I Have AIDS!

I was coughing bad, with shortness of breath and chest pains. That morning of the first of September 2011, around 4:30 am, I dressed up and was trying to gauge myself if I need to go to the hospital. At 6:30, my partner, Tag woke up. I told him that we need to go to the hospital cuz it's hard for me to breathe. We drove to the Hospital X and went to the emergency room where I was evaluated. They did a CBC test, an EMG and a chest xray. After a few minutes, I was diagnosed with bilateral pneumonia. They gave me an IV antibiotic fast and told me that I needed to be confined.

Tag chose a nice room of course for me. It was the best room in the hospital, actually... and the most expensive, but oh well, we thought we didn't push with our beach vacation, supposedly the following day, so might as well spend it in the room. I was given a tablet of Azithromycin 500 mg. We had visitors that morning. Friends and coworkers. We were all laughing although I was still coughing.

In the afternoon, the pulmo doctor came over and checked me out. He is a friend of a former client of mine. Interview portion and stet on my back was the usual routine of doctors, while the nurses checked my blood pressure, pulse rate and temperature every 5 hours or so. Then when I walked to the living room of my suite, I had shortness of breathe again. We called for the nurse and gave us a portable pulse oximeter. The resident doctor also came and said that I need to have oxygen because my oxygen levels are low, around 94. I returned back to bed and just rested. I was given a nebulizer too, but it made me cough more. The rest of the day was normal, except now, I'm attached to the oxygen line and bedside pulse oximeter to monito my oxygen levels and pulse rate.. I ate what was given to me. Well, food wasn't bad as I thought. Had plenty of snacks too.

Around 3am in the morning, September 2, I called the nurse because I couldn't breathe. The resident doctor said that my pneumonia was mild only and it seems like my shortness of breathe and chest pain happens to immunocompromised patients. She pried more about my lifestyle and my relationship with Tag. I gave her all the answers that I could give her. Was able to sleep afterwards.

Had a good breakfast when I woke up. Then my pulmo doctor came over and told me to get an HIV test and I have to stay for another night for more lab. At that point, I was kinda scared but I didn't show Tag. I don't want to stress myself out because I want to get out of the hospital. Well, Tag said if we needed to stay, then we had to. I was given my morning IV and my daily dose of azithromycin. In the afternoon, a nebulizer was given again, but to collect sputum that I will produce once I will cough. I was able to produce some. The counsellor came from the infectious diseases and briefed me about the procedure and about HIV, then afterwards the nurse from the lab came and extracted blood from me. That night 4 doctors came and tried and failed to draw blood for ABG test. Boy that was painful because the artery was so deep. I was bruised on both wrists. I slept with both my lines attached to me, still no improvement with my condition.

The following day, September 3, a resident doctor came over and successfully extracted blood for ABG. At last! Then my pulmo doctor came over and told me that the HIV results will take another 2 weeks. From what the counsellor told us if it will take 2 weeks, that means I'm already positive for the Elisa test but they need to confirm using the Western Blot test.  Tag cried at that time, but I just controlled my emotions. I was shocked but being an optimistic person, I just braced myself. We texted our friend doctor and when she came over, Tag cried again. She recommended her friend from the infectious disease department of the hospital to be my new doctor. She even prayed over me. That was when I cried.

That afternoon, Dr. T my new doctor came over and she talked to us and what the next steps will be. She told us the breakthroughs about HIV and AIDS and that the medicines are free. We were told on opportunistic infections (OI's) and how to prevent them. She told us that we need to get my CD4 test, a test to check my level of CD4 T-helper cells in the body. She told me that if the nebulizer won't get the results that they need I would be needing a bronchoscopy to collect cells from my lungs. She assured us of her qualifications and her experience with this disease. I felt somewhat relieved.

That evening some friends came over. We told one friend of mine and she cried but she wasn't able to see me. We were trying to be careful about these OI's. People were bringing food. I felt blessed.

The following early morning, September 4, the nebulizer nurse came over and I was able to produce sputum after coughing. My pulmo doctor came and told me that Dr T recommended that I should get a bronchoscopy. Later, Tag went home to get new clothes and get food. He then told his parents and sister about my condition and they very well accepted. Whew! Tag came back and he got me flowers. Sweet. How I love him so much. This dilemma really is bringing out the best in him. I felt loved.

I was given my daily dose of IV fluid and azithromyin. Still no changes in my condition. The lab people came again and drew blood for my creatinine, etc. I also got a bedside chest xray. I told Tag that it's about time to tell my sisters and brothers about my condition. It would be easier for us to deal with this if we will feel the support of our families. Better that we don't hide it.

In the afternoon, my 2 sisters came and Tag told them about me. I guess they were holding back because I didn't feel any emotion. Instead they talked about their religion. Well, at least I told them. I just don't want to hide it from them. I told them to email my sister and brother in the US and tell my other brother who was in Mindanao at that time. We decided not to tell Mama. When they left, the lab nurse drew blood from me for my CD4 test. I've been pricked a lot of times now. I felt I don't have blood anymore. Dr. T came over again and checked on me. She told me that we need to wait for the results of the bronchoscopy and CD4 test. Tag asked her all the questions we had in mind and she answered them all. We then felt confident that we got the best doctor. My condition was the same. High heart rate (130 bpm), low oxygen level (93-94), chest pains and now, with slight fever. I talked to Tag that I need to get well fast because I was worried about the hospital expenses. I told him that from now on, any result from the exams, the doctors will just tell Tag and not me so my vital signs won't go up all the time.

My pulmo doctor came over the following day, September 5, to inform me that I will be having my bronchoscopy in the afternoon. He explained the procedure thoroughly. He told me that my sputum test was just saliva. Well, really I can't cough out phlegm ever since. Still no results of CD4. Dr. T added new medicines for me. Bactrim 1,600mg TID and prednisone 40 mg OID. A nurse came over and briefed me about anesthesia during the procedure and asked about any allergies.

In the afternoon around 2pm, I was wheeled down to the operating room for my bronchoscopy. I had a little fever so I really was chilling there. My pulmo doctor did the procedure. This was a pneumocystis carini pneumonia (PCP) test. If the result is positive then I already have AIDS. PCP is an OI that is indicative of AIDS. I was coughing during the time they inserted the tube inside my mouth until I dozed off. When I woke up I was already in the recovery room. After 30 minutes, they wheeled me back to my room. I still had the same symptoms and vital stats as before. I guess I was not getting well.

September 6 was a good day. For the first time my HR started to normalize and I felt little shortness of breathe. My pulmo doctor came over and told me that my pneumonia was starting to clear up from the Xray and told me that my vital signs are getting better. I felt good. I got a bedside chest xray again before Tag went home to get some stuff and to get food. My friend doctor came over and checked on me. She was so reassuring. Dr. T came over and did her routine check up. She then went outside to talk to Tag. It was better that way. When She left Tag hesitantly told me that my CD4 count was 73 and I was already dying when I came to the hospital and I was really lucky. Whew.

The following day, September 7, I felt that I improved a lot. I walked around the room with little shortness of breathe. My heart rate was almost normal. My doctors visited again and told me that I was getting better. I believed it was the new medicines that Dr. T gave me. Good!

September 8, I honestly felt I'm well. I just couldn't push myself too much because I know my lungs were still inflamed from the infection. I don't want to compromise them. I removed my lines already and today was my last day for my medicines from my pulmo doctor. I rested on the chair most of the day. My doctors checked on me again. My pulmo doctor said I was cleared of pneumonia already and Dr T told Tag that I had PCP from the bronchoscopy result. Now, it's confirmed that I have AIDS. They talked about the treatment program that I will undergo with him and that I needed to be very honest about rashes, lesions or nodules or anything that I will feel. She made me feel that we will be partners for life. That night, I told Tag that I want to be discharged the following day because first, I felt I can rest at home and second, there were no more tests to be done for me. The nurses contacted my doctors and they had clearance for me to be discharged the following day. Yehey!

September 9, morning, we packed all our stuff and left the hospital at 11am after paying all our bills. I would surely miss all the nurses and doctors who attended to me. I was given home instructions on my meds and certain precautions. I was going home at last!

FOR TOPIC SUGGESTIONS, please email me at pozziepinoy@yahoo.com
DONATE to The Love FundThe Love Fund