I was on clinic duty again today. Since I ran out of Buddies brochures I stopped by our center to get a few and chucked them into my bag. And thank goodness, getting a parking space today wasn’t too bad.
As usual, once I got to the specialist clinic, first thing I did was to go to the doctor’s room to inform the nurse I was there, and to find out if there were any new cases to be referred. The doctors had not come down from their rounds yet but SN told me there were a few new cases today.
So I went straight to the counselling room. It wasn’t long before the nurse came in with a new case… a 68 year old man who went for a holiday in Cambodia last year, had too much of a drink, and ended up having sex with strangers. Well, his CD4 isn’t too bad, so I guess he won’t be on HAART yet. I had to rephrase my questions a few times… although the guy could speak Malay, I guess he’d be able to understand better if I gave him a Chinese volunteer.
When I went to return his file to the nurse, I was told there was another case to be referred, and although the lady was already at the hospital, she was on a stretcher as she’s bedridden. But at that point of time, she was still outside with the other patients waiting for their numbers to see the various specialists. It wasn’t practical to get the lady to the counselling room, not when she’s on the stretcher… and it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to go out to talk to her when so many other patients would be able to listen to our conversation, so the nurses agreed that I wait for the lady to be wheeled in to see the doctor and I could talk to the lady there.
While waiting, I called Aina. Remember Aina? The lady whose house I (and 2 other volunteers) went to visit earlier this year, and whose husband passed away end of last month? The last time I called, Aina was still at her late husband’s kampong, where he was buried. I had asked Aina to send me a copy of Ali’s death cert. Today when I called, Aina was already back at her own kampong. But when I asked if she was still staying at the same house, she said she had moved to her mother’s house within the same kampong because an uncle of hers wanted to stay at the old house. You see, the house is still under the name of her late grandmother, which means quite a few family members had rights to the house. All the while Aina stayed there out of courtesy as she didn’t have a home, but apparently immediately after her husband died, her uncle wanted to stay in the house. Not wanting to make too much of a fuss, Aina and her 2 kids moved out to stay with her mother. Anyway, I told Aina to inform me if her children needed any help especially pertaining to their schooling.
Just as I got off the phone with Aina, SN came in to inform me that the bedridden lady had already been wheeled in to see the doctor. I immediately got up heading to the doctor’s room. Well, they didn’t even wheel her into the room as the room was rather small, so the doctors themselves had to get up to see her right outside the room… at the corridor meant only for hospital staff.
The lady, Hamidah, couldn’t even talk much. Every time she opened her mouth, she felt pain. Other than HIV, she had TB and mouth ulcers. Even when she talked we couldn’t understand much of what she was saying. So our conversations were more with the 2 nurses who accompanied her from the district hospital where she had been warded for the past month.
Hamidah married thrice. Her first husband died, leaving her & 4 children. Hamidah remarried and had 3 children with her 2nd husband. The 2nd husband died of AIDS related illnesses (he was an IVDU). Hamidah then married a third time. Then one time she had to be admitted to the hospital, and they decided to do a full blood test on her. That was when she was diagnosed HIV positive. Her husband was then called to get his blood tested as well, and he too was confirmed positive. The only problem was, immediately after he was diagnosed +ve, he disappeared. He never followed up at the hospital to get treated.
Actually Hamidah herself never went for follow up appointments for her HIV as she still felt okay then. She only went back to the hospital lately when she got weaker and weaker. Now, with a CD4 of only about 60, and her body weight getting below 30kg, Hamidah was too weak to even sit down. She lost a lot of weight because she couldn’t eat. Not that she didn’t have the appetite to eat, but every time the nurses tried to feed her, the moment the food got into her mouth, she shouted due to the pain. So she couldn’t really consume much, hence, the lost of weight.
According to the nurses, of late her children had not been visiting her at the hospital either. Her 2 younger children are teenagers, still schooling, and ever since Hamidah was hospitalised, they had to take care of themselves at home. Her older children, all married and working, stays elsewhere. One son does stay in the same town, but he too seldom visits. Only when he visits, then he’d bring the 2 younger ones to visit as well. Otherwise, she’d have no visitors at the hospital. The nurses at the district hospital did call one of her daughters to inform her that they’d bring Hamidah to Ipoh GH today for further check-up, and asked if she’d like to come along to accompany her mother. But she just said no.
Based on what the doctor said, chances are Hamidah would have to stay at the hospital for some time, as they’d need to monitor her medication. Nobody would be taking care of her at home if she’s discharged. She’d be totally helpless.
Frankly, other than to follow up on her case, I don’t really know how to help Hamidah.