I was on clinic duty again today – so took a break from shopping.
When I went to the doctor’s room to find out from the nurse if there were any new cases to be referred, I was told there was one, but the patient had yet to come.
So, as usual, I just had to wait. And as usual too, I overheard (no, there was no need to eavesdrop) some of the conversations between the pharmacists sharing the room with us, and the patients. Not that I could understand everything though… some of the conversations were in Chinese.
After a while, a lady in tudung came in and so one of the Malay pharmacists spoke to her. I couldn’t quite hear what they were talking about because they were sitting at the far corner of the room but I did see the pharmacist at one point turning to me and asking the lady if she had seen any of the Buddies before.
Apparently this wasn’t a new case, but her first few appointments never coincide with any of our clinic duties so she was never referred to us. But this time, for the first time, the pharmacist was the one who suggested that the lady talked to me.
And so after the ARV counselling, the pharmacist then gave the file to me and whispered, “Dia kata suami dia selalu pukul dia.”
Ahhh… no wonder this time the pharmacist herself wanted to refer the case to me. Usually they’d just let the nurse refer whichever cases suitable. Probably the nurse didn’t refer this one because this is an old case and the lady never told her about being beaten up by the husband.
The lady, Shidah, then sat beside me and while taking a look at her file, I asked a bit about her background. She’s actually from a neighbouring country up north. Married a Malaysian Malay about 3 years ago. She was married before back in her country and was blessed with a child, now 7. Her husband died, and she then remarried… this time a Malaysian, moved to Malaysia, leaving her child under the care of her mother back home. Shidah calls her child from time to time but had not seen her for the past 3 years.
Shidah’s present husband had been tested twice for HIV, and both tests resulted negative. So it wasn’t him that Shidah got infected from, it must have been her first husband. When I asked Shidah if her present husband had any problem accepting the fact that she’s HIV+, she said there was no such problem.
It was when I asked if she had any other problems that she started telling me about her husband hitting her occasionally. When asked why he hit her, “Bila dia marah, dia pukul. Kakak mau tengok gambar?” She then showed me photos taken on her handphone. Her arms were all blue black! I asked if her husband became like that after she was diagnosed HIV+… “Dia memang sudah lama macam itu… cepat marah. Bila marah, pukul. Bila marah, pukul.”
She had spoken to her mother-in-law about it, but even her mother-in-law couldn’t do anything about her own son. She just told Shidah to lodge a police report and go back to her home country for her own sake.
So why hasn’t Shidah run away from home or lodge a police report?
A few reasons she gave:
1. She doesn’t have access to her passport. It is held by her husband, and locked.
2. Every time immediately after her husband beat her, he’d lock her up in the house, to ensure that she wouldn’t be able to run away and lodge a report.
3. She doesn’t have much money in her hands. Where is she to go if she runs away from home?
Understandably, Shidah actually doesn’t really know how to go about. She’s afraid of the implications of her actions. As much as she is afraid that at any time her husband may hit her again, she’s even more afraid of the uncertainties if she leaves the house.
Shidah said her husband would beat her almost every month. Hmmm… I wonder what his problem is. Not PMS for sure. He must be a very bad-tempered person, because according to Shidah, quite frequently some stray cats around her house would be beaten to death by her husband. In fact, as far as she can remember, close to 30 cats must have died in his hands.
Whoa… this guy must be a sicko! I advised Shidah not to wait too long before taking any action. It may be too late by then!
After consulting a friend from Perak Women for Women (PWW), an NGO which deals with quite a lot of these cases, I advised Shidah to seriously consider lodging a police report and leaving the house before things get even worse. I gave her the numbers she can call if at any time she needs their help. I told her not to worry about money or transport to go back to her home country. As advised by my friend in PWW, I also told her to make sure she keeps important documents and some clothes handy, just in case she needs to get out of the house quickly. She may not have access to her passport, but she does have access to her marriage cert and some other documents. It will be harder if she runs out sehelai sepinggang and then later needing to go back to get her things.
Thank goodness she has her own handphone. At least I don’t have to go through her husband to be able to speak to her.
As for the new case that was supposed to be referred to me today… by 12 noon I checked with the nurse and was told that the guy didn’t turn up. According to the nurse she’s not even sure if the person is still alive as the last blood test showed that this guy’s CD4 is 0…