Tuesday, 26th October 2010 -
It’s the 4th Tuesday of the month. Which means it’s time for the Taiping Hospital HIV clinic. Last month I wasn’t able to make it for the Taiping clinic, so I asked 2 other volunteers to go. This time, despite my rather busy schedule for the week (in view of this coming Sunday’s Men Against Violence campaign launch by the Perak Menteri Besar), I made it a point to go. Initially I was supposed to go with another volunteer, but only yesterday he told me wasn’t able to make it as he was attending a course (and he knew since last week he was attending a course this week but never bothered to tell me earlier he wouldn’t be joining the HIV clinic… sigh!)
Anyway, this time I didn’t even bother looking for a parking space within the hospital compounds. Just one look from outside I knew chances were I would be wasting my time. So I just looked for one of the metered parking lots right outside the hospital. I had, after all, come prepared with enough coins to feed the meters!
The regular nurse at the Taiping HIV clinic was on maternity leave and so another nurse had to take over her place temporarily. Before going over to the makeshift counseling room (there were no other rooms available, so we had to make use of the surau), I went over to the doctor’s room first, to ask the nurse if there were any new cases, and to send over whichever cases they wanted to refer to us without having to wait for them to see the doctor first. You see, we’re still quite new at Taiping Hospital, and so the nurse wasn’t quite sure of how best to go about, unlike in Ipoh GH where we had been working together with the HIV clinic staff for many years already.
Well, the nurse said there were no new cases, but they’d refer to me any follow-up cases which may need help. So I just went to the surau, brought out my netbook from my “mobile office” bag, and did some work while waiting for cases to be referred.
Finally somebody knocked on the door – a lady who was holding a Buddies brochure asked if she could come in to find out more about what we Buddies could offer. The doctor had given the brochure to her and told her to see me and discuss if I could help her out.
Jay, a lady in her early 40’s, is a working single mother. With a take-home pay of roughly RM1.5K, it had always been difficult for her to apply for financial aid. There are so many others out there who are worse off than her, but Jay actually needs help with her children’s educational needs. She has to pay for her house, she has to pay for her car. You see, with her 3 schooling kids, she used to send them all to school on her motorbike. Imagine all 4 of them on the motorbike at the same time. So she figured, having a small car would be better to send all 3 children together. The car and house takes up more than half her basic pay.
So she doesn’t qualify for hard-core poor to get financial help from whatever agencies, although she finds it difficult to cope with her monthly needs. Well, I told her we can consider covering her children’s uniforms, shoes etc using our CEF; since the children from poorer families are covered under our sponsorship programme.
Jay'’s case was the only case referred to me. Since there weren’t any more cases, by 12.30pm I made a move. First for lunch, then it was back to the highway for me.
While I was driving at the highway, a call came in. It was from Razif. Razif had called me a few weeks back to seek advise about his wife’s pregnancy. You see, the couple (both positive) got worried when after doing a home pregnancy test, they found out that the wife was pregnant. They are amongst the many people who think that an HIV positive mother is sure to give birth to an HIV positive child. I did tell them about the many cases of babies born to HIV+ mothers who have been confirmed negative.
But the last I checked with Razif to ask if he had arranged for an earlier appointment for his wife at the HIV clinic, he said they had both agreed to go for abortion.
So I was quite surprised when this time he called to say that they went for proper check-up and found out that the wife was already 3 months pregnant. Apparently they did try abortion, but it didn’t seem to work (am not sure what abortion method they used). I told Razif that it’s probably God’s way of telling them to keep the baby. I again explained to him that if necessary precautions are taken, the baby can be spared from the virus. Probably the first time I explained to him he wasn’t really listening as his mind was set on thinking that the baby is sure to be infected.
It was then that I found out there was something else they were worried about. Razif asked me if the doctors/nurses at the maternity ward would know about his wife’s HIV status. I told him of course they have to know. Then Razif told me that his sister works there as a nurse; and so far nobody in his or his wife’s family know about their HIV status. As such, if the wife gives birth, Razif’s sister will eventually find out about their HIV and maybe, after that the rest of the family will find out as well.
Well, there’s nothing much I can do on that issue. Razif will have to sort that out himself. Maybe he’d need to talk with his sister and seek her cooperation not to break the news to anybody else in the family.
Today, Wednesday, I’m on clinic duty again. This time at Ipoh GH. Hmmm… I wonder if there’d be many cases referred today…