I met Esther at Dawns special children’s care centre and I was blown away, her smile was infectious and her love to learn was unrivaled. However, I knew little about this girl and I yearned to know what her journey had been like. I then got a chance to get linked up with her dad, Mr. Mayanja Sam who told me the pain and joys of having Esther in their lives. At birth, Esther was a normal baby, however, events begun changing in January of 2007 when she was only 3 months. The worst in her life had begun. On this morning, all seemed okay and the mum headed to work leaving her with the maid who loved her to bits. On returning and getting Esther ready for her birth, the mum noticed that she was uncomfortable and that the head seemed swollen but because of the long hair, it passed as mild. So the mother brushed it off as a bump from a fall as she played and the maid was afraid to bring it up. However, Esther started to cry to no end and it was then that she rushed her to her granny who was a retired midwife because Esther’s dad was not yet home. The granny examined her and advised them to seek more help which they got from a Abii Clinic. Here the doctors shyly asked if Esther’s dad had a big head but the reply was no. This was because Esther’s head was now looking unusually big and they concluded that something was amiss. They were given some medicine and advised to go to Mulago hospital the next day. That night, Esther’s cries were uncontrollable for the pain she felt was intense.
On reaching Mulago the next morning, Esther was admitted straight away for it was found out that there was excess fluid in her head and it was pressing on the brain causing a lot of pain. On hearing the news, Esther’s dad was in shock wondering what was going on since he was far off. When describing the pain, Mr. Mayanja says it was like that of a pus infested wound. They were admitted for 10 days as tests were being carried out and the excess fluid removed. Her skull had to be drilled so that a temporary shunt would be inserted in the head to help suck the fluid out. The shunt was also removed upon discharge. During this time, the doctors are extremely careful lest they suck out all the fluid leading to another brain complication. When there is a lot of fluid in one’s head, the person suffers from convulsions and Esther got these constantly in her left leg. Due to the intense pain, Esther could barely breastfeed.
The most expensive thing was tests for most of them had to be carried out in private laboratories out of the hospital. The tests were done after every 2 days and the fluid was also taken for examining. Sam says that every time something new was being looked into, it meant higher charges for them. They also had to go for x-ray examinations at a private imaging center and when you add to that transport and extra comfort for Esther, the costs were going through the roof.
They were later on discharged after the excess fluid had been sucked out. However, the size of the head had not reduced and the pain which was still intense for this 3 months old baby and her parents. This was simply the start of Esther’s journey as well as for the parents.