friend gto go through with all that.

PinoyPoz said...

@positHIVe: Malay ba namin! Ikaw pala ang may inside info! Something fishy ka dyan... Naligo kami!

@Felipe: Thanks :-) It's not difficult to help someone out... It feels good to. And considering someone helped me out too when I was starting, consider this paying it forward. :-)

Patient 57 said...

yup, it's so much better in RITM, i finished my tests in 2 hours (except for the sputum and stool). people there are so efficient and friendly, especially Ate. it was a very pleasant, first time experience in RITM.

hivpositive-mynewbeginning said...

i experienced the exact same situation when i went to pgh. good thing ur with ur friend. i was alone that time. i chose pgh because i was just referred by a new found friend. she was in the lobby actually and i approached her asking for nurse c. she answered me with frowning face. asking why i was der, who told me to go there and was told to wait outside. i waited 3 hours actually but it's ok. what i did was think that maybe she's just tired of her job. buti mabait doctor ko.

carelessboy said...

hi, kahapon nagpatest ako sa social hygiene clinic and positive din ako, malungkot at pakiramdam ko nagiisa ako.. naghahanap sana ako ng makakasama o makakatulong maglakad sa mga test, para hindi naman sana ako mukhang kawawa...

carelessboy said...

kanino po ba ako pwede magpasama sa mga test sa PGH, para di naman ako nagiisa o mukhang kawawa?

hivpositive-mynewbeginning said...

you need to go there muna sa pgh para matingnan ka ng doctor..they will be the one who will tell you what tests to take..but if wala pang confirmation test from san lazaro, wait ka lang muna..who knows, though im not giving you false reassurance, it might turn out false positive..wait for the result muna cuz nurse cellene and the doctor will ask you for it..:)

Anonymous said...

So nice naman of you to accompany your the way, Im also a newbie in Poz World. Just got diagnozed 2 weeks ago. last week lang din nakapag pa baseline tests sa ritm.when i first told that i am positive ang concern ko agad what would be my first step. good thing may nakita akong blog na nag ooffer ng assistance sa mga first timer at salamat kay god nakilala ko yung volunteer na nag guide samin at dinala niya ako sa ritm. mabait lahat ng staff ng hospital lalo na mga doctors and luckily that day may nagpakain. free lunch... thankful din ako kay lord kasi natanggap ng maayos ng mama ko yung diagnosis ko. nakakatuwa nga kasi sinabi ko lang sa kaniya na positive ako on our way to ritm nung day na magpapabaseline test ako. caught on the spot si mama pero i told her na we'll fight till may makita ng cure.ayun good guide and good company plus good health care provider= good support system para sakin. God bless sa ating lahat.