For years, Stecy Kwamboka Obare lived in fear. Because of the constant threat of seizures, there were days she was afraid to cook in her rented house at Jogoo Estate, Kisii or go to work.
Born at Rigena Village, Kerera location Keumbu, Kwamboka, now 24, was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2006 at the age of five. Hers was not an easy journey to the discovery that she was epileptic.
“My father became sick and passed on in 2006. There was a rumor that my father died because of HIV and neighbors and some family members believed so. They condemned me to have also been infected with HIV because of the constant hospital visits,” Kwamboka says.
Kwamboka’s first visit to a medical facility was at the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital, outpatient wing. When she kept having seizures even with medication, she visited a private hospital in Kisii and put on medication which caused constant nose bleeding.
Back to the hospital, she was admitted to the then Kisii District Hospital for three months. She developed anemia and twice underwent a blood transfusion. She was later referred to Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH).
At KNH, a doctor advised that she several scans including Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to create detailed images of her brain, an electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure the electrical activity in the brain, and a CT scan to see if there were any internal injuries or disease. The results showed that she had epilepsy.
Epilepsy also known as a seizure disorder is a brain condition that causes recurring seizures. Seizure symptoms can vary widely. Some people may lose awareness during a seizure while others don’t. Some people stare blankly for a few seconds during a seizure. Others may have convulsions.
People with epilepsy share the same rights and obligations as anyone else. And the most important right may be Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that we are all born free and equal in dignity and rights.
People with epilepsy are among the most vulnerable in society not only because of the condition itself but also due to the stigma; this leads to discrimination and limitations in economic, political, social and cultural rights.
In early 2007 Kwamboka started her monthly visits to KNH. Eventually, the frequency of her visits was reduced to every two months and finally every three months.
Around 2009 she did a second EEG, and the doctor prescribed more drugs. However, one of the drugs had side effects and though the seizures had gone down, she developed anger issues and would oversleep.
In 2011 she had a third EEG but there was not much change in her condition.
Dr Zachary Ng’etich, a Clinical Neurophysiologist at the East Africa Neuroscience Services says epilepsy can be caused by many factors including; genetics, infections, injury to the brain and tumors.
“Go for the right diagnosis and treatment. Understand the cause; use an electroencephalogram (EEG) test to come up with a conclusion,” he says.
Usually, Dr Ng’etich says, signs do not show up immediately. “They can show up at the age of 5-10. Diagnosis should involve one getting the right history on pregnancy, malaria treatment and even meningitis.”
Dr Ng’etich was able to diagnose the source of Kwamboka’ s seizures, prescribe the right medication and ultimately give Kwamboka her life back.
By the time Kwamboka met with Dr Ng’etich, she had tried many medications, none of which helped control her seizures and had several side effects. She wanted to try other treatment options.
“Kwamboka was introduced to me by a friend. Her treatments weren’t controlling the seizures. With epilepsy, you need the correct diagnosis to know what you’re dealing with. Some medicines are better for some types of seizures than others. This is what Kwamboka was going through,” Dr Ng’etich says.
After assessment, he confirmed to Kwamboka that drug interaction was the main cause of the constant seizures. He did away with all other drugs and recommended a different drug.
“I have better sleep, I can eat as per schedule. I feel whole. And I live a completely new life,” Kwamboka says.
Source: standardmedia.co.ke, Erick Abuga