December 20, 2008

"You listen to him..."

I think I was inadvertently paid one of the nicest compliments I’ve ever received the other day in the clinic.

We have a rather obstinate tuberculosis patient currently. While he is regular in his treatment, he was refusing on Thursday to pay a visit to the nearby government clinic - our “mother ship” clinic under which we formally operate - so he could formally switch his treatment to the next phase and receive a prescription for the different medicine he would need. For someone who has been as regular as he has, this is a formality but a necessary one. Nonetheless, he wouldn’t go, citing the long lines there and, I think, the long walk. (All this was going on in Xhosa so I didn’t catch everything.)

As we were arguing, Nobathembu, a patient well-known to me and sitting in line waiting to be seen on this particular day, butted in. You might recall I wrote about her once and the challenges she had getting on ARVs. Even though her CD4 count was very low, she refused to get started on the preparatory process for a lot of the same reasons this TB patient was citing. Eventually, after I badgered her every time I saw her, she got going on the process and got the ARVs. She is still sick but I think is moving in the right direction.

Anyway, she butted in to say, in effect, “You listen to Jesse…”. I didn’t get everything she was saying but what I grasped went something like: “I was once really sick and Jesse wanted me to go to the other clinic all the time and I didn’t but then I did and now I am better.” (I may have imagined some of that but I think that English is faithful to her intent.)

It had absolutely no effect on our ornery TB patient and I eventually had to drag him up there myself (where we ran into a new problem, centering on his lost medical records but that’s for another day). Regardless, I was still touched that Nobathembu would point to my intervention in her life as significant. Not only is it nice to - once in a while - have an effect on somebody, it is particularly nice when they acknowledge that effect.


Motherbird said...

what a wonderful gift to receive...

Claire Bergen said...

I'm trying to figure out who you're referring to--it's not Landile, is it?? I hope you managed to convince them to get them onto phase 2! And what an encouragement that Nobathembu has noticed the way you've helped her.