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
Isaac’s condition improves
Continued from… A catheter and a shave
On Monday morning, Annie started her new job.
After their visit to Isaac the evening before, she had been tense. She had never liked new things. It always upset her and she always had a bad night’s sleep before any big event. Starting a new job was such a big event. However, as always, she needn’t have worried.
Her first morning at her new job was a peaceful one. Sandra explained Annie would be her personal assistant, and made a list of her tasks. During the morning, Sandra also asked about Annie’s difficult personal circumstances. Annie appreciated the sympathy of her new manager, even though she immediately understood another reason for Sandra’s inquiry was because she wanted to know to what extent the circumstances would influence the quality of Annie’s work.
On her way back home, Annie remembered she had to call Margaret at the Dream a Wish Show. Up to now, she hadn’t had the opportunity to inform them Isaac was in hospital. Since Isaac was scheduled to leave the country to return to South Africa at the end of the week, Annie had to inform them about Isaac’s condition.
The moment she walked into the house, she made the call.
“Hi Margaret, this is Annie. I hope you remember me. I have been on the Dream a Wish Show two weeks ago with I…”
“Hi Annie, of course I remember you and Isaac. How could I forget such special people?” the friendly voice on the other side of the line said.
“Unfortunately, I have unpleasant news. Margaret, Isaac has been admitted to the hospital last week. We thought he would be discharged after a couple of days, but the doctors still can’t tell when he will be strong enough to travel. His ticket shows he has to leave at the end of the week, but he’s not going to make it. Is there something you can do to help?” Annie asked.
“Oh Annie! It’s terrible for both of you that Isaac ended up in hospital. How ill is he?”
Annie filled Margaret in about Isaac’s trip in the ambulance, the CAT scan he had, the deep catheter he still had, the constant fever and his weakness. She also told Margaret Isaac wasn’t improving as well as the doctors expected he should.
“Annie, I’m going to make a couple of inquiries over here, and I’ll call you back later. Can I reach you at home?”
“I will be at home for about an hour and then I am leaving to go to the hospital,” Annie explained.
“Then I will call you before you leave. I promise.”
Annie had planned to do some ironing before she went to the hospital, but after her conversation with Margaret, she sat motionless on the couch. She thought about their visit with Isaac the evening before. Not only her mom, her kids, and her husband visited Isaac, but Myra and Joe were there too. Annie wasn’t comfortable with so many people in the room. Isaac seemed more tired than ever during the visit. Myra had always loved to run the show and she had done exactly that the evening before. She had been just too active. In the beginning, Isaac laughed at her jokes, but halfway through the visiting hours, he could only bring up a slight smile. Annie had wished that she had the guts to tell Myra to quiet down, but she just couldn’t.
Annie jumped when the phone rang.
“Annie,” she said when she picked up the receiver.
“Hi Annie, it’s Margaret.”
Only fifteen minutes had passed since Annie had spoken to Margaret.
“Everything is taken care of,” Margaret continued, “I have cancelled Isaac’s returned trip and we now have an open ticket for him. That means when he is better and he is allowed to travel, we can book his return flight.”
“Oh Margaret, that’s wonderful. Please tell me what the cost of all of this is, and then we can arrange to have money transferred?” Annie asked.
“Annie, since the circumstances are totally out of your control, the costs will be borne by the Dream a Wish Show,” Margaret answered.
Annie profusely thanked Margaret for their kindness.
“In which hospital is Isaac?” Margaret changed the subject.
Annie gave the address of the hospital and gave Margaret the visiting hours. Shortly after, they both hung up.
When Annie entered Isaac’s room on the afternoon of her second day at her new job, the big bouquet of flowers was the first thing she saw. Isaac was awake. For the first time since he had been admitted to the hospital, he had a healthy complexion. He sat up against the pillows and had a magazine on his lap. It was clear that he was at last feeling better.
“Hello my dear friend! Do you have a secret admirer that I do not know about?” Annie greeted him.
“The flowers are from the Dream a Wish Show, from Margaret and the staff there.”
“How sweet! Those people really are amazing,” Annie said.
“Annie, I’ve never known people to be so kind to me. Not ever since I became ill, did people do so much for me as you, your family and the people of the Dream a Wish Show. I mean, I’m a total stranger to everyone except you and your mom, and everyone treats me so well. I just don’t deserve it,” Isaac said.
“Don’t be silly, you! Of course, you deserve it. It’s because you are you. That’s why people are so kind to you. It just comes naturally to be kind to you,” Annie smiled.
“Oh, hush you!” Isaac said shyly.
About an hour later, a male nurse entered the room. He walked over to Isaac and asked him to turn on his side. When Isaac did as he was told, the male nurse gave Isaac an injection. Most hospital patients received this injection, to prevent a thrombosis. Annie noticed Isaac fixed his eyes on the face of the male nurse.
“He’s a hunk,” Isaac sighed when the male nurse had left the room, “he may inject me whenever he wants to.” It took a couple of moments for Annie to understand the ambiguity in Isaac’s words. She laughed and Isaac seemed relieved to see she didn’t mind the nature of his comment.
“He indeed is easy on the eyes,” she agreed.
“Easy? He’s just gorgeous,” Isaac sighed and then he changed the subject.
“So how do you like your new job?”
“Oh I still have a lot to learn, but my new colleagues are really nice. It’s actually quite relaxing to work there, even though there’s a lot to do,” Annie said.
“What do you have to do?”
“At this moment I am still getting to know the files and customers. The best way to learn it is by doing the filing. They were backlogged for a couple of weeks, so I have more than enough to do. By the time I am done with the backlog, I sure will know who all the clients are,” Annie laughed. “By the way, you seem to be feeling better?”
“I do,” Isaac admitted, “for the first time since I got ill in Madurodam, I am starting to feel human again.”
“I’m so glad to hear that. I have really been worried about you. I still am,” Annie admitted.
“No need to be. Ill weeds grow apace, you know!” Isaac laughed, but in his eyes, Annie could see he too was concerned.
To be continued… Not out of the woods yet
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