Feeling very young and energetic during my early 20’s, I told myself that I wanted try everything in life! I was really active during that time, but I wasn’t able to notice the toll it gave to my body. I’m a big guy (literally), and I always believed that big guys can do more.
Curiosity kicked in, and it hit me really hard! From alcohol, partying, staying up all night, and… yeah, some sex. I was really trying to enjoy that period of my life. I certainly felt that there was a need for me to try those things, but I never heard my body talking back. At that time, I really didn’t realize how mean I was being to my old self.
The Time Has Come
I got sick easily during this time. I have to be honest. I know that it’s not just because of the abuse I put myself through, but the care I didn’t give o myself. I thought a high dosage of vitamins could save me. I was really wrong. The illness visited me often until one day, I got these weird feelings on my shoulder. It felt like I did so much carrying of heavy stuff which I didn’t do at all. I told myself “Maybe this is because I slouch a lot.”
After five days, the area started to itch. Red patches came in, as well as little blisters. I didn’t know what those were. I also felt hesitant to tell my mom what happened, so I went to the doctor by myself. She said “This is herpes!” The first thing I asked was “Herpes? Is this an STD?” I was still hesitant to ask that, since there were other people inside the clinic. The doctor smirked and said “No. It’s not that. Don’t worry.” She prescribed Acyclovir. It took several weeks before the end of my struggle. However, I really didn’t realize that this was just the beginning of something I wasn’t really expecting to happen.
The Diagnosis 
Recovery and Acid Reflux
This started two weeks after the ‘Herpes (Zoster)”. Seeing some of the wounds heal made me feel much better, but the scarring was just really bad. It was like a tattoo that I never asked for. I can still see these marks up to this day. I went back to the same doctor because there were nights of discomfort, particularly in my tummy. I felt easily bloated, and I felt like throwing up after eating a small amount of food. My throat also felt really itchy so that I really had to clear it most of the time which hurt! I thought I had to blame my fizzy drinks and spicy foods for that.
Pneumonia, Low Hemoglobin count, and the Doctor’s analysis
My doctor prescribed some Omeprazole and Domperidone. Another two weeks of medication. It helped me, but the effect didn’t really last. The “throat itching” became really bad, and there were times when I really felt dizzy at the office. I came back to the same doctor, and she was surprised to see me back! She asked me, “What happened to the medication I gave you?” I honestly told her that it didn’t take effect, so she gave me a requisition for an X-Ray and CBC (Complete Blood Count). I had Pneumonia, and my hemoglobin count was really low. I still didn’t have any idea about what was going on. I wanted a second opinion, so I tried another doctor. Same results were found, and the worst thing is, my doctor advised me to have a blood transfusion. Two bags!! I still didn’t know what to do here. I don’t know what to think. I was like “Do I really need that? I look okay.” Work was more important to me at that time. I started my day at the office. disturbed, but I didn’t want to be affected.
I visited a family doctor the next morning. He’s a surgeon, but he is also knowledgeable about general medicine (did I say it right?). I showed all of the X-ray results, the CBC, and the other laboratory tests. I suddenly saw his face. He looked surprised and worried at the same time. He looked at me for a moment, then back to the results he was looking at. I didn’t know what he was thinking. But I could sense something was wrong. He already had the idea of me having the virus, but as a professional, he didn’t tell me right away. He wanted to be sure about his suspicion.
I went home worried about his reaction that day. Again, I don’t won’t be affected (the struggle is real!!).
Cold sweats. Vomiting.
It was the 2nd week of February, 2014. I started to feel different. There were nights when I really felt freezing. Like literally shaking. I always did my best to come home as fast as possible so I could feel the warmth of home. On the third week, I started having terrible chills. These really woke me up in the middle of the night. After that, I always put my socks, jogging pants, and jacket beside me. It helped me with the warming process. It usually lasted 30-45 minutes every single night. Imagine that! The chills continued, and vomiting came in. I wasn’t able to sleep well because of it. It felt like I had to sleep on the bathroom floor so I didn’t have to rush to the bathroom trying not to throw up.
Then, I decided not to work for two days. I hate being absent, but this time, I really had to be. I took a lot of bed rest and then went back to work. I thought I was fine. It was my task that week to announce the reminders for the shift. I had to really raise my voice so everyone could hear me on the operations floor. However, I felt a change in my manner of speaking. It felt like I was running out of air. My hands started to shake as well as my legs. My eyes shut, and I don’t know what happened next.
I woke up having a terrible headache. My co-team leaders and my partner were there constantly checking on me. They wanted me to see a doctor as soon as possible. I said “Yes, but please let me work today.”
Rushed to the hospital
I’m glad it was a Friday! I was really looking forward to rest the whole weekend, and to visit a doctor. I was still feeling uncomfortable about what happened to me last time. I felt really sleepy the whole day. I got out of bed at two o’clock in the afternoon. I still felt weak. I took the thermometer to check my temperature, and it’s 38.5 degrees! I asked help from our helper to prepare my damp towel and medicine. I slept again for a couple of hours.
I woke up again to eat dinner, but my appetite wasn’t that good. After trying my very best to finish my meal, I wasn’t successful. I sat on the couch and watched TV. I felt hotter this time. I even had the fan on high speed, but it didn’t help me. The chills started again. I rushed to get my jacket and my jogging pants, but it was getting worse. That’s the time when my mom and dad decided to bring me to the hospital.
In the emergency room, the usual thing happened. I was asked about my condition and asked to fill up the needed forms. I wasn’t able to write since I was still shaking terribly. I was like naked in the middle of North Pole! I sat in the wheelchair, and I was brought to the emergency room. Tests were done, and an interview was conducted by one of the doctors there. The doctor asked my mom and dad to go out first since the doctor wanted to have a personal talk with me.
My heart started pounding. “What is he going to ask? Why did he ask my parents to step out of the cubicle? What’s going on?” I had a lot of questions in my mind. The questioning started.
Doctor: I asked your parents to step out, because I need to ask you some personal questions. Is it okay?
Me: Hmmm. Yes, doc.
Doctor: If you don’t mind, what’s your sexual orientation?
Me: (I was like WHUHT?! But I have to be honest) I’m gay, doc.
Doctor: Have you had unprotected sex before?
Me: (Another WHUHT?! But again, I had to be honest.) Yes, I had.
Doctor: How about safe sex?
Me: I had that too doc.
There was a moment of silence between the two of us. My heart was still pounding while waiting for his next question or words. He said “Okay, thank you! I will call your parents now.” My mom came back alone. Dad went to the car to get something. My mom asked me, “What did the doctor ask you? Why did we have to step out of the cubicle?” I really didn’t know what to say, and I really didn’t want to answer her question. However, I had no choice. I just had to be honest.
I really saw the disappointment in her face. She started to look scared, a little mad, and teary eyed. All I could do is to say “I’m sorry mom! I disappointed you.” I still didn’t know what to feel at that time. I was really empty. I was trying to ward off all of the emotions that might touch me that time. I just didn’t want to break down and think a lot. I was also feeling sleepy that time.
After two hours of waiting in the emergency room, they applied the dextrose and brought me to my hospital room. The interviewing happened again. I was really tired of answering the same questions, but I know that’s a SOP. After a couple of days staying there, on April 7th 2014, I was diagnosed HIV+, with a baseline CD4 of 18.
To be continued . . .
These excerpts first appeared on the blog Optimistic Ryu (Everything about my POZitive life and more) here.
You can follow Optimistic RYU on twitter @RyuMPLUS