When I got home after my clinic duty last week, Maria called me up. I did meet her earlier at the hospital, but she had not seen the doctor yet then. So while we did have a short chat, there was nothing new she had to tell me.
By the time she was done with her appointment with the doctor, I had already gone home. So she called, saying that the doctor had given her a referral letter for an appointment at the psychiatric clinic. Maria got a bit nervous and told me she was afraid to go there alone. Well yes, she’s got a husband, but as far as possible, he avoids going to the hospital with her. The only times I ever met him were one during the initial stage when Maria was diagnosed +ve (he was called to get tested as well) and the other time was after Maria delivered.
I promised Maria I’d accompany her for her first appointment at the psychiatric clinic. That was supposed to be yesterday afternoon. On Monday I sent her a text message to confirm if I got the right date and time. Maria told me she’d have to reconfirm with me. Not that she got confused with the dates, but because she wasn’t sure if she would be able to come.
You see, Maria works as an assistant at a private kindergarten. Not wanting anyone to know she has HIV, every time she has to come to Ipoh for her appointments, she’d take annual leave without telling her boss that she needed to go to the hospital, to avoid questions being asked on why she needed to do so. Her appointment at the HIV clinic was last week. Which means she already took a day off last week. Having to go to the psychiatric clinic this week would mean she’d need to take another day off. She doesn’t want to tell her boss that she needs to go to a psychiatric clinic either!
“Gurubesar saya dah bisinglah kak, banyak sangat ambil cuti bulan ni.”
Yesterday morning, the day of the appointment, Maria sent me another text message to inform me that her leave was not approved. She then asked me if she should postpone or simply cancel her appointment. “Akak tengok saya macam mana? Perlu pergi ke?”
Woah! She was asking my opinion on her and if I think she really needs to see a psychiatrist? Alamak, I’d better be careful in answering her question. Both yes and no would have implications. Luckily she asked via SMS so I had time to think. And while I was thinking of what to tell her, another text message came in from her, asking if I knew the psychiatric clinic’s phone number. She wanted to call them to arrange for a postponement. Phew! Saved me from having to answer her question.
Anyway, some people may say Maria should discuss the matter with her boss so that the boss may understand her situation better and empathise. But we must also remember that another possibility is, if told that Maria has to go to the HIV clinic, and now psychiatric clinic, her boss may just tell her to quit the job! And the news about her being HIV positive and needing to see a psychiatrist too may just be made known to others as well. Maria didn’t want to take that risk.
So looks like Maria’s appointment has to be postponed. I hope she managed to get that postponement without much hassle. Poor thing… it’s such an awkward situation for her. She’s probably getting even more depressed trying to get that leave without telling anyone why she needs it.