Disability of a different kind

2017-11-08 06:00
Thelma Thulo, social observer.

Thelma Thulo, social observer.

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It was a chronic diseases awareness event on a Thursday morning, organised by government and organisations in the health sector.

The guest speaker was to address the gathering that packed the hall. Refreshments were to be served afterwards.

The speaker came into the hall accompanied by the organiser.

He looked around and was surprised to see wheelchairs, walking frames, crutches, walking sticks and all sorts of mobility aids.

“Is this the chronic diseases event?” he asked the organiser.

“Yes, it is,” the organiser replied.

“But there are disabled people in here,” he said surprised.

“Yes, sir. They have different disabilities, caused by chronic diseases,” the organiser answered.

The speaker knew what he was talking about as he knew all about it in theory, but seeing it for real rattled him a bit.

He remembered the words of Prof. Debbie Bradshaw (head of the Burden of Disease Research Unit), who wrote in one of the health magazines, “South Africa is in the throes of colliding epidemics.

“Even before the HIV epidemic we had non-communicable diseases.

“HIV of course worsened the situation.

“And now chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertensive heart diseases and renal disease are on the rise.”

The speaker abandoned his speech and opened the floor for those willing to share information about their diseases.

They stood up one by one, sharing their stories about their pain and suffering.

Ntate John had his leg amputated. He told people he was not born disabled, but has diabetes.

“One minute I was able to go to church and the next I had to use crutches,” he said and added that his family was finding him an angry and a grumpy person.

Who better to tell you that his high blood pressure is inherited, other than Ntate Thosi. He admitted that the information meant nothing to him until he had a stroke, which crippled him.

Ntate Loyd has diabetes and was blinded, taking chronic medication and using a wheelchair.

“We are dying like flies now and that isn’t good for the spiritual strength of the community.

“Maybe I have been protected by my ancestors to be still alive.”

Mme Rasabo has arthritis which has twisted her legs and she walks with a walking frame.

She was a domestic worker until the disease halted her movement and she couldn’t work anymore.

One by one they came out of the cracks until the speaker thanked them.

He was perturbed that there were two things missing from their testimonies: knowledge of the origin of their diseases, and responsibility.

He knew from that event there was a lot to be done as disabilities from preventable chronic diseases should not be allowed to happen.

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