My Brucellosis, “Brucella” battle Grace Nakibaala

I thought this was another “malaria,” where all you need is a few medications to get back on your feet. I was completely wrong!!!

Now I know why my parents and best friend Mike got so shocked and sad when the doctor revealed that I am suffering from Brucellosis. My mum’s words, “…where the hell did you get it from…? Oh my baby…” When I tell her I have malaria or any other illness I have ever had, she just checks the drugs I am prescribed and asks we go hung out for lunch or something…

For me I was grateful that my problem had been found. I had been suffering from fever, sweats, fatigue, anorexia, and muscle/ joint aches for over 3 months. All the time I would go to the hospital, of course they would test for malaria and typhoid and results would be negative. I was always told to get enough rest and drink a lot of water to feel better.

“… Brucellosis may eventually localize in lymph nodes, liver, spleen, mammary glands, joints, kidneys, and bone marrow…” These were the next tests to be done. The results were very scary. For those who know the extent, you understand what I mean. Brucellosis is one of the dangerous pathogens and it seriously kills. Some of the other effects are; Hepatitis and, liver abscess. Mild elevations of serum lactate dehydrogenase and alkaline phosphatase are common. Serum transaminases are frequently elevated. Biopsy may show well-formed granulomas or nonspecific hepatitis with collections of mononuclear cells. Although rare, Brucella endocarditis is the most feared complication and accounts for 80% of deaths from brucellosis

It came with 14 days of injections and 7 weeks of tablets. In short, 2 months of unfriendly treatment. To make it worse the doctor said that there is 50% chance that I may still be suffering from this illness after finishing the prescribed medication that is if I even survive through.

My best friend had ever nursed someone with this disease and he was too worried especially considering my “I know it all…” I can change drug prescriptions from the doctor’s by simply reading. I have never really followed doctor’s prescription. They just help direct my research to self-prescription. At the hospital pharmacy we were told that the injection drug called streptomycin is out of stock. My brain started wondering how and why. Of course I turn to my phone to google. Mike sighs knowing what is coming next. I find out the drug was the T.B drug for recurring T.B. It is even not used anymore. There are more “humanly” drugs on the market. We looked for the drug around the pharmacies in Entebbe and there was no such drug. My mum had to buy it from Kampala at one old pharmacy very expensively. It was scary and during that time I was looking for options. I kept calling the hospital with my options but the doctor insisted that the Brucella I have needed that strong drug to clear.

I finally accepted and started the treatment. First the headaches increased; the night fevers just became death fevers. My nights were hell. In addition my body was itching to the extent that I was spending nights in a bath tab with hot water. I hoped for sleep to come and take away the pain. I vomited day and night. When my mother saw the tablets I was taking, she said one of them, vomiting was the immediate side effect. I then asked why I should take it since I literally vomited it out after swallowing. I got a plan. For that drug I had to swallow 1 tab twice a day that meant morning and night. I decided I swallow 2 tabs once and in the middle of my sleep… I had to be woken up just after falling asleep so I swallow the drug and fall asleep before the side effects. I have been always worried of what could happen if the vomiting happened in my sleep.

I have never had a sick leave from my daily work. Even as a child I would still go to school after hospital visits. I am that hard working or careless with my life you may say. I have had to take sick leave. I had to leave my home and just disappear to different places. At some point I had to share with my close family my life wishes and what should be done when I die. My projects… I still thought I had had a great ride in life and thanked God for everything I have had and done. I have been notably depressed, with headache, and irritability. But I have not lost weight maybe it is because the weight did not exist.

I finished my treatment yesterday. My whole body is still weak; I hate eating everything apart from sugar cane. I have fatigue and I have not hit my “favorite places” during this time. My only focus is this Brucella thing to leave my life. I have diligently taken my treatment apart from a few times when I failed. I hope I do not have this bacterium any more. Brucella is not a joke. It is a horrible disease and you should try to never get it. The treatment is worse than the disease itself. At some point I thought I was over dosed which may be right… Watch the meat products you eat. They should be well processed or cooked. I super love meat and I am guessing I got it from meat. Now when I want “muchomo,” I ask Mike to make it. When I travel, I only eat fully cooked meat. Even after this experience, meat and I are inseparable, I am only more conscious.

Thank you every one who has stood by me during this time. Special thanks to my best friend Mike Mwisi, my mother Ruth Nakalembe Kaggwa, the entire Kaggwa family and of course my EpiTent team (James Makumbi and Ephraim Malinga). It is been tough and I hope the fight is over.