Friday, December 20, 2013

2013: My Rebirth - Part V (The Boy in Green Spandex)

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."

There is an obvious and paramount urgency that I start  the treatment. And I'm not getting those medicines yet until I get the results for the X-Ray and Sputum test. They have to know if I have Tuberculosis (TB) because if I do, then they have to start TB treatment first before giving me Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART). That's what they call the trio-pill I have to take everyday for the rest of my life, like your daily Neobloc for high blood pressure or Metformin for diabetes. I have to wait for another week before the results are in. I have to do some more baseline tests outside RITM; urinalysis, fecalysis, UTZ, PPD and CMV.

The next 7 days was tough. No fever but I still suffer from shortness of breathing. And I lost appetite with the discomfort caused by the oral thrush, actual or imagined. Dr. Wico also wants to make sure I don't have a particular infection that attacks the eye sight. That happens to PLHIV with very low CD4, he called it CMV ritinitis, caused by the Cytomegalovirus that, if unchecked, thrives in the brain. Before we left the facility that Monday he gave me a couple of prescriptions for more baseline tests.

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.

We went home and that was another unproductive, energy taxing day. I texted Chad the following morning. "May kwarto ba sa RITM? Baka kailangan ko na mag pa admit." I was trying to tone down the sense of urgency or panic up until Friday mid afternoon. Chad told me to hang on and try calling the hot line number of RITM-ARG and see if there is any updates on the test results. I texted the ARG mobile first, and in less than 5 minutes I got a reply. I gave them my code(yes we have that for confidentiality purposes), and manong Yuan checked my records. My sputum and X-Ray results are already in and they are all indicating negative for TB. Consolation prize number 3! Then manong Yuan reminded me to prepare my TB skin test result when I visit RITM the following Monday, the doctor will still check on it in conjunction with the X-Ray and Sputum test. Wait!!! Monday??? So I still have two days, three nights before I see my ID doc and before I get hold of those lifeline medication.

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."

It did not mention anything about managing or controlling anxiety but that gave me an idea. Or led me to this, if I can't control my anxiety attacks, perhaps the blog was right about controlling the virus. I read more, need some deep diving on this. But just as I plunged into the cold waters of online epidemiology, I discovered what this HAART will do to the virus. It must be the reason why they call it highly active. According to Chad, ARVs will keep the virus at bay. (Wow, like sea urchins against the tide?) But from the shallow reading on some health websites, barely touching pharmacology, I found out it has to be three so it's really powerful enough such that all exit points are covered. That's good enough explanation for me.

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

2013: My Rebirth - Part IV (Behind Enemy Lines)

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.

Although, then I'm starting to know my enemy better as suggested by Sun Tzu in The Art of War. I have read more blogs which led me to more official health websites (like UNWHO, UNAIDS, TheBody). It's like spying on your enemy. The research and readings better equipped me in understanding my current situation. Let's analyze some.

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.

We waited in the ARG office downstairs. That's a spacious clinic, complete with aircondition, sofa set and wide-screen TV. More benches outside in the hallway. On later visits I realized there could be more clients visiting in a day. I heard one day last month it peaked to 72 ARG clients, and that's some organizational nightmare!

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

2013: My Rebirth - Part III (The Prize)

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

2013: My Rebirth - Part II (The Test)

"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( 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.

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I checked the contacts I found online, I had two options, The Manila Social Hygiene Clinic near San Lazaro Hospital in Manila and the RITM-ARG Satellite clinic in Malate. The ever supportive Inday travelled with me from Cavite to Manila on May 23. My contact "Jubel" as I understood it then is a volunteer from SHC but we ended up in RITM-ARG Satellite Clinic in Malate. I'm not totally discrete to strangers. I always believe in the disarming power of the truth, sometimes to a fault. So I candidly told the cab driver that I will have an STD "check-up". I asked him the shortest way to get to San Lazaro from our bus drop off point in Buendia.  

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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!)

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It was almost 12:00 NN when we got inside the clinic, the receiving area was almost full already. I filled up the forms and waited for my turn. Inday and I were whispering in Kinaray-a so those who overhear us won't understand what we are talking about, or so we thought. Very rude. Inday was more rude, she calls people-like-us(PLU) "incomplete"(as noun and not adjective). It was a bad habit we learned from some relatives back in the province, and that is because there are many "incompletes" in our famiy and friends, Inday included. "Doy, incomplete man ra?", referring to fellow clients in the clinic. People could really be innocently discriminating and that includes the two "incomplete" whispering. And to answer one of the 2013 Miss Earth final questions: They are the worse kind of discrimination, those that appear to be normal and innocent. Because they have salient but deep ethical abrogation. What!? Simply, it's bad to call people names, so dear readers please deal with it and get done with it.

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

2013: My Rebirth - Part I

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 we were busy the whole summer setting up the new site for the new program. Client VIPs and onshore management visiting the site and checking on the new "kids". And then there is the Annual Sports Fest. Yes, I did play basketball, not for the love of the game,but as usual, our group just don't have enough limbs to put up a decent team, we all resort to maximizing what we have. They had me, and a couple more guys. This is another good story to tell another good time.

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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Saturday, December 7, 2013

I am Tom!

Hello, welcome to my blog. I am Tom and I have HIV/AIDS.

I have been reborn this year 2013. The next few blog posts will tell my story of rebirth from life with HIV. I have been rechristened  with the name "Tom". I am humbled by the name. It is only fitting and proper that I continue to carry the same pen name. I know a few Tom in the past that have inspired me in so many ways. I would like to write about them in the future.

Allow me to introduce the blog's main inspiration, Thomas the Fisherman. The often mentioned incredulous doubting fisher folk from Galilee spoke the most humbling words I have ever heard and uttered myself in times of distress and supplication, "M-L-A-M-G". Before becoming an Apostle he was a fisherman and he travelled the oftentimes rough Sea of Galilee. Some nights they catch no fish, but responding to the Lord's command one early morning they did haul 153 large ones. Following his mission to be fishers of men, he travelled to South Asia. With reverence to Thomas, I now sail on my own rough seas of doubt and faith, toil and grace, indifference and compassion.

With this, join me as I chronicle my own journey as a Person Living with HIV.

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