Saturday, December 31, 2011

Thank you 2011, What's up 2012!

2011 has been a wild roller coaster ride. The one that makes me hold on to the edge of my seat. This will always be a memorable year for me. A lot of good and not so good things have happened. I know this is cliché, but I am letting bygones be bygones. I am bringing with me the good memories of 2011 and leaving behind the hurts, frustrations and pains.

To my parents – Papa and Mama – Thank you. I can never thank you enough for all the love and support. I may not have been a perfect son, but I know that I have been a good person. And I would like to thank you for raising me well. 

To my sister – Ate – Thank you for the love and understanding. We don’t get to talk as often as we used to be. And yes, I missed those days. I know that your family is your priority now. You are the best and the sweetest sister in the world.

To my BFF’s – M, J and N – Our friendship has been tested by time. Come hell or high water, we are always there for each other. Thank you to the wonderful 15 years of friendship. I am looking forward to more years of laughing, crying and making good memories with you.

This year I started to blog, I started to tweet. 

To my virtual readers – thank you for peeping. For leaving comments and for liking my entries. I hope that in my own little way, I have touched your lives. I promise to write as often this year.

To my twitter friends – thank you. Some of you I have met already. And I am looking forward to seeing you guys again. Let’s have coffee or dinner again. And let’s do it often. I am also looking forward to meet my other twitter and virtual friends. 

To YOU – you know who you are. Thank you. I have said this already. Ours is the kind of love that we need. We’re more than friends but less than lovers. Thank you and don’t ever change. ILY.

2011 is one for the books. Looking forward to making another wild, crazy, wonderful ride with all of you guys this 2012. 

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

twenty eleven

(Warning: A long read. Due to busy schedule, this could be my year end entry. Welcome the New Year safely.)
2011...looking back. The year started with a re-org in the office. Like everybody else, I was hesitant at first. But change is inevitable. And it turned out to be ok. New bosses were good. Co-officers are kinder, staff became more efficient. What else could you ask for?

Second quarter came and never in my wildest dream that 2011 will play a prank on me. A joke that I have to bear with for the rest of my life. Summer 2011, time for the annual physical exam. My officemate and me decided to have ours scheduled on the same weekend. APE package includes guess what, yes, HIV testing. I was hesitant at first. But after much convincing from my very good officemate friend, we both took it (she - single at that time).  And so without further ado, blood samples were taken. No counseling, no talks, NADA. Results came in two weeks after. Just when I thought that everything about me is normal, Blood Sugar - normal, Cholesterol - Normal, Uric Acid - Normal, FBS - Normal. Except for the low "good" cholesterol and my hypertension, everything's perfectly fine. Until two weeks later - a sealed white envelope was handed to me. And my life changed. I froze when I opened it for the first time inside the elevator. Speechless. Cold sweat. Floating. My mind isn't working at that time. All I could think is - death. I don't want to die.

I immediately went to the nearest chapel. How, I can no longer remember. I kneeled, prayed and ask for my mind to be clear. Never questioned HIM why. Up to this date, I never have the courage to ask HIM why. It was a self made act, nobody but me should be responsible for my doing. All I asked from HIM is for guidance to know what to do and lead me to the right person. For a month, I was out of the loop. I kept it to myself. I talked to no one but me. In prayers I talked with HIM. Saying sorry all the time. Long sleepless nights. For a month, all I did is to read and research about the virus. Is there a cure? What does it do to my body? Are there meds? Am I going to die? What about my parents? What about my sister, my nieces, my aunts? Lots of questions going through my head. The usual bubbly me suddenly became quiet and reserved. People from the office, especially my staff were the first to notice.

And so after a month of reading, researching and praying. I told myself this has to stop. I can no longer keep it to myself. I met someone from the net - a blogger, and HIV positive as well. The first pozzie friend I knew. He also helped me decide which hub to go. With all the information at hand, I finally had the courage to talk to my bestfriends. After a simple dinner, we went straight to her unit. I finally cried, I breakdown. Friends cried with me and they never questioned me. No judgement. They simply said, we have a big battle to fight and we are all in this together. That made me cry evenmore. As for my sister, I have an earlier post about how I disclosed to her.

I decided to "enroll" in SAGIP-PGH. The most proximate to where I live and work. (To my imaginary readers, especially for the newly diagnosed who haven't decided yet on which hub you will "enroll", consider proximity. Because if anything happens, you can easily go and see your doctor). Hour past noon, I was knocking at the door of SAGIP with my bff's. After a few minutes of waiting, I was invited inside the clinic and soon my new best friend - my doctor came in. She asked everything about me -  I told her everything she needs to know. Doctor simply said, "Ang tapang mo. Wala ka man lang kinausap for a month. But it looks like you have good family background naman kasi hindi ka naman nakaisip gumawa ng masama (suicidal? No Doc, I'm not)." What surprised Doc even more is that I never went through the usual HIV testing procedure - I was never counseled before and after taking the test. Not even a single word when I was handed the sealed envelope. It's as if having the virus is not enough, another blow came in. CD4 is very low at 31. I have to start with ARV's immediately. But I have to defer for two weeks since our family has scheduled a vacation as early as January and can no longer be cancelled. Immediately after our vacation I started with the ARV's.

It's been almost five months now since I took my first pill of Lamivudine/Zidovudine and Nevirapine - yes, that's my cocktail. Lucky eh, to stick to the first line of meds. I never had unusual side effects. As earlier mentioned in my previous entry, it was Azithromycin (one of my prophylaxis) that sent me to the hospital due to gastritis. Latest lab results are normal, ALT, AST, CBC and platelets are all normal. I am scheduled for my next CD4 and VL count next month. Until then, we will have to know if my body is really responding to the meds. For now, I am happy that I never experienced "nevirapine" rash and anemia. Recently, I found out (through a fellow pozzie who's taking the same cocktail) that there's a one-pill combination for all three meds. I asked my doctor and she said when I am stable enough we will try that one pill combo - yey!

During the Christmas Eve mass, I was teary eyed while praying. I am so grateful of the many blessings in my life. Despite what I am going through right now and despite what I will go through in the coming years. I don't want to say that this is my second lease in life. Rather, I am thankful that I was given the chance to live it fully and enjoy every single hour of it. Not just share but value time with family, friends and those people very dear to me and close to my heart. This year I learned to laugh a little more, love a lot more, appreciate things more.

2011 iba ka! 2012 excited na ako sa'yo.

I am looking forward to 2012. This coming year, I will continue to be a...

Son. Brother. Friend. This fallen angel will fly again...soon.

Monday, December 19, 2011

tears (cheers) for the holidays!

December has always been the busiest month of the year. Dinners, shopping and parties everywhere. Our office party’s theme this year is Masquerade Ball. Being the newbie in the company and the "bibo" kid that I am, I was chosen to be part of the committee. We were incharge in the preparation for the party and have to make sure that everything will run smoothly on the "big" day. I was also tasked to host the party that night.

Highlight of the party is the Division’s presentation cum competition. Our Division Head assigned me to lead the group. WTF, it’s as if being a committee member and hosting the party is not enough, I will have to lead a pack of 30 kids (including myself) – I call them kids as most of them are younger than me. After almost 3 weeks of preparation – yes that’s how big the presentation was and that’s how important it is as part of the Christmas Party, things are slowly getting into my nerve and tolling on me. Officemates have noticed the change from being Mr. Nice guy to Mr. Bad Guy – good pa din naman. Sungit lang ng kaunti due to the child-like and childish attitudes of some members of the group.

Last night of practice was hell night. I am really tired, after an almost whole day meeting with the committee, interviewing an applicant, meeting with the bosses. As what everyone would say, lowbat na ako during our rehearsal. I wasn’t able to check my phone not until I got home and this is what a very good friend from the office (who knows my sero-positive status) texted me:

"Teh naramdaman ko hirap at pagod mo. Bilib ako sa’yo. Nagagawa mo lahat yan despite what you’re going through. Wag mo pabayaan sarili mo. Ingat pag-uwi. God Bless unselfish people like you."

(Friend, I can feel that you’re tired and fatigued. I admire you. You can still do all those things despite what you’re going through, Take good care of yourself. Take care going home. God Bless unselfish people like you) – this is my best translation of her message. Hahaha!

Anyhow, what do I say to that? I am speechless. I never thought that someone would notice those simple gestures. I never complained about going home late and being tired during our practices. I don’t want to give them any hint that I am sick. And that deep inside, I want to breakdown and cry.

After a few minutes, I simply replied "Thank you. I was given the task; I have to do it. Kaya naman."

That simple message of appreciation brought tears to my eyes. I haven’t cried since opening up with my sister about my status. Not until last week. And this is a good reason to cry.

To you, I have already said how much I appreciate your kind words. Thank you very much.

By the way, our party was a blast. Our senior officers enjoyed the show and I received nice words and review from hosting the program. Our group finished third. Not bad.

Happy holidays everyone. Enjoy the festivities. Stay safe and healthy always.

Friday, December 02, 2011

PULSES on 4th

Yesterday marked my fourth month on ARV’s.  I know that you’ll get bored when I say that I don’t have side effects. No rashes, no more fever, no more body pains. Lab tests are all ok. Uhmm, I can pretty much say that my body has adjusted and is responding well to my meds. Yey!

Last night, I watched PULSES at The Libraray Bar in Malate with a fellow poz and some friends. Someone already warned me to bring tissue as this one will really make me cry. And it did. The play is all about real life experiences of PLHIV:

The one who decided to leave the country after finding out his sero-positive status: “Gusto kong lumayo, sa lugar na hindi ako pamilyar. Ang mga building hindi ko alam , ang mga tao hindi ko kilala.”….”Ayoko ng maligaw, gusto ko ng umuwi. Gusto ko sa lugar na alam ko ang mga building. Ayoko na sa dilim.”

The stigma experienced by the mother and child from a province down south.  “3 oras, pitumpu’t dalawang oras na lang. Hindi ako pwedeng matulog. Sana ako ang mauna.... Apat na araw na, HOPE.”

The commitment to that one person regardless of his status, acceptance and true love. “I don’t know what was that kiss for.... I looked at the clock, it doesn’t stop. “

The part that I love most was the “roof top” scene. It made me realized that our doctors, are not just there to help us be physically fit. They are also there to help us emotionally and unload ourselves of the burden we are carrying. But it doesn’t stop there, we pass it on to them and they carry it with them too. Our pain is also their pain, our joys is also theirs. Have you seen the smile on their faces every time we tell them that we’re ok and that we feel better. This means so much to them, because they know that they were able to save a life and help a “friend”.  

“Doon sa condo na yun Tita, sa 16th floor, Si Arjay and Kevin, seven years ago halos buto’t balat na, sila pa din ngayon. Sa 9th floor, si Benjie, Director na siya. At doon, sa Bus Station na yun, dun ako nakatira. Gusto ko magpasagasa sa bus noon. Pero eto ako ngayon, councilor. Dahil sa’yo tita.”

These are some of the lines from the play which I can recall. Probably because those lines and scenes brought tears to my eyes. Tama nga si Doc Kate, one of the doctors from my hub, this is her tweet “Maraming nangyayari sa buhay ng mga tao once they leave the clinic.”  At walang ibang tutulong sa atin kundi ang sarili lang natin. We may have the best doctor in town, we may be enrolled in the best “university”, our body maybe responding to the medicines well but what really matter is what we feel inside. The emotional pain we are going through or have gone through. I know this is cliché, but as they say, “The pain will always be there and will never go away for as long as you want it to stay.” So help yourself, trust in the Lord and everything will be ok.

One more thing, I will never forget this line…Kasi kahit ako, despite my status, nangangarap pa din ng isang taong makakasama sa buhay na tatanggapin ako at mamahalin ako ng buo. Magpapakilig sa akin at pag hinalikan  ako, ang masasabi ko lang ay…”Gagagarigagagagaa….” 

To all the PLHIV like me, we should never stop dreaming, believing and loving. You'll never know how many people you inspire,  how many people look up to you. You'll never know how many lives are you touching and how many lives are you saving.

***This was written almost midnight December 1, but was posted only today. 30th of the month is my ARV "monthsary".