Thursday, April 29, 2010

Why, Grandma...

I thought of Red Riding Hood today, because I saw an older lady up in the clinic up at The Zoo. She was in her 60s. She was referred because of a confusing test result. Remember, in the fairy tale, how Red Riding Hood saw the Wolf who was pretending to be her Grandma. And she said, "Why, Grandma...what big eyes you have!" And the Wolf slyly replied, "The better to see you with, my dear..." And on and on.

Anyway, this lady was like a Grandma. In fact, she could've been a Grandma (I didn't ask her; I know she has 2 kids). I had to tell her that we had gotten her confirmatory test results.

Why, Grandma, yes it is an HIV virus you have.

Wow. What a life-changing day at the doctor's office. She knew that the original test was positive but the confirmatory test was negative. So, the other doctor sent a blood test to see if the lab could see any actual virus in her blood. They saw over 200,000 copies.

At first, she seemed ok with it. Then, I asked her how much she knew about HIV, and whether I should start from the beginning. She lost it. The translator turned to me, looking as helpless as I felt. I put my hand on her leg and said I would do a basic overview today, and I asked her to write down questions over the next 3-4 weeks and ask them at the next visit. She was really strong and pulled herself together. So we went through everything, and I think she'll do great. She's smart, she's organized, and I think she'll take control of her disease rather than the HIV taking control of her.

Hopefully, I'll be the one to see her in a month. It's an immediate bond you build with someone, when you share that diagnosis with them and do the initial education. I'd like to be the one to start her on her meds and encourage her progress. I have a good feeling about her, I think she'll do quite well.

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