It's a Happy Ending for Fantas Aule, Thanks to a Phone Call that Changed His Life

When I first talked to Fantas Aule, his calm voice and composure gave me an impression of a client who had accepted his new diagnosis and was managing the disease well. What I didn’t know is that the 21 year old was at that time bargaining whether to entrust me with some of the struggles he was going through in his journey of treatment. Fortunately, through our regular follow up calls we established a rapport, that led to his turning point, since he was at the verge of giving up on his TB treatment .

In 2017, Fantas’ dad was diagnosed with Tuberculosis, news that shocked them since they were afraid of the outcome. However, Fantas and his brother decided to join hands and give the best support to their dad. They could work very hard and ensure that he had enough food, in addition to ensuring that he took his daily pills on time. Fantas says that they didn’t pay much attention to the community’s reactions following their dad’s diagnosis since their focus was to see him regain his health. In March 2018, their effort finally paid off as their dad’s final tests revealed that he was cured from TB. This came as a big relief to the family because they could now concentrate on other activities of daily living since their dad was now stable.

A month later, Fantas started developing symptoms that were very similar to those that his dad was manifesting before he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. This prompted him to seek medical attention in the nearby Elelea health centre, where tests led to a diagnosis of tuberculosis.

His biggest worry after being diagnosed with Tuberculosis was his wife of one month because he didn’t want to transmit the disease to her. He was afraid that since he had contracted the disease after close interactions with the dad, the same might happen to his newly wedded wife, who was then a few weeks expectant. Fantas decided to isolate himself and would spend most of his time in the family farm, taking care of the crops. He developed self stigma and stopped eating from home, fearing that he would infect his beloved wife. Since he didn’t have enough money to continue eating from the nearby market center, Fantas resulted to eating raw sorghum and maize from the farm, which he was convinced that it was even more nutritious than cooked food. However, this did not go well for him as he would later develop severe abdominal upsets, worsening his already diseased status. He stopped eating well and could not take any fluids, apart from when taking drugs. When he felt extremely hungry, he would still go for the raw food, which worsened the abdominal upsets. He continued growing weak, blaming it all on TB medications. At some point, Fantas felt that he had enough and decided that it was time to stop taking anti-TBs, which he thought were causing him all the  problems that he was going through.

On the day that Fantas had decided to stop taking his TB medications, he received a call from one of Keheala’s support sponsors, which would change his mind completely. He was very disappointed that the drugs that were supposed to bring him joy and healing were causing him pain and deterioration of his health. On probing further, he revealed his worries of transmitting TB to his wife, which led to his decision to eat raw food directly from the farm instead of sharing the utensils with his wife. The support sponsor took Fantas through a health talk, advising him the importance of completing the recommended dosage as well as the right diet during treatment. He was also advised to stop taking raw food and instead given options for better cooked meals.

A week later, Fantas called Keheala, thanking us for the great advice that saw him make better decisions for his health. He reported that he was no longer experiencing abdominal upsets after quitting raw food and that he was feeling much better and taking his drugs daily.  He also said that his relationship with the wife had improved because the health information from Keheala helped him know that he could interact with the wife without infecting her, as long as he observed the necessary preventive measures.

Fantas is now on his last month of treatment and is looking forward to full recovery and continue working hard to provide for his young family. He attributes his strength to push forward throughout his treatment period to the support he has been receiving from Keheala. Fantas says that he never imagined that our calls would not only be a source of support during his entire treatment period but also a source of motivation to live even a better life beyond TB. To him, Keheala is family and he wishes that one day he will meet us to express his gratitude physically. He wishes that we were there when his dad was undergoing treatment since he believes that our support and information would have made his recovery journey easier and better.