As mentioned in my previous posting, Jee called me while I was at the highway on my way to KL on Saturday. Somehow she has the tendency to call me while I'm driving. The last time she called some time back, I was on my way to Seremban.
Let me just give you some background about Jee and her family. Jee is Rose's younger sister. You may read about Rose here and here. From my earlier postings on Rose, you'd notice that Rose's family had not been too supportive of her. But towards the final weeks of her life, 2 of her sisters, Jee and Bibah did try to help her out as much as they could. Bibah, Rose's immediate older sister, was the one closest to Rose.
When Rose was informed by the doctors that her cancer had spread, Bibah was the one Rose confided in. Rose even gave my number to Bibah, telling her to call me should anything happen to her. During the final 2 weeks when I used to help Rose in and out of the hospital, I'd usually bring Rose to the homes of either Bibah or Jee, since they both stayed in Ipoh. Rose herself stayed in another town.
When Rose died, Bibah called me early morning to inform me about it. I went to their family home where Rose's body was brought to and stayed on until her body was brought to the Muslim cemetery. Noticing how close Rose was to me during her final weeks, Bibah and Jee always sought my opinion, particularly on the future of Rose's children. They were impressed that I knew almost A - Z about Rose, when I only knew her for less than 3 months. Little did they realise then that all Rose needed was a listening ear.
During the first few weeks after Rose's death, I was still actively in touch with Bibah and Jee to settle some matters. When the family, after asking the children themselves, informed me that the children's paternal family would be their new guardians, Bibah and Jee brought me to see the children's grandmother to enable me to assess the family, whether or not they needed financial assistance for the kids.
I was treated as a family friend after that. Either Bibah or Jee would call me from time to time to ask me how I was doing, and they would also invite me each time they had any kenduris or birthday parties. So I do still get updates about Rose's children even though Rose is no longer around.
What Rose never told me was that they had an older brother, Rosli, who was also HIV positive. No, Rose did not get HIV from her brother and neither did the brother get it from her. They were infected from totally different sources. Rose got the virus from her late husband (and only found out about it after his death) while Rosli was an IVDU.
When Rose died, she had quite a stack of HIV medication at home - my guess is she was not too compliant in taking her medication, especially after having to get treatment for her cancer (of the cervix). Rosli, who found out about his HIV infection while he was in a pusat serenti, was reluctant to go for proper check ups at hospitals. When he found out about the stack of HIV medication left untouched by Rose, he actually wanted to take the ARV medication for himself, whenever he felt unwell. He thought the medication could be shared just like any other medication for flu and cough maybe, and that they were only to be taken when he felt unwell. That's the trouble when you assume things instead of consulting the right person.
It was then that Bibah and Jee decided to consult me and tell me about their brother. I told them not to let their brother take Rose's medication without consulting the doctor. To be on the safe side, Bibah gave the whole stack of medication to me, so I could return them to the hospital.
After a while, the sisters managed to coax their brother to go for proper check up at the hospital. I helped to arrange for the referral letter and was even there when the sisters brought him to see SN for the first time before setting the date of his first appointment with the doctor. SN did advise him then that if he wanted to start taking medication, he should stop taking drugs (he was still on drugs then).
Rosli did go for the first appointment on his own. But you know how it is at general hospitals, you can't expect to wait for just half an hour before your name/number is called. It was quite a long wait at the hospital, and Rosli simply was a patient without enough patience. That was the one and only appointment he went for. There wasn't much the sisters could do for him when he didn't want to help himself.
Last Saturday, Jee called me seeking my advise. Rosli's condition had deteriorated or in Jee's own words... "Dia dah teruk." Jee asked if they should take him to the hospital. I told them that if they weren't sure of what else to do, just bring him to the hospital. He was too weak to refuse. Given his condition, there may not be much the doctors could do - it was already too late for that; but maybe they could help reduce his pain.
On Sunday, a call came in from Bibah's number. The moment I saw her number, I knew it had something to do with Rosli. True enough, Bibah called to inform me that Rosli had passed away - the second HIV-related death in the family although the HIV infection of the 2 siblings had nothing to do with each other.