the next time some elderly statesmen or those head-mistress types tell you to sit up straight, hit them over the head with a very big dead fish. preferably rotting.
in the early eighties, doctors in america started noticing a group of patients who presented with a lung infection which was hitherto very rare. further research proved that in order for the infection to take place the individual’s immune system must be paralyzed and the cause for this was a tiny microbe in the family of viruses called retrovirus. to give this renegade member a specific name they called it Human Immunodeficeincy Virus (HIV), retrovirus being the family name. what the patients were suffering from would be called Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).
as with any new disease, the race was on for the cure. unfortunately for all involved a cure was not forthcoming and the drugs were only able to control the disease. to add salt to the wound these drugs were the bitterest pills to swallow in the sense that they had a lot of unwanted immediate and longterm side effects. worse of all they had to be taken in combination. so on an average patients will have to swallow any where between 8-17 pills and capsules in a day. this form of therapy is lifelong and any mistake in dosing and timing may have future implications on the viability of the regiment. all in all an insurmountable task but one which has got to be adhered to nonetheless for the sake of survival.
for those who are able to stick to the therapy (now encumbered with the term ‘Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy’ or HAART for short), hope of a good quality of life free of symptoms is a reality. many studies have proven this beyond a shadow of a doubt. on the other hand, a sobering fact to consider is that any one individual must be at least 95% adherent to his/her HAART in a month in order to have any impact on his/her health status. doing the math so that you don’t have to, this person can only afford to miss 1 and a half days of his/her drugs in a month. this effect is most likely cumulative. say he/she misses the drugs for 1 and a half days this month, if the same thing is repeated the following month the chances for the drugs not to work goes up exponentially. this is due to the fact that the virus is highly malleable in its genetic makeup. once there is insufficient drug swimming in the patient’s blood stream, it forms resistance to said drug and this change in its genes is persistent. there will come a time when despite taking the drug, the virus will thrive and the patient begins to slide down the slippery slope to a world of pain, suffering and ultimately death.
as if that is not enough, many people living with hiv/aids are subjected to ridicule and social stigmatization. i know of people who have been disowned by their own family just because of the disease. people have been ostracized and made to live in a separate room or house on their own. certain societies want nothing to do with them. they become living ghosts. in this day and age of IT and the information super highway, the stubborn ignorance exhibited by a lot of people is loathsome. just remember, if you stigmatize a hiv positive person you are just exposing your own stupidity.
tomorrow is world AIDS day. get over to the UNAIDS website and load up on information about this potentially deadly disease. and for all of humanity’s sake don’t be stupid!
the word ‘trebuchet‘ refers to a giant catapult used in medieval times to decimate one’s enemies during wars.
perhaps more familiar to people nowadays, it is also the name of a font popular in today’s computer operating systems. the next time you open up microsoft word just run down the list of fonts and you will see it there. for the life of me i do not see the relationship but one vincent connare saw fit to name his font design after an ancient war machine. go figure!
in ‘million dollar baby‘ hilary swank’s character bit her own tongue in a bid to commit suicide. my initial reaction was one of deep repulsion and horror. but when i analyzed the circumstances it made perfect sense. here she is hooked up to a life support machine and paralsyed from the neck down. she has come to realise that she has had her one big shot at life. with the help of her trainer she has risen above and beyond, via boxing, her dead end life and a family who thinks nothing of her. she has had that one precious chance to do what few others have done and what many will never get to do.
seeing that her request for her trainer (an aging clint eastwood) to help her pull the plug is tearing the latter apart, she decides to take matters into her own hands. losing the use of her limbs and neck muscles severely limits the options for self harm. the only thing she can do above her neck is chomp down on her tongue and hope that she bleeds to death.
as an experiment i just tried applying gentle pressure on my tongue using my two rows of teeth and i must report that it is quite easy to do. of course you will have to possess the guts to endure the ensuing excruciating pain but i guess there are worse things in life eg lying in bed absolutely paralyzed except for movements of the eyes.
this is my second day of being stranded at home. two mornings ago i woke up to find a throbbing pain in my left foot but i steeled myself and went to work anyway, thinking that it would go away. at the end of the day my foot had swollen up like an over ripe mango and could not bear weight at all without generating a crippling pain. matters got worse after a good night’s rest. my foot is now red and more swollen. went to the doctors today and they did an xray and an ultrasound of my foot. no fractures but the soft tissue was all swollen compared to the other foot. was given a course of antibiotics and some anti-inflammatory medications.
at home i have started using my dad’s walking cane that he had refused to use out of embarrassment. gosh even my 69 year old dad looks steadier than me! i am going stir-crazy at home. i must have gone through like 10 sudoku puzzles today. maybe today i will finish kiran desai’s ‘the inheritance of loss’. lately i have left a lot of books unfinished but this one i am determined to complete. its a challenge for me (no disrespect to ms. desai who writes beautifully by the way).
something cropped up today during one of those inconsequential-along-the-corridor kind of conversations. i bumped into a colleague at work today and started indulging in minor chit-chat. somehow the talk brought to light the fact that he is single and living on his own in an apartment. my first reaction to this was ‘you mean you don’t stay with your parents?’, an incredulous look smeared across my face.
thinking about this on the drive home reminded me of my previous post on chinese heritage. i used to be a big fan of a tv series based on the shenanigans in and out of courtroom of a group of idealistic and too-smart-to-be-true lawyers. in one episode a man was put on the stand for some heinous murder and his whole conviction hung on the fact that he was more than 30 and still staying with his mother. that in the eyes of the american justice system was tantamount to a full blown confession from a sick and twisted mind.
spin to the other half of the globe and leaving the homestead is tantamount to a sick and twisted mind. it is fascinating to see the vast dichotomy in cultural norms from one part of the planet to the other. i am quite sure that a lot of people in our part of the woods do actually leave home but i would argue that they are in the minority. on the other hand american teens are often forcefully encouraged to strike out on their own in the name of self-realisation and individualistic freedom. the emphasis is on the self as opposed to the collective in their oriental brethren.
it is of course not my place to comment on which is better but both do have their advantages and disadvantages. imagine an old couple sitting in an old and crumbling house where the only sound is the constant drip of the leaky faucet in the kitchen. its been too long since they heard from their children who are too busy to make phonecalls except for the perfunctory christmas and birthday variety.
asians are no better. in a bid to keep the family together, the parents invite their son and his blushing bride to stay in their home. after the initial months of manufactured niceties, the whole concept collapses onto itself with the mother and daughter-in-law ready to poke each other’s eyes out with chopsticks. meanwhile the son is nearing a meltdown, worried that he may offend either parties.
these are just 2 examples of a myriad of possible scenarios. either way the inescapable truth is that we all are trying to find our way out of this dilemma called life. along the way we sought out companionship (friends, lovers) or in most instances have it shoved down our throats (family, colleagues). either way we are in for the long haul and the best we can do is to roll with the punches.
this to date is my 51st post. looking over all the entries for the past few days brought back some painful memories and some pleasant reveries. dog dies, major failure in life and the subsequent redemption, an upswing in fortune, introspection, cynical look at my own heritage, affair with linux, televisual excitement, cinematic maverick, aimless walks down dead end streets and convolutions of the mind. its all there.
finally back from all my traveling. it has been a hectic last few days but at the same time quite enjoyable. when i arrived in kota kinabalu a few nights ago i was pleasantly surprised by the hotel that my sponsors have booked me into. a spacious room decorated sensibly and a queen size bed for my weary head. best of all, free internet!
the meeting venue, university sabah malaysia, was beautiful with a view of mount kinabalu on one side and the wide expanse of the south china sea on the other. the downside was that the air-conditioning in the meeting hall had a mind of its own and kept shutting off leaving us sweltering in the tropical heat. they only got it right on the last day of the conference.
what really bugged me (as it always does) is the waiting in the airports. hours and hours spent sitting around for something to happen. in airports we are always hoping that we are some place else. always on the cusp of leaving the present physical plane and hoping that the next place will be better. and of course it never is. more waiting in the next airport and the cycle continues. please, i beg you! someone invent teleportation!
i was attending a conference today and during one of the lectures the guy in front of me decided to visit us with a gastronomical effluence. in the quiet of the hall a small poop floated up from under my nose. thank god it was a relatively odorless one. he actually shifted his entire body to one side in order to facilitate the passage of said exhaust from his a**hole. i glanced at my colleague sitting by my side to see if she had caught on but true to form she was the picture of perfect composure. no hint whatsoever that she had noticed the social travesty that had just occurred before her. to her i salute and to the perpetrator i say this, “put a cork in it!”