*Sarafina is a mother of one and a survivor of multiple myeloma that made her yearn for death at one point of her illness
M/s. Pauline Wamae was the nurse on duty when Sarafina arrived at the hospital for medical attention and tells the story to ehospice.
One Monday morning in February 2011, I was working in a female medical ward when a patient was brought wheeled on a stretcher by the relatives. I welcomed them and told them to lay the patient on a prepared bed.
“Nurse, I was well until a week ago when severe backache started that restricted me from doing anything. One day I was unable to wake up by myself and called my only daughter to assist me get off my bed. Later, my left arm was in pain and I told her to bring me to the hospital for examination.” Sarafina said.
Sarafina is not married and previously worked at an office but her illness could not allow her to go to work.
After a doctor’s review, he ordered emergency x-ray of the back and the arm. The x-rays showed that she had multiple fractures on the arm and also back that led to suspicion of cancer of the bones.
The doctor took a bone marrow specimen for further analysis of the suspected diagnosis of multiple myeloma (cancer of the bones).
Sarafina was put on bed rest and the arm immobilized by a plaster. Pain relievers like morphine and Diclofenac were given to alleviate pain followed by nursing care that include but not limited to bed bath and feeding.
After one week the results of the bone marrow was out and confirmed that she had multiple myeloma.
With courage of breaking bad news to a patient and family members gained following training in palliative care conducted by Kenya Hospices and Palliative Care Association (KEHPCA), I called her relatives to her bed and explained the development in Sarafina’s illness.
I continually gave them hope that she could get well with treatment and walk again. Sarafina started crying saying, “Nurse I want to die because this disease is incurable.”
After crying for some time, I explained to her that it was not the end of her life and that she could get well and walk again.
With time, Sarafina calmed down gained courage to face the disease. On 9th March 2011, she was started on chemotherapy which she was taking in form of tablets. I explained to her the side effects and how to cope with them and counseled the relatives on the expected care and support to the patient.
Physiotherapy followed and after one month she was able to take a few steps then two weeks later she could take a slow walk with support.
She stayed in the hospital for two months and on 1st April she was discharged through Nyeri Hospice to continue with hospice care and chemotherapy treatment.
Sarafina was happy on the day of discharge and praised God for enabling her to walk again, thanked the entire staff at the hospital for their support.
Through counseling and encouragement she was able to accept her illness and had hopes of living her life to the fullest.
Today, Sarafina is a cancer survivor who encourages other patients at Nyeri Hospice. She is an active volunteer at the Hospice. Patients encouraging each other is one of the greatest support they could ever have.
NB *Sarafina is not the patient’s real name