Written by Our Support Sponsors:
I first met Akinyi on my first day at Umoja Clinic. She was talkative and bubbly, and happy to tell me her story.
“I am 29 years old with three children, two girls and a boy.
Early last year, I developed some pain on my left arm. I noticed that each morning it got worse. By the end of the third month, I would wake up with a stiff neck and a stiff right arm. I thought this was due to childbearing and old age. With time, the pain moved to my back. There were some days when I had to walk crouched for a few hours. Being a tall woman, this was quite difficult. I quit my job, and opted to stay at home. Six months after my pain had begun, I developed a pain in my lower abdomen. My husband insisted on taking me to a well-known private hospital in the Parklands. The doctor informed us that I had an ectopic pregnancy, which needed urgent operation. My woes begun in full force then.
When I woke up after the operation, I noticed that all the other patients in the ward had a specimen beside their bed, which had been removed during the operation. I asked my doctor why I didn’t have one next to me. The doctor looked sheepish and told me that there had been no ectopic pregnancy after all. He blamed the person who did the scan. We had to pay the bill anyways, and I left the hospital in a wheelchair. I could no longer walk and the pain on my back and lower abdomen was worse.
We decided to visit a different clinic. I met my new doctor, whom I had a strong dislike for. She was young and beautiful, and was always chewing gum and reading the newspaper. She wore a lot of makeup, like a fashion model. She did not fit my description of a serious doctor. Unfortunately, our previous doctor had gone away on safari. I was in so much pain that I let go of my prejudice for a while, in the hopes that this doctor could alleviate my pain. After a brief examination, she called my husband aside and informed him that I had to be admitted immediately.
I was rather reluctant after the last medical blunder, but my husband said he was not taking me back home, as the pain had now totally incapacitated me. I was not able to go to the bathroom without help, or do anything else in the house. My legs were permanently locked in the fetal position, and any attempt to straighten out resulted in excruciating pain and screaming. That was the worst night of my life. I cried the whole night and kept ringing the bell for the nurses to give me strong painkillers. At midnight, the nurses on night shift got fed up with my screaming, and injected me with some medicine that made me go into a deep sleep.
I woke up screaming in pain the next morning. Luckily the doctor started her ward round with me. She looked at me and apologized that I had such a bad night. She then said that in order to help me, she had to straighten out my legs to check my spine. On her first attempt, I let out such a blood curdling scream that the other nurses came running. They then pressed me down and tried pulling both my legs to straighten out. I have never felt such pain in my life. I was screaming, cursing and crying all at the same time. She then asked them to let me be. I hated her so much right then. I kept telling her that I knew she wasn’t really a doctor. What kind of doctor would let nurses hurt someone who is already so sick. She calmly told me to shut up and listen because she had an idea of what I was suffering from. She then dropped the bombshell that I must be suffering from TB of the spine. She told me that I was the fourth case she had come across. I was flabbergasted, to say the least. She requested for the TB test to be done urgently. All the while I thought she was crazy. I could not remember the last time I had coughed, or even had a cold for that matter. I wanted an immediate discharge out of the hospital. She promised me that if the results were negative she would discharge me immediately. By that afternoon the results were out, and confirmed her diagnosis of TB Spine. I was immediately put on TB drugs. Six days later, I was able to walk straight and unassisted.
After the discharge, I have been coming back to the hospital for the TB medication. I am now back to work running my small tailoring shop, and even playing netball with an Umoja women’s group. I went back to see the doctor who has become my good friend, to thank her and to apologize.”
Akinyi used the Keheala program to support her for an entire year of treatment. Since beating TB, she has used her free time to volunteer at the TB clinic and assist patients. She used Keheala to ask questions and references the Facebook page to get TB news and updates. We greatly value her input, as her experience is unique and educational. Akinyi often shares her story with new TB patients, to show them the importance of strictly adhering to proper TB treatment.