Could superstition be true? That 13 is a such an unlucky number? Well, last year was 2013. And, it has been my worst year... ever! Why? Simply because it's my record-breaking year:
- Before 2013, the longest time I have been admitted in a hospital was 5 days. In 2013, I was admitted for 5 days during my first admission. The bad news is, that 5 days was my shortest hospital stay that year. Shortly after, it was followed by a 2-week admission, then a 1-month admission. My hospital stay record has been broken one after another.
- In 2013, I've had my longest idle time since I started schooling back at preparatory school, staying at the hospital/home for almost 6 months without school nor work.
- In 2013, I took tons of medicines, with a record of 17-20 tablets, all taken in one day. Before 2013, if I remember right, the most I've taken was just 4-5 tablets in single day.
- In 2013, I've had 3 serious OI's. I've never had any serious illness before.
- 2013 was the year where I've spent most on hospitalization and medicines.
- And my banner story for 2013: I discovered I have HIV. Worse, it's an AIDS case. Even worse, my CD4 was too low at 15.
But, I'm not ranting. Just reflecting. I'm actually now interpreting the points above in a positive light:
- I'm blessed to have a ready fund to cover my hospital and medical expenses for my record length of hospital stay. I'm even grateful that some loved ones even contributed to my medical fund, even if I didn't ask, and even if I actually tried to hide my hospitalization.
- The long idle months has allowed me to have a well-needed break from my stressful and busy corporate life. It allowed me to "slightly" improve my cooking skills, as well as "very slightly" improve my singing skills. Yes, I'm such a frustrated singer. How I wish I could proudly sing during Videoke nights. :P
- I feel so blessed I was able to get the expensive medicines.
- I'm blessed to have survived not just one, but three serious illnesses! Hallelujiah! Imagine, some PLHIV died with just one of the three OI's I've contracted.
- Same as No. 1. Plus, I'm also thankful that in case I ran out of funds, I know I can count on some friends who are more than willing to share. I have such generous and caring friends and partner.
- I'm grateful that though my case was an AIDS case, I'm alive, kicking and now blogging. I'm grateful that I contracted HIV/AIDS in the era of ARV, not in the era of Dolsura Cortez and that Tom Hanks character in the movie Philadelphia back in the 80's and 90's. I'm also glad that I responded well to ARV, allowing my CD4 to jump several folds in just 3 months! And, I also feel so lucky to not have adverse side effects whenever I take my ARV, and prophylaxis such as cotrimoxazole and azithromycin, among others.
Such a cliche as it may be, but things really do happen for a reason. What could be mine?
- I've learned to see things in a slightly different angle, seeing the positive aspect in a bad situation.
- I've learned to assess the golds and rubbish in my life, and minimizing (yes, not yet totally eliminating) the rubbish out. But I must say, taking out just a little ounce of rubbish already does amazing wonders!
- I've learned to live a healthier life (no alcohol; more sleep; ooops, sorry I still eat delicious fatty food).
- I've learned to appreciate what I have. Once I fully recover, I will try to be somehow involved in some activities to help others. I've long wanted to do this, but I never did. I should when my CD4 rebounds to a safe level.
- I've learned to appreciate my innately positive attitude. My acceptance on my condition was unexpectedly quick and easy. Just a 1-day crying stage. Of course, if I had a choice, I wouldn't choose to be a pozzie! But hey, the virus is here. So, there's no point in regretting on what could have (or have not) been done. Move on, and focus on concrete do's and dont's to increase CD4 and be "normal" again.
- I've learned to appreciate what I have. In fact, if I don't get a salary raise this year, I would honestly not feel despair at all (hope my boss wound't read this), as I realized now that money is not everything (though yeah, it is still important).
- More appreciation of life in general. I don't know if it's a good or a bad thing, but I cry more now when watching MMK, movies, and even Wish Ko Lang.
- And most of all... since I'm not straight and not out to my family, my HIV status has stopped my parents from saying: when are you getting married? when are we having our grand children? I'd like to set you up with the daughter of my friend. Sounds so shallow huh? But these questions have really brought me so much anxiety over the past 5 years. I won't have any of these anymore... at least not until an HIV cure is found. If an HIV cure is found, rejoice! That's even a better news!
So, is 13 an unlucky number? No, it's just a coincidence. The record-breaking incidents are just instruments to make me appreciate what I have, to make me feel so blessed, and to make me a stronger and better person (I hope)! Yes, 2013 has been my worst year ever. But I also believe that 2013 is and will be the worst and lowest year of my life. The good news is, if you're at the lowest point, there's no other way but up! No more records to be broken. I believe 2014 will, by far be a hundred steps higher than 2013. Cheers to a better and healthier 2014!