Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My HIV Story .......................... 2

Thursday, 30th May 2013.
I woke up feeling better today. And with all the excitement fading away, I had started to 

feel the pain from yesterday's injection.
 After a hurried breakfast, I found my way to the hospital for my second injection. 
Dr E had left instructions with the receptionist that I had to see him before leaving.
What again? I wondered? Could it be about the test? No oh. Please I've crossed that bridge,
 I reassured myself.
'The other side ' I yelled at the nurse who was just about to puncture my right butt.

She promptly did as she was told. Seeing as I had shouted at her, I had to form like the injection wasn't painful. 
Holding my head high, I walked to the reception.
It was already full. Apparently it was maternity day. 
I found an empty spot next to a pregnant woman who had a feisty little boy on her lap.
Again I began to wonder what else Dr. E had to say that he couldn't have just said on phone. 
Thankfully, the little boy's noise kept interrupting my wayward thoughts.
At some point Dr E stepped out of the office. I quickly greeted him so he could see me waiting.
 He responded with a rather grim face........ or was it just my imagination ?
I decided to pass the time by playing music on my phone.
 After what seemed like eternity, Dr E asked me in.

'I want you to go to Yaba tomorrow for a test. It's at the Nigerian Institute for Medical 
Research.It usually doesn't take time and you will get your result before you leave. 
Please get there early so you can be attended to early enough. Then you should bring the result here when you come 
for your injection tomorrow.'
'Alright Sir' I replied.

He scribbled something on a paper, signed and stamped it. He then went on to fold and staple the paper and then addressed it.
Which one is this one again ? I wondered as I left his office . 

On the way home, I actually attempted to open it but the pin just kept ruining my nails. 
Whatever, I said aloud, frustrated and gave up trying to open it.
Afterall even if I see it, it won't make any difference. I'll still go for the test.

Friday, 31st May 2013
I woke up with the test on my mind. By 8.15 a.m I was at the Institute of Medical Research gate. 
The security man gave me directions based on the envelope in my hand.
Walking into what seemed to double as a passage and reception, I asked the woman at the desk for further directions. 
She ripped open the paper Dr E had given me and looked intently at it.
'It is Esh-hi-fee ' she bellowed and pointed me in the direction of the lab. My heart did a quick backflip. And another. And three more.

HIV ? I dragged my foot in the direction of the laboratory. Why ? Did Dr E lie to me ? Why carry out two HIV tests within two days ? Was there a mix up ? Was my joy premature ?
There were about 8 people waiting for the test when I got there. With shaky hands, I wrote my name on the list I found and we all waited.
 It was now about 8.30am. None of the staff in that department had resumed.
People there started talking about HIV. They all just wouldn't shut up. By now I had a headache and so using earphones wouldnt gave been a good idea. 
A lady was talking about how its not the end of the world. She mentioned she knew many couples living with the virus and living normally.

At this point I got up and walked away. I so wasn't interested in this gist. I came back about ten minutes later. The list had reached twenty one. 
Still no one had resumed. I began to pace restlessly.
Finally a woman arrived and without apology, picked up the list. 
She introduced herself as 'Mrs R'. Her job was to counsel us in groups of 10 before our test, and to refer for treatment anyone who turned out positive.
As number 9, I made it with the first batch. She went on to give us many details as well as the demonstration with a plastic penis and vagina. 
 When she was done, she explained we would all fill forms which we would hand over to the lab woman.

However the forms would be filled by her. She then called everyone in one at a time to fill the form. Waiting for my turn was a harrowing experience but I had no choice.
Eventually I went in and made to sit on the chair right in front of her. She asked me to sit at the one close to the wall.
'Huh ?'
'Sit on that chair' she repeated firmly. I wondered to myself if that was the procedure or she would just rather yell across the room.
 I opened my mouth to speak but the look on her face shut it right back. I obeyed instantly.
She asked a series of questions from the questionnaire(which was supposed to calculate how risk prone a person is)
Finally she asked when last I was tested.
'Tuesday' I replied.
She hissed. Long. And hard.
'Then why are you here ? ' , she asked, obviously irritated.
I thought about it too. Really, what am I doing here ?
'I don't know ma', I replied weakly.
Choii what is this ? Dr E should have at least given me heads up naa.
'What did your doctor tell you after the first test ?'
'Negative' I responded

'Mschewww. I don't just understand what the problem is with all these private doctors. 
See theyhave done it and its positive and they don't know how to tell you. This is what they
always do. Then they will remember NIMER and push people here. 
He told you its negative yet he'ssending you here.. Mschewww.'

I was speechless. Don't even ask about my heartbeat. She stretched the form/questionnaire 
towards me. I got up to collect it but my shaky legs did not allow. I fell back in the chair.
'Next person' she yelled, looking at me with disdain. I stepped out of the room weak and drowsy.
I found a chair quickly so I wouldn't fall down. 
This woman just passed a death sentence on me so callously. What's the point of even 
carrying out any test again ?

By now it was time for the test, again starting from Number 1.
 The lab woman came out and apologised to us all, explaining that she was going to look for the person with the keys to the cupboard which had the test kits.
What ?????????????????????????????????
Lord Jesus I started to pray, but could not find more words. Again the lady started another creepy HIV story. My heart was beating fast , fast, fast. 
This time, I had no idea how to pass time. I was so uncomfortable.
Eventually the woman returned with the keys and testing started. It went pretty quickly.
Again we had to wait for results . Argh ! 
I was angry. At myself. At the world. At civil servants. At Dr E. Especially at Dr. E.
 I searched my phone desperately for his number. No luck.
Arrrggghhhhh. I was sweating. God !!!
Results were ready. Again they started from the beginning. I sat on the edge of my chair . 
Number 5 was a woman with two little boys and she had somehow disappeared as the
younger one wanted to "wee-wee". 
 They all agreed to wait for her.
'Please let Number 6 go in' I yelled. Everybody turned to look at me. 
I had screamed louder than I intended. 
Also we had been there more than three hours and I seemed to be the only one who didn't complain about civil servants resuming late or tell any stories.
Finally it was my turn.
"Congrats, you're negative,' lab woman said to me.
'Are you sure ?'
'Of course' she responded with a smile. She showed me the paper and went on to explain something I didn't even listen to. She handed me my result and I left.

At this time, Mrs R had started with the next batch. I wondered how many other people she
 had ever scared. I wondered whether as an experienced HIV counselor,
she hadn't been told how to handle sensitive issues. 
There would be people who would just walk out dejected and not even bother with the test again.

I left the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research thinking, I gotta write this story. Oh and if 
ever you go there, please feel free to shoot Mrs R for me. She is evil !!!!!

Friday, June 7, 2013

My HIV Story ............... 1

Dear friends, this is the the story of how i got diagnosed with HIV ............. and my world came crashing down

Monday, 27th May, 2013
It had been a really busy day and I was grateful it was all over. My weekend had been very short and stressful. 'Bridesmaiding'  for my friend, Tee on Saturday had drained all the life out of me. Sunday didn't bring rest either. I had reluctantly woken up this morning and dragged myself to work and had a crazy day too. By the time I left the office, I had a splitting headache. With the traffic even crazier, I just leaned back in the bus and silently prayed to make it home in one piece.
Finally after about two hours, I had reached my bus stop. With no 'keke' in sight, I made the painful decision to walk home. Even if one came, there was no way under heaven I could push through the two hundred or so people already standing there. Hungry and totally fagged out, I slowly made my way home. Thirty minutes later, after trying unsuccessfully to eat, I swallowed two tablets of Panadol and hit the sack.

Tuesday, 28th May 2013
It was 6.30 am. I already dressed up and had my bath. It had been a very turbulent night and in all, I couldn't confidently say I had slept for up to two hours. I planned to go and see Dr E, and have him run every possible test on me. I felt like my head would just fall off my neck.
I called my boss and informed him and he graciously allowed me to take the day off. That being sorted out, I headed for the hospital.
At Dr E's office, he took my blood sample and filled a form asking that all kinds of checks be done. He also brought out some small device onto which he dropped my blood, to check the sugar level. Just as I was about to jump up and get started, he asked me :

‘When last did you test for HIV?’
Ehn ? HIV ke ? How is it doing this man ? Abeg abeg abeg ooooo. Ah ! Abeg Sir.
Dr E remained silent and stone-faced. Apparently he wasn’t going to hand me my form without an answer. So to lie or to tell the truth ? Ermmmmmmmm ......I decided to lie. Let him give me the form and let me gerrout jor. I just tested last month, I meant to say.
'Never' I blurted out.
Choiii. What is my problem ehn ?
Ignoring my horrid facial expression, Dr E went on to give me a lecture, Still angry at myself for running my mouth, I did not listen. But then I got the gist - I would be tested for HIV. I snatched my form and took it to the lab. A while later, I was given drugs and told I would be placed on injections for three days starting tomorrow Wednesday. I took my drugs and left without saying goodbye to Dr E.
At home, unable to sleep, I picked my phone and started to chat with 'le boo' about my experience.
 'Dont worry, you'll be fine', he reassured me. 'When last did you get tested ?'
Ah !, you too ? Please don't add to my troubles abeg. I changed the subject sharply, knowing where the convo was headed. 

Wednesday, 29th May 2013.
Democracy day. So, thankfully, no work. I went early to the hospital 'to get started early on my injections'.
(Yimu). I said it without looking into the Nurse's eyes. Even I didn't believe myself. Who looks forward to injections ? Even when you know you are ill. Anyways the injection took less than a minute. Painful oh but I had other things in mind.
While I sat down at the reception waiting for my turn to see Dr E, millions of thoughts swirled around in my head. 
What if I am positive ? What would I do ? Who would I tell first ? Dr E would probably call my parents. And my mom would scream and everyone else in the house at the time would know. But that would be it. I would never tell 'Le boo'. Never !. Heheeheee. Can you blame me ?
Dr E's voice jolted me back to reality. I dragged my foot into his office and wore the saddest facial expression ever.
'How are you feeling ?' he asked me
'Better' ,I muttered. 
'Already ? That's good !'
Please get to the point sir, I thought nervously as I sat down quickly in front of him. He then, as if deliberately, went on to extend my torture by explaining how I had a combination of malaria and typhoid but my blood levels and ............................. 
At this point I didn't hear nothing again. Eventually, he showed me my file :
'There is your HIV status ...... Negative. Congratulations'
I smiled. A wide one. I jumped up and thanked him, then whistled 'The storm is over' as I stepped out. I didn't even remember to ask the next person in. I stepped out into the early morning sun, now singing instead of whistling.
My brother picked me up. Ordinarily I would have complained about the loud music with my headache and all, but with the news I just received, a party isn't out of place na. 
I picked my phone again and whatsapped 'Le boo' and gave him the news. Then I leaned back in the car enjoying the Air Conditioning, thinking of how I would have the bottle of wine I had left in the freezer last week, to further celebrate this happy ending. Afterall, the storm was now over.

Or so I thought .......................