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?

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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.

We Can’t Stop

It has been 4 (four) months since my last post. Pardon me for not really keeping up. I was busy for the last months or should I say I tend to slouch so much due to my ample time but decides to procrastinate more. Blogging was out of the way.

Let me regain the momentum and start if off with my anniversary blood test (RITM-ARG July 11, 2014). It was a routinary day, after work I then gush my way to Alabang. Good thing, a good friend of mine was also scheduled that day. No awkward and dull moments. An hour has passed, I arrived RITM and met my friend. The ARG entrance was packed with other patients, this was one unusual thing. It seems to be that they newly implemented a new security pact wherein no outsiders can enter the premises without permission. Makes sense to me, but everything went downhill when more and more “scheduled” patients flocked the entrance gate. The security’s new measure was a total disaster, it is already 8am and we were supposed to be at the clinic by this time having out blood extracted before cutoff time.

The crowd and system were at chaos, it seems the newly implemented security measure was half-baked and wasn’t even risk managed. This new measure made the existing poor process more uneventful. Stacking our patience up, (OH I STILL HATE THAT SECURITY GUARD – capslocked for emphasis) they let us in and queues were called. I’m up for queue 11, not bad. I also notice how patient volume has gone down as compared before.

Blood tests done, xray done, PPD done, I didn’t submit specimen for the rest, that’s my routine. Important things to know are CD4, Viral Load, CBC, cholesterol level.

The most exciting, excruciating, agonizing and torturous part of the day has come. The waiting time. Yes, from what I heard, unlike the other hubs, you can wait for your results. You just have to shell out a lot of patience, time and all the past time that you can spare. Go eat to the cafeteria, strut your way from the grassy lands to the nearby mall or just sit under a tree shade and watch people pass by. I prefer the latter, it really keeps me entertained.

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Had a chitchat and bunch of catch up with my good friend, (@kerouacPOZ). Also saw some familiar faces, 3 cute guys, one of which I was able to locate in Facebook. Endured the heat of the day. Oh, did mention how I STILL HATE THAT SECURITY GUARD?

I decided not to take the consultation as it will eat a big chunk of my time. By 1PM PST, I just wanted to go home. Take a shower and rest. Around 230PM PST, results were out and those waiting for the results, just to see the numbers, were called out. I got mine and I’m totally happy with it. BUT STILL, I HATE THAT SECURITY GUARD.

My new CD4 as of July 11, 2014 is 720 up by 207 units. A record breaking feat. The highest among the rest. It is a fluctuating trend. I’ll try to update on the next blog entry what I did so you out there can have an increase too.

***Wondering why “We Can’t Stop”? When 4 vials of blood were being extracted, Miley Cyrus did her thang. OH, I remember that medical staff who wears eyeglasses. ***

The Apocalypse

The Walking Dead Season 4 has started just in time for this year’s Halloween.

I am a big fan of zombie apocalypse films, video games and TV series. I’m such a fan, I even have them in my dreams. From The Walking Dead to Resident Evil. I imagine myself being in a real world zombie apocalypse, slashing and killing zombie heads. If this were real, maybe I would survive the entire apocalypse. I mean, I think I have the ninja skills but in terms of food scarcity, I don’t think I can make it. There are no ARV supplies too, so I wouldn’t last long.

 

Four Week Supply

I was able to refill another stash of ARV’s. These will last 4 months. In all fairness, RITM-ARG made an effort to make my refill and CD4 schedule into one scheduled visit. Thanks to that grumpy nurse.

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It was a rainy-monsoon day, getting there was like suicide. Refill schedules these days are much easier than before (they have now a “more” efficient” system of segregating refills, check ups and Cd4 testing – I should say a slight kudos good job). Slight, CD4 testing system still needs improvement.

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Anniversary Blood Work

July is my official anniversary month. July 2010 was the start month of my ARV’s, 5 months after the confirmatory test.

I got out from the office at 6 AM, just in time for RITM-ARG’s cutoff time for CD4 test. I arrived at the newly relocated ARG clinic around 7 in the morning and the queue was already long. I was 18th on the line, there were like around 20 or 30 the most patients in line for test. 

ARG clinic is now located at 3rd floor of the same building. I think they went upstairs to accommodate the growing number of patients which was like being in a can of sardines when it was located downstairs. The new location is quite spacious, bright and well lit due to overlooking windows, this is great as patients can feel more relaxed. But, the lounge is not that comfy. Dark and heat-intense. I’d suggest they provision some fans along side the sofas and chairs. Nonetheless, it’s good.

By the way, I had a dream where I was falling in line to get my queue in ARG several months back. I think it’s deja vu.

As the line was being processed, I can’t help myself but to observe the patients – this is how I spend time waiting. Saw a few cute guys, there’s one who’s wearing eye glasses (Rudy Project, which adds to his cuteness) chinky and looks neat and clean. Totally my type, too bad, he’s with his partner. I don’t know, but am a magnet of partnered guys.

I was so anxious and wanted to be called as soon as possible as I went on fasting for 10 hours and was totally hungry. I got a bit irritated with the Rad Tech not calling my code. i went to ask her I my number was called and she horrendously scolded at me. I just said sarcastically, “How can I hear you calling me when I’m inside the other room where my blood is being extracted?”. I got inside to have my chest XRAY, she was now nicer and I forgave her.

I took my lunch with someone whom I sat beside with when waiting for the CD4 queue. He’s new and did his first set of tests. He was nice enough, but conversation wasn’t spontaneous so I decided to leave him. I hate awkward moments.

After lunch I went to the new waiting lounge for those who will have their check up. It’s beside the dog bite section, if am not mistaken. I arrived at the time where the guys and this PhilHealth officer are having chit chats and having some question and answer discussion. I most of the guys in the lounge were new. Kept quiet and listening to their open group discussion. Then came this guy, the macho-tattooed-happy-and-gay guy, I should say one of the cute that I saw but just so-so. He’s tattooed, somehow a gym guy… but like a sponge. Happy and gay. You know what I mean. The lounge turned into a mini comedy bar where this tattooed guy starts to make fun of the other guys – of course it was only meant for entertainment purposes. Things went lighter as time passes. I should say, this guy is hot if only he could be a power top – to my disappointment, he’s more than a power bottom. Oh chances.

As the time passes, so as the numbers being called. Others already went home. Around 2PM, my number was called for the check up. Checked my stats and went to the doctor to get me checked. The doctor prescribed Isoniazid, 6 months, for prophylaxis against Tubercolosis. Maybe I won’t do it. 

After the check up, I went back to the lounge to part ways. The tattooed guy asked for number and I went home along with some guys who are along the way. It was a good experience despite the hunger, irritation and lack of sleep.

 

Here are my stats:

CD: 740

Hemoglobin: normal (no longer anemic)

Weight: maintained at 73kg (5’10 height proportion)

PPD: normal, no swelling after couple of hours/days

Sputum test: skipped, I never liked this test. Ever.

Overall: 9/10

 

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.