Sunday, March 22, 2009
Knowing the Truth
"Well, the good news is that you are reactive to HIV1 and not HIV2."
The doctor said.
"...? Ok, what makes it good?"
Puzzled, I asked with a very grey smirk.
"Well, HIV 1 is a the dormant virus type which takes longer to deplete your immunity system. It's popular around Asia. HIV2, however, is the one that actively breaks down the immunity system and is usually found in westerns."
This is how I recall the doctor, informing me in the most layman term possible. This is how the very first minute of my life, living with the knowledge of me being positive to HIV went.
My body was unsure as much as my mind was. Part of me was expecting this to happen, given the all meat spree that I brought upon Metro Manila. But part of me, that deep seeded human instinct to survive, was shouting a note higher than Mariah's whistle. It'd be stupid if I entertained the though of "Am I gonna die?" or a smoother and ruder "How long till I buy the farm?"-- I waited for explanation and it came verb after verb after verb.
My entire body, mind, heart and sould depended on everything the doctor said at that time.
I was going to be alright, provided I take further tests to see how my immunity system was going and further down the road, if my T Cell count was below 250, I was to take the Anti Retro Virals religiously. It would save me and buy me so much time but I would be depended on it every 12 hours from the first time I take it.
All this set aside, I was shocked at myself for staying calm. I was more concerned about something else. I was concerned about the people who mattered to me.
At that moment, walking out of the hygiene clinic and through the hospital gardens with my friend Ayen, who also took the test, but ended up being negative (applause), I called my boyfriend to greet him. He knew I was going to get the results of my test that day so he asked what were the results.
"Ayen came out negative, Eru."
I told told him, making it a verbal equation that leads to an obvious answer.
"Well, what about you?"
The obvious reply still did not paint the picture in his thoughts. I knew then that he was in 100% denial mode.
"Well, that makes me positive."
I cannot get any more blunt than that.
He couldn't get any more denying than that.
He asked me to pass the phone to Ayen and he kept asking and telling that it was a bad joke. It wasn't. It was the truth. It was the truth that I believed in no less than a minute after explanation because my life depended on it.
Eru was at work that day. He was about to get terminated and he was hearing this from me. It was probably one of the worst moments of his life. After the initial phone conversation, he had to cut it and deal with work for a few hours. Thereafter, it was the worst moment of my life.
The fact that I came out to be positive was easy for me to stomach. It's a truth. But what's hard for me to stomach is when I see people who're really special to me, unable to accept the whole fact about me.
I needed his answer. I needed to hear his voice. I wanted to know if he was going to stay with me or he was going to get on with his life. It was an excrutiating ride going home, with Ayen trying to comfort me because she knew that what mattered most at that time, to me, was Eru. Hours later, he calls back and asks me not to leave him. WTF?! Did I hear that right? Someone who's not carrying the disease asking me to stay? And this someone is the one thing I need to keep me tough through those moments. I needed him and he needed me and something really serious was going to stay serious, finally, in my life.
My brother and my sister and some close friends were the next to know. They all gave the same initial behavior: denial. Denial with the lines "Are you joking?" or "Cut it out." or "For Real? Come on."
It was easier for me to accept the fact. What makes it difficult for me is to see these people who mattered to suffer knowing the fact. I had to let them know, just in case something happens to me. They had to know because I love them.
See here, it's true that there are people who are HIV positive out there. Very true. But how would it feel if someone you know who's really close to you is? The scary part is, I look totally healthy. I've seen the others in the clinics and they look OK. What the people think is that people who are HIV+ are equated to people who have AIDS and therefore look like they're sickly or worse-- making it very difficult to believe that the person, who looks totally healthy in front of them, is HIV+.
All this being said, the matter has been dispensed. Anyone is a candidate and denial will not help the person carrying the virus nor the people concerned with the person.
Another truth? Sometimes, it is hard to accept the truth itself.