When Shila died about 10 days ago, my main concern then was to ensure her daughter, Laila, would continue to get our support, especially pertaining to her education. So, while I had not planned any visits last week, I did visit Laila on Saturday, not only to discuss about Laila’s needs, but also to hand over the donations I managed to collect from friends.
This week, it’s back to my normal routine of home and clinic visits. It’s the living ones that I have to help, not much I can do for the dead except to doa for them.
When I told Faridah’s sis-in-law last week that the shelter home in KL had agreed to take in Faridah under their care, she agreed to meet up with me during Faridah’s appointment at the hospital on Monday. So yesterday morning, I went over to the hospital, not for clinic duty, but specifically to meet up with Faridah and her SIL. And unlike usual, yesterday I was rather lucky when a car got out of a parking lot right beside the specialist clinic building as I was passing there, and yes, I got myself the nearest parking possible! Such luck – it doesn’t happen often!
It was about 9.30 am then, and Faridah’s SIL told me last week that they should be there around 10 am. But when I went up to the doctor’s room, the nurses told me that Faridah and her SIL had just left. And their appointment wasn’t supposed to be yesterday either… it was supposed to be this morning! The SIL wrongly looked at the date.
Since they had just left, chances were they were still at the hospital. I immediately called the SIL to ask where they were and true enough, they were still at the hospital. The SIL promised to come back up to the clinic to meet me.
Actually they (or more of the SIL, since Faridah herself simply follows whatever people tell her to do) had gone to the clinic this time to ask for a referral letter so that Faridah’s case could be transferred to KL. The intention was that once they got the letter they could immediately send Faridah over to KL. The problem was, they had not informed the clinic of their intention earlier, and so the clinic couldn’t issue the letter there and then. Even the doctor wasn’t in yet.
The nurses promised to call once the letter is done. And although I did tell the SIL to inform me once they decide when exactly they are sending Faridah, so I could alert the person in charge at the shelter home, the SIL thought she’d inform me on the day itself. Aiyo, susahlah like that… what if the people at the shelter home has other programmes on the day? This time when I asked, she said very likely they will send Faridah this week, as soon as they could get the referral letter. So I immediately called up the person in charge at the shelter home to inform her that Faridah would be coming some time this week, without specifying the exact day.
Today I continued with my house visits and delivery groceries. As usual, I’d get more donations during Ramadhan, and so I could buy more groceries and help out more families. I had bought the groceries last week and left them at our centre so this morning I didn’t have to go buy anything, I just went straight to the centre and loaded all the stuff into my car.
First destination was Fuzi’s house. Before I left the centre, I called her first to make sure she was in. She’s not really the type who often goes out anywhere, but I didn’t want to end up going to her house when she’s in Ipoh for her hospital appointment. Apparently she was in Ipoh yesterday for her appointment and so she’s home today. Perfect timing.
When I got to her house, her 3 boys were playing outside while her 2 girls were at school. The 2 boys’ school bus would usually come and fetch them around 11 am, while the youngest, Iwan, is only 5 years old. I got Hafiz and Ijam, 2 older boys to help carry the groceries from my car. Didn’t give anything to Iwan although he offered to help… all the stuff were too heavy for him to carry.
When I told Fuzi about Shila’s death, she was shocked. “Kan masa hari keluarga hari tu, dia elok saja kak? Dia meninggal kerna HIV ya kak?” she asked in her still strong Indonesian accent. I told her Shila’s death had nothing to do with HIV. She had heart problems. The next question Fuzi asked was whether Shila’s body was bathed by people from the hospital although Shila died at home. She thought since Shila had HIV, nobody else would dare bathe the body. Her jaw almost dropped when I told her I handled everything.
“Habis tu, kakak pakai segala tutup mulut, apron semua itu?” she asked again.
I told her there was nothing for me to be afraid of as HIV doesn’t get transmitted so easily, to which she responded, “Itulah yang saya hairan kak. Doktor bagitau saya tak mengapa kongsi makanan, pinggan gelas apa bagai, tapi waktu si Ijam masuk hospital seminggu kena denggi hari tu, sakit hati saya kak… semuanya diasingkan untuk Ijam. Makanan pun diberi makanan bungkus bukan dalam tray seperti orang lain. Sampai ada orang tanya saya kenapa begitu.”
Well yes, she’s got a point there. The stigma still exists amongst the hospital staff themselves and naturally other people would think the hospital people should know better than people like me…
Anyway, after leaving Fuzi’s house, I called up Aini. The last time I visited her was at the hospital when she was hospitalised right before our Family Day. And yes, she was home. Her hospital appointment will only be some time middle of this month. I prefer to visit her when her children are at school so we could freely talk about her HIV. None of her children or any other family members know about her HIV.
There was a child with Aini in the house when I got there – the boy Aini babysits. The only source of income for Aini other than the monthly welfare aid of RM300. But the boy knows nothing and Aini herself freely talked about her HIV, the problem with her early ARV etc. I guess it’s not easy having to keep everything to herself, when she got the chance to freely talk about it, she did!
Aini too, when told about Shila’s death, was quite surprised. But she knew that Shila had heart problems.
“Saya harap kalau saya mati nanti biarlah kat hospital. Mandi kapan semua kat hospital, tak kecoh sangat kat rumah.”
Both Fuzi and Aini had seen how kecoh it can be when people from the health dept comes to visit at home. And both of them hope when their time comes, they will die at the hospital, not at home; so that all the necessary arrangements can be done at the hospital without any hoo-hahs at home.
But hey, Shila died at home. No hoo-hah for her as nobody from the health department came. I think it would have been a different story if they did.