First week of June, was my 3rd blood extraction for my 3rd CD4 test. 3rd week of June, I got the result and my CD4 is already at 295 from the previous count of 386. To be diagnosed as someone with AIDS, a person living with HIV must have a CD4 of 200 and below and have at least one Opportunistic Infection (e.g. Pneumonia, TB, etc.). I am already nearing the point of having a CD4 count of 200, plus I am very much prone to Pneumonia, so I am going to start taking ARVs real soon.
Yesterday (June 28, 2011), me and my dad went to San Lazaro Hospital for our ARV counseling as well as to work on my lab tests. I had a long list of lab tests that even the medical technicians at the hospital's lab department were surprised on how much tests my doctor requested. Well those were done and I will get them by next week, Tuesday. Yesterday, the counseling session between me, my dad, and my doctor; started. Topics that were discussed was what ARVs are for, the importance of, the side effects, the benefits and why people living with HIV needs them. My dad was obviously interested on the topics discussed and did ask some questions that I never thought of. Like my sleeping habits, food intake and if there are any food that I cannot eat, and is it okay if I live alone? While I asked about my weight issues and my plans about it.
Regarding my weight, The doctor said to maintain my weight even at my chubbiness level. Any weight loss will be checked if it has any connection to the medicines I will be taking or to the side effects or to the new diet I will be practicing. The doctor also said that I must be happy I have this much fat, most patients are craving to have such built. Regarding food and diet, my doctor has put me on a strict hypoallergenic diet so that when I start taking ARVs and if side effects start to appear, they can immediately rule out food as a cause.
I was also given handouts about ARVs which contain data like the suggested times I need to take them, the intervals between, the side effects and how to deal with them. All are in Tagalog.
About my dad's question about me living alone, the doctor suggests I bring a friend next time who can look after me when my dad is away. Even though my dad lives only 20 minutes away(drive) from my place, and he can always visit and check on me on a daily basis my doctor suggested to have a friend as a backup to check on me whenever needed. I volunteered a very close friend (of more than a decade) of mine as my dad's backup, Jay. The doctor repeatedly said how important it is to have a dependable treatment partner, someone who will monitor my vital stats, every body changes that may happen, and anything that can be related to the cocktail of drugs I will be taking; and someone who will make sure I will take my medicines on time. So, those people are my dad and Jay.
So that's the end of the first ARV counseling session. The second will be next Tuesday and Jay will be with us on that one. Also, next Tuesday, I will be getting the lab results. All 14 of them.