Monthly Archives: January 2014



So I went for my hospital visit a week ago.  As usual I was a  bit nervous, more than usual because I had just moved out of my house into my brother’s and the new environment, stress and all that was getting to me. I had to call a cab guy previously unknown to me to pick me up by 5.30. I was worried that he would not be on time, etc. But at the same time, I also realised that I was developing the nonchalance I had seen in quite a number of regular patients. You see ordinarily, I like to go to the hospital and be incognito…inconspicuous. I was quite concerned not to be recognised or noticed. (Somehow though I am almost always noticed wherever I go, if you know me you will understand why.)  This time however, I knew my outlandish hairstyle and colour, and my ‘cool’ glasses would make me really stick out, but frankly, I didn’t care anymore.

Anyway, the driver came on time and I arrived there armed with some movies on my phone, sandwiches and a drink. I took a seat in an empty row behind the only five other people there. While I busied myself with my distractions, these people- made up of two men and 3 women- began to have a conversation. Apparently one of the men had complained that he couldn’t allow his wife be seen at the centre because it was too embarassing or something and so he was probably queuing up in her stead or something and the others took him up on that. The other man said he could not care less who knew about his illness and judged him based on that. He said everyone where he lives and works know he is HIV+, and that his pators at church also know because they were there when he was always falling ill, praying for him until he finally discovered his status and began treatment. Then another lady – who obviously likes talking about herself because she stood up to address everyone present, listening or not- narrated how she discovered her status when she was pregnant. Her husband tested negative and that combined with the fear of the unknown made her cry all the time. She was eventually counselled by a doctor who made her literally count her blessings : her husband had not sent her away, her husband’s family had not ostracized her all of which were regular occurrences with the discovery of one’s positive status, nor was she was physically ill, etc. She said that made her shrug off the shame and fear. Then the work day began in the hospital, slowly, as is the regular case: people slowly walking in, cleaners arranging the area, healthcare staff greeting each other. Then two people came to make announcements to us. And therein lies my story.

The first person to address us was a doctor at the centre. She wanted everyone to know that from the next week they would no longer tolerate people missing their appointments and coming after their appointed time. She said the doctors had other things to do apart from sitting all day attending to patients. I kind of understood how she would be angry about people who deliberately  miss their appointments for things like weddings and ceremonies, but I still think the staff of LUTH HIV treatment centres need to work on their delivery. They can be so rude, it’s annoying. And because of your heightened emotional sensitivity due to your status you put it down to that. Anyway a little while after another person came to speak to us. This man introduced himself as the IT officer for the centre and asked why people did not attend support group meetings,complaining that the number of people there was always very little. That’s where you will meet your peers, he said, people like your type. (By that he obviously meant PLWHA.) He continued saying some people go to the doctors and say that they want to get married but there is no way they can because of their status. He said the IT department had decided to create a match making database where you could list your qualities and those you want in a man/ woman with/without your photograph and they would match you up with a few likely candidates. He emphasised that they wanted serious responses only not people out for a good time. Then he prayed that ‘God will help us overcome this illness one day’ and the  crowd said ‘Amen’.

A friend came up to me and said something that I had been thinking; apparently ther’s no hope for HIV cure and progress if we now have to restrict our options to all those infected. And truly it does seem somewhat sad; as if we have been pushed to a section of life’s corner and told ‘alright do your things among yourselves, find love there, hang out with each other, etc’. It is bleak and dreary. But at the same time there’s another side to it.It is a freedom to finally be yourself, to stop hiding. To begin with someone on a regular playing field. I have not allowed myself date anyone or feel anything for anyone since 2009 because I know I carry this secret. When do you tell someone you are HIV+? First date, second date? When you become intimate? No matter when you do it if the person is immature he/she is always going to call you a liar, to feel cheated. And you cannot tell if the person is immature until you tell them. But with someone similarly infected, it’s a breeze. Now that that is out of the way, what kind of music do you like? I do not think I will ever go for the centre’s match making attempts, certainly not when an IT staff who refers to HIV+ people as ‘your kind’ is running it, but I think it may work for some people. People whose standards are not as exacting as mine and who do not think marriage is an impractical experiment like I do.

That said, I need to address the issue of speech and decorum in healthcare facilities. While a lot is being done to stop the scourge of HIV a lot of attention should be paid to the training of the healthcare staff. This is not the first time I have heard someone use the phase ‘you people’ or your kind to refer to people living with HIV. When I had just given birth, at the 6 week check up that nursing mothers attend, I got into a little argument with a nurse because she was telling me not to use a pacifier for my baby. I knew it is a Nigerian thing that has no medical basis so I just ignored her. The older nurse there thought it was an argument about feeding with the bottle and asked me why I wasn’t breastfeeding my baby, I told her it was because of my status. She said she knew because she had been trained in dealing with people like us. And she proceeded to ‘counsel’ me in front of everyone there about how ‘we people’ are always angry and unhappy and so much other rubbish. I didn’t stand up and walk away only because I didnt want to give her the satisfaction of thinking she was right.The funny part about this you people business is that it is a form of denial and self-validation for the health centre staff, many of whom are actually HIV+ also. I can bet my bottom dollar that the IT man is HIV+ but they all come with a sense of superiority to lord it over mostly illiterate people. by being very rude or demeaning/

When they are not being rude they are using all sorts of means to get some money from you. I have refused to call anyone and tell them I am coming to the clinic anymore. They cannot use speedy service to rob me. I have decided that any day that I go tto the clinic I will dedicate the whole day to it. So even if I am delayed for yonks I will be done at the end of the day. The last time I  went one lady was asking that I left abruptly the last time, and I explained to her that I was distracted because my mum had an accident. After my elaborate explanation, all she could say was where was her ‘Christmas and New Year something’. I wasnt angry then but when  thought about it later I was quite irritated. These people really need to be trained and re trained.. And if salary is the issue, paid.

Anyway, that was my week, How was yours?


























Hiya People

Happy New Year. Why do we even say that? There’s no way a whole year can be happy so why even say it at all? O well…

I just watched Life of Pi for the first time and I felt inspired to drop a few lines. It’s a great movie. It starts out like a film about a boy who is growing up and fascinated with life and then it becomes a story about the journey of life, faith and hope.  The only connection however, between this post and that movie, is that I just spoke about it. This post is not about the life of Pi but the life of Joie.

It’s been a whirlwind two months for me. In December tings picked up so fast that I was breathless. I got a few things to do – although most of them turned out to be scams with ‘gbese’ clients but I still made enough to pay my daughter’s school fees for the session. That said, however, I still have a few commitments to clients to fulfil that have become a thorn in my flesh- but this is not a complaint.

Last year also, precisely towards the end of November and into December, I learnt a valuable lesson. The circumstances under which I learnt it are not as important as what I learnt. You see, there is an immutable law on earth; what you believe, you attract, what you attract, you receive. I have heard that said over and over again but I just took it as a mixture of myth and conventional wisdom.  But it is not.

Around November last year I was terribly depressed and deflated. I did not have two pennies to rub together, I was in debt and despite my best efforts there was no sign of any work forthcoming. I was dreading Christmas because the last thing I wanted to do was to go home to my parents and my daughter empty-handed. It was in this attitude that I complained to an old friend. You see, this guy is someone I have always and a lot of respect for. By any definition e is well-off, having houses in Nigeria and America, and a successful business, but that is not why I respect him. I respect him because he has succeeded inspite of his very obvious limitations. You see, this my friend is what people will call disabled. His senses are impaired but he has risen above that to make himself a success, celebrated at home and abroad. So obviously, when he gave advice I would listen.

He listened to me and heard all I said then said something very simple; begin to expect the things you want. And don’t allow in the negative thoughts. Of course I hemmed and hawed about how I didn’t know how to do that, how it has never worked for me, etc, blah, blah. But he said everything he has ever achieved in his life has been because he thought like this. Everything. You must assume the feeling of receiving and being in possession of that ting you desire. He said that he wasn’t talking of religion, or Christianity, this was a law of nature, of thee art.

Now a little while before that meeting with him, I had already begun to realise that I must learn to stop worrying about things. I had this attitude of agonizing endlessly about the things that bother me so much that I would have sleepless nights, be unable to eat, be incapacitated. After talking with him I agreed to both envision what I wanted and stop stressing about my problems. I started by deliberately allowing myself to ignore problems that were out of my control, after praying about them. Then I fought hard with my mind about doubting the things I desired would come to me. To cut a long story sort, there were miraculous incidents; calls from people to do stuff for them, problems solving by themselves. I kid you not.

I am still working on it and myself. I am a recovering control freak so it will be hard to change but so far so good. Things seem easier for me now and I am happier. I still have problems- I am even in a big one now- but I see that now as something external to me and not an extension of who I am or who I can be.

I was going to write about my last visit to the hospital but the post as turned into this. I don’t know who this is for but believe me, change your reaction and  see a difference.

God be with you.