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, April 04, 2011

Three Cheers to Three Years

Three Cheers!It’s April. In the snap of a finger, the first quarter of the year just passed. And in a snap of the finger and all the knuckles of a hand, it’s been just over three years since I got myself tested for HIV. Well, whaddaya know?! Three frickin’ years?! Imagine?!

Yes, yes, yes. I think I’ve told this story a number of times already before, but please bear with my reminiscing.

I recall it was the last day of March 2008. It was supposedly the last day the Manila Social Hygiene Clinic was to offer free HIV testing. And just in time, I had gathered all the guts I had to drag myself there to get tested. And like you may already know, I had scouted out the place some days before, meaning to get tested, but chickened out at the last minute.

The second time proved to be a charm. I guess the end of March deadline was the push I needed. I am a crammer, after all. I mean I was still nervous as hell just walking there, let alone getting tested. But I have no regrets getting tested. At all. I got my results two weeks after, in mid-April.

So I tested positive. Oh well. I was fortunate that I was up for the challenge of living with HIV, which really proved not to be as much of a challenge as I‘d expected. I was curious, open, forgiving, and just ready to delve into unknown and unfamiliar territory, and I guess that helped in the adjustment period. A short learning curve before I could say to myself proudly, “Yep, I have HIV, no big deal“.

Even now, three years later, it’s not at all the big deal everyone expects. I’m still not going to die. It’s still not going to kill me. I’ll still be okay. But of course, I can only say all that because I got tested. Because I know that I am HIV positive. And I know what I have to do to take care of myself. That makes things alright.

In the span of three years, I have never been hospitalized for anything. Well, actually, it’s never happened in my lifetime, except if you count birth and circumcision. These past three years have been almost normal. So if HIV were a battle, then I’m successfully keeping the enemy at bay.

Three years. Geesh. It’s been a while, huh? But what’s changed? Well, of course I‘ve been taking anti-retroviral drugs or ARVs, for almost three years as well. It’s a daily habit, much like drinking multi-vitamins. I’m consciously keeping away from food with raw meats and fish, which I never really crave for anyway. Other than that, I’m not giving myself special treatment.

I am still working, in a field that got presented to me BECAUSE I was HIV-positive. As in, had I not been HIV-positive, I would probably not have started blogging, and would not have gotten the opportunity to write for the advocacy called Positivism, and would not even have gotten the chance to dare to delve into the industry I’m in now. So I can say I thank HIV for that. Interesting, huh?

I also have HIV to thank for some of the friends I have. My BFF. My pozzie posse. The rest of the positive community. The HIV advocates. The Yoga for Life community. I was telling W the other day that I would probably be a totally, totally different person on a totally, totally, different path in a totally, totally different place, had I not been diagnosed with HIV. I mean, I’m still me, but different. Am I making any sense? Bottom line, I have no regrets. I’m glad that three years ago I got tested.

Oh, speaking of tests… let me segue.

I haven’t told you yet, but I got my first CD4 test for this year. I was actually supposed to have it done February, but then I was informed that there was no reagent available to run the CD4 test. So I had to wait. As March came, I got the go signal. So in early March, I scheduled a trip to RITM with W. He was having his CD4 done too, along with all the other blood tests like the CBC and blood chem.

Funnily, I realized I fasted since the night before unnecessarily, since I wasn’t having a blood chem done. I pretended I was merely sympathizing with W’s own fasting. Hehe. Getting to RITM, there was no one at the clinic. It was past 8:00 am, and that was unusual. We headed to the back office, and were told that everyone was attending a seminar that week. Ah, okay. And skeletal force was late?! Argh.

After waiting a while, we decided to go back to the clinic. The nurse was already there, and so were a lot of other clients. Hmm, and we weren’t told. Gee thanks.

This was supposed to be a long story. Long, because the nurse on duty was all flustered, confused, overwhelmed and unfocused, probably because there were so many people there, but if you ask me, she was just plain unorganized and unsystematic. To cut the long story short, all I needed was a CD4 count and a med refill, and yet it took me till past 11:00 am. Geez. I swear, I was at the end of my patient nerve.

I waited for so long that I had time to think about how my last six months were, which could determine how I’d do at my CD4. That meant August to February. In that span, I stressed over Christmas, I lost my job, started a new and more stressful one, and so on and so forth. Sounded bad. But this was also the first full six months that I had been doing yoga as much as twice a week. That may have evened out the odds. So maybe I should think about what I’d been up to immediately prior to getting the test.

Well, the day before, which was a Wednesday, I was working stressed as usual. Bad. But it was yoga night, too. Good. But I slept late and got just about 5 hours of sleep. Terrible. But only because I had some safe mind-blowing sex that evening. Great. Still had no clue. No choice but to wait for the verdict.

Luckily, my calf-caressing friend went to RITM the following day. I texted him for the favor of asking what my result was. Back tracking, if you recall, I had just recovered from a CD4 yoyo of 493 - 447 - 493. Being up and down and all around was no pattern to expect. So when calf-caresser texted, I was shocked. My result was… 646. Whoa! Up 153?! I was in disbelief, honestly.

I was as a point where I thought the 500 mark was just taunting me. I’d been so close, so close. So to absolutely hurdle the whole 500 range was amazing! I’m happy. I officially now have a CD4 count of a normal, non-HIV-positive person. Kewl. I need to keep up with what good I’d been doing. Religiously drinking my ARVs. Of course. Doing yoga. Definitely. Having mind-blowing safe sex. Perfect. And just being optimistic and happy. Easier said than done, but the least I can do is try.

Great news without the April fools! Three cheers!

10 comments:

Ming Meows said...

congrats!

a46479 said...

naks! nice number! congrats!

Anonymous said...

Congrats!! I'm happy for you :-) an avid fan here...

PinoyPoz said...

Salamat salamat salamat guys! Kung kaya ko, kaya ng lahat! :-)

InfinityStrip said...

Three cheers, indeed!

Wish I could be as diligent with my YFL attendance also.

But anyway, this is about you and I am really, really, really happy for you!

PinoyPoz said...

Thanks InfinityStrip! I really believe that all you need is to come to Yoga for Life when you can, and the rest of the time you can't, just live what you learned from YFL, and you'll still get the full benefit. :-)

But still, come. See you there again sometime! or all the time!

T said...

thats very good to hear that ur cd4 is now of a normal person cheers

positivemusings said...

such good news... and truly inspiring.. just on my second month now.. :) still struggling...

Anonymous said...

Great news, I'm happy for you! Your journey is an inspiration not only to hiv+.

- poks

the flickering neon light said...

i'm only in my first month of being a pozzie. your three years made me feel less of a downer. cheers! :)