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Friday, November 22, 2013

Stop Stigmatization (Story)

A True life Story.

Stop Stigmatization.

Tired from work one afternoon i needed new hands to do little chores while i played my own role of super small Doctor everyday,  Jenny (not real name) knocked on my door, she was referred to me by a friend on account of boils in her private region and some associated fever. These symptoms were not new to me so after a general and specific examination we were able to rule out a few things and Diagnosis and treatment were taken care of.

Exactly two weeks later, my friend had informed me that she could also work for me if i still needed the extra hands. Of course i needed the extra hands who would turn down luxury if they could afford it right? Work started almost immediately, as we agreed on a time balance that would not affect her former schedule, she works smart and extra tidy too.

However, i was in my pediatrics posting and believe me most doctors dont exactly find this posting funny especially in general hospitals and teaching hospitals need i say more. I had been on call from the first day of that posting and every other day for about six weeks and was almost operating on ghost mode when i got home and found Jenny on my beloved couch sleeping and snoring hard, she had left the door ajar.

"Jenny wake up, are you ok? you left the door open and this place is  still the way i left it, have you been sleeping since?

"Madam, sorry i just feel tired".

Walking into my room, just wasn't strong enough for a little bashing i just needed my bed.

The next day she was late to work and slept through the day's work, then i knew i had to pay more attention to this lady, could she be pregnant?

Day three, i get off work for lunch which was my only window to stop by the hospital pharmacy for some pregnancy test strips to surprise Jenny.

"Jenny please come to my room with a glass of water for yourself" she smiled sluggishly she did not see the blueprint of this joke coming.

"Ma, i don drink the water" handing her a 40cl disposable cup, i ask her to fill it up with urine when she felt the urge. Two bright red lines popped out almost immediately after the dip "oh my" i thought to myself "what do we have here". "Jenny, we shall have a conversation when i get back from work today ok?"

Back at work i wasn't sure what my next move should be, pregnant? just when i was adjusting to her chai. I cant fire a lady just because she's pregnant, i am a woman too i thought what if i got pregnant working in this hospital? Ok i was done imagining the worst case scenarios but i skipped one most important one.

Talking was not my thing at this point in my life maybe because i had to talk to an average of 65-90 patients per day, it kinda limits your interpersonal relationship with people so our conversation was brief, she was keeping her baby so i agreed to take care of her hospital bills till she delivers at least and we were ok till all her blood work results came out the next week.

As much as i would like to whine and complain about the work load in Asokoro District Hospital, they were thorough with all tests and examinations no matter how many patients we saw daily which was the actual work though!

Feeling particularly uneasy finding Jenny by the staircase crying her heart out "what could be wrong again God abeg"  "Jenny Kilode? why are you crying outside did somebody die? did the scan say you are carrying twins? " i tried to humour her, stretching out my hands she held unto it and walked in with me. Kneeling down and crying some more in the living room she whispered "they say i have HIV madam, this baby will have HIV? ahhhh madam i am sorry".

Silence ......... "Jenny please get up from the floor, sit down please its ok" i could not muster any other thing for a minute as i hugged her trembling body. At this point all i could say loud in my heart was "God what do i do next"? She relaxed! "You will be fine Jenny ill register you tomorrow at the Clinic so you can start treatment as soon as your counseling is over next month ok? please you have got to put yourself together if you want your baby to come out healthy, You are alive, that means you can fight this and ill support you in any way i can ok?"

The next couple of days were not quite easy as i was nursing my extra hands, i liked her and her style of working was unique so i decided she could keep the job only if she would attend the clinic which she agreed to. Two am? my phone ringing? but im not on call? who the hell had to wake me up na? "Jenny?" "Madam i have been bleeding all night, my guy brought me juice after i told him what the doctor said and after the juice i sleep and when i wake i start to bleed plenty blood".

I had to sit up for this call jeez "where are you? can you move? text me your address right away i will send a cab to pick you up" "ok ma" At about 4am my phone rings and its Jenny so i wake up my next door colleague to assist in an emergency evacuation so she didn't bleed to death also informing him of her status we knew we had to be delicate, we were also going to be needing blood so we grouped and cross-matched for a pint of blood.

Furthermore, we had to place her on observation afterwards, at this point my colleague asked "who is this patient to you? she must be lucky she has you on speed dial jeez she lost so much blood" I wasn't sure how to answer so i came clean " she just started working for me a month ago, i just couldn't fire her cos her blood got messed up with a virus though " his response made me smile "wow one month? this is what we preach but im not sure i can be this person" "i cannot stigmatise though, just imagine if you had a needle prick and i tell you we cant share the same theatre?" he smiled and we moved on.

She worked with me for one year till i moved out of Abuja. Lovely lady.

Jenny (not real name) is 37 this year and is still alive and healthy, on her anti-RVs, she still works in abuja with a great group of people. I saw her earlier today and she insists i share her story today.

Her identity has been protected for personal reasons.

Please get tested today ......

Stop Stigmatization!!!!

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