My Lasik experience

I finally have clear eyesight. I didn’t gush or feel as if I’ve been reborn as I read in other people’s accounts, but yes, there have been a few times my perfect eyesight has made me smile to myself, such as when I’m able to read signage many feet away or when I find myself looking for my glasses before the realization hits me. Preparing in the morning has become much easier as I could groom myself away from the mirror and my glasses don’t get in the way of my facial and hair products.

The procedure took about 15 minutes. It was uneventful except that the wait at the surgery area took more than an hour, and half the time, there was a boy in one of the operating rooms going full Exorcist-Linda Blair on the doctors and staff. He was shrieking about how painful and itchy his eyes were and they were these throaty, almost gastric, cries of agony that gave me headache and the chills. (It seemed like a different eye surgery, not Lasik.)

“Nakaka-stress!” I turned to the other patient beside me. She looked like she was about to pass out.

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I don’t miss my glasses now, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be pa-hipster and wear non-prescription glasses at some point, haha.

My ordeal was nowhere near as sensational (thankfully) and although painless, I wouldn’t say it was as easy-breezy as I expected. I imagined I’d just lie down, stare into the light and voila!—but in reality, I was uncomfortable with what they call a suction ring, which was clamped around my eye as the laser created a flap on my cornea. I still flinch at the idea of having to experience that again, but as I reminded myself, this was still called a surgery after all. During the rest of the procedure, I would feel a stinging sensation at random, but the vision-correction laser itself and the cleaning and closure of the cornea, were virtually painless. I didn’t watch any of the Lasik procedures on YouTube, but when I finally did after my surgery (just to understand what actually went on in detail), my knees turned to jelly, haha. Though now that I think about it, maybe I should have viewed them prior so that I could have tempered my expectations.

Immediately after the surgery, I was able to stand and walk into the waiting room. I was tearing nonstop and the lights were blinding me, but in the few seconds that I opened my eyes, I already had good vision. I could read the signs which were all around the room, which I couldn’t make out just minutes earlier. Heck, I finally saw the face of the guy just across me (hindi pala cute, lol). I was given protective eyewear and a package of eye drops and sent my way home.

During lunch and on the way home, I had my eyes closed most of, if not, all the time due to extreme light sensitivity. Good thing Ma and my sis were with me, because I initially planned on doing this alone since I could go home using Uber anyway, but for the first few hours, I just wanted to close my eyes entirely. The eye center advises patients to sleep the first three hours off, but I couldn’t despite trying, so I was just on my bed listening to podcasts. The stinging only subsided on the sixth hour though a grainy sensation remained throughout. By the seventh hour, I was already blogging and using my mobile phone and laptop, and the improvement was beginning to snowball. I went to bed early, got eight hours of sleep, and woke up feeling refreshed. I returned to the center for the first of my succeeding checkups: my visual acuity is now 20/15, which means it’s better than the standard 20/20. There’s just an inflammation on my right eye, which doesn’t bother me at all and which should be resolved by the eye drops. My family and I remained in the mall the entire day and I resumed most of my normal activities by the second day. The rest, like exercise, will have to wait for a week.

* * * *

This is actually quite the bumili-lang-ng-suka story. Though I’ve been tinkering with the idea of having Lasik, I was not planning to do it this soon. I originally wanted to buy a mirrorless camera and then weeks after agonizing over it (and letting Mercury retrograde pass), I finally made a decision and went to the camera store only to learn it was out of stock. In the process of assuaging my feelings (lol), I realized that half of my camera budget would already cover Lasik, so I thought I might as well spend on something a lot more sensible and which, on many levels, would be a lifestyle improvement #adulting. The next day, I made an appointment for the eye screening, and the rest, as they say, is history.

PS: I still want the camera, lol. #notadulting

WEEKEND PLANS 05.19.17

What I’ll Be Doing: Recuperating. I finally got a Lasik operation, which I’ll write in more detail soon. I had it this morning, and 7 hours later, here I am blogging, with just a tiny, tiny bit of grainy sensation on my left eye (so I’ll keep this entry short!). I’ll know my exact grade during my first post-op checkup tomorrow (this morning, my sister’s eyes were still more eagle-sharp than mine), but yes, everything is so much clearer now. I can see my face in the mirror without having to go near it!!! I can see shop signs! And read advertisements! And see people’s faces! It’s definitely like being reborn.

What I’ll Be Listening To: Harry Style’s debut solo album sounds surprisingly good—reviews have been complimentary of its ’60s/70s singer-songwriter aesthetics. Pretty easy-listening music that’s devoid of gimmicks; just classic rock.

What I’ll be Watching: American Gods. If only for the third episode, described as having “TV’s most explicit gay sex scene ever.” I have never read Neil Gaiman, except perhaps for one or two of his essays, so I know nothing about American Gods. However, I’m now halfway through the second episode and I’m still lost and confused. Help. Lol.

PS: Ricky Whittle aka Shadow is sooo hot. 😈

Weekend plans 05.12.17

What I’ll Be Watching: For Sunday, I got tickets for Floy Quintos’ new play, Angry Christ, which has received raves and which PDI has dubbed as a “masterpiece.” A Dulaang UP rep rescinded my reservation without any reason. 🙄 Too bad since this was supposed to be for Mother’s Day and I was just starting to get to know Ossorio; I’ve never heard of him previously, but this Huffington Post piece gives a good backgrounder.

What I’ll Be Downloading: My weekend viewing revolves around Survivor, Drag Race, and Big Little Lies, with the recent addition of Fire Island, a reality show about five gay guys vacationing in the famous LGBT summer hotspot. I cannot remember how I learned about Fire Island—writing this, I thought it was from an Alan Hollinghurst novel, but Google results don’t say so (maybe it’s an association with The Swimming Pool Library)—but the first two episodes have been interesting enough, and I’m enjoying Towleroad’s recap.

What I’ll Be Doing: I’ve scheduled a Lasik screening because it’s something I’ve long wanted to do. Hopefully, my eyes qualify.

Books, redux

“The anger with God carried him through another day, but then it faded, and in its place there came a terrible emptiness, an isolation, as he realized he was talking to thin air, that there was nobody there at all, and then he felt more foolish than ever in his life, and he began to plead into the emptiness, ya Allah, just be there, damn it, just be. But he felt nothing, nothing nothing, and then one day he found that he no longer needed there to be anything to feel. On that day of metamorphosis the illness changed and his recovery began.”

The Satanic Verses
Also, TFW you’re under the Duterte government, char.

Reading The Satanic Verses now, my first Salman Rushdie novel, in an attempt to read books again. This is not another means to self-flagellate (I have CrossFit for that, teehee), but I can sincerely feel the difference in my level of creativity since I stopped reading books, specifically in my writing ability. So hopefully, I’ll get to fill this page with books I’ve read this year. (Mr. Rushdie, by the way, has one of my all-time favorite movie ‘celebrity’ cameos, courtesy of Bridget Jones.)

The first chapter was immensely challenging: my impressions and general awareness about the book gave me assumptions, which didn’t help me in understanding the opening storyline. So I’ve had to Google and read a few synopses, and thankfully, chapters two and three are friendlier plot-wise so I’m not as lost as I was when I started (where I almost gave up).

Other books I hope to read this year are:

  • All My Lonely Islands, first-prize winner of the 2015 Palanca Awards and which was written by a former colleague. Granted I haven’t scoured hard enough, but I simply couldn’t find a copy in bookstores I’ve been to.
  • Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, which according to reviews, is a book that will make you understand these four building blocks of cooking so you wouldn’t require the exact ingredients listed in a recipe; you’d know what to substitute them with just by having a good understanding of these four flavors! It’s also illustrated by an artist I’ve been following on Instagram, Wendy MacNaughton.
  • And Clinton Palanca’s The Gullet. I think Clinton is the best food writer in the country, and maybe, the best Pinoy reviewer, period.

On that note, let me add a wishlist to my reading list page.

April stats

I’m hard pressed to think about what happened in April. Let’s see—there was the Holy Week break and the ASEAN-Labor Day long weekend. (BTW, that’s a lot of downtime for one month; it’s awesome.) I spent most of them in Nuvali with the boyfriend.

Athleisure

Athleisure bae looks like he stepped out of the pages of GQ.

My purchases are mostly fitness-related: whey protein, gloves and knee pads, and a couple of shirts. Even boxes of band aid. When I first started in the gym, I wore the ugliest shirt and shorts that I have—basically, what I would wear to sleep—and my shoes were Nike AF1, which is a major LOL in inappropriateness. Needless to say, I looked awful (and my feet hurt), but I couldn’t care less because I was there to sweat. But I guess being around a box that’s a bit on the high end with celebrities and hip people has made me more conscious of what I wear. (Btw, I haven’t gone all Nike, Adidas or Under Armour save for my lone pair of proper athletic shoes—just Uniqlo and H&M. And I still wear those fake NBA shorts that my mom bought at a wet market and which I’m often made fun of in the office for because I don’t know which NBA team I’m wearing based on the colorway and logo.) Basically, not stick out like a fashion sore thumb. The only time I coveted someone else’s threads (naks, threads) was when I worked out with this cute guy who wore a red jersey with black shorts over black compression pants. He was so hot and so Alexander Wang-fasyon. I never saw him again.

Also, going to the gym adds such a huge burden to the laundry, though I really shouldn’t be complaining about this because I ship my laundry to my parents’ home.

I’ve been doing CrossFit for 7 months and I’m still bumbling through most of the movements. (Kitkat, I don’t think I’ll learn double-unders in the next 3 months.) My pants have gotten tighter in areas where I’d like them to be tight, lol. Tucking in my shirt isn’t so bad anymore. (I always look to the Italians in this regard; think collarless shirt and slacks.) Oh, and I’m now XL in Uniqlo. My biceps can’t fit in them L shirts anymore 🙄. Nah, I kid; my gut’s gotten huge, lol.

I read one book. My first in close to a year. Crazy Rich Asians isn’t exactly in the immortal company of the world’s greatest works of literature, but my brain takes what it can get. I read this mostly because of Kris Aquino’s involvement in the film and the book ended up being such a breeze and entertaining to read. I’m old enough to look at the rich’s eccentricities with good humor and there are characters to root for.

I saw three movies in the theater: Beauty and the Beast, Ghost in the Shell, and Fast & Furious 8. Couldn’t stop rolling my eyes at Emma Watson in this role (btw, it feels so wrong to review the movie this late, lol)—her singing was atrocious, she speaks with a British accent, and her face crunches with sarcasm at every turn; GITS, I really couldn’t care less, I only watched it to pass the time; but I was surprised to have enjoyed FF—the trailer is essentially the entire story, but I enjoyed the creativity of the people behind the stunts—laging may bago. Charlize is normally breathtakingly beautiful, but I don’t get the styling choices of her character here. The Rock is incredible; I thought his superhuman strength is funny AF (and who knows, maybe he IS that strong, I wouldn’t be surprised) and I love his chemistry with Jason Statham. I’m also happy for Helen Mirren for getting her wish. Fun movie.

March stats

Weight: between 171 and 173
Pounds gained: practically zero 😡
Double unders: 0
Successful pull ups: 0
Sprained wrist: 1
Number of calluses on both hands: six
Throbbing pain near my fingernails that feel like they’ve been pounded by a sledgehammer: 3
Wishful thinking I could replace both my hands because shampooing my hair, washing my face, or even typing have been arduous: 2,053,421,640 😥
Movies I saw this month: 5
Movies that made me cry: Arrival and Allied
My latest roster of actresses that can do no wrong: Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Marion Cotillard, Viola Davis, Tilda Swinton, Rachel Weisz, Kate Winslet
Number of times I painted: 1
Instagram likes of said painting: 42
Haircut: 1
Instagram likes of new haircut: 48
Number of times I was asked to model: 1
Number of nudes in the IG account of photographer who asked me to model: Madami (though tasteful naman, 😄)
Number of days I saw an “Anello” bag on someone: 28
Number of legit Anello stores in PH: 0
Budget deficit for second half of March: P1,602.43 😛
Pink shirts I bought: 3
Most expensive solo meal: Filleto di Pesce (yummy!) from the cuaresma menu of Cibo, plus red grape shake
Starbucks drinks: enough for the year based on my NY resolution 😥
Addition to grooming arsenal: Kiehl’s Age Defender Anti-Aging Moisturizer for Men ❤
Remaining extra budget for the next payday because I spent way too much in March: P700 😥

Whining does not get better with age

I remember being in the Inquirer office—I must have been in my late teens or early 20s—and I was being my usual, noisy self when Ma’m Chelo, then Inquirer Lifestyle editor, turned her chair to me and loudly admonished: “You are so whiny!”

That shut me up.

Since then I’ve been self-conscious about my complaining because I do agree that I could be irritatingly whiny most of, if not all, the time. I thought I have tempered that side of me—this is one of those bad traits so deeply ingrained that I lack the self-awareness to catch myself 100-percent of the time—but I’ve become increasingly aware (again) of my whining since I started attending CrossFit.

I still wince at the thought of how during our introductory week, I proclaimed that “I hate yoga” as we were stretching and doing our cool downs. For context, it was a few weeks after I did try yoga, so it came from experience. Nevertheless, while it elicited laughs in the class, the coach had to gently explain the benefits of stretching, and I felt so juvenile for having made the comment in the first place.

Or when after one of those numbing workouts, the coach would ask the class how we’re feeling and we’d all reply simultaneously and I would be the lone person to say, “brutal” as everyone else chirps in, “great,” “awesome,” et cetera. I’ve learned to bite my tongue more judiciously, until last week, when we had to hold our squats repeatedly in time with this song—it was about 3 or 4 minutes long and I kept cursing under my breath. By the end of that, I let out a loud “worst song ever,” while the rest were giving themselves high fives. Yikes.

Needless to say, I have a lot more work to do. I’m also aware that it takes more than holding back my comments. I need to re-wire my thinking and learn to think positively.

While I’ve been thinking about this, two films I saw on Netflix last night reinforced this idea. The first is Be Here Now, a documentary on Spartacus: Blood and Sand star Andy Whitfield, who battled lymphoma for almost two years. I have a general idea of Andy’s story, having watched the first season of his gladiator TV show, but wow—still, that docu reduced me to a puddle of tears. Here was a Welsh actor with a beautiful family, who finally made it into Hollywood, and boom, cancer. (And by the way, he was extremely beautiful-looking, easily one of God’s perfect creations—to Christians who feel compelled to nitpick on that statement, see aardvark. Or this. You get the point.)

Be Here Now Andy Whitfield

Photo: TUGG / Be Here Now Productions

What got me the most was when he was talking to the camera after he learned that the chemotherapy was not working. “And people are complaining about zits; I have cancer,” he says and the fact that he’s done EVERYTHING—chemo, radiotherapy, alternative medicine, yoga, meditation therapy—to battle the disease makes every little complaint we have so minute and trivial.

The second is Amy Schumer: The Leather Special, where toward the end, she discusses her weight and how the media point out how fat she is. She responds that her father has multiple sclerosis and is on a wheelchair, and the fact the she can mooove and feel sexy and healthy is a cause for celebration itself. Of course, she delivers it so funnily.

Amy Schumer The Leather Special

Photo: Marcus Price / Netflix

PS: There are two opposing schools of thought on this: The Year of Conquering Negative Thinking:

“But constant negativity can also get in the way of happiness, add to our stress and worry level and ultimately damage our health.”

and The Problem with Positive Thinking:

“Why doesn’t positive thinking work the way you might assume? As my colleagues and I have discovered, dreaming about the future calms you down, measurably reducing systolic blood pressure, but it also can drain you of the energy you need to take action in pursuit of your goals.”

My February stats

Number of Starbucks drinks: 3
Uber rides: 6
Money spent on dining out/takeout food: P7,159
Purchases for myself: 1 – a super cute extra small gym bag 😍 (in photo)
Savings from my personal allowance: P1,322.14
Trips to the doctor: 2
Preseptal cellulitis secondary to cannalicutis and internal hordeolum: 1
External hordeolum: 2
Total # of styes: 3 adidas-3-stripes-performance-team-bag-xs
Eyes wide shut: 1
Number of times I was the butt of naninilip jokes: 3
Number of days I was on sick leave: 4
Number of days I was actually sick: 14 days
Cost of stye turned major eye infection: P1,772.75
Number of teammates who resigned: 1
Number of applicants I interviewed: 3
Number of millennials who flaked out: 7,894 😑
Weight: 172lbs 😑
Height: 5’9″, according to my annual physical exam at Aventus Makati 🙄
Missed WODs: 4
Penalty burpees for not following instructions: still undetermined ✌️️
Weekend getaways: 1
Valentine: 1 😍

How I got tested at LoveYourself PH

I wrote this about two years ago—below, I cite a disheartening statistic that 500 new HIV cases are reported in a month. As of December 2016, that figure is now up to 750 or 24 new cases a day. Get yourself tested and always practice safe sex.

PS: Of course, ang tagal ng na-break ang promise ko, haha.

* * * *

I was at low risk and still, I broke out in cold sweat. I was in a small receiving room along with another guy on one couch and a counselor on the other. The air-conditioning felt like it was at full blast—minutes later, I was shivering due to the low temperature, but also most likely due to my anxiety.

loveyourself-phI was at LoveYourself in Shaw Boulevard for an HIV testing.  I like the positivity that the name suggests though I wish it had been better: On my visit, I had an awkward exchange with the building’s security guard when he asked me for my business and I said, “Love yourself.”

I was there because of an encounter I had with a guy more than six months ago. There was no intercourse, but there was ‘frotting’ and then some. My research, aka Google, suggested the possibility of infection was next to none, but what drove me crazy was the fact there was a tiny percentage I may have gotten infected.

The very next week, I was down with fever, which was unusual for me since I started getting yearly flu shots. When I itch, I’d look closer at my skin and compare it to Google images of rashes on people with HIV. The symptoms listed for HIV infection did not help: fever, migraine, cold, rashes—I experience any of these on any given day, even all at the same time. However, since HIV tests are only reliable three to six months after infection, I could not do anything but wait even as I grew more and more paranoid.

So six months later, I arrived for my test at an otherwise nondescript building, save for its yellow color. On the third level, where the clinic is, the windows were all shut and there was not a single soul on the floor. It was a depressing sight—at least until I knocked on the door and led myself in.

Music was blaring in the reception room: when I entered, it was Beyoncé, later to be succeeded by Rihanna, Sia, and Nicki Minaj. The lobby was fully packed. The attendant, who will later turn out to be my counselor, immediately handed me a form—no inquisitions, except to ask if I had been tested before.

Filling out the form became my first emotional moment at the clinic: as I wrote my father’s and mother’s names, it pained me to imagine their reaction in case I had to tell them a bad news. (Though confidential, details are required to activate one’s Philhealth in case the result is positive, I was told.) Writing down my birthday made me think of my childhood years, when one of the most pressing problems I had was how to tell my mother I accidentally released the birthday balloons she gave me up in the air.

It was also then that I was assigned my ‘number’—a lengthy alphanumeric series which I figured would conceal my identity in case I am HIV positive. “This is it,” I thought. “I’m being reduced to anonymity.”  Even before my visit, I’ve been aware of the strong HIV/AIDS stigma not only in the country but internationally.

There was a pre-counseling session where I found myself in the freezing room with another guy. The counselor had a pragmatic approach to the entire experience, which actually made me feel better: HIV is not a death sentence. You can die anytime, no matter how healthy or sickly you are. Being HIV positive (or reactive is how they put it) would require certain lifestyle changes, but in no way should it prevent you from enjoying a quality life.

The counselor left to arrange our blood test and one-on-one counseling. There was an awkward silence between me and the other guy so I asked him how worried he was. It turned out I opened a floodgate: he told me his story and his symptoms all under three minutes. I began to worry for him, too. It sounded like he’d be lucky if he didn’t turn out reactive.

The one-on-one session allows you to tell all. It’s like a confessional, albeit you reveal every juicy detail about your sex life. In my case, he confirmed that I truly was a low risk, but that unfortunately, I was still at risk. The counselor also helps plan for either reactive/non-reactive scenario by asking for my thoughts on both. If I were negative, I told him, I’m avoiding any sexual contact nevertheless. The counselor appealed in behalf of my libido: “You don’t have to swear it off completely,” he said. But the months-long stress I had been through wasn’t worth it. (It’s not just the HIV—one can get sexually transmitted diseases even through oral sex, no matter if you’re the giver or recipient.)

The result is known in two hours, which I imagined would be a hellish eternity. There’s a living room setup for those who prefer to wait in the clinic rather than leave and return for the result. I plopped myself on the sofa. On TV was The Time Traveler’s Wife, where Eric Bana kept leaping onscreen shirtless, his rippled body mocking the celibacy promise I made to myself minutes earlier.

People came in steadily, a mix of men and women. Some were hot. Others were extremely hot. A couple of days before, I read a report which said that new cases were up 500 that month.

My two hours, as it turned out, went by quickly—I’ve never been as comfortable in a clinic as in LoveYourself, and I’ve been to a few good hospitals. And it’s all free. It was literally a haven, especially for such an anxiety-ridden person like I was at the time.

When I was handed my envelope in a private room and saw my result, I said a prayer of thanks and ate my first proper meal in days. I cannot thank the founder/s and staff of LoveYourself enough.

LoveYourself has three testing locations. The one in Shaw Blvd is located at Anglo Building, near the Shaw flyover. 

For more details, visit www.loveyourself.ph

What I’m watching: Terrace House

terrace-house

I got a little bored with Netflix after having seen The Crown (a show which I loved, by the way) and nothing else interested me (as in pinatulan ko na yung Trollhunters lol, though maganda naman and nadala ng pangalan ni Guillermo del Toro) so I was contemplating on ending my subscription when the latest season of Terrace House, the one set in Hawaii, showed up under new arrivals. Terrace House is sort of an international sleeper hit and I only learned about it from the cool kids I follow on Twitter, and later, in articles on The Verge and Wired. Anyway, Terrace House is a Japanese reality TV show, which is sort of like Big Brother in that the cast lives in one house and is followed by cameras everywhere, but the huge difference is that everyone is free to live their lives in the outside world (i.e., they still go to school, hold down jobs, go on mini breaks). They are also free to leave the show for good any time they want, in which case, someone replaces them in the house immediately.

In each episode, in between the “story” arcs (in quotes because the show stresses that it is unscripted), a group of titos and titas provide comic relief with their commentaries as titos and titas do in real life, but their collective wisdom is also highlighted as they provide insight down to the nonverbal cues of the housemates.

terrace-house-2

The titos and titas, plus a token teenager. That guy in the glasses is soo funny.

The show almost serves as a dating show in that the cast members are all straight, mostly single, no more than a decade in age apart, and are almost always equally divided between girls and boys. There’s a missed opportunity to tackle more controversial subjects outside your usual boy-girl problems, but I suppose that’s where the appeal is: it’s almost like a palate cleanser to all the reality shows we’ve been consuming in the last decade when there is hardly any drama or shockers or sexual content in it. Even the latter is treated in a matter-of-fact way, such that it’s no big deal when someone outside the show asks her younger sister, who is part of the cast, if she’s done it with her new boyfriend. (And the answer is yes, and older sister barely batted an eyelash.) But things did get exciting in the Terrace Houses’ first Netflix season (Girls and Boy in the City) and some topics remain up to debate for me. (Like, I still have a problem with the Meat Crime incident—I’m absolutely with Uchi on that one.) So far, there are no such crises in Aloha State (I’m done watching all eight episodes and now just waiting for the second batch), but the people are beautiful to watch, especially Lauren, and the vibe is just as laid back as the Hawaiian coastline.