Battling with TB: Mother and Son
We catch up with 26-year-old Francisca Kageha, at eight o’clock in the morning just from work. She does casual house-work every day from 6am-8am.Looking at her, how bright, social and energetic she is, you wouldn’t believe the struggle she has had with TB in family.
She starts us off from where it all began; she moved to Lebanon in the year 2014 to work as a domestic worker. It is during this time that she developed a swelling on the left side of the shoulder. She sought medical assistance where several tests were conducted, but no disease was detected. She had to leave her job after only two months and come back to Kenya to seek further treatment. She visited many private hospitals, pastors, and even herbal doctors, to no avail. She later went to a hospital in Mathare, Nairobi where she was finally diagnosed with TB. This was a great shock to her as no one in her family or around her had a history of TB and she had very little information concerning TB, its effect or fatality. She was started on a nine months long treatment at the Kangemi Health Centre.
Two years later, in February 2016, her five-year-old son Duncan Mugo, started experiencing headaches, and slight paralysis on the left-side of his body. This was initially assumed to be as a result of a fall that left him hurt on the back of the head. He was taken to private hospitals but could not be diagnosed with any particular disease. He was given injections and painkillers. In August, after three weeks of wrong medication, they decided to take the child to Kenyatta National Hospital. He was admitted for three weeks, with doctors suspecting a problem with her son’s head. It was during this hospitalization when he was diagnosed with extra-pulmonary TB. This was a significant break-through for all the pain her son was going through. It took six long months to diagnose Duncan from the onset of the symptoms!
It is now one month on treatment and Francisca can attest that it’s not been easy for her son. He has to take 8 and a half tablets daily at 8 pm. She is a mother full of hope having been on TB treatment for nine months and came out totally cured, and she believes that her son too will be out of treatment and well.
Francisca is a happy mother with the introduction of the New Child-friendly formulation. According to her experience this will ease the complication of medication for the children as the medicine is soluble in water and there are only 4 tablets compared to the previous 8 tablets. Children and care-givers will now have an easy time administering the dosage during the treatment period.
She urges, parents to be keen on their child’s health, any unusual swellings, fevers, chest-coughs or night sweats. They should consider visiting the nearest medical facility for TB screening and testing which is free in all public health-care facilities. If a member of the family is diagnosed with Tuberculosis, the family should follow-up and have all members screened. It will not only reduce chances of the infected person infecting others but also the financial burden on wrong medication. She also begs parents and care givers not to believe in superstitions when it comes to their children’s health. “Seek help from a qualified health professional”. She adds.
One of the challenges she faced as a TB patient and a parent with a child patient is the belief amongst her people that it was witch-craft as little is known in our communities about TB. She advises TB patient to be keen on the prescribed medication and ensure completion of the dosage. Hence, preventing a relapse or co-infection.
By Mercy Karumba