Racheal Kanyonyozi uses a pillow to support her back every time she sits. The 26-year-old can neither stand nor bathe without support.
With her skin covered in black spots, Kanyonyozi’s predicament is the result of a skin disease called scleroderma, which she developed in 2007.
When it started, she experienced burn-like spots on the skin. At the time, Kanyonyozi was a Senior Four student at Nyakasura School, in Kabarole District.
She was first treated for suspected ringworm and when the medication could not work, she decided to take an HIV and syphilis test that turned negative.
Even though the patches did not hurt, Kanyonyozi was traumatised by the reaction she always got from fellow students.
“Some students, especially boys started calling me kisipi (herpes zoster). It was disheartening but I could not explain to the whole school what the problem was, so I ignored them,” she says.
But the skin infection continued to spread and by 2011, it had affected her legs. After completing Senior Six, Kanyonyozi could not afford tuition and came to live with a friend in Banda, a Kampala suburb, from where she started doing odd jobs to make a living. One morning, upon waking up, Kanyonyozi’s legs were too heavy that she could not move them.
When her condition continued to deteriorate, she went to Mulago hospital’s skin clinic, where she was diagnosed with scleroderma.
The doctors administered treatment that cost her Shs 450,000 per month. Unable to pay the costs after a few months, Kanyonyozi returned to the village where she was living until last month.
With the help of friends, Kanyonyozi returned to Kampala and has resumed treatment.
“She was in so much pain when she came back. But she can now move her hand and is feeling much better,” says Doreen Kassami, her caretaker.
She, however, needs more financial help to get back to shape. “The treatment is continuous and we have already spent Shs1.6m from the Shs2.5m that was raised by friends,” says Kassami.
Kanyonyozi underwent more tests at Lancet Laboratories, which cost her Shs700,000 and Shs560,000 for treatment.
Dr Mark Kaddu Mukasa, a rheumatologist at Mulago hospital, says scleroderma is a disease or group of diseases, that causes hardening and tightening of the skin and fibres that provide a framework and support for the body. While the disease has no cure, medication can suppress the infectious cells from multiplying.
The monthly treatment cost of Kanyomozi’s treatment is Shs560,000.
Dr Mukasa says the current treatment cycle will last six months before cheaper drugs are administered.
To help Racheal Kanyonyozi meet the cost of her medical needs, you can call her on 0774783421
SOURCE: Daily Monitor