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Interview 08

Age at interview: 44
Age at diagnosis: 44
Brief Outline: Now on anti-retroviral treatment (3TC, lopinavir, ddI), she is feeling much better and has returned to work. Her current CD4 cells are 400. Religion is important to her positive attitude. (Video and audio clips read by an actor.)
Background: A black African female health professional who presented with bleeding due to Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) in early 2005. She was hospitalised where she was diagnosed with HIV.

More about me...

Age at interview' 44

Age at diagnosis' 44

Sex' Female

Background' A black African female health professional, diagnosed in 2005, and mother of a teenage child.

Outline' A black African female health professional with a teenage child. She moved to the UK on a work permit in the late 1990s. Presenting with bleeding due to Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) in early 2005, she was hospitalised and was diagnosed with HIV. Now on anti-retroviral treatment (3TC, lopinavir, ddI), she is feeling much better (with few side-effects) and has returned to full time work. Her current CD4 cells are 400. Her Christian religion and prayer is important in her positive attitude, and she feels that she will survive with God's help.

(Video and audio clips read by an actor.)

 

Her doctors were good at communicating with her so she was happy to go along with their decision...

Her doctors were good at communicating with her so she was happy to go along with their decision...

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But I think the most helpful I've found is just the talking to me. I think it did a lot of good. I thought both teams, my, my tropical doctors ones and my TTP (Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura) ones, they were very good at communication. They were really, really good. Like they disseminated results of bloods in time. I don't think I had any problems. And they kept me up to date as to what was going on.

Why is that important?

Well, because I suppose that helps your planning and focusing as well. And looking forward to the next day. Like one example I'd give you is like when they told me they had found HIV, that I was HIV positive. And the next thing they told me was, 'We're going to start you on retrovirals.' And the following day they started me on the retrovirals. Which I thought, this is quick. They only diagnosed me yesterday, and today they're, they're starting me these tablets. I thought that was quick. It was done very quickly. And they… I thought that was good. Because, as they say, that they need to treat the HIV… start treating the, the HIV so that they can treat the TTP as well, you know.

 

Talking to a nurse about her fever helped her to overcome her depressed state. (Read by an actor.)

Talking to a nurse about her fever helped her to overcome her depressed state. (Read by an actor.)

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While I was in hospital they couldn't put a finger on why I had a fever. And that night… Because they said, 'We can't let you go home unless your pyrexia's settled down.' I just got so depressed. So I started crying that day. And then this nurse came and he talked to me. And he said… You know, he was very much into counselling. Because he, he really talked to me. 

And he said to me, 'Look, you are very lucky you're here. You're getting your retrovirals. Don't depress yourself, just get on with your life.' You know. 

And he talked to me. He said, 'Look, you're a parent, you're looking after your daughter. You don't have to get yourself into a depressed state like this. It's not going to be good for your, it's not going to be good for your daughter. Just look positively to life. Take your retrovirals. You're going to be alright.' And from that day I have never looked back. 

I found that nurse… I've never looked back. So in a way, I've had a bit of counselling. And he said to me, you know, 'You're going to be alright. They're trying to investigate where this pyrexia is coming from. If they find a cause they'll treat you.' They never found a cause. It settled down on its own.

 

Prayer can be like talking to somebody about your problems. (Read by an actor.)

Prayer can be like talking to somebody about your problems. (Read by an actor.)

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As a Christian, we always say prayer's the answer. That's, that's one of the mottos in Christianity, to say prayer is an answer. I think when you pray, usually you feel relieved that you've talked to somebody… Because you've talked to God. You haven't talked to anybody, but you've talked to God… He's above all, and he's going to give me an answer… I've got my communication with God. 

You know, communication line is open. And I say, 'God, you are in control of everything.' And that's also what faith in God talks about. That when you have faith in God, you leave everything in control to God. Even sometimes when you know it's beyond your control… If you… When you know things are beyond your control, you just say, 'God, you are in control of everything.'

 

Her doctor told her about her HIV status calmly, with empathy and advice, allowing her space to...

Her doctor told her about her HIV status calmly, with empathy and advice, allowing her space to...

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I thought she disseminated the news quite well. That's what I thought. She, she was quite calm with it. She didn't, she didn't panic. And she, she was quite empathetic. You could see it in her eyes. She was feeling for me as well. And she was, she was quite good. She held my hand. And I just looked at her. And then she… Eventually she… We… She kept quiet after that. 

And she said, 'Do you think you want to talk to anybody?' I said, 'Not at the moment. I don't feel like it.' Then she said… She did tell me also about the available services, you know. After a while she did talk about the available services that… the counselling services in that are around the hospital. 

And she, she did tell me I've got to think about it, which people I do want to talk to, or to tell. To disseminate the news. And I thought that was quite good. I, I… At that time I don't think I cried. I just, I just… Well, I was just too numb. I just looked at her. I just wanted to be left alone…

 

Feels that God answered her prayer for healing. (Read by an actor.)

Feels that God answered her prayer for healing. (Read by an actor.)

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Even when I went into hospital, when like things were happening. Like having blood pressures that were from nowhere, where… Having pyrexias of unknown origin. And the doctor's saying to me, 'We don't know where this pyrexia's coming from.' I used to pray. I would kneel down and pray. And I said, 'God, you are in control. You know every part of my body. And wherever this pyrexia is coming from, I want you to, to deal with it.' And, you know, it… What, what more do you want? If that pyrexia goes down without even an antibiotic. You, you say it's God, isn't it? Who's done it. It's God. Because that's in your belief.

 

Has to keep strong for her family despite multiple tragedies and becoming HIV positive. (Read by...

Has to keep strong for her family despite multiple tragedies and becoming HIV positive. (Read by...

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I… we migrated here, it was about 5 years back, now. 5, 6 years back. I've lived all my life like in Africa. Except for once I came here to study, about 2 or 3 years. 

I went back home. Had a job. Was married, but unfortunately my husband died in 1999, in an accident. 

And then that's when I decided to relocate. I came here, got a job as a nurse and started working. No problems at all. I've got one child, and she's 18 years old. Had 2 miscarriages after that back home in Africa… I suppose… [sighs] if I go to my background, I've had a few tragedies in my family. And that has made me strong… Because sometimes you see your family crumbling down like that. And you, you've just got to stand strong, to keep it going. I'm the first born in my family. And I've gone through quite a number of tragedies that have hit me right and left. Like for instance in 1998 I lost my father through a bad car accident. And I'm the first born in the family, as I say. I had to keep on strong. I had to be strong for the others. And within, within I think 8 months… Within a year, I lost my husband. 

So I lost 2 most important people in my life. And I kept on pushing and saying, 'I need to go on, I need to, I need to push on.' So I suppose it's that same, that same… So it's that same thing that's kept me going. And I've said, 'Oh, come on, yes, this is HIV, I'm HIV positive, but I've got to keep on strong.'

 

Initially wondered how she got HIV but then felt the question could not be usefully answered. ...

Initially wondered how she got HIV but then felt the question could not be usefully answered. ...

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And I think oh my God. How can… How did I get this thing? That's what I said to myself. And then I said, 'I'll never know, really, wh- how I got it.' Because I was once married. It could be that I had it even before the blood transfusion. It could be. It could be, it could be from my partner. Who knows? Because…I don't, I don't know, really. 

But we just thought probably it's the blood. Because that, that did seem the obvious thing. But I'll never know really the… where it really came from. And I said to myself, by the way, 'Even if I know where it comes from, where… how I got it, it's useless.' There's no point now. It's too late now. I've just to think and get on with my life.

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