SO YOU THINK YOU’RE GONNA DIE (2)
By Gideon Chukwuemeka Ogbonna
Here she is, her body shrivel and frail, being wheeled out of the emergency ward to the mortuary. Her brother follows behind, a small bag in his hand. He recognizes a doctor in the ward. The doctor waves to the young man and becomes awash with pity, the story fresh in his mind.
The lady had been diagnosed of HIV for months. Visited the hospital only when she found it convenient. Soon, it scaled to AIDS. Weakness followed; she could not walk. So she sent her brother to go get her drugs. Gave him the containers of her meds. Just go to the clinic, they will tell you what to do, she said. That day, knowing about his sister’s condition in the clinic, he left disappointed, betrayed. Asked the doctor questions; questions he had no answers to. How did she get it? Why did she keep it a secret all this time? However, the doctor encouraged him to give her all the support she would need. He agreed. Days later, he brought her to the emergency clinic. She had gotten worse. Breathed her last the next day.
To you still breathing, I wish I can tell you to keep the truth of your status to yourself, to spare your family the pain of knowing. I wish I can tell you not to hurt them because when they are hurt, you will become a twig stripped off flowers. I wish I can tell you to remember that things will go wrong if you tell; that, although cliché, silence is golden. But I can’t, because all golden things are not gold; because your disclosure is a debt you owe them.
Being positive means you no longer belong to yourself alone. You need support, all of it. Your silence puts them at risk too. I know you fear to be left alone, to be abused even. You fear their reactions. Disappointment…betrayal…anger, like the brother of that lady. But learn that you cannot teach them what to feel. Tell yourself that if they decide to stick with you, it is fine. And if not, it is fine too. Painful, yes, but you have done what is ideal for them and for yourself too.
May you find courage to do right by them, but if courage fails you, talk to your physician or counselor. There will always be a way. I know.