, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 23 – Since she was nine-years-old, Angela Kagiri – now 24 – had lived with diabetes without any serious complications.
“I was in boarding school then I was diagnosed (with diabetes) after being in a coma for two weeks but I have lived with it that long with no complications,” she remembers.
But mid last year, the first year Journalism student at University of Nairobi developed a kidney infection as a result of her diabetic condition.
“I was rushed to hospital and I underwent six sessions of emergency dialysis and then put on medication,” she narrates.
In December, she again started getting sickly and has since been in and out of different hospitals.
The condition seemed to worsen in July this year when she got really sick while visiting her parents in Nyeri and had to be admitted in the Intensive Care Unit at Outspan hospital for a week.
After discharge, she came back to Nairobi where she lives with her cousins and again fell sick.
“I was rushed to Kenyatta hospital in the middle of the night where I was admitted for two months and I was told my kidneys had completely failed,” Angela explains.
Here, Angela says, she was put on catheters for dialysis (used for exchanging blood to and from the haemodialysis, a method for removing waste products) around her neck but they kept failing.
“My doctor didn’t want to put me on a permanent one because he believed my kidneys would recover but when they failed completely I was put on a permanent catheter and I have been on dialysis for the last three months every Saturday and Wednesday,” she says.
She explains that she is on medication that costs Sh5, 000 per week, injections given during dialysis at a cost of Sh6, 000 a week, and the two dialysis sessions every week that cost Sh15, 000.
“My parents have exhausted their funds completely because every time I am admitted in hospital it is no less than Sh200, 000 per admission,” the young lady says.
It has been a torturous time for Angela who has lost more than 20 kilograms in less than a month and sunk into depression for which she is on anti-depressants.
“It is not only a burden financially it is also a burden physically. Often after dialysis I spend at least two days in bed, I can’t get up, I can’t do anything for myself. I have to be carried around and people are getting tired of taking care of me,” she says in despair.
“I am in and out of homes (relatives homes in Nairobi) because you don’t want to exhaust someone to a point that they hear your name and they don’t want to get involved,” she goes on to say.
The kidney failure has left her weak, she walks slowly and one can easily tell her legs are weak. Her lower body is also swollen.
“I need physiotherapy,” she says, adding, “I have tried even borrowing money from friends, I have become that desperate.”
She says she no longer has a social life because she fears what people will think about her.
“When you hear about Angela probably you think that she needs money or may be she needs help. It’s hard even emotionally I find myself often crying.”
“It’s been very hard I don’t even know who to turn to, I don’t even know who to call and talk to when I am emotionally drained because everyone thinks I am after something- I want either money or some assistance,” she says.
Doctors have recommended a kidney transplant without which she would have to be on permanent dialysis.
The World Health Organisation defines diabetes as a chronic disease, which occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. This leads to an increased concentration of glucose in the blood.
It estimates that more than 346 million people worldwide have diabetes and this number is likely to more than double by 2030 without intervention.