How Ekaran Lokaru has Beaten all the Odds and Continued to Adhere to Treatment
Ekaran Lokaru is a 29 year old who lives in the arid area of Lodwar, which is characterized by hot weather conditions and pastoralism as the main economic activity. He is however very well spoken and humble. He is married and graciously speaks of having three children, the eldest being his 11 year old son.
Ekaran was diagnosed with TB mid this year in the month of June. He had experienced a lot of chest problems and pain when he sought treatment. Previous diagnosis was that he had pneumonia, although the treatment he received yielded no fruits. After having two x-rays done over time, he was told that he was okay but still was not getting any relief from coughs and pains. It was until he visited the Lodwar District referral Hospital that he was diagnosed with TB and started on treatment.
He did not know much about TB and had only heard about it a few times before. Despite this, he says he had no choice but to accept his condition and focus on healing. Thus he decided to take the drugs given to him by his clinician since all other avenues were not successful in treating him. He was informed that one can get healed if they follow the regimen. Taking cigarettes and alcohol is a taboo for him and was glad after finding out that he is HIV negative. He knew it was up to him to ensure that he gets over the illness.
Upon diagnosis, he had to disclose to his immediate family about his illness. His wife and some close relatives were supportive of him and empathised with his current situation. He however states that for those who have not heard about TB, have a lot of stigma. To them, even sharing utensils is a problem. Sharing ideas and mingling became a problem since he was segregated by his friends and some relatives, as they said he has to finish his drugs first. They are afraid of contracting the disease and this has left him feeling very secluded.
Some of the myths and misconceptions he has heard about the disease are that some say it’s a curse. Others say it affects only people who come from dirty places, while some say sharing food spreads the disease.
When he first started his treatment, he had frequently had a fever. He also became very weak and tired. This was coupled with vomiting, especially when he did not eat well. Due to the lack of unemployment, finding food has been a problem. Even getting a cup of porridge is a big task for him, since he has been segregated. However, a few relatives who visits him help him push through. There are instances when he just takes the drugs with no food. At some point, he felt like quitting the regimen since the drugs heightened his appetite but he persevered through. He credits his will power to the support he receives from the Keheala intervention and immediate family.
Ekaran has been verifying treatment daily and is very thankful because he sometimes forgets. The SMS reminder is however prompt to stir his curiosity whenever the phone rings, leading to him recalling that he has not taken his pills for the day. He has an impressive score of over 0.87 and plans on verifying daily till his score gets even better.
Apart from verifying treatment daily, he sometimes learns via the ussd on how TB is spread, its treatment, as well as how to interact with the public while minimizing the spread. Ekaran hopes that he can get the chance to teach those who have TB on how to live with the disease, take their drugs and advocate for living with and beating TB. He continues to remain optimistic and he expects to complete treatment this month and will continue spreading knowledge about his fight with TB alongside Keheala.