When I went to visit Ijam at the hospital last week, the nurses seemed to be treating both Ijam and Fuzi well. When one of Fuzi’s neighbors came to visit a nephew at the same ward and bumped into Fuzi, Fuzi slowly whispered to the nurse begging her not to tell the neighbor of Ijam’s HIV. Fuzi no longer cares that the whole neighborhood knows of her HIV, but she couldn’t bear the thought of Ijam’s HIV status being known to all and sundry. The nurse assured her that they would never give such info to others. So the neighbor was only told that Ijam was warded because of dengue.
However, when Ijam was transfered to the end room, a single room, I did suspect that they used the room as an isolation room due to Ijam’s HIV. Oh well, in a way it was a blessing… I had more privacy to chat with Fuzi when I visited.
Ijam was discharged on Sunday, and so I went to fetch them at the hospital to send them home. It was then that I learnt from Fuzi that other than the isolation room, Ijam was indeed treated differently than the other kids at the pediatric ward.
A few things mentioned by Fuzi caught my attention.
1. While the other kids were served their food in trays, Ijam on the other hand was given “nasi bungkus”. In other words, no need to wash the trays he would have been using if his food was served just like the rest.
2. When changing the bed sheets of the pediatric patients in the ward, bare hands were used EXCEPT for Ijam’s bed. Before coming in to Ijam’s room, they made sure they put on gloves just to change the bed sheet.
3. The nurses advised Fuzi that all the utensils used by Ijam at home be separated from the ones used by his siblings!
Fuzi ended up more confused than ever before! When she and Ijam were initially diagnosed HIV+, the doctors told her not to worry about sharing utensils at home. Now, after she had been mixing all the utensils at home for more than 4 years after diagnosed, they tell her a different story?
“Macam mana ni kak? Betul ke saya kena asingkan pinggan, cawan, semua? Selama ni saya tak pernah asingkan pun! Cakap siapa saya nak ikut ni?!”
“Ikut je cakap doktor!”
Thank goodness the doctors had explained to her earlier about the do’s and don’ts. Otherwise, Fuzi would probably panic and send all her children for testing again in case they got infected due to sharing of household utensils! Imagine how Ijam would feel if everything his has to be kept separately, when all his siblings share things at home.
If something is medical-related, people would generally believe the nurses more than they would believe someone like me! Imagine the wrong perceptions they are giving to the public!
And I have been giving talks to the public when the hospital staff themselves need to be given more awareness on HIV!