Ubermensch: In A Glimpse

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

To Be or Not To Be? My Thoughts on ARV

I am scheduled to go back to PGH to see my doctor today and discuss to her whether I should start taking ARV (Anti RetroViral) drugs or not. I know I have to make a quick decision as my CD4 count proved to be below than expected, but at the same time, I have to make a wise decision since going through the ARV Regimen is lifetime commitment, and commitment is simply such a big word that it scares the hell of me.

On a serious note, I have to carefully think about the odds. I am not trying to outsmart my condition or something like that. i just simply want to make sure that if I decide to go on with the regimen, I am completely ready with the routine and its implications. For sure, going through ARV treatment doesn't simply end in taking loads of drugs on a regular basis.

With those salient factors in mind, I am deciding to suspend my ARV treatment for the meantime.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Delayed Reaction: My CD4 Result

It is only today that my CD4 Result is starting to make sense.  I am at 260 as I write. Not that I didn't understand what this means, just that I was already consumed by the pain my finger is causing when my doctor gave me the results.
Now, after a few pain killers and anti-biotics and a few hours of sleep, 260 is starting to become something I couldn't simply ignore.

When you become infected with HIV, the virus invades a type of white blood cell (cells that help your body fight off infection and disease) called CD4. The CD4 cell count test measures the number of CD4 cells in your blood, and is a good indicator of your overall health and how your HIV is progressing. The lower your CD4 count, the more at risk you may be for infections.

Normal CD4 counts in adults range from 500 to 1,500 cells per cubic millimeter of blood.
In general, the CD4 count goes down as HIV disease progresses.

When I had my CD4 test in June, I was hoping for at least 300-350. And now, knowing that mine is below my target is simply saddening. Well, I am more alarmed than saddened. I mean, I know this will come. I know I will come to a point when I will have to start taking these medicines. But I was expecting that somehow, I can still go on without taking medicines.

Most HIV patients start with the ARV treatment when CD4 is at 300-350. I was advised to start Anti Viral Regimen. However, my doctor told me to get additional set of laboratory tests, then I have to go back to them next week to discuss further.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Double Whammy

I woke up with my left pointer finger feeling a bit itchy four days ago. I just ignored it. I am not sure, but it could be an insect or a bug bite. The next day, I saw a small blood clothing so took a needle and prick it. It was fine until I started to feel stiffness and pain, and the needle prick grew to an open wound. My finger grew bigger and bigger that it was ripping the skin and open the wound further.

Today, I finally decided to have it checked by my doctor. I went to PGH for a check up, and also to get my CD4 result.

The doctor looked at my finger. I was expecting she would take a close look at it but she just took a glance at it instead while I continued to talk and explained to her what happened. She just then prescribed to me some antibiotics.

I wasn't convinced. I would cry in pain so I asked her to prescribe to me some pain killers.

She then opened my records and made some notes, and quickly she proceeded to discussing my CD4 Result.

I was like, Oh Sh*t, here we go! But then the pain my finger is causing is more than enough for me to worry about my results. I am not sure if I am to thank my throbbing finger for saving over the anxiety of knowing the results and its implications.

My CD4 is at 260, way below my expectations.

But this doesn't seem to make sense to me now, at least not yet.

I need my pain killer.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Open Letter From My Inner Angel

Hi there Big Boy,

I know you have been well for a few days now. It is nice to see you able, again! I missed seeing that big smile on your face. I thought you have almost forgotten how to smile.

I would like to commend you for successfully getting 'parties' almost out of your vocabulary. You have also done a good job taking your alcohol into a minimal. I know it was somehow hard for you, having lived 'that life' for a while, but you surely did a good job. I know you can do it!

But I also noticed you're catching up on your ciggies again eh? I know you are able to breath easily the past 3 days, but does that give you the excuse to catch up for the few days you have decided to set aside your white-and-gold friend?

In any case, I trust your judgement. I know you know what you are doing. You are now a big man. A smart and intelligent Big Man at that.

I have seen you through time make both smart and prudent decisions, and at times, 'stupid'. I do not blame you. I know all those cannot be discounted. You have learned so much from the decisions you've made, and thats what made you the Man you are today.

For sure, you will still be faced with a myriad of choices in the future. Some would be easy and obvious, while others may seem very trivial. For all its worth, take those chances and don't be afraid.

The world is there for you for the taking!

Its just me,

Your Inner Angel

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Word Play

Smile, grin, beam, smirk . . .

Frown, scowl, glare, glower, grimace . . .

Stare, gaze, gape, watch, gawk, ogle, look, examine, leer . . .

Flinch, recoil, balk, cringe, shy away, wince, cower, shrink, tremble . . .

Incredulous, disbelieving, skeptical, doubtful, dubious, uncertain, suspicious,
questioning, vague, puzzled, surprised, perplexed, inquiring, interested, curious,
involved, attentive, concerned, attracted, fascinated, engrossed . . .

Sad, gloomy , cheerless, depressing, dark, dull, thick, dreary . . .

Happy, content, pleased, glad, joyful, cheerful, blissful, exultant,
ecstatic, delighted, cheery, jovial . . .

Scared, frightened, terrified, petrified,
afraid, fearful, nervous, anxious, worried, timid, shy . . .

Strong, burly, brawny, strapping, muscular, beefy, tough, fervent,
intense, zealous, avid, eager . . .

Coy, bashful, timid, modest, reserved, demure . . .

Indifferent, apathetic, unresponsive . . .

Remote, aloof, detached , distant . . .

Threatened, intimidated, alarmed, worried, anxious,
troubled, upset, distressed, shocked, startled . . .

Taut, uptight,
paralyzed, tense, stretched,
hollow, alarmed, strong, weak, sweaty,
breathless, nauseated, sluggish, weary, tired, alive, feisty . . .

Angry, resentful, irritated, enraged, furious, annoyed,
inflamed, provoked, infuriated, offended, sullen, indignant, irate,
wrathful, cross, sulky , bitter, frustrated, grumpy, boiling,
fuming, stubborn, belligerent, confused, awkward, bewildered, empty . . .

Afraid, fearful, frightened, timid, wishy-washy, shaky,
apprehensive, fidgety, terrified, panicky, tragic, hysterical, cautious,
shocked, horrified, insecure, impatient, nervous, dependent,
anxious, pressured, worried, doubtful, suspicious, hesitant,
awed, dismayed, scared, petrified, gutless . . .

worse, poor, terrible,
horrible, evil, wicked, corrupt, heinous, inferior, inept,
unfortunate , distressful . . .

Eager, keen, earnest, intent, zealous, ardent, avid, anxious, enthusiastic, proud . . .

Fearless, encouraged, courageous, confident, secure,
independent, reassured, bold, brave, daring, heroic, hardy, determined,
loyal, proud, impulsive . . .

satisfactory , kind, generous,
humane, pure, benign, benevolent , proper, valid, favored . . .

calm, carefree, cheerful, cheery, comfortable,
complacent, contented, ecstatic, elated, enthusiastic, excited, exhilarated, generous,
glad, grateful, hilarious, inspired, jolly, joyous, lighthearted, merry, optimistic,
peaceful, playful, pleased, relaxed, restive, satisfied, serene, sparkling,
spirited . . .

Hurt, injured, isolated, offended, distressed, pained,
suffering, afflicted, worried, tortured . . .

Sad, sorrowful, unhappy, depressed, melancholy, gloomy,
somber, dismal, heavy-hearted, mournful, dreadful, dreary, flat, blah,
dull, in the dumps, sullen, moody, sulky, out of sorts, low, discontented,
concerned, sympathetic, compassionate, choked up, embarrassed,
shameful, ashamed, useless, worthless, ill at ease . . .

Amazing, Attractive, Authentic,
Beautiful, Better, Big, Colorful, Complete,
Confidential, Enormous, Excellent, Exciting,
Exclusive, Expert, Famous, Fascinating. . .


Monday, July 19, 2010

Red Lines and Post Scripts

A recent encounter with a stranger made me ask myself "how much of ourselves should we put "out there"?

Yesterday, while I was out having my late afternoon burrito and guacamole treat for myself, a guy approached me and started asking (weird) questions. Well, the questions aren't really weird under normal circumstances. Maybe, its not the questions, but the situation that is weird.

First, I really don't know the guy. I was having my munchies al fresco, watching people and being watched by people at the same time, when this guy (who is not-so-cute and i didn't find attractive at all) walked by my table and asked for a stick of cigarette. I politely gave him a stick and a light and I went back to my food.

The guy walked a few meters away and decided to sit a few tables away without ordering anything. As I savor the spices on my first bite of my burrito, the guy was looking at me and what I was doing. I know he was looking. I can see him from the corner of my eyes.

Just when I was about to take another bite, I heard the guy asking "ano ang kinakain mo" (what are you eating.) I casually answered "burrito". Then he asked further, "ano yang green na nilalagay mo?" (what is that green thing you put). Still trying to be nice, I answered "guacamole".

I went on eating, but starting to get a bit pissed as the guy kept on asking questions. Questions which I think in the first place he shouldn't be asking. I just tried to ignore it and just thought the guy is either playing stupid, or that he is really naturally stupid. Or maybe he could simply be trying to get noticed. Well, in any case, I am NOT liking what he is doing.

I tried hinting that I am not interested. Sometimes, I would deliberately ignore him and pretend I didn't hear his further asking and just went on eating. That didn't seem to work, though. The guy was persistent. He is starting to get into my nerves.

He moved to my table and sat on a vacant chair. The guy is now asking for more "personal" questions. He started by asking my name, then asked further if I am gay or bisexual. Hoping that he would stop, I answered his questions straight and flat. But that didn't stop him for asking further. I started to be taken aback.

I asked myself how much should I put forward. How much information should I be giving this stranger.

I never really had to try to go anonymous before. Neither did I have to make up some 'persona' whenever I talk to people. I mean, I give my real name when I am asked, give my real age, where I live, what I do, and similar questions. I was never comfortable creating a 'certain character'.

Same goes with my blogging. I write about things that I am passionate about, things that interest me, or just about anything I want to share.

Sometimes, I catch myself subconsciously thinking twice about what I tell people and what I let people know through my writing. I realize that there remains a lot more that I observe everyday, a lot more that stirs thoughts and opinions up there in my head that should never find their way to spoken words or publishing. But as to which is which, I cannot tell. I seem to have no clear boundaries as where the red line should be drawn.

With the recent experience, I realized that red lines will show themselves when necessary. I know I have been a little careless and a bit more impulsive, but the red lines that restrict our expression will come from 'within' at a right place and the right time.


When red lines tell us to limit ourselves, there is always Post Script.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Resolution of a Habitual Smoker

So I wake up and extend my hand to the headboard to get that little white and gold packet, look for a light and walk to the bathroom. This is a typical morning.

I have been smoking since I was 19 years old. That's nine years now, and counting. On an average, I can smoke 5-6 sticks a day. No, make that 8-10. Lets do the math (365 days * 9 years* min5, max10 sticks). That's how much sticks I burned. Not to mention how much money it cost.

Much more when I am out and drinking. I tend to lose count.

No, I am not yet giving up my smoking. Stubborn as I may sound, but I wouldn't wanna take it out my system all at once. I am not (yet) a slave to nicotine, though. It just happen to be the easy yet conscious choice-- a habit more than an addiction. However, as much as my gold-and-white-adorned friends have supported me through the ages, the little blighters are starting to blight me in more ways than one.

Cough. Itchy throat. More cough. Hack. And some more cough. I am deciding to (temporarily) stop smoking (today) until I am better.

Smoking has become a habit that I feel would change my daily routine should I, like magic get these cigarette packet out of my sight as if they never existed. My morning routine will change. But I don't think I will die. I wouldn't want to exaggerate the (supposed) agony of going without lighting up a stick. I may get me a bit disoriented, but then again, I can go on my regular morning and the rest of the day with a trip to a smoking place not in my itinerary.

Again, its a habit more than an addiction.

So I may be called a 'habitual' rather than chronic or addicted smoker, which means that often when I smoke it’s based on a habitual action. I know many of you smokers and former smokers know what I’m talking about. The after dinner cigarette or out drinking with friends and the urge to have a cigarette with that glass of wine. The morning cigarette with that first cup of coffee. When I’m writing, I would smoke while thinking or pausing to take a break.

I am not trying to find justification in semantics, but might be worth the clarification.

Habit is synonymous with "inclination, tendency, routine", while Addiction brings up "fixation, chemical dependency, obsession"

Habit is merely any action brought about by frequently repeated actions, which at some point nearly becomes automatic, usually through conscious choice. On the other hand, Addiction is any action that has run away with itself and/or taken hostage (a body) with a diminishment of easy, conscious choice. The faculty of agency is consumed.

Its not just the Nicotine, nor the catchy media advertisements or the colorful package. Its not just the smoke, or the 'wanting' to belong (very teen, lol). Its more than just the flicking of the fingers as I smoke a stick, or the musky scent of cigarette smoke wafting into the air as I struggle to gather my thoughts in coherence. Its the whole 'smoking' experience that made it part of my habit.

I never have to deal with some internal dialogue of ambivalence, though, like "Boy, that would taste great. No, I shouldn't have it. I really want that. And I shouldn't do it." C'mon, cigarette is not life and death. I want to smoke, and I smoke guiltless. Smoking is not some sort of constant craving. Its just the thing I got accustomed to doing. and I can QUIT (bold, italics)if its deemed necessary.

I have given up some habits in the past, and I know I can (finally and completely) give up smoking, in time.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles

As much as we wish it isn't so, one fact about human relationship remains: people come, people go. Sad, but that's the truth.

I was cyber spying earlier today, and that got me to open some pages. One led to another until I got to opening my mailbox. I sure had a lot of messages, both happy and sad, of acceptance and separation. I opened a few, and some touched my heart.

I am not just talking about romantic separation. I am talking about people I've touched, and was touched by. Sometimes I wonder, will there ever be a time when we might reconnect? Not just for a ‘blast from the past,’ but a real reconnection, a rejoining, a resumption of the friendship and of routine as if the split had never happened. Probably not, but I am hopeful.

When I left the University, I left a true family of friends with the absolute belief that nothing would change, that we would continue to talk and visit and share a rare closeness of heart. Of course, that didn’t happen as distance, time and space created an inevitable chasm between intention and reality. We still get to catch up once in a while, but that's all.

As I go on with my life and got to meet new people, new relationships were formed. I've thrown parties at my place and have met interesting people. Some have remained my friends, while some have left soon as the alcohol is gone. Its saddening, but as the saying goes, "that's the way the cookie crumbles". Its not as bad as it sounds, though.

I went into some period of both spontaneous and deliberate hiatus, and at some point became almost reluctant to disillusioned in meeting people and forming relations. But realizing I don't and I can't live in my own private world, I always open up.

This gets me to thinking: Why would someone dear return full-force while the other quietly slips into the ether? I don’t fully know, but I think it has something to do with need. People come and people go, satisfying a need for love and companionship in your life, or teaching you something you need to know. Luckily, a few people will stick around for a lifetime. But most are just here for a season. Maybe two.

I won't claim to have always stick with the same people. There are more than one occasions that I myself have to let go of others and choose separation. I guess that’s OK. We all have our reasons, and for all its worth, we learn from each other.

I am not here to do a roll call. Neither I am here do a loyalty check. People will always have their reasons.

For people who've always been there,and for some who remained though the physicality is gone, thanks for having me and have me touch your lives. It is both a pleasure and a joy.

Post Script:

I am terribly missing a certain someone. Can't wait to see him again.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Its Balls, Everywhere!

There's just too much balls, and they're everywhere! I am talking about Balls for real.

I am not the sporty type but I've always been a fan. I would stay up late to watch a tennis game, and would bet for a soccer game. But the past few weeks have simply just too much for me to handle. I missed Wimbledon and got myself too engaged with the 2010 WorldCup.

I first followed the WorldCup in 2002. I was then in college, and the hype was just too much, having been staged in an Asian country. The following edition proved to be more memorable, as I got to understand the game more. Though my team (Spain) suffered an early 2nd round exit from a (sad) lost from France, the rest of the 2006 edition still was worth the late night I spent following (some) games in Gweilos and National Sports Grill.

Well, I won't really claim to be a die hard soccer fan. It simply is not a Filipino thing, I guess. The game is maddeningly simple-- kick the ball back and forth. Also, unlike other sports, the game unfolds slowly. Aside from the occasional goal and some moments of glory, its just the boys that makes it exciting.

But this very character of soccer is at the same time what keeps me glued on the tube. A 90 minute soccer game, or maybe more, is as close to truth as one can get on this earth.

The seeming simplicity of the game is the same simplicity that combines into infinite complexity called life. The slow pace of the game is the same slow unfolding, making us able to learn what we are up against. Slowly, we calculate things then it builds up until everything becomes a kaleidoscope of breathless rush until something magical as a single goal turns everything into happiness to some, while despair to others.

At times,we may see brilliant combination play to lead to that sterling chance on goal, only to be denied. These moments may sometimes make us or break us. Its either we keep aiming or simply concede and give the game.

Finally, the game offers only a few chances, which must be seized. Carpe diem, as the saying goes, because you never know when or even if another chance may present itself. We only have until the buzzer sounds.

This game is life itself. We play as we live.

Oh, and by the way, sometimes you win or loose, BIG TIME!

Congatulations to La Roja for winning the 2010 FIFA WorldCup Title. I may have lost my voice cheering, but all worth it.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Birthday Thoughts

I cannot help but get over the fact that I will be 28 in a few days. It’s not really an issue of getting old. In fact, I always wanted to be 28.

The problem is, I don’t feel it – i mean, getting older, that is.

I remember when I was younger, I’d sleep more often hoping that days will go faster if I sleep and I’d be 28 when I wake up. I always wished of becoming 28 and become a vampire so that I won’t grow older than 28.

I had this grand idea of what myself will be like when I am 28 eight or ten years ago. I had the assumption that since wisdom comes with age, I would be rid of everything I hate about myself as I get older. Afterall, I believe that I have equipped myself with everything necessary to live, and be successful.

I've always been successful in everything I do when I was younger and growing up. I've always been on top of my class. I've also been more than good in other endeavors I got myself involved. I always told myself that I will be excellent in everything I chose to do.

So packed with my youthful dreams and some sense of idealism, I braved the real world. I got myself a job soon after graduating from the University. When I celebrated my birthday that year, I felt a sense of knowing, an upgrade within myself, a better understanding of things and my surroundings.

That was the last time I really felt really getting old. After graduating from the University, I felt the self-imposed pressure that I had to stand on my own. Although I have been living away from my family since I was 16, it was only until I was 20 that I decided to take charge of myself.

The problem is, eight years later, I seem to have been stuck. I seem to be the same naïve 20-year old boy who went out to the world for the first time. This could be what Nietzsche calls the eternal recurrence, that we are bound to merely repeat our life over and over again for infinity. I seem to be living my life, the same life I chose to have eight or ten years ago. It gets frustrating at times.

I am actually thinking that if my ‘present’ self will have a talk over a cup of coffee with my ‘twenty year old self’ , he’d probably be shocked to see that he hasn’t changed much. Aside from the little poise and grace learned, it is still the same boy with the same ounce of idealism. I would be very afraid that if my ‘old self asks, “Are we now filthy rich?”, “Did we become an influential figure in the academe?”, “Have we published the book we always wanted to work on?”, “Can we choose not to work now?” and many other related questions, I’d be standing there with an apologetic look on my face.

Nevertheless, soon as he gets over the lack of success on the things I always wanted, he would be happy to know some things I have been successful with, things which I never expected myself to be at least be good at.

I have been successful in love. Though all the relationships I had in the past did not end up in 'forever', I surely think that the ups and downs I've shared in my past relationships were somehow a success. Knowing how to love and loving is in itself a success.

I have also been successful in influencing some people, though not in a major proportion, at least I know that I have to touched some lives. I am always happy whenever I see some of my students, most of which, I can't even recognize, who are always grateful and still treat me with the same respect. That always fills my heart.

I have also been successful in having the wonderful people around me. I can proudly tell my old self that for what’s its worth, he at least did not turn out to be too jaded with life that we ended up being too serious. I will be honest to him and tell him that I still worry and gets frustrated at times, but learn to express that part of myself in the right time and at the right place.

So yeah, it isn’t all too bad I suppose, and knowing myself, he’d probably eventually tell me not to worry about it, and see that despite the slow effects of maturity on us, he would see that his future self will be happy, and all in all wouldn’t turn out so bad.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Panic Mode

Yes, I am now in a Panic Mode!

I have been in the unemployed stats since November. It has been eight months now since I lost my job and started to live 'the life' away from the corporate intoxication.

It was fun at first as i didn't have to worry about waking up in the morning and force myself to be sober after having one too many glasses of beer from a late night slash early morning drinking stupor with friends at O-bar or Bed bar in Malate, or simply a night cap at The Unit which usually ends up early in the morning.

I also didn't have to worry about dealing with a/an (**insert adjective) boss and hear the rantings of my few officemates for what seem to be an agonizing eight hours of their life, when in fact they can always quit and live a life they want.

Whats best is that i had the chance to travel and see places without worries of a workload piling up every day i am not in my desk, nor urgent mails to be responded to and phone calls to be deliberately ignored.

Finally, the best thing is that I had a compensation package which is considerably a BIG amount. Fair enough, i would say.

Life was like that, for a while.

I intended not to look for a job until after the holidays. I wouldn't want the corporate claws to be at my back while i was supposed to be enjoying the holidays and thats exactly what i did.

Holidays ended. The same lavish lifestyle. Travel after the other. Party after party. My fund is finally running out. I am (almost) broke.

I tried doing a 'work-from-home/project based job' for a while. I took on some writing projects but decided not to go on with it as it only made me feel 'taken advantage' by some people tried to avail my services and elude you come pay day. It sucks big time when you know that people deliberately take advantage of you. More than the monetary equivalent, its the disgrace from (the same) human kind that gets me more (de)moralized.

I have started job hunting in April and has had several interviews, and some job offer. But I remained in the unemployed list.

I have been too picky with companies to whom I submit my curriculum vitae. At the same time, it became harder for me to find companies that can at least match my salary demand (which is not too big, i supposed, as it was the same salary grade i had from my previous job).

I started to get frustrated. The panic button had to be pushed. I needed to make some compromises.

I tried bargaining and cut my salary request to at most 10-15% off my previous. I have had a few more interviews from some good companies (whom I hope are considerate enough to take into account experience and skills when they give me THAT job offer). I am now just waiting for some results, and I hope I get considered for THAT job.

I have also put on my Miss Universe wit on the job interviews i attended. Its either I make it NOW or not at all became my mantra.

For the meantime, while waiting for that call to ask me to go back into a corporate desk, I have been taking time to visit my mom in the province. Aside from the fact that this is the prudent thing to do (which I should have done soon as I lost my job, as I won't be spending when I am at my mom), I also take the chance to make it up to her. I know she always wanted me around her. I am always her baby!

Life goes on. It may be easy at some point, rough at times. But that just how it is. We don't have a choice but to simply embrace the weirdness of it all.

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