The STOMHA (State of my Health Address)

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.

I blogged last month about going to the hospital -- it was for potassium deficiency

I blogged last month about going to the hospital — it was for potassium deficiency

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.

I took a selfie of myself right after the doctors inserted the catheter in my neck for my catheter. That's not blood on my shirt, that's the Betadine (just saying). Hospital selfie? I'm such a #millennial

I took a selfie of myself right after the doctors inserted the catheter in my neck for my catheter. That’s not blood on my shirt, that’s the Betadine (just saying). Hospital selfie? I’m such a #millennial

The dialysis machine that's helping out my kidney do its job

The dialysis machine that’s helping out my kidney do its job

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 sceneΒ because I’m going to focus on getting better and stronger. I’ll still Tweet and Instagram, for sure, but probably not as much. Β 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.

That’s all.

52 thoughts on “The STOMHA (State of my Health Address)

  1. I recall when I was newly diagnosed early 2012. You had this interview on ANC with Boy Abunda. I was very very depressed that time and didn’t have the drive to go on with my life. My bestfriend told me about your interview and said I should watch it. Which I did. That interview of yours gave me the strength to continue with my life normally. You opened my eyes that beyond our condition we are still us, nothing changed, we’re just more cautious about our health. I really wish you well. Will pray for your speedy recovery. Xx

    • Thank you for sharing this story with me. I’m glad, in some small way, I’ve been able to help.

      Thank you so much. Yes, I will keep fighting. I really appreciate you sharing this with me.

  2. Wanggo…..many seasons ago, you have bravely faced the world of your status, you broke the silence about HIV/Aids and march head on to the beat of the drum…..the community embraces you with love, prayers and hope…

  3. Take care and rest well, Wanggo! We worked for the Knowing is Living forum at Miriam College last year for World AIDS Day. You will always be one of the people I really look up to.

  4. I had a similar problem last year, I had to undergo multiple dialysis sessions due to high creatinine and low potassium levels in my blood. Although in my case it was because my lungs were already compromised due to OI. My nephrologist advised me back then that having a fistula on my arm installed was very likely. Luckily, my kidneys improved and I stopped with dialysis after around 5-6 weeks. Hopefully your kidneys recover too. Sending you healing vibes.

  5. Read this, Wanggo. Chin up, keep fighting, there’s much to live for, much to be done. Everything is a gift, in a weird sort of way. I am in awe of your spirit and straightforwardness and sending you good vibes.

  6. Hello Wanggo. I just happen to read your blog.. Keep fighting! You just don’t know how much people you inspire.. This is just a minor setback. There are certainly good and bad days… Challenges are always there, but remain strong for yourself and for your family. As it seems, you are lucky to have a very good support system. Happy thoughts!

  7. Hi Wango, I dont know how to start and where to. Am also a PLHIV, but if there is one thing that I feel short of myself, it is not because of the virus in my system but because I have not been as vocal and strong as you are in the advocacy against HIV/Aids. I was tested and confirmed to be a PLHIV just January of this year and been silent (some sort) in dealing with the virus (and the stigma that goes with it) for the past 10 months. It was never easy, the ARV’s are not a walk in the park. But please, do know that you have been one of those people who was such a source of inspiration for me. I never pity your current state nor will I show concern. YOU WILL BE FINE no matter what. And how I wish I can laugh with you and share experiences (oh my you should know how efav brought me to places I have never been) with you. Press on!

    • Hi JD! Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement.

      Remember: it was easier for me to come out in public. I was very, very lucky to be surrounded by good people who support and encourage me. The world is not like that and not everybody can be public about their status. We all fight HIV in our own way. My circumstances has just made it such that I can fight in the open. I hope you don’t feel less of a warrior because you have to do your battle quietly and not out in the open.

      No, it isn’t easy but the fact that you are still here and fighting is a triumph on its own. I salute you. You are far stronger than me because you are doing it on your own.

      We will press on and we will overcome this, together, side by side. Fighting the good fight the best way we know how. πŸ™‚

      Thank you and be well.

  8. Hey. My father’s kidneys konked out about 3 years ago and he’s been on a thrice a week dialysis routine ever since. Just wanted you to know that, in case this becomes a permanent thing, people can and do live productive and happy lives even with dialysis. Glad to see you are facing this with your chin up. I wish you the best and hope your kidneys get fixed up soon.

    • Thank you so much. It is very encouraging to hear that and thank you for sharing that with me.

      It is always scary at first but now that I’ve done three sessions, I can see that it’s not so bad. I can do this.

      I can be as strong as your dad.

      Thanks so much. You are very kind to share that with me. πŸ™‚

  9. Hi Wanggo,

    Like JD you kept me fighting since the day I got diagnosed. It was July 18,2015 I felt so depressed knowing Iam reactive when I searched youtube about PLHIVs the first video I watch is you telling the word you were positive. I was inspired and told my self that I should be taking care of myself much better. Ever since the day I saw your video I downloaded it and watch it every morning before going to work reminding me that I need to keep living. You are right! That if I had lost people in the process I wouldnt have lost people who mattered really I would have lost people who has problems and issues with sick people. Those words keep me fighting till now. I just want to thank you for giving me the courage to face the fact that I still have a life to move forward with. Take care and get well soon wanngo:)

    • Thank you so much for sharing this with me. I really just want people to keep fighting the way the people around me have encouraged me and supported me to keep fighting. Thank you for letting me know that it has helped people, what I’ve done so far, and I’m so happy to hear that you are moving forward.

      Thank you. I really, really appreciate it that you shared this with me.

  10. Sending u tons of subshine vibes, hijo. Don’t just hang in there. U should be up and about soon enough. Much love, hijo. πŸ™‚

  11. I have been busy with work not thinking about my condition and I kinda miss out on what’s happening with you. I’m sorry. But I know you will get well soon because you are still bound to do more amazing things in this world. We never met but our condition, and more importantly, our humanity, tie us all together. That’s why I will keep on rooting for you. Stay strong, Wanggo. Even superheroes need time to rest for a while. Be well and be better.

    • I’m hardly a superhero but thank you for the sentiment. It feels good to know the work that you do is appreciated. I will keep doing what I’m doing with the hopes that people will be better, protect themselves, and not lose hope.

      Thank you so much. Please have an amazing week ahead!

  12. Be strong! Iam a new PHILHIV your one of the person who inspired me by your life story to keep moving forward, I Pray for Gods healing be upon you In The Mighty Name of Jesus!

    • Be strong too. Thank you for telling me. You’re going to be okay. I hope you know that. Just do what your doctor says and start taking care of yourself. Really take care of yourself, okay?

      You’re going to be absolutely okay.

  13. Hi, Wanngo. Wow, such honesty. I admire your humility to recognize that “you can’t do it alone.” I hope you experience the best care while you’re here — I know you are! Since I met you last week, I couldn’t stop praying for whatever is best for you! This is Kimee from last week’s film fest in Silay. Cheers!

  14. Your life story had been and will always be an inspiration to me brother. You’re efforts are really instrumental and inspirational on my part. I will keep on fighting and keep taking care of myself.
    Rest assured, nga upod ikaw pirme in my prayers.

      • just always be strong. i don’t really know you that much. i just saw you and your stories.. everything happens for a reason.. whatever the reason is.. BE STRONG !!! SENDING YOU MY PRAYERS AGAIN…

  15. i think your the bravest person that i know. considering your condition. in my shoe, i might as well commit suicide nor drag myself to insanity. di ko ata kaya yan… you are very lucky having all those support from the people you love and from the people that loves you… they understand you and that’ the most important thing, that someone understand rather than just listen. magkaiba kasi yon… sana gumaling ka na…stay strong always.. love reading your blog…kumusta ka anyway?

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