Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Contemplating Death

I’ve been sick for the past 5 days (not HIV-sick coz that would be officially 3 years; or 8 years as my doctor hypothesized considering I even haven’t had sex at that age yet) and it was only today when I felt truly consumed by it.  Feeling feverish even when the thermometer says otherwise and completely constipated which is death for the anal-retentive, I bought some anti-bacterial meds and Pocari Sweat (which by the way, taste like sweetened Baygon) – general prescription by the clueless company doctor.

I wonder if after numerous random consultations with doctors yield nada, I will then be a candidate for hospital confinement to run some tests. I wonder if I got a terrible, terrible disease that only the immune-deficient can acquire. Will the doctor run an ELISA to determine my positive-ness on which I would histrionically lament that I would rather die than discover my status. I mulled over being confined in RITM but then what would my family say? I live in the North for Pete’s sakes, can I say “uhmm, the air is better there and the people are nice?” – nope not buying that.  Or I can just stow away in RI, letting the family know that I’m in some religious company retreat and that they can’t contact me just because.

Delirious in bed, I morbidly muse of how death is going to get me. I will first settle all my insurance debts for my family’s two million pesos (yey!) and funeral arrangements. I would then ask my sister to give my black box (ARVs under lock and code) to one poz friend for him to dispose of in any manner he wish (or he could use it, sayang kasi.)

And then there’s the question of confession. Should I disclose prior to death? Is it a sin to harbor it? I don’t want to be rumored to be the guy who supposedly died of LBM but is in fact HIV-positive (I’m actually more concerned of the LBM part because what would people say? That I never wash what I put in my mouth? Tut-tut) Plus even in death I’m still unwilling to be dethroned of my golden boy status. But then would heaven accept me despite this baggage?

So yeah my thoughts were a bit disjointed, a bit irrational and a bit paranoid. With my cerebral exhausted, I embraced bliss in the arms of sleep. Now I’m awake and a bit better. Damn waste of brain fluid. 

"I can't die. It would ruin my image. "

Saturday, January 8, 2011

This Close - Dislose?

‘Hey, I have HIV’

Disclosure is one of those things that a positive deals with on the intimate level. Fear of confessing stems from a plethora of reasons: from individual disgrace to societal denouncement, from the trivial rejection to the affected stigma. 

One major facet to consider is who deserves this private information – the immediate family, the close friend and/or the fateful lover? After this forethought, one has to ask if they need to know (the partner – yes, for reclusion perpetua reasons) or if you need to let them know – for support or to unburden oneself.

Personally, no familial confession has spouted from this uncouth mouth because of one superficial reason – the blissful ego. The ego believes that yours truly is the golden boy, the star of the Noche Buena feast.  I am the favorite son, the looker who gets to model and the hardworking breadwinner who brings home the tenderloin. The Christmas Ham can’t exactly be depraved inside, you know. The magnanimous (albeit self-deceitful) side of me holds that it’s not necessary to afflict them with this damaging reality – what’s unnecessary is inconsequential. 

Additionally, hey don’t even know that I indulge with men. Just imagine how my declaration would turn out:

Me: Ma, Pa, I have HIV..
Pa:  (incredulous) But how?
Me: Uhm, I sleep around with men
Ma: *faints*

-          end scene  –

Talk about hitting two birds with one stone. HA!

Getting on with the program - while the family has been left in the backstage of this sordid HIV tale, my disclosed-to are limited to one very perceptive friend and those who I credited at some obtuse point as probable paramours. Yes, with an s. I’ve yet to mull over the why behind this effortless transparency with relatively random strangers over blood relations.

Initially, my revelation strategy was indeterminate: should it be expressed in person or in virtual (lest the receiver resort to vitriolics) should I reveal at the onset or conceal till the inset? Each has its pros and cons – the former, extracted from artlessness and honesty, the latter, from caution and concealment. Each I have experienced with great expectations and the game-face on. While most aren’t so receptive (see them gargling after a passionate tongue twister) there are those whose fortitude deserve my fearless standing ovation (with the classic slow clap)

If there’s one lesson I learned from disclosure it is that regardless of the means, timing and level of comprehension, the personal dynamics between the confessor and confidante is what’s relevant for acceptance and tolerance.

The year before, I dated this guy for a few months. But when I felt that he’s getting more involved than what is obligatory, I called him up in the middle of the night, and blurted out,

‘Hey, I have HIV..’

With nonchalance he replied, ‘Uhm.. So?’

And we have been together since then.

"Confession is always weakness. The grave soul keeps its own secrets, and takes its own punishment in silence." 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chained in Change

Metanoia , a religious term I was introduced to when I studied in one Catholic school. It’s a Greek term which literally means ‘change of heart.’ This is usually accompanied by a life-altering experience - similar to the agnostic Saul’s conversion –becoming the pious Paul when his sight was brought back by a man of God.  

In my opinion, a person would change his ways only when faced with a majorly crucial event such as being grazed by a bullet, the unexpected demise of a beloved or simply put, when faced with one’s mortality. Smokers cease nicotine-inhale after learning of a lung complication. It is a reason why I think the senile frequent the church more than the youth. It is through this logic that I’m left to wonder how my life has changed since I found out I’m HIV-positive.

Life before was pretty hectic. I was juggling school and work. Whatever meager time I have left, I hang out with friends and did my thing –performing, that is. Sure, I get some shuteye – in the office lounge, in between LRT and MRT rides (while standing!) and during my classes. I ate when possible, gulped paltry portions of food during office lunchtime so I can get the essential zzzs.

Now I wouldn’t say that I had myself banged by every hot-blooded Pinoy when the urge came (did I just reveal too much?) but I had to admit that my sex batting average borders on just plain hedonistic. Prophylactics then were something the dominant one insisted because, frankly, I didn’t really mind. I mean, a few millimeters (or the lack of it) between skin doesn’t really make much of a difference right? I’m the proverbial pleaser – always service with a smirk. *wink

HIV was a thing that happened to other people -something that brushed my superego in moments of random mulling. It was something briefly entertained after the rough and thoughtless orgy of good-looking guys, only to be just as hastily disregarded by the stronger id.

Two years ago, I took the test that every gay guy aspires to fail. No one really expects to ace it in the first try but unfortunately I did – with a cheerfully low CD4 count to boot.  So yeah I went through the five stages of grief from denial to acceptance (well okay sometimes I go back to bargaining part.) At which point, I realized some drastic lifestyle change is inevitable – unless of course I prefer to expire with the horrendous TB and meningitis.

And so lifestyle overhaul it is: eating more fiber from fruits and vegetables, taking supplements for the immune system, working out 3-4 times a week, getting the recommended dose of doze, avoiding alcoholics and managing stress.

Now as I sit back and ponder, I realize that other than these minor alterations, I realized that nothing much has changed. Did I encounter a Paul-like conversion – becoming less promiscuous and more monastic? Do I feel closer to the Higher Being or am I better person now than I was before? Answer.. no.

While I live healthy and more responsibly, I’m still the same person I was a few years ago. True, my immune system has been compromised but my mortality hasn’t.  i'm still existing with the same issues and enjoying the same pleasures - HIV didn't change that. Maybe a bullet graze will bring about my metanoia. But cross our fingers that it won’t come to that.

"Change is inevitable - except from a vending machine." 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

First Draft

I have nothing to write. I’ve mulled over the content of this blog for weeks now and is without an idea what to do with it. The title itself took more than a few hours to create and I’ve yet to be satisfied with it.

The purpose of this blog eludes me. Should it be a journal of my personal observation of daily living and inane trivia of my existence? Should I post something socially relevant to inform the esteemed readers? Or write of something risqué to capture the imagination?

I want to write an exciting entry that will create an impact resonating throughout the entire blogosphere. I want an entry that would make readers return and comment on this epic read. I want to inspire budding writers and simply get my writing groove back on.

So here’s my first entry. It might not resonate, might not collect comments or it might not inspire . But I’m getting my writing groove back on, just you wait.

"By writing much, one learns to write well." -Robert Southey