How I triumphed over arthritis
Lone Felix never thought that he would live a life without pain.
The 24-year-old Kenyatta University Students Association chairman said he was born healthy but was later diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in 2005 when he was in Form Two. Prior to that, he had complained of having pain in the joints.
“It started with strong joint pains when I was walking home from school in 1999 and after seeking treatment, the doctor told me that I had typhoid,” said the fourth year law student.
The condition, however, progressed accompanied by fits brought on by anxiety and chest pains which saw Felix in and out of school.
When he joined high school in 2005, his uncle decided to take him to another hospital after noticing that the pain was getting worse. That is when the underlying disease was first identified.
“My father died when I was still very young and I found it so hard coping with the situation that I fell into depression. With so much stress, my heart beat increased and the level of acidity shot up thereby aggravating the condition,” added Felix.
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that results in a chronic, systematic inflammatory disorder that may affect many tissues and organs, but principally attacks flexible (synovial) joints.
Autoimmune diseases are illnesses that occur when the body’s tissues are mistakenly attacked by their immune system. The disease can be disabling and painful which can lead to substantial loss of functioning and mobility.
Since his family could not raise enough money for his medical expenses, his third born brother had to discontinue his college studies and the funds channelled towards Felix’s medication.
With a series of bouts and being a frequent guest in hospital, Felix was advised to seek advanced treatment abroad, where he would undergo corrective heart surgery since the bacteria had damaged a valve.
“The thought of having surgery was unbearable. I couldn’t imagine going through the risks let alone the thought of getting funds for treatment,” he said.
A heartbroken mother and no funds to cater for the surgery made Felix’s condition worsens out of stress. He tried to save the little money he could get from doing menial jobs to buy an air ticket to South Africa for treatment.
While battling with the expenses, a friend offered to chip in and take care of his medical bills. Although he did not undergo surgery, Felix was put on medication that helped improve his condition.
Felix is among the lucky few whose condition was managed properly contrary to many situations where rheumatoid arthritis patients’ health rapidly deteriorates.
“I have learnt to manage my stress levels and live each day at a time although being a student leader sometimes puts you in stressful situations. However, I don’t let it shoot to uncontrollable levels,” said the founder of Addo Africa, a charitable trust that aims to identify leadership skills among university students as well as funding entrepreneurial ideas.