Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Mrs Tina came in touch with us 4 years ago. Her husband had died of AIDS. She was alone with her son. She had been started by a local doctor on anti-retroviral drugs for her own HIV.
The medications were costing her a fortune. She wanted help.
Though Mrs Tina had been off the medications, we were able to help her with highly subsidised medications. But more than the meds she needed friends. Mrs Tina was deeply depressed and despondent. The JSK ladies met her regularly. After a few illness episodes she pulled through and started work again. Her son did a 1 year vocational training course with a sister organisation.
When she shifted to the government medications we lost most of our touch with her. Our staff would go to meet her - but she would normally be at work. Dates that we set to meet would not always be honoured.
Its hard having HIV. Hard being constantly reminded of the medicines. Of having to take care.
Last year Mrs Tina started showing up on our radar again. Her CD4 counts - a simple measure of her inmune function - were dropping instead of rising. Over the last 2 months she has been hospitalised. Twice.
One of the big changes - Mrs Tina has made a few small steps of faith. Faith that holds onto the hope of Jesus in the midst of so many crushing dissappointments.
We started talking to her again about what steps she should be taking. Over the years she had worked out a system where her son would go and get the medications from her from the government clinic. Its not easy spending a day with a crowd of other people. All sick to varying degrees.
Mrs Tina agreed to go back to the main govt. hospital in South Mumbai to start 'second line' treatment. This treatment is hard to get as it is a quantum leap in expenses (and in treating complexity) and there is a long waiting line.
Today one of our staff is taking Mrs Tina for her next appointment there. Its a step of faith. The staff taking her is HIV positive as well.
We don't have easy solutions. Medications are not miracle pills. But they are ways of moving forward - of doing something - of expressing hope and love.
Jesus said - "ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you." People with HIV have a lot of asking, seeking and knocking to do.
Its a privilege to come alongside.