It was life-changing to say the least.
Woke up at around 7:30 am, went through the morning routine, then replied to nurse friend's text message. Told the family I was on OB, will register a book at the National Library. Walked from the apartment to the set meeting place. Received another message from nurse friend. Went to their place in Manila. Greeted his mom. Nurse friend's mom was surprised to see me that early on a weekday. Told her we have to fix up some things. Left their house. Crossed the Pasig River via boat. It was my first time. Rode a bus. Got off at Manila City Hall. Met designer friend at SM City Manila.
Rode the LRT. Got off at Bambang Station. Walked until we reached Tayuman Station. Missed the place. Rode a trike to San Lazaro. Saw the place. Guards on duty asked what our business was. "The test," said nurse friend. "It's on the second floor," they replied. Took the stairs. Was received by some staff. We didn't make the cut-off. Told to return at 1:00 pm.
Stressed out. Anxious. Wanted to throw up.
Rode a trike to UST. Ate lunch at Almer's. Went inside UST. Looked for a place to stay. Found a bench near the HS building. Designer friend suggested we stay at the Chapel. Walked to the Chapel. Made a genuflect. Found a pew. Designer friend knelt. Took out his beads. He prayed.
Laughing. Freaking out. Resigned.
Rode a trike back to the place. "Call center?" asked the staff. We replied, "No." Filled out some forms. Fidgeted in the hall way. Saw a mirror with a sign above it: "Ito ang mukha ng..." Nervous laughter. Went inside the doctor's room. Short briefing. It's 99.5% accurate. First line drugs cost around P5K a month. Second line drugs cost P30K a month.
Room started spinning.
Last time you did it? Three years ago. August last year. Just this week. Window period. High risk activities. It's low risk except if you have sores or braces.
Froze. Wanted to die.
Doctor signed referral slips. Went down to the lab. Technician opened some kits. Blood was drawn. I don't know if my finger hurt. Perhaps my heart dying a slow painful death.
Went up the stairs. Waited in the hallway. Had a chat with the staff. "They look ordinary, much like you." Wanted to die... or just smack him in the head. Around 20 last January out of around 90 who got tested. So far, 3 this February. Jaw dropped. It was just the 4th of the month. Designer friend asked how he could possibly go home. I was already resigned to the idea. Told them not to leave me when the results come in.
Saw the staff walking up the stairs. Some sheets of paper on his hands. Losing air as he marched on. Doctor was doing another consult. Signed some post-test waiver. Doctor was still doing another consult.
Staff handed us three sheets. "It's negative anyway, so there."
NON-REACTIVE TO ANTI-HIV 1/2.
Traumatized? Yes... but relieved nonetheless.
I told myself that this year is gonna be good. It's turning out to be bittersweet but at least I'm growing up. And growing up means making better choices. I will be making better choices.
Thursday is St. Jude's day. It really is about courage and faith.
I've been sick since September. Antihistamines and antibiotics didn't seem to work. Pneumonia, said the x-ray. Another round of x-rays. Doctor said it's clear. A week passed by. The cough persisted. Had a skin test and sputum tests. Diagnosis: PTB 3 smear negative. Two months into medication, doctor reduced my meds. A couple of days later, I had a bad sore throat, some coughing, and a backache to boot. The symptoms are returning. Went back to the doctor. Was given some antibiotics. Didn't feel any better.
Paranoid. Why am I not getting any better?
And then the news. Wanggo Gallaga having a history of respiratory illness for consecutive months prior to his test. Cyberloafing didn't do any good. PTB smear negative is highly likely in HIV infected people.
What am I to do? I had to know. The signs are there anyway.
I bugged a couple of people because of this lingering anxiety.
Thank God for friends.
And thank you Jepoy, Xall, and Boss Tristan for listening to me rant. Appreciate it much, really.
I'm still stressed out. I need a good de-briefing.
But yeah, at least I can breathe.
One more item taken off the list... and a new-found affirmation.
Think positive. Stay negative.