iam h. positive

85. Celebration

Yesterday night, @QueerBeauty @VickyBeki and @jonstaycool decided to celebrate their birthdays with fellow PLHIV. It’s been a while since I met with my fellow pozzies. I was actually about to ask @jonstaycool if there would be a gathering soon when I read his tweet about their planned birthday celebration. Fortunately, circumstance allowed me to come.

A lot of people came. And I mean A LOT. I can’t help but think repetitively that all of us have HIV. It’s just mind-boggling. At one point I tweeted:

@iamhivpositivem: I’m observing. Contemplating. These kind, friendly, good looking people all have “it”. I hope “it” ends with us. #wallflower #StopHIV

I didn’t know most of the people there when I arrived. Naturally, people would first talk to people they already knew so they started with their own groups and so I was just there, observing, talking to whoever would be interested in talking to the wallflower. Lol.

Oh, but don’t get me wrong. These people are very friendly and accommodating and I was introduced to everyone by anyone who gets the chance to. It’s funny how they would introduced me. It would start with: “hey this iam. He’s iamhpositivem.” And the guy would reply with “ah ok”. And the person introducing me would follow it up with “He’s the with five thousand followers” or “he’s the one with the PWD card.” And the guy I’m being introduced to would reply with a more sense of recognition"AH OK.“ Haha!

I love being with these people because HIV becomes so casual and light. People would talk to each other about their experiences which helps everyone. They would exchange tips on how to deal with the side effects of the meds. They would point people who knows where to get the cheapest vaccines. They would share the stuff they do to have a higher CD4. They would make you feel better about having HIV.

The humor that they would come up with HIV is just hilarious. The guy sitting beside me said: "Ang dameng bakla, noh?” Then the other guy replied: “Oo nga, mga bakla na, may AIDS pa. Nakakaawa!” And it was just so funny to me because it was coming from them. If I heard it coming from outside the group, oh, I would raise hell.

Who would have though that this kind of friendship would be built with a disease as a foundation. HIV brought these people together and the desire to help each other live a long, normal life is just so apparent. It’s awesome.

The night was filled with camaraderie and fun and laughter and if Filipino gay people would come together, you know that there would be singing. Lots of it. Haha! It was quite a celebration.

Towards the end of my night, I received a text message from my ex. It was not a very good one in a sense that it made me feel very bad about myself. So I left the party with a heavy heart. I’ll write something about that next time. Probably.

For now, let me end this first entry I am writing using my phone (since my laptop was stolen) by wishing the birthday celebrants a happy happy birthday! May you have a long, blessed, healthy more years to come. Thank you for making the gathering possible! :)

94. Christine

It has been more than 3 years since I learned about my HIV status and for that span of time, I’ve been to two treatment hubs (PGH - SAGIP and TMC - IREACT), was assigned to 3 (or maybe 4?) infectious disease doctors.

Also, during that span of time, I’ve met quite a few nurses who assisted me with my visits to the hubs (and, most of time, with the required paper work) Out of all of them, Nurse Christine is turning out to be my personal favorite. 

I’m not really sure why. Maybe because I find her much more accommodating than the others. Again, much more accommodating. Emphasis on the “much more” because everyone else was accommodating too. Nurse Lucy, for example, was always helpful. She even replies to my email even when she was with her family on a family outing.

But now that I think of it, maybe Nurse Lucy trained  Nurse Christine well. Well, I’m not even sure if Nurse Lucy was the one who trained Nurse Christine. Well whatever.

I just find Nurse Chrisitne really cool. I find her kind and genuinely caring. I feel like she really does put an effort to build rapport al the time.

You won’t really see her face but here’s a photo of her during my last visit. 

 She was not wearing her uniform then because she went straight work coin from their province. Very dedicated. Very hardworking. 

I just hope The Medical City and DOH is paying her enough so that she won’t think of leaving iREACT soon.

During my last visit, I went back to have a refill of my meds. I’ve already been taking the 3 in 1 form of my ARV (tenofovir, lamivudine and efavirenz in 1 big tablet) but I guess we ran out of that kind so I had to be switched to another form. Pity, I’ve been finding the 3 in 1 tablet very convenient.

I don’t think I have posted a picture as to where iREACT is (and I’m not sure if it would be a good idea) but here you go. 

At the emergency room, you will find a stairway beside the pharmacy going to the mezzanine above the emergency room. Hospital staff sometimes have their meetings there which can be very awkward and embarrassing because you have to pass by the entire group going to the iREACT clinic. Of course they would know what the iREACT clinic is for.

But that rarely happens. Most of the time, iREACT is very private and the patients don’t even get to see each other. You’ll have to stay somewhere else until the patient leaves before the nurse in charge will send you a text and summon you to the clinic.

Here are the bottles of my new ARVs. It’s now 2 in 1 plus 1. Tenofovir and Lamivudine are combined in 1 capsule, Efavirenz is again it’s own tablet.

This could be a good thing because I can delay taking the Efavirenz for some time if I need to. The psychological side effect that Efavirenz has on me never really went away.

Speaking of, it’s almost 9pm. Time to take my meds!