Thursday, April 11, 2013

My "anniversary" visit and my new CD4 count

I went to my treatment hub yesterday (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) for my CD4 count and other so-called "anniversary" tests (blood, chemistry, physical laboratory tests done yearly) and I was already dreading the thought of going there, particularly the travel to and from my place.  Since I took a day's leave from work, I was thinking maybe I would not stay long in RITM and spend the rest of the day at home.

I tried to keep my spirits up but there was this nagging feeling that I may encounter a hitch on my way to RITM and during my stay there.

I woke up at 5 a.m., showered, dressed up, and left for RITM at 6 a.m. with no breakfast because those set for "anniversary" tests should go fasting the night before. Also, CD4 count is set from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. only.  I arrived in Alabang a little past 6:30 a.m. and went to the public transport station for RITM-bound vehicles and just as I was approaching the station, a vehicle was leaving and I had to run to catch it. Alas, I didn't so I had to wait for several minutes for another vehicle to ferry people to RITM.  I got in RITM before 7 a.m. and I sprinted to the laboratory to submit my lab request papers that I already had in my possession.  I had my x-ray first then blood extraction for CD4 and CBC.  I  chanced upon a PLHIV-friend of mine and chatted with him for awhile.  As my turn for the blood extraction was still sometime later, I went to the Aids Research Group (ARG) clinic to submit my Philhealth papers and ran back to the laboratory.  I was touched by the gesture of the nurse in the ARG when he saw my records and greeted me belated happy birthday as I marked my natal day the day before.  After blood samples were taken from me, I went to the canteen to eat as I was FAMISHED!

After breakfast, I went to the clinic for my PPD shot and met Ate Ellen who told me that I have to wait until 1 p.m. for my physical checkup and so I would know my  CD4 count. Darn! I was already done with my lab tests past 8 a.m. and I really didn't want to stay too long in RITM.  Having no choice, I decided to stay in the clinic where Ate Ellen was and got bored so I went to the ARG clinic to wait and also got bored. :(

I went back to Ate Ellen past 10 a.m. and luckily my CD4 count result was already forwarded to her. My CD4 count is now 457 from 409 in April last year.  I was downhearted upon learning of the minimal increase in my CD4 count but consoled myself with the thought that an increase is much better than a decrease.

Ate Ellen told me I could go home and the physical examination by the doctor on duty isn't really important unless I needed to consult the doc about something that I was suffering from - HIV-related ailments or what.  Ate Ellen told me she will just forward my CD4 count result to the doctor when he or she arrives at 1 p.m.

However, Ate Ellen noticed that I was wearing a charm bracelet then she told me I shouldn't have worn it in RITM since it would absorb the negative energy in the place. Argh! (I bought that bracelet in Binondo on Chinese New Year's Eve last February to protect me from harm, sicknesses, and other bad things and to attract money.) Well, that means I have to brace the sweltering heat and go to the shop in Binondo where I bought the bracelet to cleanse and re-energize it.  There goes my earlier plan to go home from RITM to rest. Sigh.

So, from RITM, I proceeded to Binondo to have my bracelet cleansed and re-energized in the shop where I bought it and asked if I should not wear the bracelet in a hospital.  The shop owner, a Filipino-Chinese lady, told me that generally speaking, I could bring it in a hospital since it would protect me from any negative energy or ailments while I am there but its "power" would wane a bit.  After having a quick lunch in Chinatown, I went home.  I arrived in my place at 1 p.m., took a shower right away and had a nap with a smile because of the good result of my CD4 count

Monday, April 1, 2013

Discrimination in one's family

I read awhile ago in a Facebook group created for PLHIVs, advocates and supporters about two young Filipino PLHIVs who have been ostracized/disowned/kicked out of their families. According to the post in that group, the two PLHIVs need temporary accommodations and food to sustain them.  They are both working and need a place to stay, something they can only do after office hours.  This isn't the first time I have come across such cases though.

Their situation makes me very sad and very angry at their families for doing such a thing.  It maybe due to ignorance of the manageable ailment, disgust, anger, denial or whatever.

It is very sad to learn when a young PLHIV, who has just learned of his status and is at a loss on how to deal with it, gets kicked out of his or her family, which should be the first one to support and understand him or her.

I don't mean to rub salt on those PLHIV's wounds, so to speak, but I am lucky that when I came out to my two siblings (we don't have parents anymore), they were devastated to learn of my status but they didn't have second thoughts giving their complete support and understanding.

This brings mean to the issue of coming out about one's status-to whom or when do we do it.  I believe that before a PLHIV, especially one who is newly-diagnosed, should come out to anyone, including his or her family, the PLHIV should be equipped with adequate knowledge of HIV and AIDS so that if questions arise from the person or persons the PLHIV comes out, he or she can give a sufficient answer.

Know the level of knowledge of the person or persons you plan to come out to. A PLHIV can do this without necessarily revealing his or her status but through general or generic questions.  From there, the PLHIV will determine if he or she can be trusted and he or she can be assured of that person's complete support, understanding and can be bound to secrecy.  I can say that the lesser a person knows about HIV and AIDS, the higher the likelihood or chance that person will discriminate a PLHIV.

A PLHIV should take time before coming out to anyone.  He or she should think it over several times before doing so.  Consider the pros and cons.  Be completely ready-emotionally and psychologically-in coming out.  It is not easy coming out to anyone about one's status.  I should know because I've been through it.

And lastly, Pray. Pray to Him for guidance, strength and help in what you will do.  Believe me, prayers can do wonders.