THEY WILL ASK thee as to what they should spend on others. Say: "Whatever of your wealth you spend shall [first] be for your parents, and for the near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer; and whatever good you do, verily, God has full knowledge thereof." - Al-Baqarah (2:215)

Monday, 18 June 2007

Sha's dilemma

When I first met Sha during my HIV clinic duty, the first question she asked was whether the hospital could arrange for an abortion. She was pregnant then and it was during the tests done for her pregnancy that she was found to be HIV positive. Not knowing much about HIV, she thought her baby was sure to be infected if she continued her pregnancy. She was in a dilemma - what was she supposed to do?!

What she didn’t know was that there were precautions that could be taken and the baby need not necessarily be infected. We explained to her that she’d be given medication called AZT which she must take during her pregnancy, delivery must be through operation and after delivery, she must not breastfeed her baby. Although she was not totally convinced, Sha finally decided to continue with her pregnancy after her husband disagreed to abortion.

Sha was married to another man earlier and had a child from her first marriage. Due to her former husband’s drug addiction and his promiscuity activities, she asked for a divorce. Both remarried and still stay in the same kampong, so they still do meet each other. As a matter of fact, Sha’s relationship with her mother-in-law is still as good as before.

After she was diagnosed HIV positive, Sha’s first child and present husband were brought for tests. They were both confirmed negative. It was a relief for Sha knowing they were both negative, but Sha still felt guilty for her husband. She told her husband that she was willing to be divorced and let her husband marry another woman and lead a normal life.

But no, her present husband was very supportive. He refused to let her go just because of her HIV status and he totally disagreed to her idea of abortion. After discussing with her present husband, Sha decided that she should tell her former husband about it so he could avoid passing the virus to other unsuspecting people, particularly now that he has remarried.

But Sha’s former husband was in total denial. He simply refused to accept the fact that Sha got the virus from him. That good-for-nothing guy insisted that he had nothing to do with Sha’s HIV infection.

There was nothing much Sha could do then. She tried to tell him for his own sake and for the sake of the people he loved, but he refused to listen. She had done her part and if he was responsible enough, he would have at least gone for tests.

During last year’s Hari Raya gathering I organized for the Malay ladies, Sha was at first reluctant to join as she feared she may be meeting someone she knew. She kept asking me if there was anyone else from her kampong who would be attending the gathering. Actually Zana was from the same kampong and I was quite sure they knew each other but I never told them about each other. Furthermore by then I had already sent Zana to the shelter home in KL.

I persuaded Sha to come for the gathering so that I could introduce her to other HIV positive ladies who had gone through pregnancies. It would be good for her to learn their experiences first hand instead of just listening to my stories. Sha finally agreed to join.

It was a good experience for her. During the gathering, she got to meet Zainab, whose child was already one year plus and Fuzi, whose baby was then about 5 months old. Sha became more relaxed after listening to them about their experiences during pregnancy and delivery.

Sha delivered in December last year, a few days earlier than the scheduled operation. When she called to inform me that there was some bleeding and asked me what was to be done (as though I knew what to do… *sheepish smile*), I told her to immediately go to the hospital and not wait for her appointment day.

Thank goodness she went immediately. She delivered a baby boy that very same night. Had she waited for the day of her appointment, she probably would have just delivered at home through normal delivery and her baby’s chances of getting infected would then be high.

Sha and baby are doing fine now, and her husband is still very supportive of her. Sha may have been unlucky to get infected from her first husband, but she is very lucky her present husband is a very responsible and understanding man. He always knew what to say when Sha got caught in awkward situations with all sorts of questions people ask… the most popular question being, why she did not breastfeed her baby despite being a full time housewife.

Unlike my other PLWHA clients whom I have to visit regularly on a monthly basis, in Sha’s case I’d just call from time to time to ask how she’s doing. Although initially during her pregnancy she was rather paranoid, now she is a more relaxed person. I think she’s doing just fine. If I do get another pregnant PLWHA assigned to me, I now have another good example to show.

Just as I was about to publish this post, I received a call from Wina, Fuzi’s daughter. They ran out of milk powder for Iwan again. Has it been a month already? Oh dear, time sure flies. So there will be another house visit tomorrow…

14 comments:

Hazia said...

Sha is so lucky to have a loving and supportive husband. Orang yg HIV free pun bertuah if got husbands like that, apatah lagi org yg really need d support macam Sha:)

Pi Bani said...

Spot on, Hazia! Even those without HIV would be lucky to have such a loving, supportive and understanding husband.

loveujordan said...

Alhamdulillah anak sya tidak HIV positive, kuasa Allah.

Dalam kes her ex-husband, ada undang-undang ke yang membolehkan dia di uji secara paksa kerana membiarkan dia bererti akan lebih ramai menjadi mangsa HIV ..

Anonymous said...

I am not sure about Malaysia, but in other countries, the ex-husband could be charged with for not telling his partner he has HIV.

Just Google "hiv charged" and see what you get. Some charges range from 15 to 20 years jail per offense!

Mind you in those cases the person knew they had HIV and refused to tell. In this case it seems he refuses to acknowledge he has it and does not want. But denial should not be an excuse under the law.

J.T. said...

Sha is truly lucky to have such a supportive husband. I am sure trials that come her way are easier to deal with because he is there for her.
Thank goodness her baby was born HIV-. You saved a child from the infection. Good job Pi!

Pi Bani said...

LUJ and Anonymous,
I know the HIV clinic personnel would request the spouses to come for tests whenever their partners are diagnosed HIV+. Most would come for tests although sometimes even after they are also diagnosed +ve, they never bother to come for further appointments. However, for cases like Sha's ex-husband who simply refused to go for tests, I have not seen any legal actions taken so far against them.

Pi Bani said...

JT,
All I did was to tell her to go to the hospital lah...

J.T. said...

OK Pi... let's just say God was working through you. :)

Pi Bani said...

Whatever JT, whatever... :)

ruby ahmad said...

Hi Pi,

All I have to say is thank you for your work. Shukur, Sha went to hospital in time..alhamdulillah. Sad she can't breastfeed her baby, but nevermind it is for the best. So people who can, please do so.

Sha is blessed to have a supportive hubby. Take care and thank you for your effort to be present at the function.

Pi Bani said...

K.Ruby
With campaigns going on encouraging mothers to breastfeed, it's hard for the PLWHAs especially when mother-in-laws and makciks insist they must breastfeed. Pot pet pot pet bising why tak breastfeed padahal punyalah teringin mak-mak ni nak breastfeed their babies if only they can.

What to do...

ruby ahmad said...

Hi Pi,

Aduh! Derita juga. Sedih to note the mums teringin nak breastfeed but couldn't. How they lost twice. First they are willing but can't, that is frustrating. Secondly they are deemed by their in-laws as irresponsible, whence they are not! Life can be so challenging and yeah quite demeaning. Sigh.

Daphne Ling said...

Dear Kak Pi,

Indeed, Sha is very lucky that her present husband is supportive, and even luckier that she came across you...Otherwise, her darling baby might have been infected...
What a blessing, Kak Pi, to be doing God's work! I'm sure you will be blessed...

"When she called to inform me that there was some bleeding and asked me what was to be done (as though I knew what to do… *sheepish smile*), I told her to immediately go to the hospital and not wait for her appointment day".

*Laughs*...

It helps you're funny too!

Pi Bani said...

K.Ruby,
Yeah, sad isn't it? Imagine how they feel, kalau boleh nak aje menjawab their in-laws/makciks, but at the same time not wanting to disclose they have HIV for fear of other complications coming their way...

Daph,
Sure, sure... laugh la! Many of these PLWHAs like to call me to ask medical-related questions when they could actually call the staff nurse direct. Maybe they like funny answers? :)