Sunday, October 8, 2017

New Pillbox

This was my pillbox 3-4 years ago. My daily meds could not hardly fit in my 28-slot yellow pillbox. I was literally playing sungka every Sunday to organize my weekly pills. If I remember correctly, these were my meds: Fluconazole, Isoniazid, Azythromycin, Cotrimoxazole, Lamividune-Tenofovir-Efavirenz, Vit B Complex. For some of these, I take more than one tab per day.

Fast forward to 2017 (6 months ago), my CD4 finally reached 285, second CD4 test in a row that my CD4 count is over the 200 threshold. I finally heard what I’ve been wishing to hear from my doctor: "Prophylaxis days are over. No more preventive antibiotics!"

Now, my yellow pill box is almost empty. Less meds to take. Good bye Sungka. My yellow pillbox has way too many slots for my one tablet a day ARV. Time to change my pill box!

Thank God! 4 years ago, when I was in my worst condition, I said “This too shall pass!” My new pillbox is proof of that saying! Worst has really passed.

Indeed, HIV doesn’t necessary kill. There’s treatment for it. ARV works like wonder!
So, get tested… now!  Before it's too late. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Quick Update

No post for more than a year.  Woah.. such a long time. But yes, I'm very much alive. It's just that I'm too busy with my work and personal life. 

Anyway, just a quick updated.  I'm doing pretty good... actually, in excellent condition. 

VL is undetectable. 
CD4 - it's 286 already from a baseline of 16. Because that, all my prophylaxis meds have been discontinued. Thank you Lord! :)

Indeed, ARV works!
So, if you have a risky lifestyle, get tested... NOW!
PLHIV can live normal and healthy lives.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Freedom Hike

Hiking, trekking, mountaineering, waterfalls. Yes, I have done these a few times before, but only at rare times. Last time was when I went to Mt. Pinatubo. Before that was several years prior… back in college, as part of a mandatory community service in school.

Yesterday, I decided to join a newly found online group of outdoor and nature enthusiasts. New faces, new friends. We went hiking in the north. My first time as a PLHIV. I knew it would be a tiring trek. 10K up, then 10K back down.

10K! Whoaa… that must really be so tiring. But after 2 hours, when we got to the top, it felt like a reward. Morning dew. Cool breeze. Swaying trees.  Chirping birds. Fresh water. Grassy fields. Wild flowers. Rocky trail. Ice cold waterfalls falling from the mountain tops in a secluded cove. Totally isolated. It was literally ALL ours. No strangers. No other people. No ghosts nor enkantos - at least none that we saw. It was beautiful. Chill time. Relaxing… away from the busy city life. 

Man, this is such a beautiful world, ain't it? 3 years ago, when I was having shortness of breath due to pneumonia, I never imagined hiking is still possible. Now, 3 years after, I’m on top of this gorgeous hill.

As the area was all OURS, we deciding to go skinny dipping. You heard it right, nude swimming! Yes, we swam and roamed the area in our birthday suits. No shirts, no shorts, nor underwear. No, nothing, nada! Something I haven’t done before, and had never thought I would be doing, ever. - Disclaimer, no sex! It is strictly prohibited by The RULES! :) 

Indeed, it was truly one of the weirdest things I've ever done in my life. But, I must say, it was fun. It was really liberating. I felt free! I felt one with nature, with nothing hidden, literally. Everything’s exposed - my heart, my soul, and my penis. Everything… in full glory.   

After 4 hours of swimming, lying down, resting, eating and having casual conversation while naked, we decided to go back, while the sun was still up. We got back to the base camp after another 2 tiring hours of downhill trek through the rocky and sandy trail. Then, we reached Manila after traversing NLEX and EDSA in horrible traffic jam.

Damn, I’m back in the city: pollution, traffic, noise, crowd, and city el nino heat.  Darn, I’m back in a city where everyone is clothed, where everyone has got something to hide… deep within his well-ironed clothes. Back in this judgmental city. So bring it on... bring my closet back! I need to hide again -- my sexuality, my HIV status, and my “other” life. But I’m not complaining, just saying :) 

Well, it was a quick weekend trip. I'm glad I joined. It just feels good to quickly escape the city, and experience something new. More so, to strip myself of clothes, of stress and of worries. To liberate myself and be carefree even for just a few hours. And most especially, it just feels good to be "not sick" and enjoy nature, and life again! 

Friday, August 21, 2015

13 Reasons Why Buffet 101 - Eastwood is the Worst

I've been frequenting Buffet 101. Why not? It's value for money. Serving quality food at a reasonable price. But dude... the Eastwood branch of Buffet 101 is such a mess! Worst branch! 13 reasons why:  

  1. Shrimps and Crabs - For me, one of Buffet 101's main attraction is its live suahe and crabs. But this branch has none of it! Oh my mistake, I saw a label on a table.. chili crabs. But dude, during my entire stay in this branch, the plate was empty. Never refilled! Better change the label to "Better Luck Next Time!"
  2. Hot Seafood Roll Salad - Oh yeah, this Chinese dish is another fave of mine. Their version is unique. No dressing! How dare you call it salad if it doesn't have that white dressing. 
  3. Beef Station - Their beef carving station is crazy... Why? Simply because there's none! Well, this is the only buffet resto of its kind that doesn't have any beef in its carving/ roasting section. No steak, no roast beef, no prime rib... nay, nothing, nada! 
  4. Noodles - Their stir fry noodles is too salty!
  5. Takuyaki - Is it really takuyaki? me thinks it's a pancake roll! lol
  6. Lumpiang Shanghai - The only resto that serves shanghai without sweet and sour sauce. Kahit ketchup wala!
  7. Softdrinks - I suggest you rename your softdrinks station to evacuation center. A bunch of people queuing for ice and clean glasses. 
  8. Shakes - The only Buffet 101 branch that doesn't serve fresh fruit shake. 
  9. Tempura - So stingy. This resto refills its tempura in 8 pieces for such a huge number of customers! 
  10. Beer - I didn't get beer. But I saw one customer did. And the beer splashed! 
  11. Coffee - The coffee dispenser is misaligned. It spilled from my cup. So my capuccino became dark coffee!
  12. Scallops - It's not all bad. At least they have scallops. And I like the way it's baked. The second time I ordered though, it didn't arrive!  
  13. Aircon - I was sweating like hell. That fucking AC is not working! 
I swear, never again shall I visit this branch ever! 
Oh, by the way, 2 days after I ate here, I had diarrhea... I hope it's not because of this resto!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bulaklaking Taxi

I had my car serviced last weekend. So I booked a cab using GrabTaxi. Interesting, the driver's name is Richard Bulaclac. Then came the cab. 

His cab totally transported me into a different world. A whole bunch of bulaklak around me! Para akong nasa Santacruzan. O parang damit daw ni MJ Lastimosa! :) 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Avengers Weekend

Last week was the weekend before Labor Day. It was an Avengers weekend. All cinemas were literally showing The Avengers! So, I bought my tickets online. Seats for 2, reserved! While watching, I tried to recall when my last movie in a cinema was? Hmmm.. guess what? It was a year ago! Another Marvel hero movie, Captain America! Huwaat? So only one cinema last year? 

How about the year before? Ohhhh... it was another Marvel movie, on Labor Day of 2013! Yes, that’s right! it was another Marvel movie. I remember clearly! That was my last movie before AIDS attacked me so hard! I remember clearly that I was breathing hard when I walked up the cinema stairs. Misdiagnosed by my “not so good” ex-Med City doctor as asthma, which turned out to be an AIDS-related pneumonia. Anyway, that’s already past! I have a lengthy blog on that. 

Now, 2 years after my HIV diagnosis, here I am again, in a cinema on a pre-Labor Day weekend. But things are so… so different now!

So many things happened in 2 years... like a movie climax, stretched in 2 long years. Peaks and valleys of my life. I had several AIDS infections (OI's). I filed a 6-month medical leave. I’ve recovered from my illnesses. I have gained my lost weight. Ugly skin's dark spots disappeared. Lost some loved ones. But the biggest difference of them all - I now know I’m positive.

Yes, I'm positive. But believe it or not, I have more peace of mind now than ever. Three years ago (a year before my diagnosis), I was so restless. Even if I still didn't have any OI's then, at the back of my mind, there's this lingering thought that had constantly been bothering me. That I could be positive! Yet, despite that, I refused to have the "Test." I feared ELISA so much! For I thought HIV means death (which is certainly not!). And if I were positive, how would I tell my partner? My family? And the stigma that follows... unimaginable! The mere thought of it was giving me so much stress!

Now, I'm positive. Confirmed. And I know it. Yet I’m more at peace than my pre-diagnosis years. For my virus is now under control. Thanks to ARV, viral load is already undetectable. Immune system (CD4)  has recovered. All the stuff that I stopped doing due to my Stage 4 AIDS and my very low CD4 have gone completely back… mall, badminton, gym, work, travel!

And most of all... what gave me peace was the acceptance and support I got from my family, partner and 4 close friends. I underestimated their capacity to understand and accept me unconditionally. 3 years back, I was so restless. Now, I'm a person living with HIV.  Yet, all fears are gone. I love my peace now!  I should have taken that HIV test long before my HIV became AIDS. I shouldn't have been bothered, worried, restless, "out of peace" all those years! I could have avoided those serious and costly OI's which could have taken my life. That's my grave mistake, I know! As for the others, they need not go my way. Free HIV test is in all corners of the country!

Oh, by the way, did I say that The Avengers was such a borta feast? The bods of Thor and Captain America... Fuck! Even Jeremy Renner and Robert Downey Jr., pwede pa rin :)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Covey's Circle of Influence

I just attended a Franklin Covey training course. One topic was about Circle of Influence. In summary, Stephen Covey says that: "Your Circle of Influence includes those things you can affect directly. Your Circle of Concern includes all those things you care about but over which you have little or no control."
I found this topic interesting. Very applicable not just to my professional life, but to my personal & pozzie life as well.  

Looking back,  I asked, how did I handle my HIV diagnosis? How did I recover? Then, I realized I used Covey's Circle of Influence model. Yes, my HIV is a Circle of Concern... the virus is already in my body. There's nothing I can do with it. It has no cure (at least as of yet). It is undeniably a Circle of Concern! Something I can't control. But hey, no matter how high my viral load was then, there was still a space for Circle of Influence - things I can control.

So what are my Circle of Influence?

1. Managing HIV. HIV is uncurable. Accept it! But no matter how strong this virus is, it still leaves some Circle of Influence with it! HIV can be controlled! By taking ARV daily, the virus will stop multiplying, and decrease to almost zero level, making its number uncountable by modern test equipment due to its almost zero value. ARV is definitely my Circle of Influence!

2. Depression. HIV is deadly, highly stigmatized, and quite embarrassing to tell to anyone! Surely, one can easily fall into depression upon diagnosis. Had I fallen into this trap,  HIV's Circle of Concern would have gotten bigger... exponentially, eating up the space occupied by my Circle of Influence. Had I been depressed, it would have given me more stress, which would affect my immune system, which would make me even more prone to other sicknesses and OI's, which would give me even more stress. It's a vicious cycle that will make Circle of Concern get bigger and bigger, until I lose hope, stop fighting and die!  But luckily, I chose the other path... to fight on. Depression is a decision. It's not a Circle of Concern, but rather a Circle of Influence! I chose not to be depressed, I chose to keep a positive outlook. This gave me peace. This reduced my stress, which in turn helped boost my immune system. So, I was OI-free for quite some time, until my CD4 recovered to a much safer level from my baseline or 14.

3. Healthier Lifestyle & Prophylaxis. Certainly a Circle of Influence. Ample rest + No alcohol + Proper diet + No smoking... they boosted my immune system. Strictly taking propylaxis as prescribed, no matter how many, how costly and how strong their side effects are, guarded me from deadly OI's, while my immune system was severely compromised. 

4. Happiness. Most of all, I didn't let HIV stop myself from being happy! Happiness is a choice! I chose to be happy. It is definitely a Circle of Influence!

Result: my Circle of Influence kept getting bigger and bigger, eating up some space previously occupied by Circle of Concern. Soon, my viral load will forever remain undetectable. My CD4 will multiply to an even much safer level. And my HIV Circle of Concern will just be a dot as compared to the colossal Circle of Influence - A pebble in humongous Jupiter!

"When people focus on things they cannot control, they have less time and energy to spend on things they can influence. Consequently, their Circle of Influence shrinks." - Stephen Covey -->