I had this nagging feeling that I HAD to do it, sooner rather than later. For more than a year now, whenever I heard news about it, I always thought that it was for my greatest benefit if I had it done sooner.
But I was afraid. During those times, the fear of knowing is so great that I wasn’t able to muster enough courage to go through with it.
And then the news about it got worse, and I became more afraid. I managed to convince myself that it was better for me to not know it.
But last Friday, there was something inside me that continuously said “Do it. Now is the right time.”
And so I did.
I asked my partner if we could do it together but unfortunately, he couldn’t because he had to attend a family affair. He asked me if we could postpone it to a later date so that we could do it together. But I declined. I had to do it that weekend. I had to do it while I still have that courage to face whatever outcome it may bring.
And so I asked my great friend, Jean to accompany me. I have lots of friends but she is one of the few who I know won’t judge me whatever happens in my life. Thinking about it now, I may have put her in an awkward and difficult position. I might have not given her a choice and a chance to decline my favor.
I woke up dawn on Saturday shaking and with very high fever. I thought, maybe that was I sign that I shouldn’t go through with it. So I tried to gauge myself the whole day to see if get better.
Come Saturday evening, I was feeling a lot better. And while my body was feeling weak the whole day, my decision to push through with it was stronger than before–than yesterday.
After attending a personal endeavor on Sunday noon, Jean and I rode a cab to the venue of the event.
While in the cab, Jean asked my why I suddenly thought of doing it.
I never thought of it as a sudden decision. I took me more than a year to finally decide to go through with it.
I told her that I just didn’t want to prolong the agony of not knowing my status anymore. That I grew tired of being restless because I didn’t know.
And also, because I thought that I am in a place (professionally) where I can be really successful and I want to enjoy that success. That wouldn’t happen if I continued to be afraid and just hoped for the best, when I could already be experiencing the worst.
She then asked me if I am nervous and I answered, surprisingly, that I wasn’t. There was an inner peace and calm in me that I couldn’t quite explain. Maybe deep inside, I was really proud of myself because I finally faced my fear.
When we got to the venue, there were already a lot of other participants in line. My number was “120.”
Here it goes, I thought. There’s no backing out now.
Jean and I waited for more than an hour before I was called for the pre-test counselling.
There were supposed to be 5 people in our batch but the three others were nowhere to be found so it was just me and another guy talking to our counselor, Paul.
He briefed us about the purpose of the event and told us that at the end of day, whatever the result may be, we should be proud because we did this because we care for and love ourselves and the people around us.
He then asked if we have a support group if ever the result was not the best. I immediately thought of my partner and Jean. Paul asked about my parents and I told him that I was not so sure. Hell, I am not even sure if I will have the courage to tell them. It would break their hearts. And I think that would be more painful to accept that anything else in the world.
We were then ushered in to the testing area. Everything was so surreal for me. It was like it wasn’t real.
Afterwards, there was a group session while waiting for the results. The whole day, I have heard for at least three times about the value of knowing your status, caring and loving yourself. Which is true. I also couldn’t help but be proud and grateful for the people who organized the event. Many of them I learned are just volunteers and were not receiving any monetary compensation for what they were doing.
I had to wait for almost two hours for the result. At this time, I was more worried about my friend Jean who I left at the waiting area because she couldn’t come with me more than the result of my test.
Words cannot express how grateful I am to her. She was my rock that day. While I am comforted by the fact that my partner will still accept me whatever the outcome of my test would be, Jean’s presence that day was the one that kept me together and prevented me from going insane on the most life-changing moment of my life so far.
I told her that she could leave already because we were already there for almost four hours and I knew she had other things to do. Of course, being a great friend that she really is, she insisted on staying until around 7:45 PM.
Lucky for me, my result was ready around 7:15 PM. And so my counselor Paul led me to a private room to discuss my result.
He first asked me if I was nervous. I told him that I wasn’t before because of the long wait but I was again when we entered the room.
He held in his hand an envelope containing the result of my exam. That envelope determines my future.
He gave me the envelope and asked me to open it. When I opened the paper inside, I wasn’t able to immediately find the result. The words were all jumbled up in front of my eyes.
It took me a few seconds. And then I let out the best sigh I had in my life. It was a sigh of relief.
I immediately put the paper back in the envelope. Paul asked me if I was alright. I said I kept that sigh for a very long time and it was a great feeling to finally be able to let it out.
He again opened the result and explained it to me.
He told me, “whatever you and your partner is doing, just continue doing it.”
I was almost in tears at that moment but I kept it together. I didn’t want to cry in front of another person. I was just so relieved. So relieved.
When we got out of the room, I immediately looked for Jean. I approached her and said that I’m through with the results.
She asked me what the result was and all I said was “Okay naman.” And I swear I saw in her eyes how happy she was with what she heard. Although what I said was a little vague, I think she saw that I was already relaxed and calm.
While looking for a cab home, I really hugged her and thanked her for going through this with me. I imagined that if the result was otherwise, it would also be difficult for her because I know how much she cares for me.
I don’t know if they will ever read this, but I want to thank the people behind the Love Yourself project for helping people like us to know our status and to guide us. I want to thank my counselor Paul who I thought when I first saw him was kind of snobbish, for making the whole process a bit fun for us despite our nervousness. Thank you for being frank and honest about everything and for making me feel that I did the right thing about going to the event.
March 10, 2013 was a momentous day for me. It ended my several months of agony and restlessness.
On March 10, 2013 I mustered enough courage to have myself checked and take the HIV test.
And March 10, 2013 was probably one of the days when I felt most happy.