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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.