This isn’t easy for me to admit.
I have always been a huge advocate of taking care of yourself. As a person living with HIV, it was important for me to show that one can live a good, full, and meaningful life even with HIV as long as they take good care of themselves. It is important for me to work and work hard to show that people living with HIV are still capable of being a part of society and that all we need is acceptance of our situation so that we can continue to contribute our share. It’s important for me to have a life with friends and family and still have a career because life does not end after an HIV positive diagnosis.
Those are things I fight for and I try to show in my day-to-day.
But as of last weekend, everything has changed for me. I didn’t take as good a care of myself as I constantly advocate in my articles and interviews. I made sure I got my seven hours of sleep and I stayed away from stress, but I forgot to eat and to eat well and sometime last month, I was hospitalised for potassium deficiency. I never quite recovered from that and now, a month later, I’m in Bacolod living with my parents again and trying to rectify the damage that was done to my kidneys.
It’s not easy for me to admit because I’m always advocating for taking care of yourself and what happened to me now is proof that I wasn’t very good at taking care of myself. Some role model I turned out to be, right? But I don’t like lying and I’ll use this as an opportunity to be a teach-able moment. Learn from this. If I had just eaten better, I wouldn’t be here in Bacolod right now trying to save my kidney.
Yup. That’s what happened: with my decreased levels of potassium, my kidneys got damaged and now it looks like it’s pretty busted up and I had to fly to Bacolod and I’ve started on my dialysis. It all happened so fast but I needed to do it because, basically, I think I was dying. With my kidneys busted up, toxins were entering my bloodstream and I was getting weaker and weaker and I was hindered from moving properly and I started vomiting and losing so much weight. It’s kind of scary. I look kind of scary.
So, now I’m in Bacolod, living with my parents again and I’ve got a tube sticking out of my neck that’s needed for my dialysis and based from all the lab reports and diagnostics of my blood work and laboratory tests, it seems that I might have to have a permanent fistula placed so that I can do my dialysis at any time. It’s probably going to be a regular thing now, thrice a week, for the rest of my life. If my kidneys don’t start working again on their own.
So, what is that state of my health?
Well, I’m alive and I’m fighting and it’s only possible because I’ve got so much love and support from family and friends. I have a reason to keep fighting and my family is supporting me through this whole process as I transition again from one state of health to another. Yes, I can still have a full meaningful life even with the need to have dialysis for the rest of my life; but only if I fight for it and if the people around me gives me the encouragement and support that I need.
That’s what I’m advocating for: more acceptance for people living with HIV and to give them a chance to contribute and still be a part of society. Allow them to work, allow them to be still part of the system because they can. We don’t need your sympathy or pity, we just need your acceptance. We just need you to have an open mind.
So now I’m in Bacolod transitioning from my Manila lifestyle back to the country lifestyle. I’m going to be here for awhile recuperating. I’ve let go of all my projects and work at the moment so I can focus on helping out my kidneys get stronger again. I am probably going to be here for a long time and I’m going to have to give up a lot of things in Manila (including work) until I get stronger. But I owe that to all the people who have helped me over the years get through the complications that I suffered because of HIV and my previous reckless lifestyle. Heck! I owe to myself to get better and to keep fighting and to stay strong.
So, in a way, this is an explanation as to why I’m going to make myself scarce again. Because I’m going to fix my life all over again, get stronger, get tougher, and learn from this. I’m going to have to disappear from any sort of active scene because I’m going to focus on getting better and stronger. I’ll still Tweet and Instagram, for sure, but probably not as much. I’ll definitely keep blogging. I’ll definitely keep writing — but more personal stuff — but I won’t be able to do as much as I used to, especially not from here in Bacolod, where I’ll be away from all the hustle-and-bustle of things.
I’m going to take as much time as it takes to get better and to get stronger. If that’s another two years before I can show my face again in Manila, then so be it.
But this is me advocating taking care of yourself as best as you can and that also includes admitting that you can’t always do it alone and that you have to be able to accept help from others. I’m pretty proud as a person and it’s a learning process for me to be able to accept help. I always wanted to do be self-reliant and independent. But I have to face the facts, I can’t do it alone. This is the biggest lesson I need to learn: sometimes I have to be able to admit that I’m not strong enough to do it alone and that I need help.
And so I’m here in Bacolod, with my family, asking for help so I can be well again.
I think this is also what it means to take care of one’s self. To know when what you are facing you are not strong enough to deal with alone that you can ask for help and that you will accept it when it comes or when it is offered. That’s taking care of yourself too.
Post Script (9:59am)
I made this announcement on Facebook and Twitter because I just wanted people to know that I’m okay and that I’m dealing with this with my family. I’m not making this announcement for sympathy or attention or whatever. I’m doing this to explain why I won’t be available for work or for social engagements. I am making this statement because I’m advocating take care of one’s self and I was doing a bad job of it for myself and I want people to learn. I wanted to come clean with what’s going on with me and why I’m back in Bacolod.
Just making sure that that’s clear. So thank you for all the messages, encouragement, and support. I’m just clarifying things and explaining the situation.