Finally…my herstory…written by myself..(contd)

Posted by Jacque Wambui in Jun 25, 2010, under Uncategorized

Well the dark days went past and I recovered slowly. It was difficult, in so many ways, but I struggled through them. Each night as I fell asleep was filled with doubts of; if I closed my eyes; would I open them in the morning?
And would the pain ever, ever stop?
The pain stopped, and I opened my eyes to see the ceiling that I so often thought would be the last thing I ever saw, each and every morning.
I dreaded the days my sons would come home from school, and their Grandmother would disallow them to see me, because I had been ill all day. I had to put an end to them undergoing that, and that is how I began to pull myself out of bed.
I started by walking to the washroom, gradually giving myself a bath and even trying to cook light meals, when I began to get back my appetite.
I eventually got my strength back after starting Anti-retro viral Therapy and slowly began to add weight.

I fully recovered and began to Live Positively with HIV, disclosed my status to my two elder boys and basically began to live life…….

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Finally…my herstory…written by myself..(contd)

Posted by Jacque Wambui in May 05, 2010, under Uncategorized

This part of my blog tries to describe the dark days….the days that I vaguely remember…for some reason..these days are not so fresh in my memory..why??? Was the pain so much that I am not meant to remember??
I’m now diagnosed with Tuberculosis….it is a disease that affects the lungs…my chest felt like it was empty….I could not take a take a deep breath…coz it would be painful..the drugs for T.B which I was to take for eight months were orange in color so as a result…my urine was as orange…I would get numb feet..side effects..and I was extremely moody!
My mother took care of me….cooking me whatever I asked for….sometimes I would ask for something but when I saw it…my appetite would disappear. I would refuse to take medication…saying I was fed up!
So many ailments at a time…so many drugs…
My father on not seeing me at the breakfast table would come and check on me in my bedroom and find out what was making me not to come to the table. On telling him, He would come home with a new set of drugs, to treat the current ailment.
I got pneumonia, typhoid, diarrhea, constipation, fever, chills….
I dreaded to look at myself in the mirror!
These are the days I cannot recall so well…..perhaps I’m not meant to remember…..!!

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Finally…my herstory…written by myself..(contd)

Posted by Jacque Wambui in Mar 30, 2010, under Uncategorized

So of course there is no way the doctor would have agreed for me to home in that condition. The thought of theater made me shiver….
I remember I was taken to theater the following morning in a wheel chair too weak to walk…..and the nurse instructed me to climb up onto the theater table….and I couldn’t because the stand was too high, and I was unable to climb it. So I looked at her wondering if she was serious and she was. I struggled to climb up that stand and then onto the table…it was like I was being asked to climb a mountain. I had not realized how weak I was until that moment. Well I managed to get on the table and I was sterilized and asked to count from 100 backwards to one. I reached 98 and was out.
Next I was being wheeled to the ward, with a bandage on the side of my neck. I was drowsy from the anesthetic so I gratefully fell asleep.
I was woken up at the crack of dawn to eat breakfast but I did not have an appetite…I went back to sleep. I was woken up by Dr Tom with the results of the biopsy in his hand. The results showed that I had contracted Tuberculosis. He informed me that I would be put on treatment for T.B, which would take eight months. I wondered where I could have gotten T.B from and I later came to learn that my friend S had been suffering from it, but she never told anybody, neither did she seek treatment. So I had contracted it from her. But how come I was not coughing?? Apparently some infections are like that, the T.B just eats you up slowly….
So in that week when I was in hospital, I was inserted a catheter because I was too weak to take myself to the washroom. I did not like the hospital food at all so my mum brought me food but I still would not eat it. I also had to get a blood transfusion, so all my friends were summoned by my family to donate.
That year I spent my birthday in a hospital ward.
The hospital staff, who were men by the way, now would sit me up and force me to eat because I was getting weaker and weaker. I gained enough strength to convince Dr Tom that I wanted to be discharged. He made me walk from one side of the ward to the other to prove it!
So I went home. I had to keep visiting the hospital. I was accompanied mostly by my mum because I was weak for quite a while. I was bed ridden for about two months, not able to take a shower. The catheter I was put made my bladder lose so I could not hold urine, when I needed to. So I had to wear diapers!
I developed bed sores because I was unable to turn.
My chest was so weak, it felt hollow;
These were the days when I felt that my breath was coming to a near ending close…….

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Finally…my herstory…written by myself..(contd)

Posted by Jacque Wambui in Mar 24, 2010, under Uncategorized

Work was not as easy as before;
I worked in a beauty shop as a sales girl, and enjoyed it, especially when people used to admire my smooth black skin.
Then I resumed work looking weird.
Of course every body wanted to know what had happened to my skin…and I gave the good excuse…allergies! I had not fully recovered so I could not do some of the usual duties like cleaning up the shop. My boss did not like that, and she would even compare me to my colleague saying her work was much better than mine…So of course I became demoralized.
I stopped looking forward to going to work and then one day she over heard me speaking to a customer about my “allergies”.
She then called me aside in the evening and told me that it was not appropriate for me to sell beauty products when I looked the way I did!!
So I was offered one month salary on top of my dues and current salary and I left.
I stayed home for a while, resting and still wondering about this disease I had been diagnosed with…
I then began to look for organizations around our home area that dealt with HIV & AIDS. I began to attend their group therapies.
I managed to pick up gradually, with no illnesses. My CD4 count went up to 339. Initially when I was just diagnosed the count was 243…. So I saw no need for me to begin the Anti Retro-viral Treatment.
Then in 2005 I heard that a friend of mine was sick, and I want to her home to see her. When I got there Susan was very weak, I found her lying outside basking in the sun. She was very happy to see me, and she said that she was intending to look for me when she was better.
So we talked and she told me of an ongoing pain in her side that wouldn’t go away. I spoke to her sister and advised her to take my friend to the clinic where I was also receiving specialized care and she agreed, asking me to join them.
We did that for several days but Susan wasn’t responding to treatment. It was like she had lost hope. I became a frequent visitor to that homestead…visiting almost daily.
One day when I returned home from my usual visit…I got a call from her sister, Susan had rested. We buried her. She left three boys.
In 2006 I began to fell weak, and have loss of appetite. Again my skin would get rashes which would turn into pimples…and the cycle began. The doctor I was seeing at the specialized clinic sent me for an X-ray. When the results came out they showed nothing. I continued to deteriorate, everything I ate I would throw up, and I had constant diarrhea. I was losing weight fast. I then discovered that each time I ate sausages my skin would break out, they were preserved with Sulfur Dioxide!
I was in and out of hospital again, and then I was diagnosed with Typhoid. This causes serious abdominal pain and pain also in the joints. The joints in my fingers even used to hurt!
I was put on medication for typhoid. I had no appetite at all. My father used to sit next to me to make sure I finished my food.
I completed the medication but I was still wasting. The doctor then referred me to a hospital to be given water intravenously. I was admitted. More x rays were taken. By this time my chest was weak; all the radiologist noticed in the X-ray is that I was a smoker. A dark spot showed in my lungs!
After two days in the ward with no improvement, I
had to get a blood transfusion. If I remember correctly I received two pints of blood. There was still no improvement,
Eventually, a close friend of mine A. decided to take me to another hospital, after I had collapsed while returning a sample of my spittle.
We arrived at the hospital. accompanied by her mother and A. had to look for a wheel chair. I was too weak to walk.
We waited to see the doctor, A’s mother got impatient and told the medical personnel to please let us jump the cue. They agreed and we went in to see Dr. Tom. He was Caucasian and very pleasant. He listened as A.’s mum narrated how I just kept deteriorating. He simply put his hands on my neck, and felt the painful bump I had there. That bump had been bugging me for sometime now, and I also had one under my arm pits. He asked me why I had not come to see him earlier. He told me my lymph nodes were swollen and that was a sign of tuberculosis. (T.B).
To confirm his results I had to be admitted for them to do a biopsy, and take a sample to take to the lab. Of course I did not want to be admitted and I began to cry. My sister was called and she came and persuaded me to go on and be admitted, assuring me that this hospital was better than the last.
My CD4 count was taken and it was 94…and my weight down to 35kg……..

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Finally…my herstory…written by myself..(contd)

Posted by Jacque Wambui in Mar 22, 2010, under Uncategorized

So…here I was still in shock…but relieved that my father was convinced that I will be fine.
But there still remained my three boys….how would I go about telling them that their mother had HIV?
I was not able to eat very well for the next few days; my throat was still clogged so I was on soft foods. I started experiencing some strange rashes on my skin that were not itching, but looked a bit weird. The rash was visible on my face at first, especially around my mouth; then that rash turned out to small pimples and they started becoming painful. Days later they were blisters and very uncomfortable, so I went back to the doctor.
He examined me and asked me if I was eating anything new, because it looked like an allergy. I told him no, he gave me some ointment to apply.
The ointment didn’t work and the blisters started to burst, and were now extremely painful. After they burst they were drying up and forming dark spots on my skin, making me look quite unattractive.
I returned to the doctor and he asked me if I had any allergies, and I told him the much I had was eczema. He then informed me that the medication he had been giving me all along, contained Sulfur, and I must be allergic to it! He sadly continued that there was nothing he could give me…the sulfur would have to get out on its own…through the skin. By this time I was so weak because the pain had made me loose appetite, thus not eating well even the soft foods.
So I looked ugly with the spots all over and I was skinny.
My two elder boys began to see their mother looking weirder day by day when they came home from school; sometimes they were unable to see me because I was too unwell.
Then one day…they came into the room where I slept, with little Nathan ( Babby) running around with no idea what was going on, and my second born Jeremy would not look at me, he would talk to me with his face facing the other way, and I asked him if he was scared…and he said yes he was!
Then my eldest Terence, who was 10 years old at the time, asked me in Kiswahili….Hii ugojwa uko nayo? Ni gani? (Which is this illness that you have?)
That caught me off guard…I wasn’t expecting them top ask me this…But I put on a brave face and asked them if they had heard about AIDS. Jeremy quickly responded and said yes, and that the teacher in school had said that all with AIDS will die!
I calmly told them that I was not dying. And to take a look at all the drugs I was taking. I assured them the drugs would make me better.
So relived they asked me…utapona? (You will get better) and I said yes. We don’t discuss my HIV status much with them. But Jeremy still asks if I take my drugs!
I managed to get myself up and out of bed. I was off duty for about a month…I would take a bath in water mixed with aloe vera to make my skin smooth again.
I resumed duty with dark spots on my skin…and everybody wanting to know what was amiss…..
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Finally…my herstory…written by myself…..( contd.)

Posted by Jacque Wambui in Mar 10, 2010, under Uncategorized

So, the question was, how would I break the news to my family? Especially my father?
While I was seeking treatment for the various ailments, I had to borrow money from my father several times, and he would tell my mother to tell me that instead of spending so much money…that I should test for HIV. And I would tell my mother angrily…if it was HIV I would know…and in any case, where would I have contracted it from? And I added that if he didn’t want to give me the money…he could just say so!

So now I shuddered at the thought of having to tell my parents I was HIV positive.

And the other question was WHO??
When I was young..I was quite the party goer…spending most….actually nearly all of my Saturday nights in the disco…enjoying life…then I met him. He was a DJ in the club my friends and I used to frequent….and our friendship led to companionship……to “unwanted pregnancy”….to getting my first son Terence. My mum suggested I have my son back home so she could keep take care of me after delivery….and that is when the troubles began. He would stop calling and coming to visit his son….giving the excuses of “no money” and of course my folks would ask of his whereabouts. Getting tired of being asked questions I couldn’t answer….I started asking him what was going on. To do that I would pay him a visit at his place where he lived with his brother. I would notice he was distant from me but I would deny it.
One day we had an argument and I walked off in anger..and decided that I would call it quits…and move on.. Before I came round to telling him how I felt, I discovered I was pregnant again….with my second son Jeremy, he was conceived when Terence was only eight months old!
So of course I had to inform him..and what I got was that the pregnancy was not his……
Well, I decided to move on anyway…but with difficulty… Later calls began to come to our telephone at home…..his friends telling me he was unwell….my first question was…is he getting treatment…and I was told he was. So my response was…..since I ain’t no doctor…there was no point of me paying him a visit was there??? The calls kept coming in….and I finally gave in.
One morning, I asked my mother to mind Terence for me…and she quickly asked where I was going…and I told her the calls were too many…he must have been seriously ill. She told me to go and be back before nightfall. So I arrived at the house…and strangely I found all his close friends in the living room…seated quietly…one of them saw me walk in ( the door was ajar) and said “oh, you have come”….and I replied…”the calls were just too many, where is he?”. At this point I just got stares…and his best friend informed me that his brother was out…and would be back shortly. So I concluded that he did not want to see me. So I decided I would wait for the brother for an hour, then i would be on my way.Minutes later his brother came into the house…and he said the same “oh, you have come” to which I told him that the calls were just too many. So he led me to one of the bedrooms and I noticed that the bed was bare of bedding’s…So he told me of how his brother had been seriously ill..his chest giving him problems…and seeking treatment but he refused to be admitted to hospital. So I asked if I could see him….and he told me he had just returned from the morgue…his brother had died at 6am that very morning.
I always try to describe the way I felt that moment…but I lack words…because they cannot describe it enough….shock, disbelief, anger,pain, disgust, blame…all are not enough.
I called my mother from the call box…she gave me three hours to get home…or she would come and get me herself. When I did get home….my father asked me what had happened…and I told him what I knew…and he asked me if I thought it might be AIDS..and I said….I don’t think so.
He was buried..life went on..another son…a relationship I still ask myself…how and what I was thinking when I got there in the first place…my third son Nathan.
So here I was HIV positive…and having to tell my folks and more especially my three boys the news…..
I went home that evening and went straight to bed….The following morning my house help tried to make me eat breakfast…but my throat was still clogged. All I wanted to do was sleep. When i woke up, I found my mother sited next to my bed….my house help had told her i had woken up,looking horrible..and had refused to eat so she came. She then asked me what I wished to do..and I told her I wished to come home. And she agreed..and I moved back to my parents house together with my boys.
It finally came to the point where I had to tell my father…after denying it for so long. My sister , who is older than me, had also been summoned when I said I wanted to make an announcement, and she was in a state of panic..insisting I should be in hospital…so I made the announcement that I had tested for HIV and it turned out positive. All my father said was “I know you are gonna be OK” and we listened to my sister babbling on in her shock….
Well, that was easy…so who else in the world would have a problem with my HIV status if my father did not??
I made up my mind there and then to find out all there is to know about AIDS…..and move on…

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Finally….my herstory…written by myself……

Posted by Jacque Wambui in Feb 23, 2010, under Uncategorized

This blog is dedicated to my four boys; without which I would not be here writing this :

I have always wanted to write my story….it has been written plenty of times, in magazines, newspaper, spoken on radio and even appeared on national TV. But now I finally get to do it …myself…It’s a long one…over a period of almost six years. I will tell my story as I remember..because some details are not so clear…reasons…some of it may be too hard to remember because…I just cant recall. Though I do get thrown back in time…and that is when I will post my memory.

Today I will write about the events that lead to that fateful day in August 2004.;

I was living a good life….had moved out of home after a tiff off with my parents but had picked myself up and adjusted to life with my three boys in our little room. I was working as a waitress in a restaurant near the C.B.D and had formed a good clientele. And then I met him.

He was very charming but a heavy drinker, heavy. Well he charmed me…. and all our dates were of course in the bar! We had a great time, what do you expect with a date at least twice a week? But he was quite popular with the ladies…so I backed away and got another job…selling beauty products.

In between that I underwent a strange period…I was lazy..always tired and I was always cranky…snapping at my boys and could care less about my appearance…then I got the offer to work in a beauty shop in the suburbs.

Then the blurry vision began. I would look at a white ceiling and see black spots. My chest began to ache and my feet and hands began to swell and i would feel seriously cold all the time. My boss recommended his doctor who had a private practice nearby and his consultation was quite expensive…I began to see Doc. M, he was very nice, took a lot of time with me. he did test after test after test and all were negative…arthritis because of the swelling …even rheumatism…pregnancy because of the nausea…all negative. I was on medication for about three months straight but another ailment would pop up.

Then one morning I woke up with swollen tonsils, I did not eat breakfast and headed off to work in a thick warm coat…in the August heat! I told my work mate who is a pharmacist of the way I was feeling that day and he advised me to go back to the doctor for further tests…I did and walked in at about 4pm..feeling cold and very moody. I met the nurses and I informed them of how I was feeling and one of them quietly suggested that I test for HIV. My first question was why? And she answered..”you are showing most of the symptoms” and I flatly asked her “where could I have gotten HIV”??
The two nurses gave me a long talk about how it is a manageable disease and people live with it and one cannot tell by looking at them. I tried to argue but finally gave in after negotiating the price of the test, down from 500/- to 200/-. My finger was pricked and it was quite painful, I had to wait for the results for 45 minutes. I was put on the observation bed and I fell asleep. Then Doc.M came and the nurse told him I had taken the test. So we had a talk about the same,,how people live with it…etc..etc.. Then the lab guy came in with an envelope and gave it to the doctor. He opened it and said…” I don’t like the results of this test”…and I took the paper and tried to read it. but I could see only a blur and then he told me “Jacque, the results are positive”

I burst into tears…and cried..asking him..why, how, from where? He counseled me, we spoke about my recent relationship and then…i began to ask myself WHO???… until it got dark and I had to go home. He suggested i keep it away from my boss but I said I would tell him so that he would agree for me to have bed rest for five days as recommended by the doctor . I told my boss and I got the bed rest for five days.

Now the question was , how would I break the news to my family?? Especially my father???

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