My partner just sent me a text message and said he cried after reading my blog. I have been as motivated to add new entries as I thought I would be over this weekend, but his text was the kick I needed to work on a new entry. If I can inspire him to fight against this virus, then maybe I can do the same for other people reading my entries. We’ll all fight against this together.
First of all, let’s give my partner a name. Obviously for privacy reasons, I won’t be using his real name. Let’s call him Red. No particular reason why, though I do think the name suits him. Second, Red isn’t really my boyfriend. He’s my ex. I do, however, live with him. People get a bit confused sometimes when I tell them that I live with my ex, and my close friends in particular are kinda frustrated that Red is still in my life especially after all the shit I went through when we were together. But no matter how crappy Red was as a boyfriend, he’s still a pretty good friend, and after 7 years of knowing someone you kinda take the bad with the good and just decide to forget about the past and focus on making a better future. I call Red my partner now because especially now that we both have HIV, more than ever we have to stick together to fight against sickness, and more than ever we have to encourage each other to work harder to reach out goals and achieve our dreams. We don’t intend to leave this world anytime soon, but you never know how much time you really have, and especially in our situation we can’t afford to wait for stuff to happen.
So anyway, whenever Red got sick earlier this year, I was the one who took care of him. I won’t say all his illnesses cuz if I do it’ll be easy for his friends to guess his identity if for whatever reason they end up reading this blog, but let’s just say that his first illness was another virus. He got really, really sick then, and I spent an entire week away from the office taking care of him in the hospital. A few weeks later he got hospitalized again, this time with pneumonia, and we spent another week in the hospital. It was so bad that even if he just walked a few steps he would be all out of breath and would be on the verge of collapsing. Apparently based off of his xray, his pneumonia was presenting itself in a way that was uncommon for someone his age, so it was then that the doctor recommended that he take an HIV test. They said it was just a precaution because of the rising number of incidents of HIV in the Philippines, but at that it point it got us thinking hmmm what if he did have HIV.
He has his blood extracted on a Tuesday and we were told that we would get the results by Friday because apparently the hospital we were in only worked on HIV tests on Tuesdays and Friday. Hmmm ok we thought, and for a few days we were worried not so much about the test but because if the test came up positive then our insurance wouldn’t cover the hospital costs. Luckily the insurance wasn’t too worried about the test because on the itemized list that was submitted to them the test was in code and the doctor just said it was a necessary test without explaining what it actually was for. When Friday came around we thought great we can finally get the test results and stop worrying, but then they told us that the blood clotted and so they needed another sample. We got frustrated because we had been worrying about the results and now we’d have to wait for another 2 weeks to confirm if he had HIV because for some unknown reason they had to send the test to Manila for confirmation.
So we tried not to worry anymore because we honestly thought that his pneumonia was bad because his immune system had been weakened by the first virus that he had, and all he really needed to do was rest. Still, he went to see an infectious diseases specialist as recommended by the doctor who was looking after him while he was confined. We got seriously worried again after his first consultation. His doctor said that yes although it is possible his blood did actually clot and that’s why they needed another sample, the truth is that usually that’s what the hospital says when the test comes out positive and they need to collect another sample to confirm if the person really does have HIV. They say that the blood has clotted so that people don’t freak out when the 2nd sample is taken, and the 2nd sample is sent to Manila because the San Lazaro hospital in Manila is the one that does the confirmatory or Western blot test that also determines what type of HIV the person has.
Even back when Red was still my boyfriend, we had already discussed what we would do if either of us ending up having HIV. I said that if we both had it we should stick together because no one else was going to take care us except for each other. I said that to him again after he had that consultation. I told him that it didn’t matter if he had HIV, I would take care of him again like I’ve been doing so far this year. At that time though to be honest I was really hoping that if he had it that I didn’t, though I knew it was highly likely that we both had it. I was so focused on helping him make it through all his tests that I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think that hey I might have it too.
Then he got his result. On May 19 he was scheduled to fly to Manila because he wanted to rest and be with his friends and family before he went back to work, so the day before he got tested again just to get the whole thing off his mind. It came out positive. When he said that the test was positive I was in denial for a bit and even asked what do you mean positive, do you mean HIV+ or do you mean that it’s positive cuz you don’t have it. I left work early and went home to see him. We had already come to some level of acceptance that he might have HIV so we were somber but not falling apart. Then he said that he would do everything he could to fight back against the illness and that he needed to extend his life as much as he could because he had a family he needed to take care of. I said that I will never leave him, I will always take care of him, and that we will fight together. He said he hoped so and I hugged him really tight. He broke down and started crying.
That weekend after he left for Manila I was all by myself. Red left on Saturday night, and Sunday morning when I woke up the first thought on my mind was that if he had HIV then it was impossible for me not to have it too. Impossible. I wouldn’t say that I panicked, but I spent the entire day researching about HIV in the Philippines — where to get meds, how much it costs each time you’re hospitalized, support groups, etc. I read anything and everything because even though I had yet to be tested I wanted to be mentally prepared in case I also tested positive. Monday morning, May 21, I tested positive.
I have to say, I’m surprised how positive Red has been since we found out that he has HIV. He has admittedly tried to commit suicide several times in the past, but he has had a positive about our situation and is focusing on being healthy and being strong. I’m super proud of him for that. He has matured quite a bit since the first time I met him, and I’m happy that we’ve decided to stick together through this. For those that are wondering who gave HIV to who, let me start off by saying that both of us have agreed not to blame each other. At one point or another we were both unsafe with other partners, so we could have gotten the virus from anyone, especially since the dormant period of the virus is anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, sometimes even up to 5 years. Though my friends are likely to blame Red for giving it to me, I will be the first to say that it is more likely that I gave it to him. I worked overseas before and I did not use protection with my boyfriend there either. Even though Red has been getting sick more frequently, it doesn’t mean that he’s necessarily the one who got it first. It could just be that his body is reacting more to the virus. Again, it doesn’t matter who gave who. We have agreed to stick with each other no matter what.
I can’t wait for Red to come back home from Manila. When he comes back I’m going to give him a big hug. Hugs always make people feel better. I’ll write more about what happened on May 21 in my next entry. I’ll try to add some more informative articles in the next few days too. Take care, everyone. Stay safe.