Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Life Story: Take Care

My initials are JHLAB or my friends call me Nash when I decided to change my name after knowing my HIV status. It’s actually none of my plans to change my name however when I start using Twitter, a follower (@boy_positibo) advised me to create an incognito account to protect my identity. One of the pozzies as well told me to be extra careful in disclosing my status because the rejection from the people surrounds you is much painful than knowing your confirmatory result after getting the rapid test in the initial screening. So from then, I used the name Nash both in twitter and blogspot. I am sorry for the long introduction on how the name evolves and I hope that no one will get hurt or bothered from this borrowed name. 

When I was young until I reach college, I never had the chance or full interest in blogging or writing because I’m always having the hard time thinking of any subject. I didn’t even submit any entries for journals in the University publication because I know that I don’t have the guts in composing sensible ideas to reach out readers and provide them brand-new knowledge. One aspect as well is that I can’t speak and write good English so I didn’t take any chances to submit any entries ever... I am raised in a small province in Mindanao so I am well versed in speaking Bisaya=70% and others are English=20%, Tagalog=10%. On the other hand, I decided to put up this blog to share, inspire and potentially meet new friends whether positive or non positive, supporters, or readers.

This time, I can now think of a perfect subject and that is dealing with HIV and other sickness. I am inspired by two other pozzies (@poz_angel) and (@casuallypositiv) after reading their blog entries and that made me decide to create one too. I can say that I may not have the complete resources or information yet, so I hope that you can be with me in the progress of knowing what really it is and how to deal with the virus as days will go by. So here’s the summary of my life story and how I acquire the virus:
I am 21 years old and the eldest son and among the grandchildren in the family. I can say that I am the most favoured child both in my father’s and mother’s side and they always look me up as a role model to my brother , sister and cousins. I am as well a consistent honor student in a small barrio when I was in elementary until I reach high school and offered an academic and performing arts scholarship when I reached college. I graduated college when I was 19 years old with the Degree of Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health in Philippine Normal University-National Center for Teacher Education. My parents got separated when I was 2 years old, my Mom went abroad to work as an Overseas Worker and my Dad went back to finish his college degree. Indeed, they are still in their teenage stage when my mom got pregnant. My grandparents raised me well and taught me the proper values, survival skills and become a God-fearing person. I am raised in a very poor family and that is not a hindrance for me to finish my education and I am very proud to be the youngest graduate in my class and receives an award in the ceremony. 

While in college, I met a friend across the web and he became my mentor. He is a retired professor in the University of Texas at Austin and is a very good and respected person. He also provides financial assistance for my studies and we keep on exchanging e-mails everyday. I can see that it gave me a lot of advantage and confidence to be more productive in improving my English language. He offered me a cultural exchange scholarship in United States however for some reasons and financial issues, my visa application got denied twice and I never had the chance to purse my dreams to continue my studies abroad. Since I can see a lot of job opportunities in Manila, I decided to stay and search for available jobs instead of going home in the province.

I am in Manila for almost 1 year and 8 months now and this is my life’s big adjustment not just only because of the language and places but as well in dealing with people. I only made few friends in my stay and luckily they are very good to me.  Now, I also made some twitterfriends having the same condition and I really like how we support each other. I am working in a call centre industry and made some friends too and they keep on telling me that I’m bubbly, happy person and has a unique personality. I am single and never had any serious relationship, . Maybe I’m not good looking or I am hooked in setting a new career or no one gets stumbles and sees my real beauty Hahaha

 I live in a condominium along EDSA which is shared by six people and they are gaymen too. Luck brings me to stay with them because I just receive the information through craiglist and I contacted them right away. We treated each other as family and we supports each other as well in all ways.  I don’t smoke and drinks too much liquor and not joining them to any activities such as night-out or going to the bar. I admit I also have some flaws in life and Im not telling this to inform that I’m a good person, each of us has a bad side ok? Now, how did I acquire the virus? 

Yes, I am just a normal gay men and get attracted to my fellow men. I met a guy whose living in the same condominium and actually he is just 15 steps from our unit. I’m not that sex active but I can say that my sexual preference is versa-bottom and he is top. I admit to have a casual relationship with the guy on the next unit and I am aware that he has a live-in partner. One afternoon, we accidentally see each other in the condominium’s elevator and our eyes met, he smiled at me and eventhough we didn’t say any word, we already know that we like each other. So when we reach the 5th floor, we did exchange mobile numbers and then that starts our simple communication. He visits me in our unit, I visits him as well when his partner is not around. He talls 5’7”, Gym fit, Clean Cut, and I find him good looking and I got attracted to him. He is 25 years old and I am just 21 and we are very comfortable with each other. We had sex almost seven times and we never use any protection like condoms  because I have in mind that he is healthy and good looking and I can’t think that he carries the virus. I trusted him so much so I don’t have any thought that I will acquire HIV from him. In that time, I can say that HIV is just in the news and those are only transmitted to people who has multiple sex partners, prostitutes/sex workers, etc and that excludes me. 

On August 2011, I got sick having acute pharyngitis, fever and chest pain so I went to the hospital and have myself checked (ECG, 2D Echo, X-Ray, CBC) everything is normal so I didn’t worry much about it. My awareness about HIV started when I watched the news on TV about a gay call center agent who confessed about his HIV condition and that scares me a lot. That makes me paranoid especially when I see information about HIV ads in facebook, MRT stations, blogs , pamphlets and everywhere so I volunteered myself to undergo the HIV screening test in our area. I receive counselling from the Doctor-in-charge and after 15 minutes, my name was called and it resulted non-reactive so I was very happy. From that point of time, whenever I had sex with my neighbor I always make sure that we always follow safe sex and use condoms. I am now well informed about HIV and I should be responsible in every actions. 

After 2 months I got severe fever and that is in the month of November so I decided to go the hospital and have myself checked and everything is normal. I am very curios about the virus and I keep on reading about HIV facts and other information in the internet and decided to have the test again. I am very confident in taking the test this time knowing that I am well informed about the virus three months ago, so I am not scared at all. I took the test for the sake of knowing my status and peace of mind but I know in myself that I am healthy during that time. After 15 minutes, I was surprised that the woman called my name and we get inside the room. I now get nervous because that was not the same procedure like before. The woman simply asked me how I’m doing and discuss some information about the virus. Then she asked me a lot of “what if?” questions and that start to bother me. She open the paper and told me that the test result shows “REACTIVE” and I should start taking care of myself...

That was frustrating, embarrassing, depressing moment in my life. I want to cry but I can’t, I didn’t even know that I’m home already. I fell asleep and kept it in myself and start wearing a poker face!

“We should limit our level of trust, think ahead before taking actions...”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Not Just an Introduction; HIV Life

What am I doing here? Why should I set up a blog? I even wasted an hour thinking how to start my first entry. I am not a writer or a wide reader however I strongly believe that I have the passion to convey the message within and to start inspiring other HIV+ or even healthy people. My English and grammar maybe limited but this will not cause me to stop the desire of sharing any relevant information about the virus and my personal experiences of having HIV. Readers and even co-blogger may judge this blog as boring, garbage and a total waste of time but I'm not doing this to earn money or for them to pity my condition instead I can be a living witness that even though I am sick, I still have a million reasons to live a normal life and explore for more possibilities and take chances. I will maintain this blog as casual and simple as possible so expect that you can just skim through the whole page without spending so much time in reading. I'm sure that this blog will give me a deep expression of my feelings... It could be Joy, Acceptance, Fear, Surprise, Sadness, Disgust, Anger and Anticipation of this life's long battle as HIV positive person.

Below is my first sonnet composition and I want to start my entry by sharing this to you. This is the time when I knew that I am confirmed as HIV positive on January 5, 2012 and decided to start a new life from then. Since I am newbie blogger, I would like to encourage everyone to post their comments or any suggestions for the author's improvement. 

Butterfly; Sonnet

Shall I compare thee to a butterfly?
With colors splendid which I could admire
A kiss to nectar's of May flowers rely
A deep attraction which my heart’s desire
In lovely time shimmers the summer breeze
Transforms a wonderful creature on earth
Everyone’s sigh and feel at ease
Gave an eye to a pupa at birth, with wings wavering light
Fill my soul astonished and wonder
Remains its glory though astray my sight
Shrewd my wits a thought to remember,
Gazing fixedly seem unduly hypnotized
Unknown of its beauty it’s me in disguise