AIDS was… an illness in stages, a very long flight of steps that led assuredly to death, but whose every step represented a unique apprenticeship. It was a disease that gave death time to live and its victims time to die, time to discover time, and in the end to discover life.~ Hervé Guibert
Admitted to hospital
Continued from… A visit to the doctor
At the admissions counter of the hospital, the staff directed them to the sixth floor, ward nine. Isaac had a private room, as the admitting doctor deemed Isaac to ill for a general ward. Isaac needed to rest. A drip hung on a drip stand, and clear fluid ran into Isaac’s arm. When they entered the room, Isaac appeared to be sleeping. They didn’t want to disturb him, so quietly left the room again and went to find the nurse in charge.
“I understand he comes from South Africa and he’s here on vacation?” the nurse asked.
“What a shame he got sick. He’s a very polite young man,” the nurse remarked.
“I don’t know if he told you, but if not, then I should. Isaac is HIV positive,” Annie mentioned.
“That’s the first thing he said when I wanted to put the needle in his arm. It’s remarkable someone as ill as him even thinks about mentioning it,” the nurse smiled.
“I have his medicine here,” Annie said, and passed the bag to the nurse. Her mom had reminded her back home to bring Isaac’s medicine. The nurse took the bag from her and looked inside.
“I will consult with the doctor whether we’ll give him this medicine, because…” the nurse said, but Annie interrupted her.
“He has to have the meds. He needs it. He…” but this time the nurse interrupted Annie.
“Don’t worry. We will take good care of him. That, I promise you,” she said and rested her hand on Annie’s shoulder. “Do you want to see him now?”
With this, she walked them back towards his room. Isaac was awake and laying on his side, holding his belly, and pain written all over his face. The nurse rushed towards him.
“Are you in pain?” she asked. Isaac could only nod. The nurse disappeared from the room, and returned to give Isaac an injection to ease the pain. She explained the drip was only glucose, to help Isaac build his strength back up after not eating well in the past two days. She told them the injection would help for both the pain and the fever, and them with Isaac.
The injection relaxed him, and he soon drifted off into a restless sleep. Annie and Grace sat on the chairs next to the bed, watching him.
Annie was happy to see her husband and children when they walked into the room as visiting hours started. Her mother, who had left during the afternoon to go back to her work, returned to the hospital too. Isaac was awake, but not very talkative. One thing that bothered him, though.
“I don’t understand why the nurse didn’t put on gloves this afternoon. I told her I’m HIV positive and she just waved that away. She took blood from me and she didn’t wear gloves. How could she? That’s so stupid. I told her twice I’m HIV positive. All she said is she would be careful. So stupid,” Isaac said as he shook his head.
He went silent again, exhausted by his rant.
Isaac was still in grave pain, although the injection had helped to soothe some of it. However, he still had a fever.
Annie’s children were quiet. This situation was new to them. They had never seen someone as ill as Isaac was right then. Annie explained to them about the glucose in the drip, and the injections Isaac was getting, and assured them he would be better again soon. She wished she could be as sure of it as she tried to sound for her children.
“The nurses said I’m allowed to sit with him every day,” Annie told her mother and husband. “I can be here outside visiting hours too. One of the nurses has seen the Dream a Wish Show on Saturday and she recognized us. She told the main nurse, who thought it very unfortunate for everyone that Isaac got ill on his holiday. They all understand we want to spend us much time together as possible. So I can sit with him for as long as I want every day.”
“That is very kind of them,” Annie’s mother said.
“It sure is,” Jacques agreed, rubbing his hand over his forehead.
“I think I will come here every day just after lunch, and then go home with one of you when you come to visit in the evenings. Is that okay with you, Jacques?” she directed the question at her husband, who nodded in agreement.
They all left quietly before visiting hours were over, since Isaac had fallen asleep again.
After another night of restless sleep, Annie wasn’t in the mood to do her normal chores around the house. She only did the dishes and tidied up the lounge. With a cup of coffee in her hand, she sat on the couch, staring out in front of her and waiting for the time to pass so she could go to the hospital. Even though the staff said she could sit with Isaac whenever she wanted, she didn’t want to be in their way. She suspected the doctors would do their rounds in the mornings, which was yet another reason she only wanted to go to Isaac in the afternoons.
Annie jumped when the phone rang. A hand of fear gripped her heart. What if it was someone calling from the hospital? What if Isaac…? She forced the dooming thoughts to the back of her mind and picked up the phone.
“Annie speaking,” she said, fear evident in her voice.
“Good morning Annie,” a cheery voice said. Annie instantly realized this couldn’t be a call about Isaac.
“Sandra here. I’m calling you with regard to the job interview you had with us about two weeks ago.”
It took a couple of seconds for Annie to comprehend fully who was on the other side of the line. With all that happened with Isaac in the last week, she had totally forgotten about the job interview that she had.
“Hi, oh, hello Sandra,” she replied.
“Annie, I’m calling to tell you we’ve made our final selection out of all the applicants. We would like to offer you the job,” Sandra said.
Annie was quiet again. This was the last thing she expected.
“When should I start?” she asked.
“I would appreciate if you can start as quickly as possible,” Sandra answered.
Thoughts raced through Annie’s mind. She didn’t know what to say. She wanted this job. However, with Isaac in hospital, she actually didn’t want to work at all. She wanted to be able to go to the hospital every day. Then suddenly it dawned on her – the job was only for the mornings anyway.
“Annie, are you still there?” Sandra asked.
“Yes, yes I am. Sorry, I am a bit overwhelmed,” she excused her silence.
“Do you still want this job?”
“Oh, yes, of course. I sure do. I just have some difficult personal circumstances now. That’s why I was so quiet. When should I start?”
“As quickly as possible,” Sandra said again.
“Is it okay if I start on Monday, next week?” Annie suggested.
“I would be delighted if you do.”
Annie sat with a smile on her face when the conversation ended. Actually, things were going to be just okay. Working in the mornings, she would have something to keep her busy and in the afternoons, she could go to the hospital to be with Isaac until evening visiting hours.
She glanced at her watch. It was time to take a shower and go to the hospital.
To be continued… Anger and fear
Note: This series is a rework of a self-published book (2009), rewritten for this blog, and in loving memory of a dear friend who suffered from and passed because of AIDS. Keep in mind this story happens in the late eighties and throughout the nineties. Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy.
© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay