Thursday, April 29, 2010

My Lucky Number

I've just came back from a much-needed vacation.  For a few days, I made my life feel like the old days.  I wished I could just stay there in paradise and escape from reality.  But then I reminded myself that I have to face this challenge.  Life is not all about sitting by the sandy beach sipping glasses of banana shakes.  I know it's going to be a bumpy road up ahead but maybe, just maybe, I can still avoid the potholes if I am going to be careful.

Today, I went to the Hills again.  I've only realized now that going there is kind of stressful.  I work during the day, Mondays to Fridays, which means that I have to find another excuse to file another leave of absence every time I go there.  I really hate not going to work but I also hate getting sick often so I have to make a few sacrifices.  Either I don't show up at work sometimes or I don't show up at work often.

I was thankful Ate A was there.  She's one of the friendliest people I know.  It was a busy day at the Hills today.    No less than five pozzies were there and she attended to us all.  Two were there to get their supplies of Darna pills; one was having rashes just like me more than a week ago; one was feverish due to the Darna pills he took; another was a very old lady complaining about her Darna pills getting lost in transit by FedEx; and another one was just there selling some handbags to another lady pozzie.

Almost everyone was accompanied by their real moms while the lola was accompanied by her apo.  I almost cried at the thought that I went there by myself.  But no, I have to stop being such a whiny kid.  The reason my mom was not with me was because of my decision not to disclose it to her.  The rashes-kid's mom looked at me and smiled.  She looked really worried and started talking about how her son ate a can of Spam last night.  I told her that I had the same rashes a week ago and they're all gone now thanks to the anti-histamine the derma prescribed me.  I then assured her not to worry much because the rashes look like they're just allergies and I told her son not to scratch them no matter what.

Meanwhile, the lola was on the phone talking to a FedEx guy.  She was mad because according to her, she hasn't taken her meds for three days because of the delay in delivering them to her place.  She then gave the FedEx guy some directions and put down the phone.  I'm amazed at how healthy looking she was.  Yes, she is really old, probably more than 65 years old and living with HIV!  She has been so for almost two decades now; wow, what an inspiration!

Finally, it was my turn with Ate A and she told me about my results.  My lucky number is 338 (a friend already texted it to me yesterday though so I wasn't surprised anymore).  That's a bit short so that means that I am now a candidate for ARVs.  The X-ray says I've got a normal chest, whew; I've got no syphilis, yey; my overall CBC's looking good, amen; no TB exposure (I already know about that); but then, I knew there was going to be a catch.  I am also positive for another STI, HBV - transmission and the works are all the same as HIV's but it eats my liver instead which means no more alcohol for me from now on.  Ate A sent me to the laboratory right away so I could have my hepa profiling.  It's pretty much the package I've got and I think it's not that bad at all.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Weekend Panic

Last weekend, I went out of town.  I needed to see at least a change of scenery so when a friend from the office invited me and some other officemates to her provincial home, I took that as an invitation for myself to relax and breathe some fresh air.

Yes, the scenery was of course green.  The air was fresh except in the sugar fields where the soil was mixed with cow dung.  The food was unlimited and free.  It was the perfect weekend.  But of course, things don't always go according to plans.

I forgot that the countryside is also full of insects.  Outside my friend's house, insects were all over the place!  I got stung and bitten everywhere.  While were all having fun, I was kinda praying that no mosquito with dengue or malaria would bite me.  The other thing is the knee-high grass.  My God, a few seconds in the field and I felt already itchy everywhere.  I'm not being maarte but I still have to go the beach the next weekend.  Who'd want to wear long-sleeved shirts and jeans on the beach to cover the bite-and-grass-itch-ridden-skin?  So I wasn't really having fun at all.

I asked one of my friends to accompany me back to the house because I badly needed a shower.  I checked myself in the mirror and God, it wasn't looking good.  I hoped that the itch would go away so I wouldn't accidentally scratch the bite marks and do more damage.  The shower helped somehow and I felt relieved.

My friend's mom already served dinner and I ate right away after I showered and changed clothes.  The food was really good especially the Paksiw na Galonggung.  After I finished one fish, I felt itchy again.  But I was enjoying the food so I somehow didn't mind the itch at all.

The next morning, when I checked myself in the mirror, I was already full of rashes and scratch marks. They look really nasty.  My skin are full of tiny red rashes with red scratch marks on top of them.  

I panicked!  I became really worried.  What if these weren't actually bite marks?  What if these are symptoms of another opportunistic disease?  I wanted to go back to Manila right away but of course, I couldn't because we'd only go back later in the afternoon.  The day went by with me pretending I was enjoying everything we were doing but in fact, not.

It was already 7PM when I arrived home.  Too late to go looking for a dermatologist.  I became really paranoid but the trip going home made me very tired that I was able to sleep right away.  I woke up very early the next morning (today), packed a few things and I headed to the Hills.

When I arrived at the Hills, I immediately went looking for Ate A but unfortunately, today's her day-off.  Kuya R was there and he checked my PPD Skin Test and declared it negative.  Indeed, the patch of skin where the PPD skin test was injected has no sign of being positive.  Dr D also checked it and said it was negative.  I am thankful I have no tuberculosis and I am glad.  But I was still worried about my rashes.

Ate E told me that HIV-positive patients have to wait until 2PM for derma.  I texted my office that I couldn't make it to work because I've got some allergies (which they've actually noticed the day before).  So I waited at the lounge.  Two guys who are living with HIV for the past 12 years were there and they interviewed me.  They managed to make me cry when they told me that I should tell my parents.  I really want to tell my parents but I can't (that's another story though). 

At 2PM, Ate R accompanied me to the Dermatology building.  The doctors were having a party so I waited until like 4PM.  The doctor asked me to strip down and she checked on the rashes carefully which became redder with embarrassment.  She interviewed me about what I did, what I ate, what soap I use, etc.  She then told me that the rashes were caused by an allergy.

I am relieved to find out that this is just an allergy and not some contagious disease.  Well, I really hope so.  And I hope that the medicine and the hypo-allergenic lotion she prescribed me are going to be effective.  I really don't care anymore if I won't be showing off some skin on the beach this weekend.  I'm just happy I'm not sick again. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Hills

I woke up very early today.  As a pozzie,  I think this is one of my biggest days - go to the Hills.  The Hills is a place where pozzies go to have their vital statistics checked.  I was kinda stressed out thinking about all other illnesses I might have, so a few minutes before meeting my Mother who would accompany me to the Hills, I lit a cig.  Oops.  (Mother isn't really my mom; for pozzies, the one who's gonna bring them to the Hills supposedly becomes their Mother.)

It is a beautiful place, a far cry from the  third-worldly setting of SHC (sorry I can't help comparing the two).  I immediately know why the picky beckies choose to go there.  When we arrived there, the place was buzzing with many people.  It was almost 10am but Ate A accommodated my request to be checked but she said I would have to be the last one for that day and for that, I was very thankful.

More than the beautiful setting, the Hills is beautiful because of the beautiful people who made me feel I'm gonna be okay.  I'm forever grateful for the people who were there - my Mother and G.  I was also happy to meet new fellow pozzies who exude so much positive attitude in life.

I can't wait to go back there, see my results and go on.