My clinic duties at Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun are usually on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month, but since I will be away next Wednesday, which is the 2nd Wednesday of July, I switched duties with my colleagues. I covered their duty for yesterday, while they will cover my duty next week.
So yes, I was at the hospital again yesterday. As usual, the first thing I did was to go to the doctor’s room to inform the nurses that I was already there and to check if there were any new cases to be referred. The moment I walked in, a lady came in through the other door. She was one of our clients who joined us for the Family Day on Sunday. One of the nurses then asked her, “You ada pergi ke Family Day hari tu?” Before she could say anything, I was the one who answered, “Ada!” She then looked at me and asked, “Itu hali you ada pigi ka?” She didn’t recognise me although on Sunday she was properly introduced to me by her buddy. Probably because on Sunday I was very casual (I was in my trackbottom and long-sleeve t-shirt and was also wearing a cap over my tudung) while at the clinic yesterday I was back to my “mak aji” mode… :)
Anyway, I was told there were supposed to be 4 new cases yesterday. So I just went to wait at the support service room. It wasn’t long before the nurse came in to refer the first case. The moment the patient walked in, I recognised her straight away. She may be a new case at the HIV clinic, but she had been our client for many years already. You see, Pushpa, was infected since birth and her parents died when she was still a toddler. She then stayed with her maternal grandma while her sister went to stay with her paternal family. We lost contact with Pushpa when she ran away from her maternal family to seek a better life with her paternal family in KL, and so when I saw her yesterday, I was quite surprised. Apparently things didn’t really go well between her and her sister, and so, after some “drama” which I shall not mention here, she’s now back with her maternal family.
Prior to this, Pushpa had been going for her appointments at the paediatric clinic, but she’s 16 this year, and so the paed referred her to the adult clinic beginning yesterday. Wow! How time flies. She’s a beautiful young lady now.
For the second case referred to me yesterday, SN herself brought the lady to the room to see me and to brief me first about the case. A rather problematic one, which was why SN briefed me herself before leaving the lady with me.
Mas, a 40 year old lady, got infected through her first husband, an ex-IVDU. She knew her husband was HIV+, but never went for testing herself. After the husband died in a road accident, Mas remarried. Nope, no pre-marital mandatory testing because she and her husband got married across the border. She was his 2nd wife. It was only during her 3rd pregnancy with the 2nd husband that she was found to be HIV+. The 3rd child was born prematurely, and didn’t make it. The 2nd child was found to be HIV+, and died young too.
After she was found to be positive, her 2nd husband went for testing, and was found to be negative. After thinking things over, they decided to settle for a divorce. He does after all, have another wife, and they didn’t want to risk spreading the virus to that wife if they continued to be together. They agreed that Mas should take care of their eldest child, the only one left after the younger 2 died.
So, does that mean now Mas only has to take care of one child? Oh no… she was married before, remember? She still has 6 other living children from her first marriage… aged 17, 16, 14, 13, 11 & 10. Wow! The 13 and 11 year olds are being taken care by their paternal grandparents, while the other 4 are staying with Mas. Plus the 8 year old from her 2nd marriage, Mas now has to take care of 5 schooling children. And she’s not working. She used to get Welfare Aid of RM450 per month, but that was from another state where she had been staying before, but now that she has moved to Perak, her file needs to be transferred here, and it may take some time before she starts getting the assistance again. For the moment she’s staying with her mother, who supports them with her pension.
Mas does intend to find herself a job when she gets better (she never went for treatment after she found out she was HIV+, it was only recently she had to be warded for TB and so her case was finally referred to the HIV clinic), but for the moment we may need to help out especially with her children’s educational needs. Mas however was quite concerned when I asked if we could visit her at home to assess her situation. You see, she stays with her mother and her younger sister, and they both do not know that Mas is HIV+. I told her not to worry as we don’t talk about HIV during our assessment visits. We only find out more about their financial situation and the children’s educational needs.
I probably will have to arrange a visit soon, and hopefully I can bring along a trainee volunteer, but whatever it is, that will have to wait until I come back from KK…
Yep, will be taking a few days break to attempt getting to the highest peak in South East Asia…