The +++ Journals: Entry VII

The +++ Journals: Entry VII

I am so depressed. I want to die. My life is over…

Lol. Scratch that. Spending the rest of the week and the weekend at home, curled in bed, watching reruns and researching on the internet made me better. As each moment passed and I drew closure on certain issues, I felt somewhat lighter and less burdened. I spoke with Daberechi about the clinics I had stumbled upon while researching. We both agreed that while some of them were favourable in terms of distance and proximity to my house and work, one of the major priorities when choosing a clinic was one that was privately run. I had heard of experiences with government-run clinics that were mostly riddled with lousy customer service and periodic strikes. I wanted somewhere I would enjoy unrestricted access tailored around my work schedule, which was very often crazy, and definitely somewhere I wouldn’t feel like someone was doing me a favour by seeing me.

Daberechi had the perfect recommendation for me, although she did not have much information about the structure of their services and how much it would cost; we pegged it at a hundred grand in the worst case scenario, but I would still need to visit them to make enquiries. Fortunately they had a branch which was a few minutes’ drive away from the office. I really had no excuse not to go to a clinic anymore; Daberechi had played her part and given me all that I asked for, all I had to do was show up. But mehn, was I scared. Not scared that what I would hear could be possibly worse (even though I was going to learn that it could be worse), but just the fact that I had to walk into a hospital and talk to a doctor and explain my condition to them.

Eventually I had to deal with this. And I’d promised myself that my moment was now. So one week later, on an early Saturday morning, I donned my favourite black polo, black baseball cap and sunglasses (feeling like someone that could go incognito, for my mind!) and headed down to the clinic. It was still early but a few families were already there. I scanned around nervously, praying not to see any families or colleagues from the office. Fortunately I didn’t.

Realising how dodgy I must look in my black ensemble and glasses, I took off the glasses and cap and walked to the nurse.

“Hello, please can I see a doctor?”

“Are you registered here?”

“Err… no, I was referred here.”

“Ok sir. Just register and you can see any of our doctors. Are you under any HMOs?”

“No,” I lied. I had already decided I would incur whatever costs getting treated would take just to avoid any audit trails behind.

I filled the form and shortly received a welcome SMS and email with all my details. Hmmm! Great service! I received another SMS informing me of my appointment time and room. I was very impressed. I soon got to see a very pleasant nurse who checked my vitals, before proceeding to meet my doctor. It was a young and pretty woman.

“Good morning,” I said sunnily.

“Morning….” she replied without looking up at me.

“May I have a seat please?”

“Sure…”

There was silence in the office, except for the clicking of her keyboard and the low hum of the air conditioner.

“So what can I do for you today, Mr. Cole?” Her eyes still had not left her computer.

I wondered how she knew my name, but I figured she must have had my details on her computer.

“Well… I recently took a HIV test at home and the result was positive. I visited a lab to run some further tests which also yielded the same results. I was recommended to come here for a follow-up and possibly receive treatment with you guys.”

And for the first time, she lifted her head from the computer and looked at me straight in the eyes. Her stare was empty. I looked back at her and smiled.

“Hmmmm…. Why did you decide to take a test, if I may ask?”

“Nothing really… I do this periodically,” I lied. “And I felt like I had been careless over the past couple of months.”

She smirked and continued typing. I felt a spurt of anger begin to bubble within. Normally I would have said something caustic and hooted like a market woman at this show of insolence, but I decided to play it cool. I didn’t seem to have any spells of drama left.

“Ok. Well, we don’t have a program here…” she began.

I felt my heart sink.

“But what we can do for you is run a HIV Screening and Serology Test. If the results return affirmative, then we would refer you to another one of our branches where the HIV clinic is actually run. You would receive treatment there, but you can always come to us for the regular consultations. But hold on, let me confirm.”

“Ok…”

She gave me a form authorizing them to run the tests, while she talked to someone on the intercom. By the time I was done, she had hung up.

“So I have been able to confirm the information as valid. We can do the test here, you can come back for the results and we take it from there.”

She smiled briefly and continued typing away.

“Err… where next please?”

“Please pay at Finance and they will direct you to the laboratory.”

“Ok. Thank you.”

She mumbled what seemed to be a response and continued her work. I headed down to the finance department which seemed to overflowing with families and wards settling one bill or another. I wondered how I could surreptitiously tell the Finance personnel what tests I would be doing without raising a few eyebrows around me. Fortunately, when it got to my turn, all I had to do was hand over my card to him and he could access all my data as inputted by the doctor.

“I was directed by the doctor to come to you to pay for a test…”

“Ok, hold on a minute sir…” He logged unto his system and read with a creased brow.

I heaved a sigh of relief as he got unto the phone and spoke to the doctor. They spoke in hush-hush tones before he asked me to pay the prescribed sum and head off to the Lab. The same process repeated itself and yet again, all I was required to do was hand over my card without explaining much. They took a blood sample and asked me to come back the following week.

The week went by pretty quickly, during which I nursed a flicker of hope. You see, we never stop being hopeful that maybe somewhere along the road, something will change. So I was still armed with a glimmer of optimism when I went back to the clinic the following Saturday.

The doctor I met this time seemed to have a more cheery disposition, and we chatted about various things such as the weather and the recently concluded elections. And then, I told her why I had come. She checked through the system and asked me the same questions as I had been asked yet again.

“So why did you decide to take this test, Mr. Cole?”

I was mildly irritated with this question and gave her the same answer I gave the other doctor last week. Perhaps she could sense my irritation, because she said, “Forgive me, sir, but the reason why I am asking this is because the results came back positive…”

I laughed weakly. “Yes, I am aware of my status, madam. This was just a confirmatory test as the doctor I saw last week advised, and then she was going to further refer me to the program run by your hospital. So let us move towards getting that done,” I said, taking charge of the seemingly flustered doctor.

“Just a moment please,” she said as she stood up and excused herself.

“Ok.”

While I waited for her to seemingly sort herself out, I wondered how many more people would look at me with disbelief when I told them my status. Even though it had often been said that you cannot tell by someone’s look or social background what their HIV status was, perhaps due to her obvious lack of this experience dealing with positive patients, this doctor had placed me in a box of someone who could not or should not have been positive.

She returned shortly and sat down.

“Thank you for your patience, sir,” she said, her sunny disposition back. “I don’t have all the information as regards the clinic, but I know it is run at our mainland branch and within the hours of 9 – 12 once a week. Wednesdays, I believe.”

I grimaced. This was not good news. How would I take more time off work to go to a hospital that was on the other side of town? What possible explanation could I tell my quarrelsome Boss to get his understanding without raising any suspicious brows from my co-workers? Where there no other private clinics closer home for me to explore?

Perhaps the doctor could tell that I was worried, from the slouch of my shoulders and the way I chewed my bottom lip. She reached out and patted my hand and smiled.

“It will get better with time…”

I was touched by her act of kindness and smiled back. I didn’t want to burden her with my questions, because I knew she did not have answers and was not experienced in counseling.

“Thank you.” I stood up to leave.

“Ok. Take care of yourself, Mr. Cole.”

I mumbled my ‘thank you’ and headed back out. I had not driven very far off when my phone buzzed.

“Hello…”

“Hello. Am I speaking to Mr. Cole?” a female voice enquired over the phone.

“Err… this is he.”

“Ok, this is the doctor you just saw. I just wanted to confirm the details and address of the clinic. All the other information remains the same. We have gone ahead to also send a mail to the doctor in charge of the clinic and put you in copy. So just go and ask for Dr. Kintan when you get there. I wish you all the best.”

“Thank you. You have been very, very helpful,” I replied before hanging up.

My next challenge was how to convince my boss I would need some hours off on Wednesdays without telling him so much.

Mr. Mbaka was a loud, large man. He was a sexist, chauvinist pig in my opinion, and I did not do very well hiding the fact that I did not agree with him and several of his opinions. So it was going to awkward seeking favours from him. But I was determined to forge ahead and follow through. I began to hatch a plan in my head.

Mr. Mbaka was about to find himself a new BFF!

Written by Temi-D

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32 Comments

  1. Raj
    July 28, 06:04 Reply

    Each time i read one of these ,I can’t help bit feel the back of my ear,go down memory lane as to any prolonged Bj(well oral could land you there )

    My heart goes out to what people have to pass through to stay alive at the hands of this virus. Kudos to those making an effort and having the courage to go for tests and subsequently get treatment.

    Damn boss!I wonder what lie could do justice to this situation..

  2. Mandy
    July 28, 07:12 Reply

    Temi, were the Wednesday appointments going to be weekly?

    • Temi Cole
      July 28, 10:13 Reply

      Well initially it would have involved almost every Wednesday or every fortnight because they would do tests and follow-ups but after a while u sorta get to go at longer intervals which is not so bad…

  3. Dubem
    July 28, 07:16 Reply

    Temi, I truly do not envy you the challenge of getting off work for your appointments n leaving no suspicion behind. It’s a nerve-wrecking process. In my own case, I had another more-acceptable but less-grievous medical condition that was documented at my workplace. My bosses knew I’d be taking routine time off work to visit the hospital.
    What they didn’t know was that I didn’t have to go for those appointments regularly at all. I merely shadowed my HIV appointments with my other medical appointment.

    • Temi Cole
      July 28, 10:18 Reply

      Oh ok. Fortunately or unfortunately for me I didn’t have any at that time but I was able to cook up something good eventually!

  4. ambivalentone
    July 28, 07:23 Reply

    lool @ bff. I wished I could smack that uptight bitch of a doctor with her uppity smirk. Aswear, I wud follow her case up o. Rubbish after all that good computer service, na human being wey design computer come dey fuck up

      • Temi Cole
        July 28, 10:27 Reply

        Lol. Maybe she that was her trying to be a professional. I think I even preferred her stoic behaviour than the bumbling, confused one. That one self was almost crying. Only God knows what I’d have done if it was my first test…

  5. Dennis Macaulay
    July 28, 07:44 Reply

    Temi! I always love your entry!

    Wait I meant entry as in entry and not….oh dear I should stop talking

  6. Peak
    July 28, 09:09 Reply

    Signing in to have my Fan card marked.

  7. kacee
    July 28, 09:41 Reply

    PP help a sister out o, i’m so tired of guys i need a girl *crying*

  8. JOJOARMANI
    July 28, 10:16 Reply

    cant just picture myself having a positive hiv result… Your amazingly strong Temi… Take care broo

  9. Django
    July 28, 10:39 Reply

    @kacee, you need a girl? Why?

    You said you’re bi in one of your comments.

    I’m errrr…interes… You dated girls before?

    • kacee
      July 28, 12:13 Reply

      @Django lol, i’m so tired of guys i don’t feel the connection any longer, i’ve never dated any gir before (i always run from them, especially sugar mummy. But wait o are u a guy?

  10. Khaleesi
    July 28, 11:53 Reply

    Great Piece Temi D!! Remain strong, you have a full and rich life stretching far out in front of you …

  11. Django
    July 28, 13:15 Reply

    Up till the comment you made days back about being bisexual, I thought KD was a testosterone pool, didn’t even know you’re a lady @kaycee

  12. Django
    July 28, 13:17 Reply

    …And yes, I’m female, gold-star-lesbian, atheist, feminist, Nigerian.

    • Pink Panther
      July 28, 15:27 Reply

      WOW! We have more females lurking in our midst than I knew. 🙂

    • kacee
      July 28, 15:37 Reply

      Are u serious omg God i’m blushing so hard, nice to meet u. Do u stay in lagos?

    • ambivalentone
      July 28, 16:54 Reply

      And then.I became giddy n.lightheaded because of excitement. I hear a tolling

  13. Dominic Obioha
    July 28, 15:54 Reply

    Thanks Temi for sharing your journey. Continue being strong dear.

  14. Ace
    July 28, 16:34 Reply

    Be strong buddy. Be strong.

  15. Django
    July 28, 21:47 Reply

    Nice to meet you too kaycee, unfortunately, I’m up north, serving my country.

  16. Django
    July 28, 21:48 Reply

    I just noticed it’s Kacee, not Kaycee…

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