(This is a short story written in the interest of promoting awareness of the impending disaster in our area and depicting the work carried out in Blessed Gérard's Care Centre & Hospice.) This story is based on true facts, but for confidentiality reasons, the names are fictional.
There are many caregivers scurrying around, busy as bees. One patient being bathed, another being fed and yet another having her wounds dressed by the caregivers. But the lady in the bed next to mine lies still, with her baby by her side.
The baby is six months old, but is the size of a two-month-old baby. She cries continuously. Her arms and legs are like matchsticks. Her mother, Thokozile, is not much better, weighing only 40kgs. She has little milk left in her breasts. She cries as she watches her baby, listless and unable to swallow the milk formula given to her in her bottle. Thokozile loves her little one and ponders on the next few months, as that is all they may have left. Mother and baby both have AIDS. Thokozile asks her husband to sit next to her to comfort her, but he has to continue to try and find work - aware of what he has passed on to his wife and child. Knowing that he is also HIV positive, he sees his fate, as if in a movie, playing itself out before his eyes.
The voice of a caregiver interrupts my thoughts as she brings me the medication for my tuberculosis. Her compassion shows in her eyes and I hear it in her voice, for she knows what is to become of me. Because, you see, I too am HIV positive and I too will one day be just like Thokozile and her little girl.
Suddenly my heart begins to pound when the sound of the buzzer goes and the little beacon of help shines red above the bed of Thokozile. The nurse comes, there is lots of hustle and bustle and then finally, silent tears.
The tiny lifeless bundle is carried from Thokozile. When the curtains are drawn back, I see the small forlorn shape of Thokozile, lying on her bed, her whole body trembling with the sobs of heartfelt pain. She has no more strength.
I try to get up to go to her, to comfort her in her time of loss - but I too do not have the strength. Suddenly, shockingly, I am totally aware that I will follow little Dumisile. But unlike her, I know why I am sick. I ask myself how long do I have, one month, or two or maybe one year?
If only I had said NO!
Caregivers looking after another patient
This page is part of the Brotherhood of Blessed Gérard - Newsletter No. 17
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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 12:49:49