Oh please not another one...

I have been nagging this friend to get tested for the past few months since he's been getting more sick as the days go by. He keeps going to the doctor and they would usually prescribe him allergy or cough medicine. He's been getting thinner and thinner, though he has been thinking that this was due fatigue, stress and working out. I on the other hand had a different idea. 

I guess I was trying not to alarm him so I've just been very supportive of his "treatments". He even started taking whey protein to help with his weight, which kinda worked for quite a bit. He would still get the occasional coughs, but again, we rested on the fact that his doctors told him that it might just be allergies and stress. He has also stopped smoking, that is why we also think that this has affected his coughing due to "smoking withdrawals". 

A few weeks back, he was sent on a working trip by his company which kind of made me nervous, seeing that his condition was not so good. While overseas, I told him not to post his pictures since he again was losing weight, I just didn't want people to worry too much.

Just 2 days ago, I got a missed call from him. This made me curious because he was not supposed to be back till the end of the month. I called him up and he told me that he felt that he was getting worse and that he immediately went back to the Philippines and headed straight to a private hospital. Still hoping that it was not what I thought it was, I told him I would try to visit him soon.

The other day, he called me saying that the doctors was asking if he could get tested for HIV. His fear about it is that if proven that he has HIV, his health card would not cover his expenses. With hesitance, I told him that he might as well decline the request and ask them to heal him first and then get tested, just so that he could still use his health card. After a few hours, he decided to get tested. I felt a bit guilty since I kind of knew that it would be best if the doctors knew what his real condition is.

I haven't heard from him since, only that I heard that he has moved to PGH. I'm still praying that it's not HIV, but him transferring hospitals is a big indicator.

Why does this have to happen to him? Why does this have to happen to anyone I know? Why does this have to happen to anyone at all?

Now I'm still waiting for a reply from him. I know he's trying to be strong. I would love to visit him but with my "still low" CD4 count, I wouldn't want to get complications by going to hospitals.

I wish I have powers to heal people.

Even though I have accepted having this condition, it just becomes difficult again when you know that someone you love is affected. :(  

Harder... Better... Faster... Stronger...

Just got may latest CD4 count and it's now.. as you see from above... 167!!!

Actually I'm not too sure how good this is, but 6 months ago my CD4 count was at 32. So I guess going up is better than getting worse. For those who are not well informed, the CD4 (Cluster of Differentiation 4) count is is a glycoprotein found on the surface of immune cells such as T helper cells, monocytes, macrophages, and dendritic cells. HIV infection leads to a progressive reduction in the number of T cells expressing CD4. Medical professionals refer to the CD4 count to decide when to begin treatment during HIV infection. Normal blood values are usually expressed as the number of cells per microliter (or cubic millimeter, mm3) of blood, with normal values for CD4 cells being 500-1200 cells/mm3. A CD4 count measures the number of T cells expressing CD4. While CD4 counts are not a direct HIV test--e.g. they do not check the presence of viral DNA, or specific antibodies against HIV--they are used to assess the immune system of a patient. Patients often undergo treatments when the CD4 counts reach a level of 350 cells per microliter; less than 200 cells per microliter in an HIV-positive individual is diagnosed as AIDS. Medical professionals also refer to CD4 tests to determine efficacy of treatment. (Info grabbed from wikipedia.com).

So yes, I am considered to have AIDS, though I don't really see much of the difference. The important thing to remember though is, the higher the CD4 count, the healthier I am!

Pretty happy and stoked about this and so are my parents. They have been with me every step of the way. 

It was a pretty daunting 2 days though. Last Monday (12/10/12), we went to RITM to have my bloodtests and to refill my ARV (Antiretroviral drug, used to treat infections by retroviruses, primarily HIV - or what I call my "magic pills). I had to prep by fasting for 8 hours. The only problem was we arrived at RITM in Alabang (we live in Quezon City by the way) at 10am when they only do the CD4 bloodtests from 7am to 8am, meaning we had to go back the next day. 

So come Tuesday (12/11/12), I fasted for 8 hours again and we headed to RITM. When we got to RITM, there was already a few people waiting in line. Sadly, one of them was a familiar face. It's not that I am afraid that they would recognize me, it's more of me feeling sad that another person that I know (though not personally) has been affected by the same disease as I have. Now when the guy went in to get his blood extracted,  I waited outside along with my parents. After a minute or two, there was a commotion. The nurse ran out of the room screaming emergency. it so happened that the guy was so nervous that he fainted, fell forward and hit his face on a table. Maybe he was scared of needles, of blood or was just feeling uneasy with the extraction. I'm not really sure how long he's been in my situation. Just to give you background on the guy, I've seen him in the gym that I go to like maybe a year back. He's actually very good looking with w body to die for, though you would note that he's a bit to feminine.

When it was my turn, the nurse told me that I needed to wait till 10am to get my Triglyceride test since that one needed 10 hours of fasting. So we had to wait 2 hours more, though she already took blood for my CBC and my CD4. Good thing we had a car so that I could still nap while waiting. After all the tests were done, we had to wait to 1pm to get the results. Again, napping in our car helped a lot since I lacked sleep and still had to go to work in the evening.

When we got the results (only the CD4 since there was a delay on my CBC and Triglycerides), the nurse, Ate Helen, was pleasantly surprised to how much my looks improved. When she last saw me, I had rashes and was thin due to weight loss. She looked like a really excited Aunt that I haven't seen for a long time. That is actually why I like going to RITM because they're very hospitable, not like my "nightmareous" experiences in the San Lazaro hub. 

After I got to talk to the doctor, they refilled my ARVs and we headed home.. err.. well... I headed to the office. Heheh!

The funny thing about he ride "home" was how my parent was more relaxed about my situation. My mom and dad was even open to me getting a condo in the future, where they promise to visit often given that I would get to afford one). They were also very calm about my love life situation, saying that they are happy that I am happy, and that I need to make sure that my "P" is safe as well. 

By the way, I just want to promote the blog of the person that really helped me in my journey in to this new life. Check out pozziepinoy.blogspot.com where you would find valuable information on how to go about the life of a "positive pinoy". Now even if you're not HIV positive, it's still a very good place to be informed.

Also RITM or The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine is located in Department of Health Compound, FILINVEST Corporate City, Alabang, Muntinlupa City, 1781 Philippines. If you want to get tested, or have found yourself as a "positive pinoy", drop by this hub and they will make sure that this journey becomes as painless as possible.

Living with this disease is not a death sentence... Only when you decide that it is.

Sorry if this post looked more like an infomercial or something.

Till my next post!

2012... The year that changed my life...

It's been 8 months since I last wrote on this blog. I guess this is what you could say as me resurfacing. So far I've been doing really great.

I feel very good. I would often joke that I'm actually healthier than most of the people around me. I will have to admit, there are times that I would be late with my ARVs (which I have already started months ago). I haven't had any side effects, well maybe other than the rashes disappearing and some minor mood swings, I could say that my meds have been really helpful. I would still have the occasional rashes, but that would be better than anything like pulmonary problems or fevers and stuff. I have also been gaining weight, which is good, but I really need to lose some because I already look too stocky for my liking. My 1st CD4 check will be on Monday and I'm both looking forward and a bit nervous about it. My friend says that since I haven't been getting sick, I might get really good results. My last CD4 count was 35, I'm hoping for an increase but I'm also getting ready to accept small improvements so that I wouldn't be too disappointed, but here's to hoping.

I feel like any normal person and I still get to do the things that I love. Dancing has really helped me a lot. I feel that it allows me to connect with myself, more than anything physical, I feel that it's more of a spiritual experience. My parents seem to have been more comfortable living with me. They don't panic as much anymore and there would be days that I would really forget that I have this condition. If before, I was always worried about the future, now I'm more optimistic and excited for great new things that are coming. 

I also have found love despite my predicament. You could say that we found love in a "HOPEFUL" place. He has accepted me fully and has promised to stay with me in this journey. I think that God gave him to me to remind me that things are not so hopeless. My parents "know about him"... I think we'll take things one at a time. 

Life with HIV is not so bad, as long as you have enough support from people around you. you also have to stay positive... No pun intended. 

I'll try to update this blog as much as I can, but I know that this new life that I have is gonna be better... At least better than what I thought it will be.  

My life in a blaze...

I haven't really been blogging a lot lately coz there's nothing really to blog about. Been kind of nervous to start on my ARVs but I wouldn't be starting it till maybe 2 week from now. The doctor said that I still have to go through 3 ARV counseling sessions before they give them to me. I kinda understand why coz taking ARVs is no joke. I really have to stick to the schedule, and I've never really been good at that. 

My parents have been the best during these trying times. I feel bad that they are also carrying this burden with me, I wish that we don't have anything to carry at all. It did brought us closer so I guess that's a blessing.

My health? I don't actually know what my state is right now. My strength is back but I developed Acid re-flux which is bad since it hinders me from eating and drinking so much. Swallowing is a pain. Been sleeping upright, since it helps relieve me of the pain.

Been thinking about dating and all the "I don't knows" that it would bring. It's just so scary since what if I actually found someone that I really like, I would eventually HAVE to tell him about my situation. 

Well I guess that's it for now, I kinda forced myself to write this since there is really nothing to write about. Let's see after tomorrow, my 2nd ARV counseling session.

ARV Counseling day 1

So I thought that I was supposed to get my ARVs today and have a start on them, but I guess I was mistaken. My first clinic was supposed to be San Lazaro, but even though I liked my doctor there (Doc Torres), we were advised by the doc who diagnosed me (Doc Chua of FEU) that we should transfer to RITM in Alabang. So we left the house at 5am so to avoid the traffic and so that I would still be able to go to the office. I initially told my parents that we should get my docs (cd4 results) from San Lazaro, but they told me that everything is fine and that the doc in RITM would know what to do. So after getting lost in Alabang (I actually thought we'd end up in Tagaytay), we (my parents and I) finally got to RITM.

It seemed like a real nice place, not crowded and far from the city. When we got to the HIV clinic, we were told that I had to have my cd4 taken again and wait till 2:30pm. When we told them that I already took it, they told us that we should have gotten documentation. Clearly I was pissed. So while waiting for my cd4 test, we decided to just go to San Lazaro and treat the 1st part of the day as if it never happened.

When we got to San Lazaro, it was already past 11am. There was a guy in a wheelchair and a big guy who was carrying a pistol with him in the clinic. I think the guy in the wheelchair was an infected inmate. Makes you realize that literally ANYONE can get the virus.

After my name was called (initially my dad accidentally gave out my real nickname, but good thing they allowed me to change it to Aqua), we got to talk to my doc, Dr. Torres. He's a very nice and patient doctor that's why I like him, he doesn't seem to mind when I have tantrums. He explained to us that today was a first of 3 ARV counseling sessions and I would get to start my ARVs after the 3rd one. Frustrating... I know. It was a good talk though. my parents got a better idea of what's going on and at least I wouldn't have to worry about getting side-effects for the next 3 weeks or so. Dr. Torres also gave me a list of foods that i would need to avoid while taking the ARVs... There were A LOT!

For now... We wait. Still debating whether I would need to tell my manager about my condition. Having this sickness calls for a lot of check up sessions with my doc and possible sick days...

Oh well...

Take a dive with me...

Second chances... 

Who would have thought that I would be able to get my biggest second chance in my life? Last November 2012, I got diagnosed with Pneumonia, got healed and got back on my feet. Come January, Pneumonia came back again, but this time, it wasn't the same as the one I got last year. My doctor, told me that my symptoms seemed familiar and asked me if it would be okay for me to take an HIV test. I said it was okay, but fear filled my mind. All eyes were on me, at least the most important eyes that have been watching over me since birth, my parents. I was so afraid that their biggest fear from me being gay would materialize. Then came the results... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

2 weeks in the hospital took a toll in me. Nights of crying under my sheets (so that my parents wouldn't see) and days of watching my parents hide their sadness were torture. I love my parents... their support and love are a few of the things that keeps me going. 

I'm Aqua and this is my life with HIV. Take a dive with me...