Thirteen Years: The Aftershock

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

The Aftershock

Continued from… Questions, Questions, Questions

Annie was too upset to reply to Isaac right away. When she replied the next day, she told him they were shocked, but they wanted him to know they will always support him, no matter what. Annie shared her plans to consult authorities in the Netherlands to make sure there indeed is nothing more that could be done for Isaac.

She wanted to know how Isaac was doing mentally. She totally understood this news could make him go into a deep depression. Annie asked Isaac to consider coming back to the Netherlands, since he might get a better treatment here than in South Africa. She would do anything to help him, even if it meant it would only lengthen his life by a couple of years. She was not ready yet to let her friend go.

Date: Sun, 28 Feb 1999 03:36:21

Hello Annie, Jacques and the rest,

It’s been hours since I took a sleeping tablet tonight, but it just doesn’t want to work. I think I will have a glass of warm milk when I’m done here, just as I did last night. Maybe I have overdone it today by working in the garden. I thought if I kept busy, it would give me strength and courage.

Thank you for your e-mail yesterday. Do you see now why I didn’t want to say anything on the 25th? I didn’t want to spoil your birthday. I let your mother know on the 25th though.

The two of you are doing so much for me a simple thank you just doesn’t cover it anymore. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

I will try to answer all your questions, Annie. I really did not want to upset you!

• Mentally I am feeling good. I have my down moments, but not down enough to make me go into a deep depression. I just try not to think about it. I have always succeeded, so it will not change now.

• The pain is still there. I think it is less now since I worked in the garden today, but maybe my muscles will hurt later today. The last CT scan I had on Wednesday didn’t show any changes. It only showed I still have the infection around my colon, but the infection didn’t spread.

• I know you will always be there for me whenever I want to talk. I just could not talk on Thursday since I was still in isolation. Thanks for the offer.

• As I said, the pain is still there. It comes and goes. Sometimes it is worse and other times it is not as bad. I now have a morphine patch that slowly releases morphine into my body through my skin. This will not affect my organs. It helps a bit but I think they should have put me on a higher dosage.

• Losing my hair is one of the AIDS symptoms. When I think back to when Freddy was so ill, I seem to remember his hair fell out too. So friends, as I said, it has started.

• I’m still weak. I don’t know how I managed to work in the garden today. I was exhausted. If I had gone on for longer, I might have fallen over.

• I really wish I could go to the Netherlands for treatment, but Annie, my mother is more important. She is worried about me. I know I should think about my health, but I don’t know if my mother could handle it when I am that far away from her again. I am her only child.

• Please go ahead and see what you can find out over there. Kathy said she would have a talk with Doctor Bailey too. Maybe between all of this we might figure out something.

• Of course, I promise not to give up and not to lose courage. Even if I have to grind my teeth. False teeth, if my own are worn out. False teeth will look better, anyway.

Joe called here, and he left a message on my answering machine. I recognized his voice. I was home late, since I went to the hospital for a ‘pain drip’. They wanted to keep me there, but I came home after an hour and a half.

It’s half-past three now and I am going to make myself a glass of warm milk. Maybe I can sleep then. Oh, I gained some weight. I guess it is the hospital food and eating three times a day that did it.

Tons of love.

Annie thanked Isaac for answering all her questions. However, she wrote, she had even more questions. This time she wanted to know whether Isaac had heard anything about the hospital bill from the Dutch hospital he was in during his trip. She told him the bill had been sent to her mother’s address, but they had asked the hospital to forward it to the military hospital in Cape Town. Annie also wanted to make sure Isaac didn’t take up the plan to pay the hospital bill himself.

The rest of her e-mail was full of news about their daily lives — the new school of her son, about Jacques’ father being ill and about an aunt and an uncle of Annie who would soon live in the Netherlands.

She ended her e-mail by asking Isaac to tell her more about the pain drip he had and said how much she wanted to do more for him.

Date: Sun, 28 Feb 1999 21:29:49

Hello you all,

All is well on this side. I had some muscle ache after working in the garden, as expected.

My mother called me this evening, and I asked her about going to the Netherlands for treatment. I wanted to know if she could handle it. She asked me what difference the place I am in would make, since I’m sick here and I will be sick there. She also said if I would go to the Netherlands, it would have to be permanent.

I haven’t heard anything about the hospital bill and don’t worry, I will not pay for it. Let the army do it. I don’t think that the personnel office has deducted anything from my salary yet, so I wonder if they have received it.

The reason I went for the pain drip was the pain was almost unbearable. On the other hand, maybe I just wanted some attention or go on a trip. I’m only joking of course. The pain is bearable now and as you have read, I take it very easy.

I’m not going back to work tomorrow. I have been booked off until Friday. I also have to see the doctor again on Friday. I wonder what news she will have. Kathy said she would talk to Doctor Bailey. Maybe she already did. Another colleague said someone should go to the doctor with me since I never ask any questions.

By the way, how much was the hospital bill?

Thank you all so much for your support. It really means a lot to me.

Take care!

To be continued… Fear, Pain and Meds

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

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