International AIDS Candlelight Memorial
May 18, 2014
UP Diliman, Quezon City
Good afternoon friends!
Isang mainit na hapon sa lahat ng ating mga kapatid at kahanay sa parehong layunin at adbokasiya!
Kag maayong hapon man sa akon mga kasimanwa kag kaparyentihan nga ari dire subong!
I remember this fateful afternoon, exactly one year ago. I was lying in bed, inside a private room of a nearby hospital in Imus, Cavite, alone and woke up gasping for air. I almost succumb to the thought that this will be my very last afternoon siesta. Desperation was sinking in. But along that came the last thread of hope. An inner desire to survive, not for any particular reason. But just of plain animal instinct to live.
I checked my situation and assessed my immediate circumstances. Well first, my cognitive faculty for reasoning is still functioning. There might still be a chance. I found myself staring at the ceiling, with light that at first I thought was the blinding one which ushers those who pass on. Hindi pala, fluorescent lang pala ng kwarto ko. I started to move my head and found myself looking at the door on my left. Isang saradong pintuan; pasukan, maaari ring labasan... Nagkumahos akong umupo sa pagkakahiga at sinipat ulit ng taimtim ang pwertahan na nasa kaliwa ko. Nakita ko ang aking mga kamay, buhay pa ako at gumagalaw, at nandito lang pala sa ospital, sa loob ng isang maliit na kwarto, nagiisa at nahihirapang huminga. Walang hangin, malamig ang kwarto na parang gustong durugin ang aking dibdib ng yelo. Kapos na kapos ako sa hangin. Nagdedeliryo napapraning...
If I don't do anything now I will surely die. If I will not ACT UP I will leave this room cold dead. If these bare hands do nothing, my feet will surely cross that door lifeless.
I called out for help. And somehow I got it.
In this life we face many challenges. It's not a cliche but a reality. A morbid and almost fatal one for me and for most of those we remember today.
Call out for help. Or be there when someone does. Call out for help and She could be the nurse outside that door. An infectious disease doctor tending to patients at the ER, at the Ganci ward, DOTS clinic, HACT office or sometimes manning their unofficial post at Twitter and Facebook answering questions but also asking you or begging you to see him in person at the treatment hub clinic. Pwede din itong mapagmahal na kapatid sa malayo na may sarili ding pasanin pero hindi pinagkait ang kanyang puso at pagalala, o maasahang pinsan na kasama sa bahay at karamay sa luha at galak ng buhay. O mga magulang na hindi man maintindihan kung ano ang sakit mo pero ang alam lang nila ay intindihin ka at mahalin ka, sampu ng iyong kapintasan, kahinaan, kalabisan, pagkukulang. Mga kamaganak at kapitbahay na tutulungan ka magbuhat ng iyong mabigat na dalahin. Mga kaibigang tinanggap ka at pilit ka pinapangiti at pinapatawa kahit nakakahiya ang inyong pinaguusapan o pinapanood. Or it could be complete strangers, people who takes time writing their story online. Making their lives available to others, daily, selflessly, on season, off season. Laboring and toiling the adage "Love your Neighbors". Just when you thought there is no one else you can call out help to - "We are all in this together."
Because keeping quiet could be fatal. Silence meant sure Death. And today we remember those who have passed on. We celebrate their life and their love, theirs that paved for ours to reach the maximum lifespan. Today there is no more reason to see the blinding light early on. No more means Nada, Zero. Let's get to Zero. No more deaths because of AIDS, no more new HIV infection, no more fear and discrimination. Magpa test habang maaga pa, magpa treatment habang malakas pa. Magtanong, humingi ng saklolo. Tabang! Tabang! Call out for help. Or be there when someone does.
Be there talking about HIV and STI when your friends are avoiding it. Answer their questions or speak up when no one is asking. Find that every venue and opportunity to help out. To Educate and Empower. To correct misconceptions. To right was is wrong. Some are just afraid to ask questions or to tell you their problems, but be available when they do. He could be your funky officemate, he could be the soloist at your church or your brother working overseas. He or she could be your bestfriend or your seatmate or your professor or your student. Your Team Leader or your agent. The IT guy who fixes your broken computer. Your boss who could be in hiding or your subordinate who cowers. He could also be your nurse or even your doctor. Everyone needs help at some point. Be there when they do.
Because that will only matter. When we start to CARE for others. When we give our friends SUPPORT. When LOVE unite neighbors. When we partake in FELLOWSHIP. Let's not waver on our COMMITMENT even if our own allies make it more difficult for us to ACHIEVE our goals. Let's continue the STRUGGLE to better days for all PLHIV living in the Philippines and elsewhere. Let's REMEMBER those who have left us for the stars. Shining bright like diamonds in the sky.
And here below on earth as we kindle our candles tonight in solidarity with them, with the Red Ribbon we wear on our sleeves - "Let's keep the light on HIV."
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Thursday, January 2, 2014
"When you really want something to happen, the whole world conspires to help you achieve it."
This is what World AIDS Day reminds me of. In fact, I personally believe that it was divine providence that Paolo Coelho wrote the bestselling book in the 80s when HIV/AIDS was already discovered.
The Alchemist teach us to pursue our dreams. Today, that dream is Getting to Zero. And nothing should hinder us from reaching those Three doable dreams. No more AIDS related deaths. No more new infection. No more stigma and discrimination.
Despite seeing the numbers go up for the last 5 or 10 years in the Philippines, I am positive that we are heading in the right direction. Someday soon, we will hit the plateau of success and those numbers will start to spiral down. So cheer up! Don't be saddened, we are doing the work of love. Let's learn more on how we can get there. Let experience teach us the lessons of life and love. Let's level up on our commitments to work more on Prevention and scale up our Awareness drive. Let's go and reach out to more communities, leave no stone unturned.
We come together today, to pledge our support to pursue that universal dream of better life for People Living With HIV. And we light the candles to remember those who have left us already. We wear that Red Ribbon on our sleeves to show our support to all the stake holders, families and friends, the health care providers, doctors, nurses, volunteers, and those who came out into the open to work on sending that message of love and compassion.
Personally, today reminds me that I am not alone in this fight. Today, reminds me that I am part of that world that cares. Today, reminds me to continue and persevere in the pursuit of my Personal Legend.
Finally, I found mine. And luckily, it's here for keeps...
Happy World AIDS Day to everyone!
(read during the joint WAD celebration of The Red Ribbon & UP Student Council at the UP Diliman, Dec. 1, 2013)
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Friday, December 20, 2013
To me, nothing mattered but that number. My CD4 was 5 and I have HIV and AIDS! Something I only used to study inside the four corners of the high school classroom, totally forgotten during college escapades and outrightly disregarded while enjoying the spoils of quarter life. Chad however was still optimistic and immediately dismissed it as just a number. "What's important now is we know your status and we know where you're standing, now let's start fixing you up."
Thursday, we took for the Philippine General Hospital in Metro Manila where I can get that CMV test but was cut short somewhere in Bacoor. I had another anxiety attack, and choked on the bottle of water I was drinking and had shortness of breathing inside the bus. We dropped off somewhere right after SM Bacoor. After I stepped out of the bus, I almost collapsed along the Aguinaldo National Highway. "Day, hospital!", in between gasps of air. But no vehicle to take us there. No annoying tryk when we needed it much. We hailed for a jeepney going south and decided to go home instead after I got my composure back. That eye check up in PGH will have to wait.
But I'm not sure if I can still wait. All this discomfort in eating and breathing is feeding my anxiety. But that's really all there is to it. No fever, no coughing nor phlegm. Not even Tuberculosis. No serious medical condition (just AIDS! duh). "Wag mo kasi isipin Doy. Controlin mo ang sarili mo."
Hmmm I think I heard that somewhere. Or read it from a blog post like this. "Take control of the virus, not the virus take control of you."
At that time, I did not really know the science behind it. But I uncovered its art of execution, which matters to me more. What I then know is that ARV drugs will stop the virus from reproducing. Keep them at certain places, they call reservoir (usually the bone marrow), and if you are adherent to your medicine schedule, ARV will hold them up there, forever...
Just imagine the sea urchins, you feed them with something that will make them sterile so they stop reproducing, and without hand picking but just poking with a stick, gathers what remains of them to certain underwater basin ready for harvest. That is how ARV drugs control and manage the virus. The harvesting part is the much awaited, often sensationalized, press conference worthy, but seriously needed, upcoming, almost there but not nearly, could be hidden by pharmalabs, sometimes proverbial, oftentimes in-your-dreams, always wanting, and still in the future ultra-potent super-powerful extra-penultimate CURE to HIV.
Whew! I have just reduced a killer virus, so cruel it brewed fear, stigma and discrimination around the world, to an exotic yet special ingredient to delicious delicacies in the Far East and the Mediterranean cuisine.
That's how I think I should start controlling all this hullabaloo of self-inflicted anxiety skirmishes. I might not be able to totally get rid of them, but I can manage it somehow so I can continue helping myself with whatever I can eat, coupled with undisturbed 8-hour sleep at night and afternoon naps after "It's Showtime!" Soon I will get those lifeline medicines for my daily dose hence forward until thy kingdom come. Or at least until they find that elusive cure, whichever comes first. Amen.
End of Book 1
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Sunday, December 15, 2013
That was the longest weekends ever.
It was neither smooth sailing, anxiety have exacerbated things. Yes, I am determined to go to war. Yes, I have reinforcement on the ready. "To, abaton kaw jan ni tatay", sis called to inform us dad will leave the province and come to Manila to pick me up(baw dad). And yes, Chad says there are GI (government issued) ammunition for free if I finally get the score and if it's low enough to warrant it. But that will happen Monday following that long ordeal of chronic anxiety attacks over the weekends.
The shortness of breathing(SOB) from respiratory tract infections(RTI), as was diagnosed by the Imus hospital doctor, was caused by either upper respiratory infection common on sinusitis or allergic rhinitis which I know I have, ever since I can count with my fingers(that usually got stuck on my big nose when I was a kid). Mucus or 'sipon' will either clog the air passage through the nose or the throat. Or this SOB could also be caused by lower respiratory infection like pneumonia. In the Philippines, this is just as common as TB. You don't get infected unless your immune system is compromised or you are either too young or just too old and sickly. Pneumonia will make you feel like you can't breathe enough air you are forced to open your mouth and engulf more to get to your lungs. "Parang kulang sa hangin parati", I complained to Inday and Anne. I don't hyperventilate like on asthma attacks, I never had that(knock on wood), it's just like a feeling of lacking air. Like my lungs want more but can't take much. Makes me feel dizzy really, to a point I'd panic. Anxiety trigger number 1.
The chronic LBM since January is also called wasting syndrome. Gastro intestinal infection are common to immuno compromised patients because there are a good number of pathogens that could infect us through the food we are eating or water we are drinking (e-colli, salmonella, other bacteria and parasites). This is usually caused by improper food handling or spoiled food or dirty raw materials or ingredients. My defecating schedule is very erratic, not regular, but frequent. I'm not lying if I say I have my "colon calling cards" on all restrooms in the office and my "anal autographs" on all Charlie-Romeos of the malls and establishments I have been to(quotes from Dr. Sheldon Cooper). And my colleagues can attest to that, if I say I need to go, I actually meant I'm almost there, delay me by a second and I'm a goner. So back off or you'll mess up with anxiety trigger number 2! *constipated evil grin here*
3rd on my anxiety list is the thrush in my mouth, a fungal infection. Yes, dandruff on your oral cavity if you want to call it that. I wished this will really go away with the medicine the TMC doctor gave me. I've been spending a fortune to no avail on this swishing and swallowing. And it's really uncomfortable when I swallow food that I lose my appetite. Not just that, I have its cousin on my facial hair too. Its flakes as big as "kararaw" (the operating word here is BIG, so go figure). I just use moisturizer on my face to cover the flaking. And that's not even mentioning what's in my semi-kal hair.
So there, somehow i know the front liners of my enemy. I just need to know what will defeat them and just do it. Rest and more fluids for the RTI and SOB. Well cooked dishes, rich in fiber food and more fluids for LBM. Gargle solution, moisturizer and again more fluids for the triple-combo fungal infection. Water is major major in my arsenal, it should be, and not just for PLHIV but all of us who desire to live a healthy and beautiful life.
Now that I know the lieutenants of my enemy, how about the war general himself?
That will require more intelligence, reconnaissance and field work. And I started that Monday. I'm about to find out the casualty at my own barracks, or the survivors left in this "blood" war.
We were up early morning. Although Alabang is just 30 minutes van ride from our place in Cavite, it's our first trip to the facility. And Alabang is not our territory. Not like Pasay or Ortigas where the maps are drawn on my palm. We can't afford to lose our way as Chad warned us to get there by 0700 hours. We cannot be late or else we wait for another day or worse another week. This time, Anne joined us. She doesn't want to be on the receiving end of updates through texting with Inday. The waiting is just more nerve racking for her. Jimmy, our very loyal housemate-turned-OFW, will have to watch over the day's operation of the Sari-Sari Store. So we were all set that morning.
The trip was short, and we got there around 0630 hours, few more minutes and we met Chad near the Alabang Fire Station. We headed for RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine). I met Paul there, my "batchmate" in the satellite clinic the previous Thursday. Needless to say he's a comrade PLHIV, a blood brother, Paul was kind enough to give me an extra face mask before we stepped in. We were joined by two more at the lobby before Chad enrolled us at the admissions desk, we got registered in ARG (AIDS Research Group) too. We proceeded to the labs for our baseline tests; CD4 count, blood chem, sputum and chest X-Ray. We met some other guys for the same routine, some were very quiet, "malayo ang tingin", like war-shocked combatants. But some were loud and having a field day. Probably they're friends outside or acquaintances in ARG. Their optimism were contagious. I was amused, our kind can really put FUN in funeral, no pun intended. Some of these guys were assisted by Chad's friend. I was told they both belong to the Love Yourself volunteer group assisting new PLHIV. We had lunch together. I was the only one with two extra large chaperons, Inday and Anne. The two were comfortable talking to my "batchmates" while eating the specialty dessert at that canteen, buko salad ice candy. I later learned the total number of new PLHIV that month was the highest ever recorded at that time, 415. And I belonged to that group. Crazy, just overwhelming!
The afternoon dragged. More profiling inside the DOTS clinic in the main building; height, weight, BP, temperature, allergies, etc. I met my Infectious Disease (ID) Doctor inside the consultation room, Dr. Wico. He did ask me some questions, very basic like recent medical condition. So I told him about the LBM, the coughing or SOB and the oral thrush. I gave him a rundown of all the medications I have been taking. I showed him some hospital records. He made notes, lots of it. He checked my eyes and my breathing and some "more" doctors usually check in cases like mine. He told me we have to wait for the CD4 test results and will be called to go back later. By the way CD4 T-cell count is an indicator of the strength of a person's immune system. HIV destroys these CD4 T-cells inside the PLHIV's body. This count determines the stage of the HIV progression and predicts the risk of complications. The higher, the better.
It was late afternoon when we were called back to DOTS. Everyone was tired and weary. Not much fanfare on the hallways anymore. DOTS head nurse Ms. Ellen was allergic to that hanky-panky, anyway. But that's not the reason why she no longer works there, if you ask me I don't know. We were told the results were in. I went inside the consultation room and before I can even sit down after I locked the door, Dr. Wico said I have to start with the treatment already as my CD4 is low. Hmm some sense of urgency there. He checked the paper again, "and... yes it's 5, quite low". I have to pause there and mentally correct him, maybe he meant very very low. Just 5, F-I-V-E 5! Most of the treatment hubs recommend giving the Antiretroviral drugs as soon as the CD4 drops below 350. Mine was 5 on its first test. Technically, with three known Opportunistic Infections (OI) and a CD4 count way below the cut-off of 200, my case was already considered under the category AIDS(Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). I'm not sure if de facto, my record counted as AIDS case in the official tally of DOH, The AIDS Registry. To me it didn't matter anymore.
Red alert lights flashing before my eyes, I can only hear loud war siren vibrating in my ears. "I am down to my last 5 soldiers!"
to be continued...
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Thursday, December 12, 2013
I took the HIV Test at the RITM-ARG Satellite Clinic on May 23 and in just a few hours I'm about to know the findings, my grand prize.
And I did, although it did not say positive as I expected. "Tara pasok tayo sa consultation room", Chad asked me and Inday to join him inside a room adjacent to the receiving area. He had the results in his hands and he asked me if I prefer to read it on my own or if I want him to do so. With cold hands and cold feet, I chose the latter. "I'm proud of you Tom, you just did the right thing. What matters now is what we are going to do with what's inside this envelope and not just the result itself." We were both jittery already, anxious but not excited. Naked fear can be spelled all over my face. Constipation on Inday's. Then Chad opened the envelope and read the findings.
"You are... Reactive to HIV antibodies", Chad said in a most professional but caring and compassionate way. Inday cried, I didn't. Perhaps it's because she was still expecting for a negative result while I was already expecting for the negative news. I was in shock though. Chad hugged me. "Wag ka magalala, may magagawa na tayo." He congratulated us for hurdling the first stage. Accolades in this moment sound ironic, but I actually felt like I just graduated from High School. Glad that I accomplished something tough but also equally sad. Not because friends will part ways, but because for the first time, I felt really disappointed. People who really knew me by heart knows I'm not hard to please.
Good thing my sister called to break the ice-cold near self-pity, she told me she already knew from the texting she was doing with Inday. She remained calm, but with firm demeanor she said, "To, I'm behind you on this one and if I need to, I'll be in front of you to protect you." She also informed me that she talked to our parents already. I know they were heartbroken, but I was more touched with how they handled it, with compassion and a great deal sense of being family. Their love and understanding resonated out of the mobile phone, I almost forgot the dilemma I just got in. The disappointment was replaced with determination.
The same screening tested me negative for Hepa B, Gonorrhea and Syphilis. That was the first consolation prize(insert clapping here.) I was scheduled for CD4 testing the following Monday at the RITM main facility in Alabang. Simply put it, counting the number of immune system warriors I still have in my blood. This number goes down with the progression of HIV/AIDS, Chad told me. I have to wait for Monday, hoping for a second consolation. I have to admit, I was optimistic then. I don't have a specific number in mind, but was aiming for a high score.
Meanwhile, I still have Friday, Saturday and Sunday to think things on my own. I am relatively strong person with very positive outlook in life. Although an underachiever in many ways, optimism runs through my veins. But now I have to start counting the virus too. I have HIV in my blood stream. Inday's anxiety was infectious. "HIV is NOT", Chad reminded her before we left the clinic, "Unless you have unprotected sex, use infected needle, get tainted blood transfusion or a child from a PLHIV mother, you will not get it from living with a person with HIV."
Inday found respite on that. Anne's lament however was more infectious. She cried the whole Thursday night, and the whole Friday, Sun up Sun down. Worse in the evening when we were about to sleep. She really feels sorry for me. "Doy, mahal ka namin. Hindi ka namin pababayaan." I was glad to hear that. They are my parents away from the province. I have to remain stronger for them, lest I will lose them both to high blood pressure or dehydration from crying. Therapeutic as it was for me, I have to console them. I need to convince them there is still hope. That I'll be better, that there is a chance to get better. I said sorry for disappointing them and hurting them this way. I know I did.
I guess I was talking to myself too. Hearing I speaking to me that night, me tried to reply back and see if I will listen, "You don't deserve HIV Tom, no one does. But the selfish, pedantic, unworthy you still deserve HIM." I have a couple of days to myself for more of this dialogue before I face my doctor.
And just like the morning after high school graduation, I was also looking forward to the next step.
to be continued...
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Tuesday, December 10, 2013
"Doy bat hindi ka pa din gumagaling nakaswero na ang gamot mo?"
Inday retorted as I stepped out of our bathroom Wednesday afternoon after hospital discharge. It rang some bells... then lots of bells, the alarming ones! I can't sleep early that night. She does make sense. Why will I not get well when my antibiotics are given through IV already? Why am I still sick? It's been 45 days of chronic coughing without phlegm. I was so tired of thinking, my mind keeps on bugging me, it's more of conscience monologue actually. Then I thought about what I found out online that weekend.
So how exactly do I find out if I am immuno-compromised? And what the hell does that mean?
The answer partly came from Karen Davila. She featured a news article regarding a possible cure for HIV discovered somewhere in Europe. HIV... uh-oh (drop your jaw here).
I did not see this TV program, but Inday and Anne did. The two hardcore Kapamilya couch potatoes are the most formidable cousins I live with in Cavite. I was later told that Inday and my sister in the province were already texting that afternoon and trying to figure out what's wrong with me. So Thursday very early morning, with eye bags and all, over coffee and the best 4:00 AM pandesal we can get, Inday told me about their plan. Her's and my sister's. I in turn told them what I found out online. I told them about some symptoms of certain infections. Infections that are common to immuno-compromised patients.
"HALA DOOOOOYYYY!?!?", like an unwanted epiphany, that's all that Anne could utter while opening her sari-sari store rolled up window. The dawn is at hand. The three of us standing in that street knows what I have been doing that exposed me to possible STD, no need to discuss any further. And with what I figured out online, it's really possible I have the virus. But this Pozzie Pinoy(pozziepinoy.blogspot.com) guy says the only way to find out is to take The Test. And so we all decided I needed to get screened that morning, it cannot wait.
|Picture credits to pozziepinoy.blogspot.com|
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Manong driver instead said, "dito po yun sir" referring to the ARG clinic in Malate as if it's routine to him. He must have ferried some in the past. (Scary gee, muttering like the hooded guy taking you to your doom). We came before the 11:00 AM opening, the steel pull-down door was closed, so we have to wait. I checked online for some contacts of the clinic, found and started texting Chad (not related to the PP website). Told him I'm already in the area but I have to wait for the opening. We had lunch somewhere nearby. Thinking about it now, it was my last chicken inasal haysss. I know Inday was anxious but as ever, she was cheerful(probably because of the unli rice). She even bought me sundae ice cream from a convenience store like I'm about to see a dentist. (Watch out for my story regarding multiple molars extraction last year!)
|Picture credits to pozziepinoy.blogspot.com|
Chad told us there is pre and post counselling. While waiting for my batch for the pre counselling, I helped a clinic staff fix the widescreen LCD TV, I'm IT by profession anyway. We were watching Eat Bulaga then, we did not mind although we were solid Showtimers, Inday, Anne and me. Then my phone rang, I have to step outside to receive a call from my sister. I told her we're already in the clinic. She told me to hang on, that despite anything she will stand for me, and that I still enjoy the love, support and understanding of our family. I had mixed emotions. I felt bad I will surely make them disappointed. Afraid, that they will get hurt. Consoled, that my greatest ally called. I am not proud of what I am about to find out but I sure feel determined with what I am about to do. Finding what's wrong and fixing it.
The next four "testees" were called. Inday stayed and watched TV. We went upstairs inside the blue room and the counselling started. It was more of a short literacy course on STD and HIV/AIDS. It was educational, most of it I already read online. The only difference is that Chad was able to verbalize my fears and equally, he was able to enlighten me on the win-win situation of getting screened. "Knowing your status is being responsible", I remember he said among others.
It definitely helped me prepare for the next step, which is the taking of blood sample for screening. One at a time we were called to another smaller room. Then we were told to wait downstairs or we can go back for the results after 2 to 4 hours. Having lunch earlier, Inday and I decided to stay. Her anxiety was already showing up. I still held my composure. A lot of things were running in my mind. What to do if it's positive? I did not even consider what to do if it says negative. I can already feel it. I can sense it. I know it's going to be positive. And I'm positive about it. No need to counter my gut feeling. It usually ends up right. I was not out of bounds anyway, I'm in THAT territory. So I was not being a clairvoyant, I just know my chances.
I lived a life of risky behaviour, and I'm about to get my prize.
to be continued...
Sunday, December 8, 2013
The start of the year was abundant.
We just transferred to a new house in January somewhere in Cavite. From being part of the IT group for more than 4 years, I got a new job in operations and transferred from Laguna to a new office in Ortigas. I was so happy and excited. Finally I have my own place and a relatively new work environment I can conquer. I was expecting to do well, I aimed high.
I took a time off from a one year relationship and tried to focus on new responsibilities at home and at work. It was sad somehow, but we all have to make small sacrifices. It was also a bit challenging, adjusting to the new place, new travel route, new schedule, new workmates. Priorities have to realign to the new circumstances.
Then came the coughing. I got really worried. It started in April, and so I went to The Medical City and saw an ER doctor for it. That was the nearest hospital from work. I complained of upset stomach and difficulty in breathing and swallowing. The doctor gave me drug prescription for 7-day antibiotics. and a couple-day bed rest. I was not relieved at all.
And that's because I was not adherent to the medicine schedule. I thought I mess it up, and turning for the worse. So before I pass out in the office I visited our clinic doctor and honestly told him about some missed doses, he gave professional scolding and some more stronger antibiotics. But it did not do it. My work shift then starts at 3:00 AM, one night I woke up around 11:00 PM and called out for help. I can barely breathe. The room is closing on me.
And so my cousins rushed me to the nearest hospital ER. Inday have to wake up the neighbor tricycle driver to take us to Our Lady of the Pillar Medical Center in Imus. We got there past 12 midnight. Immediately they had me cough up any phlegm using double dose Salbutamol through the nebulizer. There was just none. I don't know if it's good or bad. I was confused but my extensive experience in medical emergencies made me not panic. I have to tell the ER doctor what I have been taking for cough. Presence of mind, I have to remain sober and alert.
I was confined and treated for bronchitis for about a week. They gave me more antibiotics. They did blood chem, chest X-Ray and ECG. They can't find anything wrong. They gave me a final prognosis that allergic rhinitis probably caused the upper or lower respiratory infection. I did not even have fever! Not knowing my enemy is the greatest of my fears in any war I face. I did some rethinking that weekends.
Two nights before I was discharged, when I was all alone in the hospital, I googled some "other" symptoms. When I saw my first doctor in April, another TMC EENT specialist told me I had some kind of fungal infection on my throat. I have to treat it with a particular gargle solution, the swish-and-swallow type. That night in my hospital bedroom, I came face to face with reality. Everything fell into place. The chronic LBM I later found out as wasting syndrome ever since we transferred to the new house, the coughing that won't get cured, and then as I check my mouth, I see signs of oral thrush, white pigments on the walls of the oral cavity. Google led me to candidiasis that further led me to this phrase: "For immuno-compromised patients, the treatment should be systemic for it to work."
So how do I find out if I am immuno-compromised?
to be continued...
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