26 10 2012

She is a small unassuming woman…

Precious was a single mother whose husband ran off with one of his girlfriends.

She was left to care for and rear her four children.

Deep in rural Transkei, where she lived, there were no jobs so Precious left her children with relatives and set out for Johannesburg to look for a job.

A village in rural Transkei

Because of her lack of education Precious could only manage to find a job as a housekeeper. She was hard working and loyal and within a few years she found the ideal job. She was well paid and had beautiful, furnished accommodation. Her employer was very generous. Precious often had her children and relatives in Johannesburg with her for weekends and holidays. She managed to save money to rebuild her home in the Transkei and cared well for her children and other members of her family.

Precious was happy. Precious was appreciated!

A few years ago Precious got a cold. The cold virus was rampant and within two weeks Precious was admitted to hospital with pneumonia. After discharge Precious remained weak and her recovery took a long time.

Two months later Precious was sick again and her second admission to hospital within six months occurred. This time Precious remained ill and struggled to get back on her feet. No amount of tonics, health drinks or vitamins seemed to have any effect on her health.

This is where I came into the picture. The employer asked me to come and see Precious to see if I could get to the bottom of her lingering illness.

That tiny forty five year old lady had shrunk to thirty-nine kilograms. I counselled her and she agreed to have an HIV test. In less than five minutes I had a positive result. Precious was very sick, in fact Precious was dying. We started her on antiretroviral medication before we even had the CD4 count or the viral load tally. Her weight dropped to thirty six Kilograms within a week. The CD4 count was 67 when we got it ten days later and her X-rays confirmed pulmonary Tuberculosis. Treatment for TB was started immediately.

The sequel to the story is that Precious now has a CD4 count of over 500 and she is managing part-time employment. She is clear of Tuberculosis. Her original employer is still supplying her with groceries to assure that she eats a healthy diet. We think that her ex-husband is dead because we heard that he was very ill.

The story of Precious is no different from thousands of people in my country, but not everyone is lucky enough to have someone who cares.

©Teresa Denton


%d bloggers like this: