I have learned and confirmed that I was “kulam-ed.”
January 11, 2013 (Day 25):
It was my first time to go to RITM. It took me 24 days before I went there, because it was the holiday season. And still a bit in denial, whatsoever. And so with some good friends, SM and SF, we visited a friend, BR, who was admitted there for blood transfusion due to anemia. I was then formally enrolled that same day with the help of SM. He's one hell of a popular guy around RITM. Apparently, he has also been admitted several times there due to the same reason as BR's.
Januray 14, 2013 (Day 28):
I got my initial CD4 count (173) and was advised to start with my prophylaxis and ARVs soon as I finished all the laboratory tests required. I met an online friend, a nice one, JR, who was there for a check-up. The whole process of completing the requirements was tedious because I have to come back often to RITM for my lab results.
January 15, 2013 (Day 29):
I started my 6-month long prophylaxis of Isoniazid and Co-trimoxazole.
January 25, 2013 (Day 39):
I have completed all my laboratory tests, and was almost ready to take ARVs. However, I asked my doctor if I could delay my ARV trial due to some very personal reasons. He just then told me to come back whenever I was ready to start my ARV trial. Thanks, doc! :)
February, 26, 2013 (Day 71):
After almost a month, I returned to RITM as I was already ready to start my ARV trial.
February 27, 2013 (Day 72):
Day1 of my ARV trial (Lamivudine, Zidovudine, and Nevirapine).
March 06, 2013 (Day 79):
I started to have high grade fever (39.2 - 39.8oC) on the 8th day of my ARV trial, which continued for the next 3 more days.
March 08, 2013 (Day 81):
Still with high grade fever and some rashes on the side, I went to RITM to have myself checked. Day 10 of my ARV trial, Day 3 of my fever, and Day 1 of my Nevirapine rash. (Still following with the days? I hope so.) My doctor told me to discontinue my Nevirapine, take Prednisone and Paracetamol for the fever, and Cetirizine for the rashes. I was then told to take Efavirenz instead of Nevirapine.
March 10, 2013 (Day 83):
I was given the drug combination, Lamivudine, Zidovudine and Efavirenz. Day 1 of my Efavirenz, and first day I felt that notorious dizziness.
March 22, 2013 (Day 95):
This is today. I went back to RITM for my scheduled CBC (1st month of my ARV trial). Lo and behold, from my initial hemoglobin of 136 g/dL, it went down to 110 (normal value of 130-180 g/dL). Oh my! And so once more, they changed my drug combination into Lamivudine, Tenofovir, and Efavirenz.
Scene at the Clinical Laboratory:
The medical technologist was having difficulty looking for a vein on my left arm. I volunteered my right arm since the vein there is more prominent. She refused. Ok. And I think it took her more than 5 minutes extracting blood from my left arm, searching and searching for a vein to hit.
RMT: Sir, ok lang po ba kayo? (Hello, yes I am ok. Ikaw, ok ka pa ba dyan? Search and destroy ang peg sa veins ko?) But of course, I was not on bitchy mode. I just let her do her stuff.
me: Yes ma'am, ok pa naman po.
She was able to extract about 2 cc of blood after 5 minutes, tried to put it in the purple tap, but to no avail. The blood did not come out from the syringe.
RMT: Sige sir, ok na po.
me: Hindi po kaya clotted na yung blood? Extract ka na lang ulit dito sa kabila.
True enough, it was clotted.
RMT: Sorry sir ha. Ok lang po ba ulitin natin sa kabila? (As if I have a choice, I need to have my CBC done for my 1st month of ARV trial.)
me: Yup, ok lang. Naging trabaho ko rin yan dati. It happens talaga. (God! I was too kind! Ang bait kong pasyente di ba?!)
RMT: Ahh! Sir, na-try niyo na mag self-venipuncture? (I think that question came out from nowhere just to ease the tension she's feeling.)
me: Nope! Takot ako eh.
And viola! she immediately saw the prominent vein I was trying to tell her in my right arm. And with no difficulty, she was able to extract more than enough sample of blood from me.
Maybe I was in good mood today, we were five Kulam patients who went to the Derma Clinic today. I went there for the recurring Nevirapine rashes although I have already stopped taking it for 2 weeks now. Good mood, as it was my first time, yes my first time to initiate a conversation. I asked one, GL, what he was there for. Same old, same old I guess, rashes (but he's not on ARVs yet). The other one, JM, got some alopecia going on. (He's not yet on ARVs too.) We had some good laugh inside the Derma Clinic. But then parted ways after our check-up.
I did not tell the Derma resident what my profession was. But it just came out naturally.
me: Doc, I took Prednisone 40mg OD. (Doc Derma looked at me.) Ay doc, 40mg once daily po.
He then checked my chart and saw what my work is. He just nodded.
After an hour in the Derma Clinic, I went back to ARG, had my CBC result, got myself the flu vaccine, and got my 3-month's worth of new Elixirs.