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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