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┬áwhere 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.

Anniversary Feels

There are 3 instances where you’re being reminded of your HIV status.

1. When you take your scheduled medicines and ARVs
2. When you are to date someone
3. When you take your scheduled tests, CD4/VL etc

My anniversary test is every July. Going to my treatment hub is somewhat an anxious experience knowing how gruesome the day will be. The previous years, one must allot the whole day for this activity. From going there, blood extraction, medicine refill, consultation and waiting game, it usually takes 8-9 hours. Now, RITM-ARG has somewhat streamlined some of their processes and shorten it by 5-6 hours.

This cat kept me entertained

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Upon arrival, it was 6am. I’m already the 20th queue. It will be then filtered and sorted to who will be doing their anniv tests, consultation or what not. I got narrowed down to 9th queue. Had my blood extracted, took early lunch and did the waiting game. The new process has improved a lot but there are still loopholes to address to such as turn around time and organizing points of movement. E.g: all activities should be done in one point, blood extraction/ppd/Philhealth verification/booklet. If not in one place, it should be close on proximity. You can’t really go from one place to the other end of the hospital complex. You’re already in the blood extraction room, then why go to the pharmacy just to get a syringe and return back to fall in line again. PPD syringes or any other needed equipment should be in one place. But overall, still they improved.

The day started at

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And ended at, that’s 8 hours. ­čś┤­čś¬

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This year’s experience was ok. Waiting for too long isn’t really my cup of tea. It makesme irritated and agitated. Viral load results are now sent via email, so I can’t wait to receive mine. It’s my 2nd viral load test of my 6th year stint. Not really expecting good results but rather wishing some favorable numbers.

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.