When I brought Adila, the 13 year old HIV+ girl to the hospital last Monday, the person accompanying her was her 18 year old sister instead of her mother, although the mother was home when I went to fetch them.
When I got to the hospital, I was told by the nurses that the mother, Hamimah, simply refused to get treatment for herself, insisting that she was doing fine as it is. According to the staff nurse, no matter what they told her, Hamimah always came up with an answer. After that Hamimah wouldn’t even bring Adila to the hospital, I suppose to avoid getting more “lectures” from the nurses about getting treatment.
Luckily Adila’s older sisters (married and staying elsewhere) took over the responsibility of making sure Adila doesn’t miss her hospital appointments.
When I sent Adila and her sister home that day, Hamimah still didn’t seem too receptive. So I avoided going in to see her. I didn’t want to seem too pushy. I figured I needed to give her time and space, otherwise she’d avoid me altogether.
Then on Tuesday, I received a text message from Hamimah, telling me that Adila had another hospital appointment that day, this time with a different specialist. Hmmm… who did they think I was? A taxi driver providing them free service? If they had problems getting transport to bring the girl to the hospital, they could have at least informed me the day before instead of telling me on the day itself, just like calling a taxi. This time I told Hamimah I already had some other appointments and wasn’t able to help.
I then used a different approach, I asked whether Hamimah could bring her daughter to the hospital for future appointments if I could arrange for assistance with the taxi fares. It was only then that she admitted to me she couldn’t afford to pay for taxi fares and that she’d appreciate any help she could get.
To arrange for financial assistance, I needed more details. Great opportunity for me to visit them at home and personally speak to Hamimah face to face.
And so this morning, after giving a talk on HIV to a group of foreign workers at a factory here in Ipoh, I headed over to Hamimah’s house. Hamimah this time was a bit more receptive, knowing that I was there to help them, not to pester her to get treatment.
After getting all the details I needed about her 2 schooling children (Adila and her 11 year old sister), I had a heart to heart talk with Hamimah. She then opened up to me about her problems, including health problems, which, to her, had nothing to do with HIV. I managed to coax her to get treatment for her HIV, telling her that unless and until she gets treatment for HIV, it will be difficult for her to get better from her other health problems, mostly skin-related issues.
Hamimah then promised me that she’d accompany Adila to the hospital during her next appointment, see the doctor and try to get an appointment for herself as well.
I hope she will stick to her word and won’t change her mind.