21 September 2017

Namibia: Woman Keeps Going Despite Paralysis

About seven years ago, Martha Campbell (47) started losing control of her body below her waist because of "TB of the spine", doctors told her.

Today, she is paralysed from the waist down.

Sitting on her double bed in a backyard shack at Tulinawa, Swakopmund, Campbell looks out through a small window.

Although the sun is above the misty sky, light still fills her home. Her legs are covered in blankets, and there are plastic bedsheets on the floor, just in case she 'slipped'.

Going to the toilet, bathing, getting off the bed into an old wheelchair, just to go and sit outside for a while, are luxuries to her.

"I spend most of my time in bed and looking out the window. I see it is light or dark. I know it's life out there, but it is hard for me to get out," she tells The Namibian.

"It used to frustrate me, but I have accepted it. I am a very hard worker, but I learned that frustration would just make us sicker. We must make peace with ourselves and others."

According to her, doctors could not identify anomalies on her spine from X-rays after she had complained of back pain.

She had many X-rays done, but she started losing control of her legs while in hospital in 2010.

"I could not walk far. I started falling more and more. Eventually, I could not move the lower part of my body. After tests, the doctors said it was because of the TB of the spine.

"I got medicine then, but I no longer take it because no one knows what I am taking it for," she says, adding that no one could tell her if she would get better or not."

She is, otherwise, healthy and takes care of her two nieces and a five-month-old granddaughter.

Campbell used to earn a bit of money by baking bread and cookies. But because of the cost of electricity, she cannot afford to do that anymore, considering that she has to pay N$1 000 from her N$1 200 pension towards rent.

Other expenses include kindergarten fees for her late sister's child, and making sure all the children are well-nourished, besides being warmly dressed.

"I make sure they are safe and have good company. Sometimes, when I get out of bed, I try and make food for them, and dress them and clean them. It is not easy, but I am too glad to help. I love them, and they love me. We need each other," she says.

Her wheelchair is old, and too small. Its components are broken, and the brakes do not work and it thus requires bricks just to keep it still. Sitting still on it is also becoming painful for her.

Her teenage daughter sometimes helps clean the house and care for her, while her other children are working or studying, although they also help out where they can. She does not want to be a burden, and thanks God for her children. But she still has life in her to do more - it is just not easy.

She used to do domestic chores, privately and for hotels and businesses.

"I am not appealing for handouts, but for any medical practitioner out there who can cure or at least let me know what the status quo is with my condition.

"I emphasise that I am not begging for assistance, but desperate moments call for desperate measures. At this stage, any form of help from the general public will go a long way, and will be highly appreciated. I am vibrant, as well as a hard worker myself," she says, adding that maybe some sicknesses are not from this world.

"Maybe it is just that it can only be healed in heaven."


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