PEPing

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I remember my encounter with this guy, in his late thirties (so he looked). How I was defiled by him. How he had control over my life and there was nothing I could do about it, how he just gave me that cold stare as I fought hard and cried and all he did was thrust deeper and deeper inside as he crushed my soul over and over again.

I wish I could know where I would find him. Not even for vegence or a conversation. There were so many reasons why I didn’t rush to hospital especially because I really wanted to do this on my own. I am the kind of person who is always a heartbeat away from my friends. If they need me I’m always there, try my best to give my advice if need be and this always makes me feel loved. In this case though, I didn’t have any friend to talk to. I never complain about it coz I didn’t even notice.

This had happened at around 2:00 am and the only time I was able to run away from everybody was about 58 hours after the occurrence. I went to a public hospital and obviously…long queues I ended up bribing a guard to make to the front of the line.

When I entered that consultation room I said I needed PEP. I was told to go to the hospitals VCT room for testing and trust me I was not ready for anything like this. I had to lie to this woman. Thank God she fell for the lie. I told her how I had had unprotected sex with a stranger that I didn’t trust and he was already out of town so I couldn’t make to come with him.

I went through all the shit that happens in a VCT room, the counseling, how to use condoms and all that. The results were negative. Next, I went to see the nurse who was to give me my medication (damn procedures!).

The nurse was really hard headed… she was rude and arrogant and she started giving me you know, pep talks.” You girls nowadays you just sleep with strangers like animals. You don’t even respect yourself. You are in the university. What are they even teaching you there? Do you even find time to go to class from your busy schedule of sleeping around?” She asked. I kept quiet. I knew she didn’t expect an answer. But her words hurt me and I felt like I was crying on the inside. Did she even take a moment to think about what I had gone through before casting her judgement? She told me to go outside and let guilt devour my heart and she would call me back in.

Time was running out! The 72 hours. I also had a class test I was not at all costs supposed to miss. I decided to come clean. “What happened?” She asked. I decided to give her every detail. I told her everything. Somehow, she changed her attitude, went to the pharmacy and brought me the first dose.

I was taken to the lab for further tests: hemoglobin, HIV for a second time, Bla! Bla! Bla! but the worst was the getting my vaginal fluids. The tools they use are a nightmare to think of! I had to open my legs to a woman nurse and two male interns (sigh! Am not sure they were interns – but they looked like interns from how they giggled at my lady!). I got my medication for the week and was asked to return once a week for counseling and more tablets.

This PEP really kicked my ass. I lost weight. Most times I could not even afford the recommended diet.

I had a roommate and she was not supposed to know I was taking some weird tablets so I used to take them in the loo. The medicine gave me a toxic taste that made me take sweets like hell.

The medicines did not come at a cheap price! They gave me severe headaches. Like anyone would do, I walked, sat and slept with a pack of painkillers close to me. Believing they would drive the pain away, or at least reduce it, I overdosed them like a child would. At times I felt I was going to die because of the number of painkillers that I was taking.

Multiple times, suicide became a viable option. The chances of PEP working was fifty fifty and I was scared that I may have skipped some ‘PEP chronicles’ which had been made clear to me.. Like timing, diet etc. (I’m trying to make the article short).

Like patience, my faith in God was dying slowly. Some nights, I would literally sit on my bed, look through the window and stare in the dark. Other days, I would sleep throughout the day. My eyes became pale and hated how people kept asking what was “Cathy, are you okay?” The “yes, I am fine!” chorus and a fake smile had become a part of me. Deep inside however, I felt like hell.

28 days of pep medication ended. 3 months later, I went for another HIV test. Three days later, the results of the test would be ready. I remember walking for like 9km because of how scared I was wishing a car could just run over me. What if I was positive? What would I do? Where would I go? 28 days of PEP medication was a hell of a journey. Would I really manage a lifetime of ARVs? My mind was almost blowing up with endless questions.  Finally, I got the results.

Negative. The results were negative. I was negative. I was clean. Can you feel they joy that filled my heart? I know you can almost see the smile that filled my face. Like the one on yours right now. Despite the results however, I still felt depressed, scared, alone and frustrated. 28 days of PEP medication had taken away a large chunk of my life and while I knew they would fade away with time, time doesn’t heal experiences.

Sometimes I remember what happened before the 28 days. Other times, I think about the things I went through during the 28 days. Most times I laugh at myself then questions come back again. So many questions. What if that day, I had been infected? This was the second time I had been defiled. The first time was painful. More painful that this time (story for another day).

Everyday however, I wake up and remind myself that while my wounds may not be my fault, healing is my responsibility.

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