Today being the 4th Wednesday of the month, I was on clinic duty again. Ever since I started freelance work, I’ve been taking the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays for my duties in Ipoh GH.
The moment I got to the main gate of the hospital, I knew I was going to have an extra hard time looking for a parking space… there was traffic jam within the hospital compounds! And it so happened the car in front of me was driven by an Ah So who was driving sooooo slow, my speedometer hardly moved! I went straight to my usual parking space some few hundred (a few? A lot more I think) steps away from the specialist clinic. Even the usual parking space was full. I was just lucky that the moment I got there, one car got out so I gladly took over that space.
I passed by the Forensic Department when I walked over to the specialist clinic. There were quite a number of traffic police, cones were placed by the roadside so that people wouldn’t park their cars there. I also saw some cars with Thai registration numbers. Yep, this was due to the bus accident at the Cameron Highlands – Simpang Pulai road on Monday.
Anyway, first thing’s first – I went to the doctor’s room to notify the nurse that I was already there and to ask if there were any new cases. I was told there were supposed to be 2 new cases but neither one of them were there yet. I also asked if the nurse knew anything about when Ina, the pregnant orang asli lady is expected to deliver. The nurse didn’t know anything. She herself was waiting for info from the relevant sources.
I then went to the counselling/support service room and was surprised to see quite a large group of pharmacists there. Apparently other than the usual faces, they had student pharmacists there doing their training and so they were given some briefing by the head pharmacist there. There was still one chair available though (kerusi empuk, unlike the kerusi kayu at Taiping Hospital…:)) so I just sat there and while waiting for cases to be referred I decided to call Ina, the orang asli lady.
Well, no, not Ina herself… she doesn’t have a phone, but the last time I went to visit, her neighbour cum good friend was there and since the friend had a handphone, the friend gave me her phone number in case I needed to contact Ina. And so I called the friend who’s always the one accompanying Ina to the hospital for her appointments.
According to the friend, Ina’s next appointment in Ipoh will be next week, during which they will know when exactly Ina will need to be warded for her delivery. I was also told that Ina had already opened up a bank account to enable me to submit together with the PAF application form. The last time I told them to open up a BSN account, they went to open up an ASN account!
By 11.30 am, there were no referrals yet, but we had to leave the support service room as the room needed to be used for some sort of function there. I went back to the doctor’s room to see the nurse… and was told that one of the new patients was already there. Since I didn’t have any private room to talk to the patient, the nurse told me to use the room next door, another doctor was using that room for HIV cases as well, but there was just enough space for me to talk to the new patient.
The new case, a Chinese guy in his late 50’s came in with his wife. Wife has been tested negative, children all grown up and working and all of them knew of his HIV status. No problem at all. But when I asked if he’d like a buddy, the wife welcomed the idea. She said although basically the family has no problems about his HIV, he himself sometimes kept thinking that he was dying etc. She has been giving support to him, but yeah, as usual, she’d get the “you wouldn’t understand” reply. So the wife thought maybe he’d listen better to someone who’s not family. I told them I’d assign a Chinese guy around his age to be his buddy.
The other new case didn’t turn up. So I only got to see one new case today.
However I did see 3 familiar faces today…
First familiar face was Valli’s. She’s not my client but we’ve met a few times (during our sponsorship assessment visits and our annual Family Day outings). Her 2 boys are under our sponsorship programme. Valli had been on ARV drugs for some time already but today the doctor suggested she changed to a new combination of ARV drugs as she suspected Valli’s swelling arms may be due to her medication.
The next person was Hana. She is not on ARV yet but the doctor has started her off with vitamins. They are usually given the vitamins as the “practice run” to ensure they take their medication on time. With people like Hana especially, it is important to make sure she fully understands how she is supposed to take her medication before she starts taking the real ARV drugs. Hana can sometimes be so slow to understand instructions given to her. The first time the nurse told her she was HIV+, she told me the nurse said she wasn’t infected. In the end, I had to tell her straight in the face she was infected (no ayat berlapis!). Anyway, Hana’s children are also under our sponsorship programme and so I told her to give me whatever receipts for anything to do with her children’s schooling.
And finally, guess who else I met? I met Jah, the used-to-be live wire! Yep, I said used to be, because she used to be super cheerful and super talkative. Whenever I called to invite her to our Family Day, or to ask if she’d like to follow me on any of my house visits, she’d never say no. But ever since she remarried, it was a different story altogether. I couldn’t even get hold of her by phone.
Today when I met her, she was still cheerful and talkative, but simply not as cheerful and talkative as before. I asked her why I hadn’t been able to get hold of her by phone.
“Phone rosak, kak. Tak ganti-ganti lagi.”
“Rumah takde phone?”
“Takde kak. Lagipun rumah susah sikit kak. Mak mertua saya sekarang tak best macam mak mertua dulu.”
Ahh yes, I remembered when Jah would fondly talk about her first mother-in-law. She was so manja with that MIL, even after her first husband died. I asked if the new MIL knew of her HIV status. Jah said her MIL knew before their marriage.
“Habis tu, dia tak bising ke? I asked.
“Bising lah kak. Sekarang ni pun dia suka buat bising tapi saya pekakkan telinga ajelah.”
Frankly, when Jah first told me she’d remarry, my first concern was whether her boyfriend (then) and his family knew about her HIV. Jah did mention they knew about it, but the way she said it then, it was as though there was no problem at all about it. Or maybe at that time, all Jah saw was that “dunia indah belaka” without thinking of the repercussions.
Today was the first time I met Jah after her new marriage. I could sense she’s not as happy as before. And it seemed to me as though this marriage was more like Jah’s “lost of freedom” instead of the dunia indah she had envisioned.
Not much I could do. She has my number if she needs to call me. But of course, first she’d need to have access to a phone to be able to do that.