Stroke survivor launches war against the disease

A touching story of Bakhwi Kablay, a Motswana woman who battled a stroke attack and is now on her way to full recovery is a true testimony that where there is a will there is  way.

39- year- old Kablay’s determination to get recover from the throes of death and get back on her feet against all odds has paid off and she is now engaged in stroke awareness campaigns through  her organisations Touch a life Wazha Centre in Ramotswa.

Recently she walked into The Voice offices to share her story of survival and spread the message of hope after reading about an HIV woman who was left paralysed after she was hit by a stroke not too long ago.

This is Kablay story as told to FRANCINAH BAAITSE.

“May 17th, 2011 started like any other normal day for me. In the evening I was dancing to Michael Jackson’s tune with my daughter. We were just having a good time and I went to bed feeling fine.  Prior to that though I was having a lot of stress, but like anybody else I thought I was handling it just fine.

Around mid night, I kept trying to push my leg and my arm away thinking, “Whose leg is this, whose arm is this” because the limbs were so numb. The stroke had already hit me and I was not aware of it.

Around 2am my sister phoned me and when I answered the phone she said I sounded like a small child. The stroke had affected my tongue but I was not aware of that either. After talking to the phone I tried putting it away on the side of the bed and thats when I fell from the bed. I couldn’t get up and then I knew that something was terribly wrong. I called out to my daughter and asked her to pick me up. She was only about  11 years old so she could not lift me up.

I told her to switch on the light and she immediately noticed that my mouth had slightly shifted to the side and that something was wrong with me. So she called the maid to come and assist. They called my sister who then called MRI (Medical Rescue). They noticed that my BP (Blood Pressure) was extremely high and I could hear them saying, “We are losing her, the BP is too high, we are losing her,”as I was being rushed to the hospital.

When I got to the hospital, my body was still numb but they didn’t diagnose me with a strike right away. It was only at the end of the day after my leg and arm had already started to deform that they realized that I had suffered a stroke.

I was then put on treatment, but that was not before I was made to pay for the services. Thank God I was able to sign the cheque because the stroke had hit me on my left side and I am right-handed.’

They did the scans and realized that the damage in the head was very bad. There was no blood or oxygen going to the brain. It was the most horrific thing I have ever experienced in my life. I  thought I was going die. I stayed in the hospital for one and a half months, being probed, prodded, bathed which I hated.I was of course also drugged because they do that so that you spend most of the day sleeping.

I kept pushing them to release me from hospital because I wanted to go home to face the facts of what really happened to me. At the back of my mind I thought that I would go home, go to physiotherapy and within a few months be back on my stilettos. That was before I discovered that my Medical Aid only covered P3000 worth of physio for the whole year. I needed more than that, a lot more.

Within three months I had already gobbled up  that money and I started paying from my pocket. Acupuncture was about P200 a session and I needed five sessions a week.

For the first six months I had to go every day. After exhausting my savings I started going into government hospitals for free services, but I was limited to one treatment in two weeks.

When I thought I was getting better my shoulder bone popped out of its socket and it was painful. I went back to the hospital and I was told that I should have been given a sling because the stroke had weakened the muscles. For over a year the bone was like that. It only went back in about three months ago. I went to the gym and I had to get a personal trainer. The exercises really helped.

After a stroke attack, you get numb and after that you get your feeling back and then you start having pains. Like now, I am getting prickly pains, it is like being constantly pricked with a needle, 24 hours.

I can imagine what poor people in rural areas who find themselves in my situation have to go through. First there are no adequate resources and they have no money to pay for these resources. I had some savings to help me through it all. We  need doctors who can identify even a mild stroke.. The main thing is that we need rehabilitation.” Kably said.

Stroke is the number 2 cause of death in Botswana and the leading cause of adult long-term disability of our citizens. A stroke occurs when blood, which brings oxygen to your brain, stops flowing and brain cells die. It can happen at any age.

Some warning signs of stroke include, drooping on one side of the face, heaviness of the arm, slurred or strange speech and if you observe any of the signs, act fast and call an ambulance.

To prevent stroke attack, one should keep their blood pressure stable by reducing stress levels, fat and salt intake. One should also stop smoking and should drink alcohol moderately.

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