I was on clinic duty again today – my first for the year 2010.
Knowing how difficult it can be to get a parking space at the hospital, today I decided to go early. Other than hoping to get a nearer parking space, I also intended to go to the blood bank to donate blood. It has been 6 months since my last blood donation. Clinic duty was supposed to start at 10 am, I got to the hospital before 9 am.
Easier to get a parking space? Hah, fat hope! I ended up parking at the same parking area quite far from the specialist clinic. Although it was still within walking distance for healthy and fit people, for those who are unwell and unfit, the walk could be quite tiring.
That being my first time donating blood at the Ipoh GH blood bank (usually I’d just go to blood donation drives at various places other than the hospital), I had to ask and look around to find the location of the blood bank. There weren’t any donors when I got there. Only when I was filling up the form did one guy walk in to donate blood as well. The advantage of donating blood at the blood bank is that there is more privacy (otherwise at shopping complexes you’d have to lie in bed in public) and definitely more comfortable (aircond, TV, more comfy bed etc).
Having donated blood a few times already, and my record already on their computer, they didn’t bother to check for my blood type. (My blood type? A for Afizah…) They just took my weight (minimum is 45 kg – when I got on the weighing scale, even someone with poor eye-sight could see I clearly passed the minimum weight!!) and tested my blood for hemoglobin. I passed the hemoglobin test as well, no problem at all.
The nurse, while poking my arm with the needle to get my blood, asked, “Saja datang nak derma darah ke?” I told her right in the face that with the parking problems and all, I wouldn’t bother to come if it was just to donate blood. The only reason I decided to donate blood at the Ipoh GH today was because I needed to be at the hospital anyway for my clinic duty.
According to the nurse, they will be having a blood donation drive this weekend at Jaya Jusco and Tesco Ipoh. So, those of you in or around Ipoh who wish to donate blood but too lazy to go to the hospital to do so (ahem, speaking for myself, really), why don’t you go shopping this weekend and donate blood at the same time, huh? There’s always a need for blood at the blood bank.
Anyway, I got to the HIV clinic by 9.30 am, went over to the doctor’s room to tell SN that I was already there, then off to the counseling room. While waiting for cases to be referred, I took out my mini notebook for my internet dose for the morning, using gelombang curi… (hospital punya lah!). Another volunteer then came in. She thought clinic duty was supposed to start at 9 am, so she thought she was already late, whereas in fact she was early!
It wasn’t long before SN came in to hand us the file for the first case referred to us today. Just as I was going through the file, SN came in again with another case. So I took the first case, and my colleague took the other case. Then another colleague came in just in time for another case to be referred. So, we ended up taking one case each. The other two volunteers are still trainees but had been quite exposed to clinic duties since last year, so I let them handle the cases themselves this time around. Besides, I was there if they needed to consult me for anything.
The case I handled would have probably been passed to me even if I wasn’t on duty today. Azimah - a young, unmarried mother of a 2 months old baby. Yep, another of those out-of-wedlock cases. The ones which would have to face 2 kinds of stigma – for giving birth before marriage and for getting HIV. I always get this type of cases. But thank goodness, in Azimah’s case, I don’t have to worry about finding her a shelter home. Azimah, who stays with her mother, brother and sis-in-law, at least stays with her family who accept her and her baby. Yes, there is a particular sis-in-law who kept insisting that Azimah should be staying at a shelter home with her baby, but that sis-in-law stays elsewhere. So lantak pi dia lah apa dia nak kata!
Azimah at first looked rather calm and didn’t talk much. I was thinking maybe since she had family support, she was emotionally okay. Apparently, in the beginning, she was still unsure whether to trust me or not. Or maybe she thought, by way of my dressing, I may be lecturing her about dosa pahala and all. Only towards the end of the session when I was about to send her back to the doctor’s room, she started to talk, and from time to time wiping the tears in her eyes. Ah, I finally did manage to break the ice! Obviously she does need a buddy, and so I told her I’d call her later and maybe we could arrange to meet up so we could talk in a more private environment. There wasn’t much privacy in the room given to us – the hospital doesn’t have enough rooms to spare. Azimah welcomed my suggestion.
After sending Azimah’s file back to SN, I got back to the counseling room to see if I could help out with the other 2 cases. The second case seemed to be handled quite well and since it was a Chinese-speaking group, I let my colleague continue. The 3rd case, handled by a male colleague, was that of a pregnant lady. But the lady’s husband was also there and so my colleague didn’t feel too awkward. He however, passed the case to me the moment he saw me walking back into the room. The lady, Halimah, is 6 months pregnant. Her present marriage is her second marriage. Her present husband was tested negative and so Halimah had probably been infected by her first husband who died 10 years ago. She did mention that she knew her late husband had been sleeping around with other women but she never knew if he was infected.
Well, if her husband died 10 years ago, that would mean Halimah herself had been infected at least 10 years ago as well (maybe even earlier). But she never knew until lately. She remarried 6 years ago, and only got pregnant recently – that was when she found out she had HIV. Alhamdulillah, both Halimah and husband seemed to be taking this quite well and although they did accept our services, it will need only minimum monitoring, unlike Azimah’s case which will need to be followed more closely.
There was only one more case referred to us after that – of an ex-IVDU. He just came out from Pusat Serenti some time late last year and only started taking his ARV less than a month ago. His parents are supportive enough to accompany him to Ipoh (he’s from another town) and based on his CD4 count, I believe he had been compliant in taking his ARV. From a CD4 of only 14 when first diagnosed, his latest blood test showed a CD4 of 112. I hope with his family’s support, he will be able to lead a more positive life in future.
There being no more cases after that, I told my colleague they could go off first. I still needed to wait as Sharifah had promised to meet up with me today. I checked with SN but it seemed Sharifah had not even registered yet. I tried calling her, I couldn’t get through. Since Sharifah did mention she’d be staying at Kak Ana’s shelter home to be with Cek Mek, I figured she’d probably come to Ipoh GH with Kak Ana. So I tried calling Kak Ana, and immediately upon answering the phone, Kak Ana said, “On the way! On the way!” Apparently they purposely came late to avoid waiting too long to see the doctor; but this time their late was a wee bit too late. Kak Ana couldn’t get a parking space when they got to the hospital, so she waited in the car while Sharifah went up alone to the HIV clinic. It was already 12.40 by the time Sharifah registered at the counter. So she got nagged by the nurse at the counter for coming late. Then I went over, and Sharifah got nagged by me for coming late. Then SN came to see us, and Sharifah got nagged by SN for coming late. Then Sharifah went in to see the doctor, and she got nagged by the doctor. Hahaha! Oh don’t worry, Sharifah is not the overly sensitive type. She actually laughed when I nagged to her in my usual joking manner. She promised me next time she’ll make it a point not to come too late.
After clinic, we went down to where Kak Ana was waiting and told her that next time, they shouldn’t come any later than 12 noon. No point nagging only to Sharifah when Kak Ana’s the one who’d be driving her to the hospital. Kak Ana just giggled.
We then went off for lunch and had a long chat. We talked about Sharifah, about Cek Mek, about Anita and about Anita’s son. Ooh… got problem, especially with Anita’s attitude of late. Long story… so I’d save that story for my next posting…