Tuesday, 13 July 2010


I woke up sick this morning.

Ye olde trusty alarme - Donau waltz being played on my mobile phone - found me at 5 AM in a less-than-pristine state.

Headache. Slight nausea. What we call 'loose motions' (very loose). My right ear some-how blocked on the inside. Unable to hear much on the right side. A look in the mirror revealed a very pasty-faced Andi. Back to bed. Some gentle groaning and my dear wife asked me the question I wanted to hear: 'Are you alright?'

A couple of paracetmol tablets and a fervent prayer later I was drifting back into dreamland. Another couple of hours and I resurface to the loving hugs and kisses of my two junior nurses.

The day is cool and rainy outside. We decide I will have a sick leave. I drift back into sleep.

As I write this, half the day is over. I was able to see Sheba off to the clinic at 11 AM and manage the kids till they got onto their school-bus at 12.30. A few dishes done. The house is clean. Some reading of Spanish football celebrations in the newspaper (and a few more gory stories), a spell on the computer, some Bible reading and here I am - remarkably better.

Now imagine if this was my daily lot: Wake up. Sick. Bed bound. Sky grey outside. Damp moisture seeping in through wet walls. Filthy bed. Have to defecate in the common toilet outside.

Instead of being married to a loving doctor - imagine if I had to pay a hefty sum for a 5 min consultation. And imagine knowing that I have HIV and bearing the crushing set of fears and anxieties that so many live through who have the virus inside them.

For so many of my dear friends this is no imagination - but the daily reality of their lives. Sickness for me is an aberration. An occasional discomfort - almost a holiday. I am surrounded by love and care.

For many it is not so.

However much we may 'progress' in terms of quick diagnoses and wonder drugs - the cruel burden of being sick continues to be borne by so many.

Though we work with people who live with HIV, though we meet our friends with AIDS every day, I find myself so easily slipping into a heard uncaring heart towards the challenges they face. Today's experience reminds me just a bit of how much more empathetic I need to be. A small bout of sickness for me may in fact be 'just what the doctor ordered!'

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