During my visit to the home of a newly referred pregnant client last month, I talked more about the importance of ARV adherence, what to expect in the next few months until delivery etc. The client, Wan, had not started her ARV medication yet back then, but was supposed to start soon. It was important to remind her about adherence before she started her medication.
I didn't call her after that visit, wanting to give her some time. But last week she called, sounding rather panicky. Apparently her husband (who had earlier been tested HIV negative) had breathing difficulty, and when they went to the nearby Klinik Kesihatan, the doctor immediately referred them to Ipoh GH. So Wan called me from the emergency department, while waiting for tests (x-ray, blood tests etc) to be done on her husband. When the doctors found out that the wife was HIV+, there was always the possibility of him being infected as well and also the probability that he had TB.
Wan started thinking that as a result of all that, soon her mother and other family members may find out that she was HIV+. I told her to just take a deep breath and relax. Even if indeed her husband was infected, the doctors/nurses don't simply tell each and every family member of the diagnosis.
The very next day, I texted Wan to find out if her husband had to be warded. The moment Wan replied, saying that her husband wasn't hospitalised, I knew it wasn't too serious. Apparently her husband has a history of asthma, and every 4 to 6 months, he'd usually have a rather major asthma attack. But he never really went for proper check-ups and follow-ups, just buying inhalers from pharmacies to be used when needed. This time, the doctor told him to follow up at the nearby Klinik Kesihatan.
On Monday, Wan sent me another text message, this time seeking help, wanting to learn more about the religion. "Saya nak lebih dekat dengan agama", so she said. I decided it was time for me to pay her a second visit. She was already opening up, it would be the perfect time for me to show her my support. Besides, I needed to assess what level of religious knowledge she wanted to learn.
So yesterday, after making sure that she'd be home, I went over to visit her. She did mention she had to go to the clinic at 8 am, but she should be back by 10. I purposely went a wee bit later than 10.30, just to be sure she'd be home. But when I arrived and gave the salam, nobody answered. I called her number, no answer. Initially I thought she wasn't back from the clinic, but after a while I saw moving shadows under the door. I decided to give the salam again, this time mentioning Wan's name. This time she answered my salam, and immediately opened the door. She didn't look too well.
"Maaf kak, sakit perut la pulak."
"Dah pergi klinik dah?"
"Belum. Nurse dah call saya tadi tanya kenapa saya tak datang, tapi memang saya tak larat nak pergi. Dia suruh datang pukul 2 pulak."
Ever since she got pregnant, Wan has no appetite during the day. Even if she eats, she'd vomit. So she'd usually only have dinner. And her dinner of mee kari her husband brought home the night before, must have been the reason for her diarrhea.
I was quite concerned that she wasn't eating during the day. After all, she is pregnant and so she needed some nutrition not only for herself but for the baby as well. But she did mention that she does drink milk for pregnant mothers, which doesn't doesn't make her purge, and so at least, she is taking some nutrition during the day. I do hope the lack of appetite is only during the early stages of her pregnancy.
Wan has also started on her ARV medication. Initially she did vomit after taking the pills, but not anymore. She did say she still gets dizzy, but that's normal. After all, it was hardly a week since she started her ARV.
Back to her intention of learning more about Islam, I asked what she wanted to learn. She wanted to start back from basics. She has started praying 5 times daily, but she wanted to be closer to God and wanted to learn more. I asked if there were any religious classes in her neighborhood, particularly at the nearby surau, but she said she hasn't been to the surau and so she doesn't know. She hasn't really mixed with around with her neighbours ever since she moved in last month.
I told her to get her husband to go to the surau and ask. Nobody knows she has HIV, so she shouldn't be too ashamed to mix around. I did however promise to get her some books for her reference. But she will have to wait until my next visit...