October 10. Past midnight, I told myself I won’t be able to sleep so might as well keep myself busy, I brought my notes out and worked.
Past 5 in the morning. I was preparing for Alabang to bring a patient who stopped ARVs a little over two months ago. This is not just some patient, Migs is someone I personally knew and I wanted to make sure that he really goes there to get his ARVs.
Past 6, I picked him up near his place with a friend, Drake. I requested Drake to come along knowing that I needed company since I didn’t have enough rest. We got stuck in traffic along the South superhiway.
Past 7, stuck in traffic.
Past 8, we got to the hospital. Parking was terrible. Queue number 27 for those wanting to consult a doctor. I suddenly got an SMS from someone I met online over a year ago, apparently diagnosed in 2014, but never went into treatment. He came all the way from down South and in a few minutes, he wouldn’t be able to do his CD4 since the cut off’s 8AM. His name is Kiko.
Around 9, Kiko came. No Cd4 for him. He stared at the number of patients at the waiting area and he was noticeably uncomfortable. I pulled him over to a corner and asked him if he was ever given a list of options for his preferred hub. “No.”, he said. I gave him his options but at the back of my mind, he didn’t have much since he came from the south and Alabang was his best options. He opted to go to Ship. Since t’was a Monday, and baselines are done on Monday afternoons at the Ship clinic, I offered to drop him off. He excused himself and said he had to eat at the cafeteria. I excused myself from Migs and asked Drake to accompany me to the nearest Starbucks. I booked Uber and we got to the shop in less than 10mins. I went to the loo.
Around 10, we were having coffee and Eds, someone who battled pneumonia last year in the same hospital, was calling me. He begged me to meet him at Ship that afternoon since he was going to bring his cousin for HIV screening. I explained that I hardly slept and would appreciate it if he can meet me by 4.
Around 11, we were back at the hospital. I was so sleepy I requested to rest inside the car while Migs waited for his turn. I picked Kiko up from the cafeteria and we went to the car. We chatted. Chatted. Chatted. Finally I slept.
Around 1230, Drake and Migs were already updating me that they’re almost done. At least I was able to close my eyes for 15 to 20 minutes. Soon, they were back in the car and we weer on our way back North.
Around 145, we were at Ship. We grabbed a quick bite at a nearby eatery and we were back in the clinic at around 2. Drake and Migs went on back home since they had to be at work by 4. I stayed behind. Kiko did the paperworks to enroll to Ship.
Around 3PM, I got an SMS from an anonymous sender saying he should be at Ship by 5. I was a bit confused since I didn’t had anyone else coming to Ship for treatment. I called the number and realized he’s (Rof) the newly diagnosed patient wanting to get x-ray and some lab works from St. Patrick’s (at the back of Ship).
Around 430, Kiko was done. Kiko left. Rof was not yet there. Eds was not yet there. Rof finally arrived around 5, took some labs and left. Eds was not yet there.
Around 630, Eds finally came with his cousin and his sister. I brought his cousin to a private room for some counseling, and did the screening. BINGO. I endorsed the cousin to the nurse for further processing.
830PM. My eyes were heavy. My entire head was heavy. I finally got to leave the clinic and went on home. On my way home, I received a call from an anxious client wanting to get HIV screening. I wanted to reschedule but I just couldn’t say no. We met at a coffee shop near my place.
10PM. He arrived. Counseling. Screening. BINGO. But he was calm. He then disclosed that he was diagnosed a few months ago in Malaysia and that he’s just here to re-test. And that he’s going to his mom’s in the US within a few days. We chatted. Eyes heavy. Chatted.
12AM. Oct 11. Home.
There were other days that were more toxic than this Monday. But the feeling of getting my hands dirty at the grassroots made me feel good. Tired, dead tired–but good. The day– that tiring day– was a day away from the programs and projects of various partners and funding agencies. It was a day with our community.
And it was invigorating.