Unable to visit Sofie at the hospital yesterday due to a long list of things to do, I called her around noon to find out what was wrong with her.
“Doctor cakap badan saya tak cukup garam dan terlebih oksigen.”
I told her I’d be visiting today and asked her if anybody was home since I wanted to send this month’s supply of groceries as well. I felt relieved when I was told that her older sister (not the one Sofie used to stay with, this is another sister staying in another state) was home looking after the needs of Sofie’s kids. They (the sister & her husband) were there over the weekend, but looking at Sofie’s fragile condition, decided to stay on for another week. They were the ones who arranged to send Sofie to the hospital. If it was up to Sofie herself, she’d rather suffer at home than being warded at the hospital.
This morning Sofie sent me a text message, saying that she may be discharged in the afternoon. I did tell her that if she was willing to wait until after 2.30 pm, I may be able to fetch her at the hospital. But at that time she herself wasn’t really sure what time exactly she’d be discharged, as she was still on drip, so I figured I’d just give her a call before I make a move from Ipoh.
Around 12.30 pm, Sofie called to say she had already been discharged and had already called her sister to fetch her at the hospital. She preferred taking the bus rather than wait another 2 hours or so for me to come and fetch her. I figured for whatever reasons, she couldn’t stand it anymore at the hospital.
Before going home from lunch this afternoon, I went over to the minimarket near my office to get this month’s supply of groceries for Sofie’s family.
I headed straight to Sofie’s house right after my zuhr prayer, and got there about 2.40 pm. I was pleasantly surprised to see Ika there. I thought her school session was in the afternoon and so she wouldn’t be home if I visit during weekdays afternoons. Apparently her school changed from afternoon to morning session after the recent CNY holidays. So today other than Saiful, Ika too helped to carry down the groceries from my car. Sofie’s bro-in-law too came out to help carry the things. I have already met Sofie’s sister & bro-in-law twice before this, so they are quite familiar with me already.
Anyway, Sofie had already asked to be discharged from the hospital yesterday, but the doctor wouldn’t allow her. This morning she asked again, giving the excuse that there was nobody at home to take care of her children. Well yes, Sofie’s sister was home, but all Sofie wanted was an excuse to go home. The truth was, she couldn’t stand it any longer at the hospital.
You see, most of the nurses at the hospital knew Sofie’s family. It had been quite some time since Sofie was last warded at that hospital (ever since she was diagnosed HIV+, she has been going to Ipoh GH for her appointments), and so this time, they asked her all sorts of questions. They asked about her husband, whom they had always known as a playboy. They asked about her HIV. Sofie couldn’t take it any longer, so she repeatedly asked to be discharged. The doctor finally agreed this morning although her BP was still rather low.
Worse, when Sofie’s bro-in-law went out to buy roti canai this morning, the roti canai seller asked him straight in the face, “*Sofie tu sah HIV positif ya?” And guess who told him? None other than Sofie’s other sister who stays nearby – the one whom Sofie had been staying with earlier. With Sofie hospitalised, that sister has even more stories to tell the neighborhood.
Sofie has had it with that particular sister. She intends to quietly move to a nearby town in one or two months time – without telling THAT sister. Last time she told me she may move at the end of the year. But now she intends to move as soon as possible and start afresh at a new place. In fact, she also intends to change to a new phone number. She has already identified a house, with the same rental rate as the present house. She will also need to arrange for her children’s change of school. Sofie’s sister and bro-in-law (the ones who came from another state to visit) had promised to help her out when she moves.
Sofie promised me that whatever and whenever she decides, she’d inform me first. I told her that if the timing is right, I don’t mind helping her move.
Poor Sofie. It’s tough when you’re staying in a small town where everybody knows you have HIV. Worse, when people start whispering every time you pass by. And with her own sister as the main source of news, all Sofie wants now is not only to get away from her neighbors – main thing is to get away from her sister!