Prior to the decision of eventually submitting and entrusting my whole life to Lord Jesus Christ and accepting Him as my personal Lord and Saviour, my life was in a total darkness, emptiness, loneliness, and yes, truly meaningless after accepting the fact that my so called life has been sentenced by that medical result. Apparently, I am a dead-man walking and trying to appear alive doing the things normal people would normally do. I was still employed that time. My life was totally lifeless for the next two months after that realization. As previously posted, I have no idea what to do after accepting the bad news and digested it into my system. I have confessed this dilemma to some few trusted friends and I was so blessed for they accepted and did not judged me. One of them even helped me out to refer to her friend working in a non-government organization that helps people like me. I thought about committing suicide for several times. I even pictured myself lying on the way of the train waiting for it to come and finally end my life for more than a couple of times. I just can't do it because I have seen how painful it was for my parents to loose a son when my brother took his life. Simply, I just can't do it because I am well aware that it is a mortal sin to take one's life especially my own life! I think this is the real reason why God has allowed that tragic event in our family to happen a few years ago, to made me realize all of these and not do it to myself.
The first doctor I have talked to about my health condition told me that there's an organization consists of people living with HIV or PLWH who can relate to me and gives me moral support that I will need. She introduced me to the president of Pinoy Plus Association Inc. He helped me to get access for free medical check-up in this government hospital in Manila, where I met the Christian doctor who guided me on my search to the true meaning of life which will eventually lead to Lord Jesus Christ.
Our immune system is the ultimate target once the HIV virus entered into our body. You can never tell who is positive to the virus just by looking at person physically unless he or she will tell you. If you're going to look at me most probably you would not believe that I am positive simply because I look perfectly healthy. Like I said in my previous blog, I have nice body built due to regular work out, nice healthy skin, and I weighs exactly just right for my height and age. To determine my current health status, I was asked to do the CD4 test. This lab test will show the count of CD4 cells which composed the immune system and ascertains if it's time for me to the take anti-retroviral drugs or ARV. This medicine will prolong the life of an HIV patient for it diminishes the increase of virus in the body hopefully to the point that it can no longer be detected when a viral load test is done. That's the test which defines how much virus a person has in his body; it's quite expensive though and better be done after a year of taking ARV. By the world standard, a person with a CD4 count of 350 and below is required to take the ARV. It's still the patient's prerogative if he wants to start taking the medicine coz it has numerous side effects, but the higher the CD4 count like 200-350 the better coz the lesser side effect a person can get or sometimes nothing. Besides, a lot of counseling session from the doctor is required to discuss everything such as the real deal with HIV, ARV and its side effects, do's and don'ts, and other concerns. According to my CD4 test, I need to start taking the medicine coz the result of my lab test was 331 so I have decided already after weighing the pros and cons. It's a lifetime medication so the best judgment must be made. The reason why it took me 5 or 6 counseling session was, my doctor insisted me to tell my condition to my parents. At first, I was so firm with my decision to handle everything all by myself and not telling it to anyone especially to my family. Eventually, I was convinced by her and also I realized that they have all the right to know for the simple reason that they are my family no matter what so I told them. I told it to my sister first, of course she cried, and requested her to give my letter where I told everything to our parents. Sorry but I can't afford to see them hurting because of what happened to me that's why I opted to mention every details of it through a letter, in that way I will not miss out anything. It was 8 months after I was diagnosed when I have finally decided to break the bad news to my sister, then to my parents. I was in Manila coz I am still working that time when they got the letter so when I came home a week after, we never talked about it but I was surprised when they replied with a letter also. Well, we're not the type of family who are so blatant of what we feel or what we think. We all know that we really loved each other; it's just that we're not vocal and showy about it. The content of my parent's letter, well they wrote to me separately, was enough for me to face this dilemma dauntlessly. The line where my father told me that he's willing to take my place if that disease can only be transferred brought so much tears to my eyes and my mother reassured their love for me through that reply. Praise the Lord! I was blessed with a very understanding, caring, and loving family!
June 2007, I started the trial of ARV for 14 days and nothing has happened to me. No side effects have occurred, not until on the 20th day when I was home already. For the next 10 consecutive days, every morning and evening after eating my meal I just threw them up. Most of the time, I was nauseated and felt weak. After those 10 days, I felt better and my feeling went back to normal. Aside from my doctor's advice to quit my call center job with unhealthy working schedule, I was forced to resign due to my absences. Well, that was the worst side effect I have experienced so far after taking ARV for more than 9 months now. Currently, the side effect which occurring to me is the skin irritation and peeling around my finger nails on hands and feet. I thought it was syphilis but after the test, it was not.
August 2007 when I have started to bum around, I just stayed at home with my parents. My regular check up is once a month every Thursday to see if there are possible opportunistic infections and to get the ARV. So far, aside from that skin problem I mentioned I am very well ok. During this idle time of my life when I began to contemplate on everything I have been through ever since I became independent and took control of my life. I came to a realization that all my actions and decisions have been motivated by my stupid ambition to be wealthy, to be recognized, and to find a partner. But most of the time, I was driven by my desire to have more money! Well, I just want to give my parents somehow a luxurious life after all the sacrifices they have done for us children, travel and visit some parts of the world and the country with them, to have a condo unit of my own and a car, and probably my own business. There's nothing wrong with that I guess, but I was so consumed by all of these desires that somehow I forgot about God! Yes I have thanked Him and asked forgiveness every time I prayed to Him every night, but I guess it was not enough.
Every time I visit my Christian doctor for my check up and counseling, she always asked how I am. I told her that I believe there's a reason why this horrible thing happened to me and I was so determined to discern that reason.