I was on clinic duty again today. This time in Ipoh. And this time alhamdulillah I managed to get a parking space without having to go 3 or 4 rounds around the hospital.
After notifying the nurse that I was already there, and was told that there was supposed to be one new case, I headed straight to the counselling room. The room is shared between 3 different groups – us Buddies as support group, the pharmacists giving counselling to HIV patients and pharmacists giving counselling to patients with heart/hypertension/diabetic problems. I’m not quite sure what kind of work was being done on the rooftop, but there were sounds of drilling and knocking right above our heads. The pharmacists had to speak louder to the patients and so the room today was rather noisy.
Well, I ended up not seeing any new PLHIVs today. The supposedly new case wasn’t really a new case but one that was just transferred to Ipoh from elsewhere.
But I did meet 3 of my old clients today as they were there for their appointments. The good thing about sharing a room with the pharmacists giving counselling is that all the PLHIVs would have to go to the counselling room to see the pharmacists, and so I’d know if any of my clients were there.
The first familiar face I saw was Nuri’s. Somehow she looked even skinnier than the last time I saw her. I took the opportunity to have a chat with her while she was waiting for her turn to talk to the pharmacists.
Nuri had always been the quiet type and never wanting to join our activities. I had wanted her to get to know the other PLHIVs but she never seemed interested. So after helping to arrange for some financial help for her initially, our contacts after that were more of phone calls once in a while… and if I so happen to be on duty on her appointment day, then maybe we’d bump into each other.
Nuri has a child who’s HIV positive. Nuri herself knew about her HIV after her husband died and so no, precautions were not taken when she was carrying her youngest child. So now, both of them need to come for Ipoh for their appointments – Nuri at the ID clinic and daughter Farah at the paed’s clinic. It has been a long while since I last saw Farah. She was just a small girl then… so I was rather shocked today when Nuri told me that Farah will be in form one next year! My, how time flies!
Nuri makes a living by opening a food stall outside a school near her place. Business is okay during school days, but no school means no business. So during the school holidays, there’s no business. For the moment, since SPM is still going on, she still opens her stall, but once SPM ends, there’ll be no business for her until school reopens. I asked her if she can afford to buy her children’s stuff using her savings first. “Entahlah kak,” came the answer. Well, if she can’t, then I’d need to bring them shopping. We agreed that maybe we should meet at a nearby town, and then I’d take them shopping before sending them home.
The next familiar face that I saw today? Anyone remembers Yah… the lady who had “starred” in many of my blog postings before this, particularly in 2007/2008? Yep, it was her. For those who may have just started reading this blog recently, when I first met Yah, her husband was still alive. She found out about her HIV infection when she was pregnant. Her late husband, Azman, had some mental problems as well and so it wasn’t easy for Yah. But I must say she was quite a tough lady – strong and determined. Then after Azman died, Yah had problems with her in-laws who behaved like out-laws, trying to take control not only of her late husband’s house (and whatever properties inside the house) but also her children! Yah ended up having to “run away” from the house at her husband’s kampong, back to the home of her own parents up north of Perak.
Yah then started to change after she met Mr Darling (for the history of how the nickname Mr Darling came about, please click here). After spending a night at the home of Mr D’s mother, Yah somehow turned “angau” and fell head over heels over Mr D. As a matter of fact, it came to a point where she somewhat started “stalking” Mr D (although I must say, serves him right!). Well, you’ve got to read back all the old postings (esp 2007 postings) to find out whatever happened but suffice to say, Mr D (who is the ex-husband of another client of mine, Lin) is now married to somebody else and as far as I know, they are no longer in touch with each other (otherwise you’d probably be reading another “drama swasta” posting from me… about Mr D’s wife having a wrestling match with Yah!). For a number of years even her 2 older daughters stayed at an orphanage, at their own request.
Well, today when I met Yah, she was wearing her tudung (otherwise before this sometimes she’d wear the tudung, sometimes tudung melayang… and during one Family Day, she hurriedly took out a scarf from her bag, wore it, and mentioned to another PLHIV sitting beside her, “Takut nanti K.Afizah marah!” Ada ka patut? Takut kat orang pulak whereas I never said anything to her about her dressing or anything personal…
Yah now has a permanent job at a factory and all her children are staying with her, including the 2 who had earlier requested to stay at an orphanage. To me it’s a good indication – the fact that they themselves wanted to stay with her now may probably mean that Yah has changed. Kak Long, the eldest girl, sat for her UPSR recently and managed to get 2A’s, 2B’s and 1C. Not bad, especially the fact that the subjects which she scored A’s were Maths and Science! Kak Ngah, and Abang Chik, although both are in standard 4 this year, are in different classes. Angah in a normal class while Abang Chik has to join a class for special children. (btw, they aren’t twins but born in the same year, one in March while the other in December.) Abang Chik, who had earlier joined the normal classes (for he looked nromal), finally was sent to the special class for special children. He was somewhat rather hyper and wouldn’t listen to anyone at all, giving problems to his teachers. I’m not sure what exactly Abang Chik is suffering from, but Yah just said that “Abang Chik kena masuk kelas OKU.” I suspect ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).
Well, Angah had always been doing well in school, got second in her recent exams, while Abang Chik, who was always at the bottom of his class previously, managed to get second in his special class. Yah’s youngest, Aini, who was just a baby when I used to visit them, will already be 5 next year! Yah’s late mother used to tell Aini to call me “mama” everytime I went to visit… simply because I regularly became the “milk supplier” for her. (aiyo, not my own milk la… ini kes lembu punya susu, si Pi dapat nama…) Well, I bet Aini doesn’t remember me at all now, for she was hardly 2 years old the last time I saw her.
Whatever it is, since all her children are back with her, I will arrange for CEF for her children’s back-to-school expenses. No doubt Yah is already working now, but she just started work recently, and she doesn’t earn much either. I may not agree with some of the things that Yah did, but her children must not be deprived of basic education at least.
Right after Yah left the room, another lady came straight towards me and smiled. As I responded to her salam, I guess it looked obvious to her that I was trying to recall who she was. “Sayalah kak, *Ani!” (*bukan nama sebenar, of course) Ah, of course, Ani! It had been a long while since I last met her. In fact I had lost touch with her after my calls didn’t get through and after she defaulted her hospital appointments. After that I found out she had moved to her home state to stay with her mother (she was earlier staying at her husband’s kampong in Perak). Ani and her husband moved to her own mother’s kampong after her mother somehow suspected that her daughter may have been infected with HIV, and asked her directly to be honest with her. But Ani’s mother is very understanding, she did a lot of reading herself (she’s 65) to find out more about HIV/AIDS.
So why did she suspect that Ani was infected? You see, Ani’s present husband is her second husband. Her first husband died, and based on his background (IVDU) and the circumstances in which he died, Ani’s mother somehow suspected that he could have been HIV positive. Well, Ani herself only knew about her HIV status after she remarried, when she got pregnant. Now even her present husband is infected, but he is understanding enough and doesn’t blame her for it. But he told Ani not to tell his mother about it as his side of the family is not the open-minded type. Now that they stay with her mother who knows about their HIV status, at least Ani doesn’t feel so stressful anymore. That’s a load of burden off her shoulders.
But Ani & husband still comes to Ipoh for their appointments as the hospitals nearer to their place don’t have ID specialists. So now when the time comes for their appointment, they’d take the opportunity to balik kampong to her husband’s side of the family.
Well, those were the 3 ladies I met today. The ladies whom I had blogged about during my earlier blogging days. It was good to have met them again. They may not be doing too well financially, but at least they are a lot better than when their cases were initially referred to me. At least I can see that they are now heading towards the right direction, especially Yah whom I had almost given up on once…