these are the posts tagged ‘health’:


advance care directive

this is a bit of a heavy topic and the middle of a pandemic is probably a weird time to mention it, but… have you thought of how you want to die?

these days, many countries let citizens choose in advance what kind of healthcare treatment they want to receive, in case they’re not able to decide for themselves at the time the treatment is required. it’s called an advance care directive.

in portugal, the testamento vital specifies a bunch of situations on which you can decide things in advance. perhaps you don’t want to participate in clinical trials or experimental treatments, don’t want to be reanimated, or maybe you just want to delegate these choices on someone you trust. you print this sheet of paper, fill it out and take it to a health center for it to be checked and registered. after that, it stays valid for five years and your doctors can access it along with your medical history (you get an email when they do).

we did ours some years ago, mostly because me and the boy were not married but still wanted to make sure we could decide for each other, in the worst case scenarios. i encourage you to think about it and make a plan. we’re all going to die sooner or later — better do it on our own terms.

bonus material:

100 gym visits in a year!

that was item number #30 on my list, and this was the year it got done!

i’ve been tracking this goal on beeminder since march and making steady progress on it. after long breaks in july/august and then again in october, things got tight towards the end of the year… so i stepped up the game to include some more swimming and ended up hitting the goal yesterday with one last swim — just in time!

the back is still dodgy, but at least it’s moving a little. onwards! :)

giving blood

despite not being a big fan of needles, i’ve been giving blood since they started doing blood drives in university, back in the day. after moving abroad, we started doing them once a year, our christmas vacations back home always punctuated by a detour to give blood, followed by a trip to the dentist (in that order, otherwise no blood donation!).

ever since moving back though, we’ve been doing them more often, helped by the nearness of faro’s hospital and the nice people that work in the blood department there. although we barely know them, the regularly spaced meetings and intimate questions help to quickly break the ice. even if the boy isn’t giving blood on that specific day (sometimes they don’t need his “special” blood), the doctor will still ask how the husband has been doing… quickly followed by a very pro forma “and have you had sex with anyone else lately”? XD

besides the good karma and not having to pay medical fees, after giving blood 10 times one also gets a mini-diploma… although, in true bureaucratic fashion, it ends up arriving much later. still, it’s pretty neat and this week it was my turn to pick up mine!

i know it’s just a piece of fancy paper, but it still feels like a pat in the back for a job well done. besides, now i’m a certified people’s saver! :)

speaking of which, did you hear the news about mr. harrison, the man with the golden arm? he has a rare antibody in his blood, from which a treatment for rh incompatibility could be made in australia. he retired from blood donating last week at 81, after 1173 donations — and after having saved over 2 million babies with the “vaccine” made from his blood — the same vaccine that my mom took after having me, as our bloods’ rh types are incompatible.

hurray for science and blood donors!

did they tell you…?

(this story happened about a year ago, but it took some time to process.)

it started out normal enough. a small-town half-marathon that is traditionally held on easter sunday, between 11am and 2pm — an odd schedule, but the race crosses the local train tracks, and that’s one of the few gaps in which no trains go through that stretch. it’s hot for april. not that many people running, and even less cheering. i saw the boy off with my parents, and then strolled to the nearby beach for a stretch in the sun, the first proper beach day of the season.

an hour later, we made our way back and saw the first runners arrive, panting and drenched in sweat. we clapped, we waited, we cheered and waited some more… but the boy wouldn’t show up. 10 minutes after his normal finishing time, i was starting to think maybe he’d given up. he’d had a mild cold earlier that week, and though he seemed fully recovered by sunday, perhaps he wasn’t as fit as he thought.

i saw a couple of his running friends, so i asked one of them if he’d seen paulo. and he had. “did they tell you…?“, he said expectantly. turns out, he was laying on the road not looking great, around km 15. they’d taken him into hospital and the paramedics were looking for me, actually. i think my heart skipped a beat or twenty. we made our way to the emergency room at a maddening slow pace, our advance bracketed by traffic on the N125.

the boy was fine. agitated, amnesiac, dehydrated, drenched in sweat… but fine otherwise. his heart was normal, and after a while, so was the rest of him. probably the scorching sun, playing tricks. afterwards, his GPS watch told the story of a 30-minute gap, spent wandering back and forth on the side of a country road, before being driven to the hospital.

ever since then, i’ve been thinking about death and the fragility of human beings, as one does whenever things like these happen. and i understand one can’t live on a dome or in fear of the next panic, but it changes things, a bit. you’re ever slightly more careful, more attentive… and immensely grateful for every single day.

pre-exposure prophylaxis

did you know that there’s a pill that prevents HIV infection?

my mom used to work on the infectious diseases infirmary at a big hospital, and the horror stories coming out of that department would leave me speechless, heartbrokean and infuriated in turns — especially people finding out they’re infected after years of being married to someone who had never disclosed their HIV-positive status to them. so my mind was blown when i read about PrEP (or pre-exposure prophylaxis) on a listserve email a couple of weeks ago. though not legal everywhere yet, it’s super effective — and such a game changer, for so many people.

while i’m amazed that this thing exists, i’m also dismayed that i had never even heard of it before, and neither had most of the friends i asked about. so to help spread the information, i’m copying Faith’s email below.

read about it and spread the word!

“Did you know there is a medication approved by the FDA and some Euro countries that prevents HIV infection? There is! And it’s incredibly effective. The concept is called pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. Right now, one drug is approved, but a lot of other medications are being tested for approval.

I’ve been working in the field of HIV research for 28 years. I’ve seen a lot of things. I’ve watched a lot of people, including a lot of friends, die. I know that every one of these friends would be throwing this medication off the rooftops if it meant that one person was prevented from getting HIV. There is no controversy. This is a proven medical intervention to a public health crisis. Go learn, then inform your friends and family.

Gay men, especially white gay men, are using it with enormous successes. Feel free to look up PrEP effectiveness for more information. Unfortunately, the message that this medication is available hasn’t really gotten out to gay men of color or women at risk for HIV. Why?

Well, stigma for one. We don’t want anyone knowing what we do behind closed doors for fear of discrimination. We might also have some shame about our activities, even if they’re no one else’s business. Also, no one really wants to admit that they might be exposed to HIV during a relationship. So PrEP is for “other people” but not “me.” The fact is, if you are having sex with someone and you don’t know (really KNOW, not just assume) their HIV status, HIV infection is a possibility. And PrEP is as effective, if not more effective, than condoms! Don’t you think that’s something you should know about, even if you never take it? I do. That’s why I have been planning this since I signed up for the listserve more than 5 years ago. I think you should know ALL of the tools available to you in your toolbox.

Pass it on.”