Bottle Disposal

Went to RITM last Monday for another refill of my ARV’s. I came at around 10am and was surprised on how many patients waiting for their cd4 results. There are quite a few and my turn was at the 61st queue! Just wow.

Good thing I have given spare PHILHEALTH forms so there was no need to fill out and wait in vain. After a few minutes, my number was called and guided to nurse’s station for ARV prescription. One thing I don’t like with this male nurse is how he approached me while conducting this mini interview… I missed around 4 doses of Combivir last month and he was calculating my adherence score. He asked a stricking question of WHY?… I answered sarcastically, I KNOW, BEEN USING IT FOR 3 YEARS.

image

Instead of staying longer inside the clinic and prolly contemplating to argue more.. I decided to relax outside and came to see an old friend. Made some catch up and had lunch together.

I have brought a paper bag for my ARVs. More convenient than bringing big bags. Now the problem is how do I dispose these boxes and bottles…? My mom doesn’t know about my status and it ia kinda hard to just leave these unattended.

Advertisements

HIV and ARV adherence

Thia is my 3rd year of being HIV positive. I got my first ARV – lamivudine, zidovudine and nevirapine, I got excited coz I know these are life savers. I had the chance to switch to Efavirenz as opposed to Nevirapine due to side effects. It took me more than a year to cope with EFV’s neuro-psychological effects. As of the moment, I can pretty say I can manage whatever EFV is to throw. I can even do my travels while being ‘high’ with Efavirenz.

image

The first 2 years of my medicine intake, 100% adherence rate. Thankful as my CD4 level went up the hill to its current 710 mark. But this 3rd year is quite different, I no longer excited to take my medicines, alarms and notifications are slowly degrading my on time performance. There was even a month where I missed 3-4 doses. Hype is no longer with me.

I feel weak, depressed and ‘purpose-less’.

Working On Graveyard

I started working on the graveyard shift last mid-2012, I had some challenges to go through – which includes adjusting my circadian rhythm and since I will be sleeping during the day, taking Efavirenz early morning. The body clock thing is no longer a problem since I can adjust to some minor to major disturbances. My weekends are quite  used with going out with friends or out of towns, this will endure me some extra time to be awake. There are times I need to be awake for 24 hours just to cope with my social side. As a result.. eye bags.

Another downside is when I need to take Efavirenz during the day, in the event of some gathering, out of town or any activity that needs my mind and physical motors, Efavirenz’s side effects is hindering it. Now I am at the verge of this major adjustment where I need to take Efavirenz during the day and bear its undefined side effects. I have been taking EFV for 3 years now, dizziness is now well taken cared of – I just take menthol candies to combat the dizziness while I’m still awake. There’s still the vivid dreams which I can no longer control. 

These adjustments make me think to opt for a normal working schedule. Prior to this type of work, I was in the corporate setting and having a flexible work time as a privilege. 

I am having difficulties sleeping during the day, my mind tends to be more active and I think a lot when I hit the sheets. I admit, I still have the depression hangover from last year which somehow affects my internal cycle and re-bounces every now and then.

Now, my internal systems are slowly deteriorating because of inadequate sleep and abnormal circadian rhythms. I am balancing my sleeping habits with the normal routine I need to have. Maintaining my social being must be at hand for my depression not to recoil and this is a tough setup. 

Options for this 
1. Continue and play the balancing act game or,
2. Look for a new job – a normal working hour job and quit my current one.

I don’t know how to do this but — come what may.

*photo taken along Ayala Avenue after work. Going home from a bleak morning while most of the “normal” workers are getting to work.

Third Year of Being Poz

This marks my third year of being HIV positive. Honestly, I can’t really recall when was the exact date I went to Makati Medical Center and have myself tested, I know it was in between February and March. The 3 years of my conversion was a rollercoaster ride, too steep ups and too free fall when going down. This was the time when you will learn to appreciate who you are and what to perceive of what’s going to happen, being care free is no longer an option. Taking extra care of yourself more than the usual, when I was still considered HIV-negative, should now be your top most priority. 

Novice events took place the last 3 years – meeting new friends and acquaintances, finding someone to be a confidant, being more open to my feelings and a wider range of “activities”.

The first thing came into my mind after being diagnosed was to find someone to talk to and share what happened that afternoon. I went online and found some online forums and communities, which was a bit of help. A couple of weeks have past, I decided to create this blog in hopes of releasing tensions inside and let other reader know how I feel. Through this blog, I have met several people of the same sero-status which turned out to be ok.. though some were not. These people, which some I now call friends were the ones who helped me of somehow forgetting the past. The first year of being diagnosed was exciting because I tend to meet new people almost every week. From the old-school ARG clinic of RITM, to its weekly activities, to check ups with Ate Ana. Seeing new stuff after this were somehow great. I knew I wasn’t the only one.

My second year was not that blessed and turmoil started to pound. It affected both my professional and personal environment. It wasn’t easy for me to sustain myself. I think this year, I started creating a poz-Twitter account. I have some friends you used this and I joined the bandwagon. I have to admit, it was fun and there were lots of chances meeting new people. More than what RITM-ARG has provided. As the chemistry principle of entropy and enthalpy, the more you know.. the greater the chance of uncertainties. Which I proved to be true. It was good at the start but its quality started to decline month after month. It seemed to have contributed a big chunk of what my second year gave to me. I’m not putting blame, just stating what I see. If I happen to check my Twitter timeline, all I see are some types of crap. Not all, but most. Way far from before I started it. No longer that active coz I decided to focus more on blogging and meeting good and trustworthy friends. Just like the old times.

This 3rd year should be my rebound year. Bouncing back from where I left last 2011 and have a clear mindset of what to expect. No more chummy bullshits.

Or perhaps, throw and clean some trash out of my closet. Eradicate all that triggers. I think that’s the best way.

This blog will not be that long as most of the topics were discussed or will be discussed. I’ll keep you posted.

My third year statistics:

CD4 count – 710 units
Viral load – 80++ units, I can’t really recall
All other blood parameters: I think is normal
Mind state: sane
Emotional state: still unstable
Physical state: Good, but not for the fucking choosy
Financial state: I dunno, I’m poor

*by the way, what the hell happened to other poz bloggers? Where are you? Hope everything is fine.

Adventure

Last year, I promised myself to redeem traveling. I started the crave for traveling after few of my friends invited me to be with them on certain occasions and my photography skills were enhanced because of this.

2012 was not really a good year for me, I was heavily armed with depression and insecurities and as a getaway from this, I traveled alone the onset of 2013. My out-of-town destination was very common though, I just went to Baguio City to try if I can manage myself being alone. I proved myself right, maybe because I know the place so much and been there X number of times. Well, this time was different, I am on my own.. with no friends nor someone to be with.

The day before my planned trip, I was so anxious and hesitant of not going.. the experience that I’m going to partake is somewhat new. It was like “go or not to go?”. I still packed my things and went on my normal office routine. I just had one backpack handy as I don’t want the burden of my luggage – I’m a light packer.

When my work shift ended, it was like — “fuck this shit, come what may”. I withdrawn enough money a 3D/2N-stay. Took a cab and went to the nearest bus terminal. Upon stepping out the cab and bought my ticket from the counter, I felt the excitement. This is it. It may be a lame and “touristy” destination.. but I’m on my own – a totally different thing. As a solo traveler must-do, I sent an SMS to a friend with all possible information of my trip, just for emergency purposes only.

Morning rush hour trip is a pain the in the ass, with all the traffic and hustle.. the metro travel was still exciting. Just looking outside the window and watched the people fight the rush hour. I was entertained as well, the bus had Titanic as on-board movie feature. Well, a pretty mushy 2-hr trip.

When the wheels hit the rural areas, I never felt the sleepiness. Took my Efavirenz and bough some Mentos Air to combat its side effects. (It might work for you too, eating uber menthol candies when you need to keep awake after taking Efavirenz). I wasn’t able to sleep due to the rumble of the road, so I just took out my eye mask and went on a micro-sleep.

4 to 5 hours have passed, I can now see the zigzag roads and the treacherous mountains of Benguet. January is now the best time to go up hill since it’s more cooler than the rest of the year. Benguet and Mountain Province are my favorite spot north of Manila. Been here the most than the southern part.

Seeing the clouds hovering the window bus makes me wanna go down and feel them, less than 30 minutes and I will arriving the Baguio City terminal. Still feeling the grogginess of Efavirenz, I munched all Mentos. We then finally arrived and as I stepped out the bus, it was a reality feeling that I made it this far. Now the problem relies on where to find a nice and cheap hotel – as much as possible, I want this trip to be worth the penny. I can afford some but still not practical. I hired a local cab and as we looped the roads of Session Rd., I finally found the hotel I have been eyeing for when I searched for cheap hotels on Google. The hotel facility is good and perfect for the budget. Went to my room and took a couple of hours to rest. I planned my itinerary and where to eat, Baguio is known to for fresh produce. Decided on my what to buys and where to go’s.


Went to some of my old time favorite resto’s and places within the city and enjoyed the night. Dining alone on a foreign place is not much a big deal and not as awkward when you dine alone in the urban areas. It will be the start of your adventure – traveling alone, when you meet locals or co-tourist. I met 3 guys during my stay, thanks to mobile apps. No hanky pankies though.

I met three individual guys – a local and 2 separate tourist from/visitors from Manila. The “local guy” even asked me to join his friends for some booze session. I never do this with strangers but I tried, it was worth it, I met his friends and had some quick booze session. At least they were friendly enough and you can really feel the sense of belonging – no “out of place” thing. (this one was the most unforgettable experience I can imagine)

The “second guy” was also a visitor, he was staying at a hotel on the other side of the road. We met and talked, conversation did well and our minds met. That night, we decided to hang out and find some place to chill on. He was nice and there were no awkward feelings. Until now, we still communicate – which is a good thing. We even plan to go out of town again. (I know this won’t go further, we’re just friends – he’s nice, if you know what I mean).

The “third guy” was also from Manila, on a business trip. We met the next night, had some dinner and coffee together. He was as good as “second guy” when conversing. He has a boyfriend which calls his mobile phone every 20 minutes just to know what’s happening. The night was quick since we are enjoying some good talks.

The second and third day of my trip was for me alone. Went on different scenes and places, just to reminisce. Had some good food and great walks. Just me.

When I was about to buy bus tickets going to Manila, there was a bit of a problem.. tickets were sold out and will have to wait for around 6 hours for new buses to arrive. (it was a Sunday and many tourist were booked and will be returning to Manila), it was 430pm and the ticket I bought was for 1030pm. Good thing, I saw “third guy” along the line and we bumped into each other. He got the same ticket as mine and luckily we are just a seat apart. Ok, at least I have someone with me returning to Manila. The problem is, where to stay for 6 hours? A split second, I thought of “second guy” (he’s about to return to Manila the next day). I texted him and he immediately us his room for the next 6 hours. Everything went fine and if I haven’t met these guys the night prior to that day – I’m totally fucked up.

The quick vacation was a good experience. Not really the place itself but feeling of freedom, independency and meeting good people. The euphoria of returning to urban area with great memories to keep is just awesome. Now, I’m planning to do it again.. in random places.

**took a couple of shots using my smartphone for this post.

Latest CD4 count

Visited Research Institute for Tropical Medicine last Friday for medicine refill and CD4 testing. Been a long time since I last went here. I came in very early at 6:45 am for CD4 testing. They recently changed the cut-off time for blood extraction to 7am-8am only. At this early, I’m already on the 9th spot from the line. The process changed and improved a bit from the previous topsy turvy scene. Their process is more effective but less efficient. It took me roughly 8 hours waiting in vain. CD4 results are released within the day, in most cases 11am, after lunch otherwise. Since I am about to refill, they told me to wait for the doctor since she will be the one providing the prescription. You will encounter a very long and pain-on-the-ass wait. I’m gonna to another post about the crucial wait-for-results experience.


So far, I’m thankful for the result. In time for Thanksgiving day. 

From 406 units of CD4, it went up to 710 units.

This, perhaps, is one of the reason to be happy. Somehow, still thankful.

And oh by the way, I’m trying to resurface again. Struggling, but trying.

Follow me on Twitter @tcghiv

Four Hundred Six

Just like what my previous post was described – deteriorating, so as my new CD4 count. Last week I went to RITM to have my CD4 count and refill of meds. It was quite a busy day for them as the clinic was bombarded by old timers and new patients. They have a new system for those who are due for their CD4 test – to have it scheduled prior to you arrival at the clinic. I have heard this from a friend of mine and immediately sent Ate Beth an  SMS to have my appointment o more than a week before my preferred date.
Come that day, I called in sick to my boss and went straight to Alabang. My home is quite near RITM so there was no need to struggle for an early morning call time – they have a cutoff time for the test which is 10am. I arrived like 9am and it was crowded. They have asked if I had my appointment BUT they cannot seem to find my name on that piece of ‘office desk calendar’ appointment sheet. Just to find out that they mistakenly wrote my code as R11-XXX which should have been R10-XXX, ayaw pa nila ko payagan to take the test kasi wala naman daw sa list yung ‘code’ ko. I insisted that I have called a week before this day and they admit they commit an error. So the mere difference of R10 versus R11 would have put my leave into waste.
This was also the day when I saw an old friend of mine. But I did not pay attention too much to him as he was aslo busy with his anniverasry exams.
My tests were done and I’m now waiting for the prescription of my ARV’s. When this guy came in almost 10am, just before the cutoff time for CD4 testing, he didn’t know about the appointment and schedule setting prior to the test but after  a while they allowed him to take the CD4 test. I was just a mere observer that time and only one thing came into my mind: I have scheduled myself a week before this day to have my CD4 test and almost on the brink of not taking it and wasting my leave to nothing when this guy came on an instant and he was allowed to take it? That was just too unfair. This guy was like a BFF to them. Ok fine, I now know where should I place myself.

Nonetheless, I was still grateful that I had the test and they gave my 3-month supply of ARVs – STILL. Contrart to what others have said a week before that they now only give 1 month supply.
That day was really a frustration, my first time to experience after 2 years of going to them. Everytime I go to RITM, I always wanted to stay even after my appointment as I wanted to mingle with other patients and staffs, now It’s like the opposite. I wanna get myself out the minute I finish my deal. I just hope this won’t take too long to change.
Anyway, my CD4 streamline is now:

1st: 282
2nd: 610
3rd: 608
4th: 406

1st viral load: 110,000+
2nd viral load: 86
The results were just texted to me, so I don’t have any validity whether this tremendous drop is real or not. I’m just worrying why in the world this happened? Am I too stressed and depressed or my ARV’s are no longer working? With the viral load still *NOT* undetectable after taking the potent Efavirenz for almost 2 years… I’m just worrying to much.