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
Reading Isaac’s words (3)
Continued from… Reading Isaac’s words (2)
April 25, 1998
A week or two ago, I spoke to a social worker about the way my military doctor had treated me the last time, when she prescribed the wrong medicine. I told the social worker it makes me feel the doctor isn’t taking me seriously as a patient. After our conversation, the social worker had a talk with the doctor.
On Tuesday April 21, I had an appointment with the doctor again. I was in her office for more than an hour and I was worn out after our conversation. We discussed everything. The doctor admitted she has treated me unfairly up to now. She saw me more as a colleague, instead of the patient I am. From now on, when I’m in her consulting room, I’m a patient. She had also suggested for me to see a psychiatrist. There’s a new one at the hospital and she was going to make inquiries to see if he’s the right person for me. The next day, she called me and said it was okay. She thought that the psychiatrist would do me good. However, before I make an appointment with the psychiatrist, I must round off the conversations with the psychologist.
In the meantime, Devon has moved out. He’s now temporarily living in the nurse’s home to be closer to his son, who is still in the hospital. I hope it won’t be temporary, as I don’t need stress in my life. He unknowingly causes me too much stress. As you can see, he is still not back with Amy. Apparently, he had said he wanted a divorce only to shock her, but it obviously didn’t work. She called his bluff and now they go their separate ways. It’s good Devon didn’t accept my proposal; it would have damaged our friendship.
Back to my military doctor. She said I should stop trying to be everyone’s saviour and start doing things for myself.
I also phoned the head of the laboratory at the military hospital, because I wanted to know about my blood count results. He looked it up in the computer and he told me my viral load was 650 thousand in November last year and it decreased to 120 thousand in January. Now in April it is only 20 thousand, which is very good. This means the tablets are working. My doctor also changed the time I take the tablets, because it affected me too much. Of the one tablet, Invirose, I had to take three tablets, three times a day. It has now changed to three tablets in the afternoon and six in the evening. The other one, Norivir – the one with alcohol in it – I still have to take six in the morning and six in the evening.
I had just recently discovered I’m allergic to mosquito bites. Last night I forgot to switch on the electric mosquito lamp. This morning my neck and face were full of lumps. I even have one on my eyelid. My eye is swollen and tender.
Oh, something else! Elaine – she is the nurse who runs the AIDS clinic at the hospital – told me if my doctor gives me a prescription for the Moducare I could claim it back from the tax authorities. Moducare is the ‘potato tablets’. I better start buying the tablets and keep the receipts. Elaine said she would get me a prescription.
May 2, 1998
I have worked only one day in the last week and I was at home for the rest of the week. Nothing serious – only a cold, a runny nose.
You remember I told you Devon had moved out? Well, it’s like there’s a load off my shoulders. He caused me unnecessary stress. I know it wasn’t his intention. I’m the only one to blame, but I am glad that he’s gone.
I had tea with my neighbor, Billy, an hour ago. His wife is a purser, and she flies around the world. She wasn’t home. I see Billy quite frequently.
May 4, 1998
I went to the hospital this morning before work, because I had to get a new supply of my tablets. The pharmacy told me they didn’t have my tablets in stock, not even the one I use frequently. I stormed back to the ward where my doctor was doing her rounds. She tried to calm me down and then gave me the name of another tablet. Unfortunately, she couldn’t help me with the one I normally use. I went back to the pharmacy, but they didn’t want to give me the substitute tablet. I went back to my doctor. By then I didn’t have a voice anymore.
I was so angry!
The end of the story was I only got the Norivir and not the Invirose. I phoned my civilian doctor and asked him if I could use only one. He said no, I have to use them in combination with each other. Then he said there was a patient of him in Paarl and I can have some of his tablets, as long as I go and get it myself. Eventually, they arranged for the tablets to be sent to the hospital by DHL, but it will only be at the hospital late this evening. I will wait up until they call me from the hospital.
May 5, 1998
I got my tablets, but you will not believe what happened. It was raining. I parked the car in the garage and walked towards the house with your letter, other mail, milk, my windbreaker, and the very important pills. Then, bang! Pills and glass all around me. Tablets everywhere and because the ground was wet with rain, the coating started to melt away. Hundred and ninety tablets! I grabbed as much as I could and went inside. I called a pharmacy, and they said I should put it in the oven at a very low temperature. I did it and now some tablets are stuck together. If I try to separate it from each other, it breaks and the contents run out.
Now, to answer your question about how I really am. Physically, I’m okay. The new medicine helps, but I still believe if it wasn’t for God, I wouldn’t still have been here. He must have a plan with me and I hope I will not disappoint Him. Mentally, it is not going as well as it should. In that way, I’m not showing my gratitude, but really, I am grateful – very, very grateful. I am lonely and that is getting the better of me, but I carry on. I work hard at fighting the depression, because there’s so much for which I should be grateful. Annie, I am here and I can write. I have friends who all support me in a different manner. It could have been so much different.
I also know Devon has used me, but it’s because I allowed it. That is just the way I am. He cannot be blamed for it. Actually, in the end he paid me. He moaned about his stay in the nurses’ home, but it is better if he stays there. He said he thinks Amy wants him back, but he doesn’t know whether he should go back to her. It is their life and they have to live it. I cannot do it for them. As you said, I am important, and it is time for me to start living my own life.
To be continued… Reading Isaac’s words (4)
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
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