What the hell is a CD4 anyway? Let me, in my own simple way try to explain what my co-kulam friends and I have been praying na sana laging mataas.
It is actually a glycoprotein (a molecule of some sort) found on the surface of immune cells such as T helper cells, and the like. Now these CD4 helper cells send signals to (or they HELP activate) other types of immune cells like CD8 killer cells, which as its name implies, KILL the infection.
Too bad, the HIV has high affinity for the CD4 cells and destroys them. Therefore, the lesser CD4 cells we have, the lesser killer cells are activated to fight the infection.
There you go. Masyado pa rin ba technical? Or did I make it ridiculously too simple?
And so I had my second CD4 count done yesterday, August 01. The first one was taken roughly about 6 months ago (January 14) with an initial count of 173.
Sabi nila, you need to be in the best possible condition when you have your CD4 count checked. Iwas stress, iwas pagod at iwas puyat. Good vibes dapat! Ganyan!
However, it was the opposite for me.
I was always stressed-out at work. Laging puyat during 24-hour duties. And exposed to too many infections from my patients.
Dagdag mo pa yung misadventure ko within the streets of Manila, my race with time, bago ako makarating ng RITM that day for my latest count.
I came home from a late night dinner with college friends the day before my count. I slept late at around 1am already. And hindi pa masyado nakatulog 'coz I ordered coffee at Starbucks after our dinner.
Huwag po akong tularan, okay?
Tapos my morning was stressful. I woke up later than my supposed wake-up time, left the house at around 6am, and reached Pedro Gil cor Taft Avenue around 40 minutes later. This is where I usually ride the bus kasi on my way to Alabang.
Natuwa ako. The traffic is not heavy. Jeepneys and FX's come and go but wait, where are the buses? Damned! Oo nga pala, may bus ban sa Manila. I saw a few buses going to Cavite pero walang bus going to Alabang. I waited a few more minutes, nagbabaka sakaling may dumaan kahit isang bus na byaheng Alabang.
May naaninag akong isang bus from afar. Baka eto na. Shame! Dasmarinas nakalagay sa signboard nung bus. 6:50am.
Provincial buses ba ang mga bus na biyaheng Alabang? Eh bakit may mga nakikita akong buses na bumabiyahe to Cavite? Weird!
Then I saw some buses na lumiliko sa Padre Faura. Baka yun ang bagong ruta ng mga buses, I told myself. I walked from Pedro Gil to Padre Faura. Kaloka, pagdating ko dun city jail buses pala yung mga yun. 6:55am.
I was thinking na pumunta na ng Osmena Hiway since pa-Makati na yun, baka may buses na dun going to Alabang. Pero are there jeepneys, FX's along Taft Ave. going to Osmena Hiway? Masyado naman malayo na para lakarin. And I don't think there are, leaving me to one last option, taxi!
Stress Orena Drilon! Kairita Avila! Ang CD4!
Pag nag 7am at wala pa rin bus, I'll take the taxi na. But until where? Cash and Carry? Tapos from there magbus na? Aabot ba ko sa cut-off time na 8am? But if I took the taxi until Alabang, how much will it cost me? Bahala na!
A few minutes past 7am, I held the taxi already. "Alabang?" I told the manong driver. Pumayag naman siya.
"Expressway lang tayo sir?" he asked.
"Sige." Pero ang traffic. Nagtaxi pa ko kung ganun male-late lang din naman ako. So I told the driver na mag Skyway na kami.
"Saan ba kayo sa Alabang?" asked the driver.
"Sa RITM ako, boss!"
Then he mentioned a few alien places, unfamiliar to me kahit several times na ko nakakapunta ng RITM Alabang. "Ahh, hindi ko masyado kabisado dun boss. Basta sa loob ng Filinvest City." I was not quite sure too if that was correct.
A total of Php168 ang fee na binayaran ko sa paggamit ng Skyway. OMG! Tapos pano pa yung sa metro ng taxi?
Paglabas ng Skyway, he asked the security guard kung saan ang RITM. "Duon sa bundok na yun. Turn left ka lang sa intersection then deretso na." sabi ni manong guard.
Pero nung nasa intersection na kami, may sign na nakalagay "No left turn." Pero Jed Madela lang, may ibang private vehicles din naman na nagle-left turn. So we also took the left turn. Pinoy nga naman.
We reached RITM more or less ten minutes before 8am. And I paid about more than 300 bucks for the taxi.
Php 500 na agad, umaga pa lang? (Sorry, poorita kasi ako.)
Another challenge now is where to find the new office of ARG. Several times na kasi nagpapalipat lipat ng room ang ARG. Hindi mapakali? Char!
Good thing, I have friends who were already there. I texted Isko, he called. Hindi naman ako naligaw. Nalipat lang ng 3rd floor yung bagong office ng ARG. And sa pagmamadali ko, hiningal ako pag-akyat.
I signed in at the office just at the right time. Number 21. Ang dami na pero still fair enough.
I made my presence known to the staff. Joke!
I just said hi to the nurses, went outside the room to compose myself, and waited for my number to be called.
This is it. After ma-stress sa biyahe, nagmadali pero naka-abot naman sa cut-off time, finally I will be able to know my latest count.