Monday, June 28, 2010

CBC update and a long trip to Bulacan

June 25. After I got off from work at 6 a.m., I took a quick nap and left the house at past 10 a.m. I arrived at RITM past noon for my follow-up CBC as scheduled and proceeded to the lounge since I expected the clinic to be closed. I chanced upon the lounge staff having their lunch and gave them a box of donuts that I had bought as "pasalubong."

At 1 p.m., I went to the clinical laboratory for my blood extraction and after less than 2 minutes, I went back to the lounge to wait for the CBC results. I was optimistic that my hemoglobin count would be higher than then 123 that I registered in late May since I was already taking ferrous sulfate and eating as much green leafy veggies as well as bitter gourd (ampalaya).

When the results arrived at the clinic, Ate Ana called for me and the doctor told me that my hemoglobin count went down a notch. From 123, it now was 122. What?! Haaay. Anyway, the doctor said I will have to return to RITM next month for yet another CBC. The good news is my lami-zido has not been replaced. I also had to replenish my supply so I was given three months worth of ARVs.

I was through with what I needed to do in RITM at past 4 and I hitched a ride with AA. We picked up my partner at Festival Mall then off we went to pick up A in Manila, who asked AA if he could bring him to San Miguel, Bulacan to pick up a laptop, and then AA's partner, J, in Quezon City. We got to San Miguel, Bulacan at past 9 p.m. and since we were near Gapan, Nueva Ecija, we decided to go there for quick dinner at Jollibee. We arrived back in Manila past 12. T'was surely a tiring day.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Revelation and surprise

Just as I was thinking of something to blog about since I haven't updated this for quite sometime now, something came up. Talk about timing.

A friend of mine, who I've known way back 2001 or 2002 and who I had a short-lived romance, suddenly chatted with me in private over at Facebook and asked how I was. Let's call this friend of mine as "D". At first, I thought the conversation was just the usual "hey-how have you been-what's up with you" type of chat. It turned out otherwise.

D asked if I still frequented Morato where an ex of mine co-owns a bar. D and I chanced upon each other in my ex's bar sometime in 2007. I said not anymore, after that former lover and I broke up. The reason he asked me was because he wanted to talk to me and hoped that he and I could meet up. I told D we get to seldom meet and if ever we get to interact, it's through Facebook so I prodded him to tell me what he wanted to say.

Without any hesitation, he told me he was positive and he learned of his status in 2007. His partner, who is a friend of mine as well, is negative. He came out to me because he said he wanted to tell all his exes. Although he and I didn't have sex during our short-lived romance and the most we did was torrid kissing, he said he felt that he still had the obligation to tell me. It was a touching gesture on D's part and in return, I came out to him also. I also told him my partner is negative as well. He took it well and we shared experiences and the travails of being poz.

Anyway, aside from wanting to inform his exes about his status, D also said he came out to me after he met someone from a poz group in my home province and in the course of their conversation, D rattled off names of people he know who are in Manila now but are from my home province. When my name came up, that person reacted "oddly" as D described it. So D asked that person if I was poz. The person only told D to ask me. That person could have flatly said No and instead left doubts on D's mind. Sigh. Of all people who would implicitly reveal my status, it had to be someone from my home province instead of someone from here in Manila. To be honest about it, I already half expect my status to come out in the public sooner or later from someone here who knows about it. Maybe by accident or borne out of revenge.

Need I remind those in the poz community that Republic Act (RA) 8504 contains responsibilities for pozzies that include a prohibition against implicitly or explicitly revealing the HIV status of a person.

I hope to meet D again one day after a long time so we can catch up on each other's lives and perhaps he can remember who was that person who implicitly "outed" me. At the end of our chat, I thanked D for coming out to me and trusting me with his secret as I assured him that it is safe with me.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A double whammy

Nothing prepared for me for what happened last Monday, June 7. It was like being doused with ice-cold water - twice!

I went to RITM to have my infected acne (one on my chin and the other just below the left nostril) checked by the dermatologist and find out what were the marks I noticed and felt on the right side of my neck and nape that looked like allergy. I was really hoping it was not shingles.

I called up Dr. Ditangco's clinic early in the morning and informed them that I was coming for a checkup and so they can ready my records. I was told the dermatologist was available at 3 p.m. yet afternoon yet so I dropped by the clinic first where I found Zairah and a new pozzie getting up from bed, visibly ill and suffering from rashes due to the ARVs he was taking. He was accompanied by his elder brother. We proceeded to the lounge where I found Dr. Ditangco, the staff and 2 other pozzies there. The new pozzie went to the small room cum kitchen to rest and I took my place at the sofa to watch TV. Lunch (chicken afritada) cooked by Ate Ellen was served and I talked to the brother of the new pozzie. Since I was inspired and "renewed" after I had attended the self-empowerment seminar conducted by Dr. Ditangco's sister, Dra. Rita, over the weekend at the Citystate Tower Hotel in Ermita, Manila, I provided support and advice to the pozzie's brother and told him that the fever and rashes that his brother is experiencing are just temporary. I shared how I dealt with the side effects of the ARVs. After awhile, the pozzie and his brother had to go to the clinic because the doctor on duty was already there.

At 3 p.m., Ate Ellen accompanied me to the dermatologist. After the standard interview and physical examination, my worst fear was confirmed - I had herpes zoster or shingles. What??!! Where did I get this?! The docs who attended to me explained that low resistance and stress may have caused it. Shingles, I was also told, is a recurrence of the chickenpox I suffered from when I was a kid. I was asked if I had chickenpox before but told the doctors I don't remember. Anyway, I was prescribed medicines for the shingles and for my infected acne. I informed Dr. Ditangco and the other staffers what I had and then went to the clinic to find out if any of the prescribed medicines were available. I went to the pharmacy and had an unpleasant run-in with one of the employees there when I checked with them if they had the prescribed medicines. Luckily, they had most of it.

I went back to the clinic with my medicines from the pharmacy, and got the biggest shock of the day. When I entered the clinic, I saw Dr. C., a very good friend of mine, who I found out worked at the RITM as a consultant. He was visibly shocked to see me there and asked what was I doing in the clinic? I panicked and said I was following up something. Dr. C had to leave the clinic because he had a patient to attend to. I was so affected by what happened up until I got home. I mustered enough guts to call Dr. C and came out to him about my status. He said he wasn't surprised since those who would go to Dr Ditangco's clinic were pozzies. I related all the events prior to my taking the HIV test and how I am dealing with my status. He told me not to be surprised if I find other people I know (close or acquaintances) having a checkup at RITM. I didn't ask who was he referring to. Dr. C told me to take it easy and to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I heaved a sigh of relief after the call.

Two shockers in one day was enough to rattle me and I hope it doesn't happen again. As for my shingles, I am recovering just fine and I hope they don't leave any scars.