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)

Thursday, 6 November 2008

How to break the news?

I was getting ready to go to work on Monday when a text message came in on my hand phone. So I checked and the message was "Akum". That's it. Nothing else. And it came from an unfamiliar number so I couldn't figure out who the sender was. Now, who on earth would text me a message just to say "Akum"?

At first I thought maybe the sender accidentally sent the message before he/she managed to finish keying in whatever he/she wanted to say. But no other SMS came in, so I just let it be. Maybe it was just a case of wrong number. I have received calls on my hand phone before asking for Adelyn lah... Zul lah... Chong lah...

Later in the afternoon I got a call from the same number. But the phone just rang once and then it stopped. It was as though the caller purposely gave me a missed call. He/she wanted me to call back or what?! Usually only my niece would do that (giving me a missed call and expecting me to call back).

I sent a text message to the number - "Siapa ni?"

Then the reply came: "Maaf ya. Saya dpt no fon ni dr hspital. Saya dijangkiti kuman HIV."

I still had no idea if this person was a male or a female but that didn't matter; I decided to call this person. Chances were this person wasn't really sure if he/she should call me.

A guy answered my call. He had just been diagnosed HIV+ less than a month ago and was feeling rather lost and confused at the moment.

I asked if he was free to come to my NGO center the next day around 3 pm. Since he said he's usually free after 2 pm, he agreed.

The next day I made sure I reached the center before 3 pm. The guy reached our center at 3 pm sharp.

Razif found out about his HIV infection when he went to a private clinic for his very bad cough which didn't seem to stop. The private clinic did a full blood test on him. Before the test results came out, Razif was admitted to the Ipoh GH for some lung infection. Somehow, he was not tested for HIV when he was warded. After he got discharged, the doctor at the private clinic called him to inform him that he had been infected with HIV. The doctor then gave him a referral letter and told him to go to the ID clinic at Ipoh GH.

So last week he went to the ID clinic and met up with SN to fix for an appointment. SN also got him to do another blood test at the hospital to find out his CD4 and CD8 count. His appointment with the doctor will be in about 2 weeks time.

Razif has not told any of his family members about his HIV. He is confused. He is scared. His parents and siblings may not need to know, but his wife definitely needs to know as she will have to get tested as well. Yes, Razif is married and has 3 young kids aged between 5 to 8 years old.

I asked Razif how he got infected. No, I wasn't trying to be judgmental or whatever but how he got the virus may make a difference as to how his wife will react when she finds out. From what I've seen so far, the wives are more forgiving if their husbands were IVDUs as compared to those who got the virus by having sex with other women. And for those who have had sex with other women, how the wife would react would also depend on WHEN his sexual activities took place. If before their marriage, then maybe there's a bit more room for forgiveness (the wife will still be upset and/or angry la). But if he had those affairs after marriage, a big war may follow after the wife finds out...

Well, Razif was never an IVDU. The infection was through sexual contacts. When asked if his wife ever knew of his affairs with other women, he just said maybe. He's not too sure himself.

OK, so how does one break the news? How do we tell a person that he/she has been infected with HIV? How do we tell someone that her husband/his wife has HIV?

Heck, I don't know! Breaking the news of someone's HIV infection is something I have never done before and I bet neither have most, if not all, of my other fellow Buddies. You see, most of the cases referred to us are of those who have already been told of their HIV status. All we do is talk/listen to them as it is during the first few weeks that they would feel very, very down.

Back to Razif - how do we help him? Yes, we can go to his house to talk to his wife if he wants us to, but with 3 young kids around and not knowing how his wife would react, I don't think that's a good idea. If she becomes too shocked to say anything, it wouldn't be too bad. But what if suddenly "world war 3" starts immediately? Who knows, anything is possible.

Since Razif will be seeing the doctor in about 2 weeks time, I suggested to him to tell his wife that he has an appointment at Ipoh GH on that date and that the doctor had requested that he brings his wife along. Let the doctors break the news. They are used to doing so. And they can explain better to the wife of the implications whatsoever. Hopefully the wife will be able to control herself better at the hospital rather than at home. How the wife will react later when they get home... that's a different story altogether. I told Razif to still be prepared for whatever that was to come and that if he needed to talk after that, he could always call us. Or if his wife needs someone to talk to, then she can call us too.

Razif was receptive to the idea. After all, he was warded at the Ipoh GH quite recently and so the wife may think that some test results are out and the doctor may want to talk to them both regarding Razif's illness.

So, yes, that is how it will be. Or at least that was what Razif agreed to do. The wife needs to be tested for HIV. If she's negative, alhamdulillah. But if she is positive, then the kids will need to be tested too.


Zawi said...

When will anybody ever learn of such dangers? When going for such pleasures they will always think that they are doing it with someone clean.
Now the worry is whether the innocent wife and children will be affected too. Please God help them. Just let Razif suffer because he was the one who brought it upon himself.

Pi Bani said...

Pak Zawi:
Problem is people like to think that bad things will only happen to others, not to them. So they don't take precautions. They don't heed advice from others.

I too hope Razif's wife and children are spared from the virus. But at the same time we can't simply punish Razif and let him suffer by himself. It is our duty to lift his spirits and lead him to the right path. He already had his punishment di dunia ni lagi. If he loses hope and faith, he may stray even further, and spreads the virus to even more people.

Anonymous said...

Komen Pak Malim kucing ray yg alim.

Pi Bani,

Saya dah keluar dari prison, kata Pak Malim yg kena tangkap sebab arson, jadi saya boleh bercakap, kata Pak Malim sambil makan ikan siakap. Masalah Razif agak rumit, kata Pak Malim yg sakit tumit, kerana ia bukan sahaja membabitkan dirinya sendiri, tetapi orang lain, kata Pak Malim sambil memakai kain.

Pi Bani said...

Pak Malim:
Itulah pasal, kata Pi Bani sambil bermain futsal. Masalah ni berkait-kait, kata Pi Bani sambil mengait. Kalau sorang je yang kena satu hal, kata Pi Bani yang jual mahal. Ni keluarga pun mungkin terjebak sama, katanya lagi sambil baca cerita Obama.

Pak Malim terlibat dengan arson? tanya Pi Bani sambil menonton cerita Perry Mason. Boleh tahan nakal, pikir Pi Bani sambil mengayuh basikal.

Typhoon Sue said...

is it a good idea to break the news to the wife in a place where scissors, scalpels, needles and loads of other sharp objects are lying around?

i think Razif should be man enough to tell the wife himself. He got himself into this mess, and dragged her along with him. It's only right that he owns up to it.

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

i'm not sure if this would work but cant he just tell the wife he got it through IVDU instead of telling her the truth? tipu sunat to save his ass. she may get upset initially but once he got that cleared, how he got infected will no longer matter.

Pi Bani said...

Not to worry, at least in the doctor's room and the counselling room at the HIV clinic, those sharps objects aren't lying around. Yang banyak ARV drugs!

I agree Razif should be man enough to tell his wife himself. But after talking to him, I doubt he will if we leave it up to him. Chances are he'd chicken out every time he's about to open his mouth to tell her. To me now tak kiralah cara macam mana sekalipun, the wife needs to know and she needs to know ASAP!

Pi Bani said...

Eh, buat perkara sunat ni dapat pahala tau! You mean dia dapat pahala kalau tipu bini dia ke? :)

No-lah, alang-alang nak bagitau the wife, might as well tell her the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth!

Daphne Ling said...

Hi Kak Pi,

How are you? Lama tak datang jenguk you lar...

Honestly, I would think the Buddies going to break the news to his wife is a bad idea lor...

It's like 'menyibuk' you know? I know that's not your intention, but this is like a private moment where the wife needs to grief (for her hubby's infidelity, his infection and the possibility she might have it too)...

So letting the doctors who are trained to do so is probably the best...

That's my personal opinion, anyway...

Pi Bani said...

Yes lor... that's why I said we can go to the house to talk to the wife IF HE WANTS US TO. You think he'd want us to? Naaah!! Even those who are already our clients, we'd only visit them at home with their permission. Otherwise, even our usual house visits will also be classified as menyibuk.

ArahMan7 said...

This is one of the reasons why I was so afraid of using syringe during my drug days. I don't know what I gonna do should it happened to me?

Will I be as brave as Razif or I took a short-way out like I used to do whenever I came across with problems?

I used to think that way too, "I'm not gonna be addicted"! And it took me a long long twenty-four years before I finally admitted that, "My name is ArahMan7 and I AM a drug addict."

Greetings and lots of love from Kuale Kangsor.

~ ArahMan7

Pi Bani said...

At least you took precautions by not using syringe. Dalam pada terjebak tu masih lagi beringatlah.

Memang when one is already in deep s**t, serba salah nak buat decision and don't know what to do next. In many cases, they try to avoid the problem instead of trying to solve it. Takut nanti bini marah, tak payah bagitau. I know of a few cases whereby the wives only found out when their husbands dah teruk (even though the husbands knew about their HIV much earlier). In fact, some only knew after their husbands' death.