Long Term Effects Part 2

When a large-sized shirt is too big and a medium one is too small. Being skinny fat is a daunting situation to take. You look fit enough but not so in the middle core area. One long term effects of taking ARV’s is Lipodystrophy, the changes in body fat usage and redistribution associated with metabolic disturbances in PLHIV.

Resource Link: https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/understanding-hiv-aids/fact-sheets/22/63/hiv-medicines-and-side-effects

I have been taking ARV’s for the past 7 years and never changed my regimen, Lamivudine/Zidovudine and Efavirenz. I’m happy with what I am taking since it means older medicines still work with my body and I have enough pipeline buffer to take newer ones in the future. I’m not happy about it due to its side effects, both long term and short term. I think I have discussed about some effects of it on my previous post.

Lipodystrophy affects one’s self-esteem since it alters your physical attributes and changes how you look like. For some, shrinking of the extremities such as arms and legs are common. You look like a walking praying mantis, dried up and about to dismantle any second, and it is not really good. Well, others will judge how sickly and “unhealthy” you like and it will drastically pull your esteem to lowest of low. Redistribution of body fats are common as well and the most targeted area is the core – belly as you say it.

Overall, it is not a good experience and will somehow affect your way of life. The good news is there are ways to fix it. Eating the right kinds of food, taking less fatty and sugary meals, eating more fruits and vegetables. Most importantly, working out.

Speaking of which, I have been working out the past couple of years with a goal to fix what’s needed to be fixed – my disproportional body aesthetics. I look normal in some ways but when you try to take of my clothes, everything is blasted and it doesn’t seem right. I have enrolled myself to Anytime Fitness so I can have the full flexibility of the schedule.

The attempt is tremendous and I need extra effort to achieve the goal. However, it has becoming extremely frustrated. Seems like nothing has changed, some few cuts and tone and that’s it. Looks like I am doing something incorrectly, wasting my time, effort, and money. Giving up is almost inevitable. From 3-4 times a week, I now go 2 times a week.

Pretty demotivating knowing how superficial the community is. Comparing yourself to others and asking yourself why you can’t do it seems like the worse case, and that’s where am I at.

I’ll try to keep myself up and probably search other options for it to work.  To those who are experiencing the same, hopefully we can surpass it.

 

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The Least Thing You Can Do

It has been 7 years since I was last diagnosed. Roughly. I don’t recall the exact date but it was definitely between February and March. The feeling of going back and forth to Makati Medical Center and until the diagnosis was given is such a remarkable experience. My overall physical health has greatly improved, though there were some instances that I needed to be in the hospital for some check up and medication. Went twice due to amoebiasis and another due to a minor fracture. It wasn’t good but then I realized one thing, to those people who are PLHIV and keeping it to themselves, the least thing you need to be is being hospitalized. You will be in a situation where you’re forcefully to disclose your status either to a family member or a friend. When you are rushed to the hospital and your stock of ARVs are left home, you’re done. You can’t just ask your mom to get it for you without her asking what it is for or ask the doctor if they have in their stock list. Girl, you are doomed.

When I was on a leg boot for 2 months, I couldn’t go out and organize my PHILHEALTH insurance, which is needed to claim your sets of ARVs, and what more to personally get my ARV refill in RITM. My tablets were about to run out and I had no choice but to think of how can I go about it. Luckily, I have a close poz friend who goes to RITM, I humbly ask if when he’s going and if he can claim the medicine on my behalf. Surprisingly, he agreed and even offered to bring it to my house. I asked the ARG staff if I can follow up my papers after being off cast and yes, they allowed me to.

Cutting the story short, the lesson here is to take care of yourself, lessen the chance of being hospitalized and if the time comes, you need to have at least a confidant where you can share your challenges with. For those who have disclosed their statuses to their families or good friends, good for you, you have one less thing to think of.

To my good friend, thanks for carrying my medicines. I owe you something. Like Starbucks, pizza or something?

Goals for 2017

It’s been a while since my last blog post. I’m not really running out of ideas but rather having inconsistencies when it come to creating one, and this 2017, one of my goals is to at least post once a month. Along with this, I have primary goals for this year. One is to acquire a skills certification, I’m still deciding yet what certification course to take. I’m already eyeing some IT certification classes like ITIL or Project Management. There’s also a possibility to take Quality Assurance, anything related to ISO practices and even passing a Civil Service examination. Honestly, at this point in time, I’m still in the middle of a quarter-life crisis and pretty malleable where to go. But for now, my aim is to improve and widen my skill set to help me achieve my long term goals.

Travel more and further is another goal for this year. I’m starting to scrap the non-essential things to spend like weekly hanging out, dinner, movie, Starbucks and what not. I also started to save using a piggy bank to effectively save for a year end travel. If not plausible, by 2018. I’m also trying to complete all ASEAN countries, only 3 more to go – Myanmar, Laos and Brunei. Not a priority but an achievement if I can make it. Maybe I can also share some of my travel experiences here? (I know there’s a lot to say lol).

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Fourth is of course maintaining my well being. The golden rule of PLHIV is to take care of themselves and the least thing I can do is take my medications religiously. MY target is to aim for 100% adherence and maintain my undetectable viral load status. Practice safe sex is still a priority. It doesn’t mean I can go wild and rowdy with this undetectable status. So please, take care of yours too. We don’t want to go the hospital asking the doctor to remove a growing cauliflower in your butthole or be tested positive in Herpes or Chlamydia and die. Improving my aesthetic part is also in progress.

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Fifth, improve and boost my mental health. Not that I’m crazy or Schizophrenic, but rather to alleviate the depression I’m going through. Lessening the burdens one at a time. I know it may take a while but I have been in constant effort of doing so. In line with this, seeking improvements in my self esteem. Reducing the need to be social anxious. Try getting new sets of friends,but of course, by choosing them wisely. I’m not getting any younger.

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Lastly, maybe stay committed to achieve these. No one can really help but myself. I know it will be hard but I’d rather try. I have given up and I think another chance has been bestowed. SO why not.

How about you, do you have goals for this year? Write it down and let me know, maybe we can share some ways on how to achieve it.