Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Box

For the few weeks that I've been waiting for my confirmatory result, I have been somehow a bit hopeful.  After all, the rapid test is only 95% accurate so for us optimistic mortals, that remaining five percent is enough to push us to dream that once Pandora's Box is opened again, it would somehow say, please God, non-reactive.

But of course, I have also remained positive that the rapid test was correct.  Looking back at my life, especially the sluttier parts of it,  I couldn't blame the damn result for crying it out loud at my face that I am reactive.  To anyone who actually knows me, it would be more surprising if it says otherwise.  When Ricky Martin confessed today that he's a proud homosexual man, did anyone get surprised?

I had slept with countless men since I was a teenager.  I get dizzy just by trying to remember them all.  I had sex everywhere, anywhere and anytime.  To say that I am a whore is an understatement.  I was even proud of it because I didn't care and because I was such a sad, insecure bitch every time a boyfriend leaves me.  I was very aware of the consequences but every time I'm in the arms of a beautiful man, I forget myself.

Today, I went to open Pandora's Box again.  Honestly, even after a few days of already accepting the fact, I still felt fear, albeit tiny.  But I was more peaceful.  I have already faced and forgave myself and promised not to screw it again this time.  No matter what the final results are, there's always hope and it has always been in the box for anyone brave enough to open it.  

So I opened it, laughed and said, "I know, right?"

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Goin' Bananas!

Saw this posted somewhere and this is good news!  A study found out that lectins, naturally-occurring substances found in plants especially in bananas, are just as potent as two current anti-HIV drugs. A friend wittily commented that bananas could indeed prevent HIV even if you don't eat it.  And guess what, I think you can even have unprotected sex with bananas, if you're really into it.  

The next time you go to the supermarket, don't forget to add bananas in your cart.  This is one thing we all have to include in our diet from now on.

Click here for the full article:  Bananas May Prevent HIV

A License to Party Again?

I know it's very early to say this but I think I'm beginning to get the hang of this.  I've always been a happy person; okay, happy-go-lucky as well.  I've never taken life seriously before. I've just taken it for granted like it's my privilege and right not to worry so much about it.

I was also never ambitious.  I was born poor but my Mom has taught me how to be satisfied all the time.   As I was growing up, I realized that if this is all life could only offer me, then I should gladly accept it.  If I couldn't afford the finer things in life, then I should never go crazy over them.

So yeah, being not too ambitious and merry-goes-whatever, I let life take its course.  I was like, whatever.  I partied all the time, drink like tomorrow's the end of the world and sometimes, let myself do mistakes.  The last being irreversible.

Yes, that one irreversible mistake but again, I should gladly accept that.  But it did shake me and did scare me to hell.  I've always thought I would die young but until I got diagnosed with HIV, it never occurred to me that I'd really die this early.  I sort of died the day I knew and lived like a zombie afterwards.  I can't take life un-seriously anymore, I thought to myself.  After the day I found out, every day seems to be a blessing.

I take life seriously now, of course.  After all, it was not kidding when it gave me this virus.  But, I think being serious about it doesn't really mean I should just mope and cry all day, every day, forever and ever or does it? Life goes on - I've read that somewhere.  I'm not truly dead yet and like everyone else, I also don't know when exactly my last breath would be.

The only difference between me and everyone else is that I literally own my life now.  I can do the hell whatever I want with it.  It's up to me if I'd want to prolong this or shorten this.  Everyone else doesn't have that power.

Last night, I went clubbing for the first time this year.  But since I'm already serious with my life now, I made sure I had at least 8 hours of sleep before I made the decision.  I also decided not to drink and I also skipped on smoking.  I danced so I could also work out.

I guess, I can bargain and compromise with the Reaper for a while now.  I think I've been given another license to party.  All I need to do is play by life's rules, not mine this time, and I should be able to do this indefinitely. Yeah, just like everyone else.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Something to Entertain and Educate

It sometimes takes more than just a long lecture to get the message across.  Yes, lectures do get the message across but most humans - hard-headed ones like me - just don't have the attention span to listen especially if the topic does not directly affect them.  Before I got diagnosed with HIV, I wasn't also paying that much attention to people who are living with the virus and to what they've got to say.

What could have also stopped me on my tracks and made me listen though, are movies.  First of all, everyone loves movies.  I love, in particular, serious movies with serious messages.  It's just another misfortune that I haven't gone out and watch a movie about HIV/AIDS.  I think films are a powerful tool to reach out to young people and they can get the message across without killing those with ADHD out of boredom.

I've looked around for good films about HIV/AIDS and here's a short list of what I'm going to watch this weekend:

1.  Philadelphia - I had actually watched this movie when I was like in kindergarten - eons ago. I just didn't remember what it was all about.  What I haven't forgotten is that Tom Hanks is written all over it and I think he even won an Oscar for his role in this film so I guess this is worth watching again.

2.  Rent -  Based on a musical of the same title, I am wondering myself why this hasn't grabbed my attention until now.  I even don't have a clue if this film was shown in theaters here.  This better be good because - except for the drugs - I think I can definitely find some connections between my life and the characters' lives.

3. Angels in America - This is an epic HBO mini-series and I hate that I actually missed to watch this.  How could I?

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Night I Got Resurrected

I was having lunch yesterday when I checked my inbox and was glad to have received an email from LT.  That's Lucky Trese for you bitches but if you first thought it's Lorna T., I'm sure he wouldn't mind; he's just as beautiful as I would have found out later that evening.  He gave me his number in the email and told me that if I do need someone to talk to or meet up for coffee perhaps, he's available.  I nearly jumped out of my seat! Of course I want to meet him.  So, I saved his number and planned to text him later in the afternoon to warm things up a little.

Then, the power went out.  I was a bit annoyed because temp was over 31ºC and I couldn't stand the heat and humidity in this third-world country.  I immediately took a shower and off I went to Shangri-la Plaza in 20 minutes.  It's really convenient to be near malls at this time of the year; you need all the A/C in the world just to be relieved from the searing heat of El Niño and malls provide you exactly just that.

At Shang, I bought a cup of frozen yogurt topped with blueberries.  It was my first cup since I decided to house-arrest myself for about half a month.  Little things like this make my sweet-tooth self a bit happy and poor me got deprived for quite some time already.

Then, I went to National Bookstore to read my favorite magazines - Time and Newsweek.  Yeah, yeah, I'm a geek.  The articles were about the usual things.  The world is still crazy with threats of war going on between the Middle East and the US - old news; China's going to beat Japan's economy this year - expected; and Facebook reigning it supreme in the interwebz - we already know that, right?

I texted LT and asked him how he was doing.  After a few exchanges of texts, God, I could instantly tell he's funny!  I love people who have a good sense of humor.  They're the ones I could easily get along with.  Don't get me wrong, I could use all the drama I need given the circumstances but I also badly need a good laugh.  We then later decided to meet up at Greenbelt to have dinner and oh boy, I couldn't wait.

At exactly 7PM, he was already at our meeting place and was dressed precisely as he described it.  We gave very quick introductions and decided to have dinner at Kitchen.  After we sat down and gave our orders, we went down to business.  Nothing really serious.  I wanted to hear his story and I've had a few questions in mind too which were begging for answers.

I was happy to hear he's having a blast.  He still goes out and party.  Why of course, I shouldn't have been surprised at all!  It's just me being swallowed by paranoia.  Life should go on.  We are not disabled.  We just really need to take care of ourselves, that's all.

As we were having dinner, we were joined by two more superheroes - J and M.  They were in the area, it so happened and I was very glad they were.  I've been hoping to meet them and last night was just the perfect night.  Then, another two joined us, V and M2.  Just absolutely perfect.

LT had to leave after dinner but I stayed with the rest of the gang.  I love them right away.  With them, it feels like home - warm.  They made me feel so and I am very thankful.  On my way home, I smiled to myself and said, "Welcome back to Earth, you've been raised from the dead."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dear Nay and Tay,

How I wish I'm there with you.  I miss home.  I miss the warm Tinola at dinner and how we all used to argue about politics over the table but ended laughing about it.  I miss how we all used to squeeze ourselves together just so we could all sleep in one bed.

You are the greatest parents any child could wish for and I am so proud of you.  I wish I could also be the greatest child you could wish for.  When you asked me to take a nap after lunch, I wish I listened.  When you asked me to wash the dishes,  I wish I did without breaking a saucer or a cup.  When you asked me to attend my classes, I wish I never dropped by a video-game station and played Mario Bros. 3 instead.

And I wish I never left from your side.  My heart has always been at home, longing for your warm embrace.  My desire for independence was only so I could help but I guess I failed.  I am sorry I've disappointed you once more and I hope you can forgive me.

I love you Nay, Tay.  I won't break your hearts this time I promise because I'll just keep this to myself.

Your prodigal son,

How to Stay Alive Plan

As with all situations, there's a need for a good plan.  My goal is to stay healthy and be productive for as long as heaven grants.  I am very poor and my family partially depends on me (my father being diabetic now) so dying early is not an option.  I've just got to live despite the difficult circumstances.

    1.  Talk to someone I trust.

Unfortunately for me, most of my closest friends, old and new, are either offshore or in far-flung  provinces.  They aren't physically here but I'm glad they're all reachable through Facebook, mobile phones, etc.  I am overwhelmed by the acceptance, support and love from the people whom I've already talked to.  I am very thankful they're around to tell me that I've got to hang on because having this virus is not the end of the world.

The list is not very long.  I have yet to talk to others especially to my two childhood bestfriends but I am not ready to give them the news yet so I hope they forgive me for not telling them right away.

    2.  Get back to work.
I've been away from the office for quite some time now.  I am going back by Monday and hoping to become even more productive than ever before.  I will not stress myself out, of course.  Everything has to be balanced.

    3.  Quit smoking.

With all the strength left in me, I will have to do this.  As of this week, I've already cut as much as 75% of the number of sticks I used to smoke.  I also don't inhale as much anymore.  I'll try to completely cut it by the end of this month.  It's really difficult to suddenly just halt having been a smoker since I was 17.  Baby steps but yes, I can do this!

    4.  Stay healthy.

This means eating properly, exercising regularly and getting as much sleep as possible.  Living with HIV is a battle.  A warrior is only as good as his skills and battlegear.  An HIV warrior is only as good as his health.
I still have two weeks before I get my confirmatory results.  After that, I'll have to get CD4+ and Viral Load tests right away.  I also wish to get into the HAART program just as soon as well.

   5.  Save, save, save.

I need to cut my expenses drastically.  I know I'm gonna be needing as much money as possible for future emergencies and expenses.  I'm planning to move out of my apartment soon and get a lesser expensive room.  Or if there's someone out there willing to share my tiny studio, that's also an option!

   6.  Make life meaningful!

I've always wanted to help and reach out but didn't really have the drive until now.  Well, there's no better time than now.  HIV has given me a sense of urgency.  I have to do the things I've long wanted to do - spread awareness being one of them.

That's the short term plan.  God bless me.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Calls swamp HIV hotline

MANILA, Philippines—The HIV hotline of party-list Akma-PTM was swamped with hundreds of calls within 24 hours of its launch last week, indicating a serious “thirst for information” among Filipinos on the dreaded infection.

Kevin Carreon, spokesman for Akma-PTM, said most of the callers were young people employed in industries outside the BPO (business process outsourcing) and call center sector which the party-list group represents.

Since Tuesday last week, calls topped more than 100 a day, Carreon said.  Eighty percent of callers were male, from 15 to 49 years old, and only 10 percent were employed in the BPO and call center companies, where more than half of the country’s recorded HIV infections were reported to have occurred.

More than 500,000 young Filipinos are employed by call centers based in Metro Manila, Baguio, Metro Cebu, Davao, and Iloilo.

Akma-PTM launched the HIV hotline (546-0691) and Facebook account (Akma-PTM party-list) a week ago after a 20-year-old call center agent, speaking in a video-taped statement, disclosed that he was positive for HIV, the virus that attacks and weakens the human immune system.

Carreon said his group also received a number of overseas callers who learned of the hotline through the Akma-PTM Facebook account and website.

It's good that there's a hotline.  I just hope that the agents, who handle the calls, are really knowledgeable about the topic.

This is it, Pansit!

This week is a roller coaster ride. One moment, I see glimmers of hope; another moment, I see blurry visions of death.

Last week, I got really ill. A childhood disease came back to haunt me but it's not suppose to because once you've had it, you're suppose to have a life-long immunity from it. So there I was wondering what's up? I'm not too stressed out at work so it must be something else. I wished it was just stress but a bad feeling was boiling inside me. I knew right away. I just knew it.

For the first time in many years, I walked into a chapel. As I kneeled and closed my eyes, tears flowed incessantly; it was so horrifying. I asked for forgiveness and for another chance. But I knew I already had so many chances before but I just blew them all away.

Sunday. It was almost impossible for me to sleep. I planned to go to San Lazaro to be tested the following day. My guts told me I'm positive. I was already sure about it; I haven't been as saintly as I hoped to be.  Even if I had been practicing safe sex 99 out of 100 but there was still that one stupid mistake.

Monday. I went out of bed very early. I took a long warm shower hoping it would help me a bit. My heart was pounding like crazy. I tried all I could not to be persuaded by fear to just stay. I had to be tested - now or never!

So I dragged myself to the LRT and while in the train, there was only one word in my mind - positive. It was a scary thought but it was all I could think of. I almost smiled thinking that maybe I was just reversed-psyching myself but then another voice said, "Who are you kidding?"

At the clinic, I told the lady at the registry that I wanted to be tested right away. The lady asked if I were ready and I nodded. I went down to the lab and the nurse took a blood sample from my finger. I went back upstairs for my pre-test counselling which I've pretty much researched already the night before. I don't know which was worse, looking at the horrible illustrations or waiting for my result which felt like it was taking forever!

Twenty minutes later, the results came in. I am HIV-1 positive. Yes, another case for the statistics. It didn't feel like news to me anymore when I heard about it - I already knew. My guts knew. My heart knew. Every single cell in my body knew. I could feel it inside me.

Now, where do I go from here?