Monday, April 8, 2013

A Long Day

Today is  my 13th day of taking ARVs.

So far I didn't experience any rashes, which is good, the only side effect I noticed so far is the constant headache that I'm experiencing and also I started coughing again. Given that I have a history of PTB, I'm a bit paranoid that it may relapse. Even my manager at work noticed that I started coughing again. I wanted to visit my Pulmonologist (Dr. Calderon) but our schedule doesn't match, he only comes to the clinic 3x a week and I have work in all of those days. I'm not also sure if I'm ready to disclose to him my 'status', for sure he will ask me if I am taking any medication and off course I would be forced to inform him about the ARVs. So I waited until today and possibly get more insight from my ID doctor.

11:45AM- Nathan and I arrived at Robinson's Galleria. The ARG staff asked me to bring my Philhealth CF1 form, 6 months contribution cert and MDR for my next visit. The CF1 and 6 months contribution cert I easily got from my company's HR, I was just a bit shaken though because the HR specialist asked me right away what the purpose is for and I have to come up with an alibi before she gave me the forms.  :(

You can only get the MDR from one of the Philhealth offices. Philhealth have an Express Service Desk in Robinson's Galleria, I was able to find this info from their official website (they also have this service in Robinson's Manila and Robinson's Novaliches). I have to commend Philhealth it took me less than 5 minutes to fill up a request slip and get the form. Good job! Probably it was also good that we arrived there almost lunch time already.

12:58PM-  We arrived in RITM-ARG Alabang. First time I was here I was number 5, then 35 and now I'm number 58... Bakit ang dami naman namin dito today? Should I be glad because more and more people are having the courage to take the test and finally act to fight this disease? Or should I be alarmed because this just confirms that this epedemic is really on the rise and widespread? I'm just thinking out loud... I'm just bored here waiting for my turn.

5:08PM- After 4 hrs of waiting I was finally able to speak to Dr. Wico. I expressed my concern about my cough and he examined me. He said there seems to be no obstruction in my air passage so I was fine. I told him that I had cough last February (a week after I finished my treatment with PTB) and that my Pulmonologist (Dr. Calderon) gave me  a prescription for anti-histamine which I took for 5 days and I was fine again. He asked me for the name of the medicine which he immediately checked. He said I can take the same meds again. I was delighted to know this, I have been tempted to take the same meds for a few days now and I was just hesitant because I was thinking that it may have a contraindication with the ARVs I'm taking. He also told me to continue taking my pneumonia prophylaxis (Co-trimoxazole) and even made a request for CBC for my next visit.  I think I'm starting to really like my ID doctor.

11:34PM-  Just got home. After my appointment with Dr. Wico we left RITM right away. The travel time from Starmall Alabang back to QC took almost 2 hours, it was already past 7 when we arrived in Araneta Center. Nathan and I decided to eat dinner in Gateway and watch 'The Croods' before going home. 

It was indeed a long day. Will be back in RITM in 2 weeks time. 

Good night! 



By the way, I saw Ms. Shola in RITM-ARG as well, I wanted to introduce myself to her but I was a bit shy. She is a very entertaining and interesting character. She even went to the waiting area and 'entertained' us with her modelling skills while we were waiting to be called. Hope to know her more in my next visits. :)

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ang Aking Kaarawan

Mula sa probinsiya namin, dinalaw ako ng kapatid ko at pamangkin ko (kasama kong naninirahan dito sa Maynila ang aking ina).  Nakaplano na talaga ang pagdalaw na ito. Pupunta kami sa isang malayong lugar upang ipagdiwang ang aking kaarawan. Hindi ko naman naisip na maiipit ako sa sitwasyon na ito ng aming planuhin ang lakad na ito... at lalo naman na ayaw ko ipagpaliban ito.

Unang una, napakalayo ng kanilang nilakbay para lang mabati ako, ayoko naman mapunta sa wala ang sakripisyo nilang mag-ina. Isa pa ayoko naman na makahalata sila na mayroon akong pinagdadaanang matinding sitwasyon. Sa pamilya kasi namin ako ang pinakamatapang. Alam ko na magtataka sila at magtatanong kung magpapakita ako ng anumang kahinaan o pag-aalinlangan. Hindi pa ako handang ipaalam sa kanila ang kalagayan ko. Alam ko makakadagdag lang yun sa kung anumang alalahanin nila. Ayokong mabuhay sa awa ng iba. Gusto ko, kung anuman ang pagtingin at pagtrato nila sa akin noon, ganun pa din hanggang sa matapos na ang oras ko sa mundong ito. At siyempre naisip ko na din, paano nga ba kung sa parehong araw na ito isang taon mula ngayon eh wala na pala ako sa mundong ito? Gusto ko din sila makasama, maka-kwentuhan at mapadama ang pagmamahal ko kahit sa simpleng paraan lang. 

Habang nasa bus kami papunta sa aming destinasyon, hindi ko na napigilan ang sarili ko. Yun ang unang beses na napaluha ako... sobrang pigil na pigil yung emosyon. Sinusubukan kong ipakita na matapang ako pero kahit gaano ka pala katapang darating talaga yung oras na hindi mo na mapipigilan pa yung luha mo. Buti na lang kami ni Nathan ang magkatabi sa bus, at buti na lang tulog si Mama at ang kapatid ko. Naramdaman ata ni Nathan yung pag iyak ko, muntikan na din siya maiyak nung mga sandaling yun. Ganun talaga kaming dalawa, hindi kami masyado nagpapakita ng emosyon. At yun ang unang pagkakataon na sabay kaming lumuha, marahil na din siguro sa sobrang bigat ng aming dinadala. 

Naging masaya naman ang aking kaarawan. Panandalian kong nalimutan ang bigat ng aking sitwasyon. Masaya ako na sa loob ng tatlong araw at dalawang gabi, nakasama ko yung mga taong pinakamalapit sa puso ko. Kumain kami, lumangoy, nagpunta sa iba't-ibang isla... sana mabigyan pa ako ng maraming pagkakataon na tulad nito. Habang nandoon kami sa paraisong lugar na iyon, tinanong ako ni Nathan kung gusto ko na daw ba ipaalam sa kanila ang sitwasyon ko...  sabi ko hindi na muna.

Sa totoo lang, hindi ko alam kung kakayanin ng nanay ko na malaman na may ganito akong sakit. Alam ko hindi makatarungan na hindi ko ito ipinapaalam sa kanya... sa kanila. Pero hindi pa ako handa, at nariyan naman si Nathan. Siya ang aking sandigan sa mga oras na ito at ako naman ang sa kanya. Hindi niya pa din ipinapaalam sa pamilya niya. Kaya kaming dalawang lang ang sabay na lumalaban sa sakit na ito, buti na nga lang at malusog pa din siya at di nakakadama ng anumang sakit. Parang di ko yata kakayanin pag pareho pa kaming malala na ang kondisyon. 

RITM-ARG Alabang and My Baseline CD4

March 19, 2013: Nathan and I went to RITM-ARG Alabang early in the morning.  In fact, we were so early they were still close when we arrived.  But you have to be really early if you go  there, Philip said that CD4 test is only available between 7 to 8 in the morning.

We met the ARG staff, they were all so nice and very accomodating, especially when they learned that we got tested in the RITM Satellite Clinic in Malate. We submitted blood samples for CD4 baseline and also sputum sample. While we were there I saw Ms. Lala, the Med Tech who assisted us in the Satellite Clinic the previous day. She was very kind, she even answered some of my questions. 

It was almost lunch time when we finished all our lab test. We decided to go to a nearby mall to eat lunch while we are waiting for the lab results. 

After lunch, we went back to the doctor's office and we waited for our names to be called. One thing that's good in ARG is that the people are very nice, even the other PLHIV were very accomodating and we befriended some of them while we were waiting. Nathan was called first , I think it only took him 5 minutes to speak with the doctor and he was immediately released. Dr. Wico advised him to come back after 6 months his CD4 count is still 400+. That means his immune system is still in good shape, he was given a prophylaxis for TB which he will have to take for 6 months. I should have been next given that Nathan was patient number 4 and I'm patient number 5, but for some reason the nurse skipped me and proceeded with the next patient. The nurse said they were still waiting for some lab result, apparently the Oxygen in my blood is low. 

That moment, I knew there was something wrong. They will not ask me to wait for more if everything is ok. There has to be something... there must be a reason for this delay. I already had a hint what it was. And I was right... Dr. Wico confirmed my CD4 count is very low, 105. In WHO's definition of AIDS, once you have a CD4 count of below 200 and/or you have a series of OIs (Opportunistic Infections), you are considered to be diagnosed of AIDS. 

Yes... I was diagnosed with AIDS in the last day of my 26th year. A day before my 27th birthday.  I find it funny that I didn't cry or didn't show any weakness that day, I asked Dr. Wico of my next steps and he answered all my questions. The first thing that I wanted to do was to finish all the lab test and immediately start taking ARVs. I dont care about any side effect, I am a fighter and I will fight this disease.