Usually during any of our clinic duties, we’d get at the most 3 or 4 cases each time, with maybe only one or two problematic ones… sometimes none at all. So when I went for my clinic duty today, I had expected the same thing.
I had brought along with me a few of the “Positive Living” booklets. SN called me on Monday to ask if I had any of the Malay and Tamil version of the booklets as she had run out of those. I didn’t have any Tamil ones, but there were a few more of the Malay version at our centre, and so I brought those for SN.
The moment I got into the doctor’s room, SN immediately told me about the case of one guy whom we sent to a shelter home in Penang less than 2 months ago. The guy apparently ran away from the home and is now back in Ipoh, homeless. He felt the home was too strict with regulations. Likewise there was another guy whom I had sent to a shelter home in Selangor, who also decided to leave the place and is now back in Ipoh. I remember buying t-shirts and trackbottom for the guy as otherwise I would have to bring him in hospital clothes because he didn’t have any other clothes. This guy left the home because he wasn’t in good terms with another occupant of the home.
Aiyoh!! As the doctor said, they don’t want to stay in shelter homes, they want to stay in hotels where they don’t have to pay! Susah… susah… tolong susah, tak tolong pun susah…
Anyway, after about a 15 minute chat with SN (about the above cases, about Shila’s death, about another PLHIV who seemed interested to join Buddies etc), she told me there was a new case they wanted to refer to me. So off I went to the counselling room, getting ready to meet up with the new cases to be referred.
The first case referred was a guy in his 50’s, married to a young wife, and they have a 5 year old daughter. He works as a carpenter, not earning much, while his wife doesn’t work. While I did manage to get some info from him, when I started getting into more details, he couldn’t understand me. Luckily the pharmacist in the same room, upon hearing our conversation, helped me out to speak to the guy in Chinese. Knowing that his child may need help with schooling necessities when she goes to kindergarten next year, I told the guy I’d assign him one of our Chinese volunteers so it will easier for him to communicate with us.
Next up, one lady was brought in by the nurse. Her husband had just been diagnosed +ve this year, and recent tests confirmed that the lady, Shanti, too was positive. Today was her first appointment with the doctor. Shanti’s husband just started work recently as a lorry driver. They have a 6 year old daughter who is already in kindergarten and will start schooling next year. Another case needing assistance from our Children Education Fund (CEF). A buddy will need to be assigned.
Next case brought in was a prison case. The PLHIV came handcuffed to a policeman, with another policeman escorting as well. Not much for me to say except to explain to him particularly on the do’s and don’ts.
Then, the nurse came in and said to me, “Ni ada satu lagi pregnant case.” The lady brought in looked somewhat matured, so initially I thought it was a married case. Another lady came in with her – whom I thought to be the mother or older sister. Only when I looked at her file did I realise that it was another of those unwed pregnancy cases. The lady, 30, hails from another state and is only in Perak to be placed at the shelter home for problematic young women, temporarily. The home is full to the brim and so for unwed pregnancy cases, they’d only allow shelter until 2 weeks after delivery. Frankly, I didn’t expect a 30 year old to be placed there. Usually they take only problematic teenagers.
I didn’t assign any buddies for this case. She’s due to deliver in October and when I asked what her plans were when she has to leave the shelter, she looked at me with that amused look and said, “Balik rumahlah, ke mana lagi?” Duh! Silly me huh? She probably never heard of those cases where the unwed mothers had no “home” to go back to.
Next up, another lady, Aiza, who is in her late 20’s. She had just been diagnosed this year when her husband was hospitalised. Her husband died this year. Aiza stays in a kampong I’ve never heard of, and when I asked if she has a job, she told me she’s a rubber tapper. Wow… she must be the most rugged rubber tapper I’ve ever met! :-) Aiza has no children, so I don’t have to worry about children education, but she sounded interested in the activities that we organise, so I told her I’d be calling her from time to time.
Just when I thought there were no more cases for the day, the nurse said there was another new case. Well, not really a new case…. but a new case at the Ipoh ID clinic. You see, the guy had been in UK for the past 2 years and just came back recently. He had already started his ARV medication when he was in the UK. When the nurse asked the guy and his brother who came along with him if they could speak Malay, they both said, “Aiyo, ta boleh la…” “Sikit-sikit?” “Sikit-sikit boleh la…”
So yes, they came in and I had to speak to them in the most broken Malay I could attempt. Then I remembered, hey, this guy just came back from the UK, so I tried speaking to him in English. Gosh, his English was even worse than his Malay. How on earth did he survive in the UK?? I did manage to get them to understand that I’d be assigning one of our Chinese volunteers as his buddy. The guy said, “Chinese man hokeh. I donno how to speak Malayu.” (And in my head I was thinking…. Engrish oso you cannot speak lor…)
That was it – the 6 new cases I met today. A record for me. 4 of them assigned buddies. I did get to see 2 of my old clients… Maria and Lin, but since I was busy with the new cases, I didn’t get to chat much with them, although I did manage to inform them about Shila’s death. They both knew and had met Shila before.
When I got home, Maria called me up asking if I was still at the hospital. When I told her I was already at home, she asked if I could help her out next week.
“Kak, doktor refer saya ke clinic psychiatric pulak minggu depan. Saya tak berani la pergi sorang-sorang.”
Oh dear, psychiatric? Has she been having depression? I know she was very depressed initially when she was first diagnosed +ve 5 years ago, but I thought she had gotten over it. Wonder what’s going on now…
I promised to accompany her on her appointment day. Good chance for me to have a long chat with her and to find out what’s going on in her life…