Just as with any other newly –weds, Benter Auma, a businesswoman, and husband Jonathan Arianda were excited at the prospect of ushering a son or daughter into the world. Plans were in motion as soon as she got pregnant and in her interview with Afromum, she confessed to having prayed to God to bless her to with a son.
Despite having a preference, she would be ok with a daughter as well. As they say, God does not have a dustbin for prayers and He granted her request and baby Brian Arianda was born.
All was well and then came the occasion that most parents wait for after getting their first born and that is their first birthday. They celebrated it well thanks to their family, family, friends, good food and music. Little did they know that their lives were going to change and their little boy was going to face the most devastating events in his new life.
“It was in the month of August after his first birthday when he became feverish and started vomiting. I thought it was malaria and since all these things were happening at night, I decided to take her to hospital first thing in the morning. Since his dad works for the Kenya Defense Forces (KDF), I took him to the Forces memorial hospital,” Benter narrated.
When they arrived at the hospital, Brian, who is now seven years old, was just a normal child, with a normal gait. That day, they did not test or diagnose him with malaria; they just injected him after examining him. At that point, the mother thought they were treating him for malaria and they went back home.
“I went back home and continued with my chores and at around lunchtime, the boy started feeling weak and fell down minutes later. All hell broke loose and he started crying, became stiff and starting chewing on his mouth. I took him back to the hospital where we were admitted and he was put on oxygen and several drips. Once they discovered that they were unable to deal with the case, we were transferred to Nakuru Memorial Hospital at night,” she said.
According to Benter, the doctors at Nakuru Memorial Hospital were not sure of it was meningitis but thought the symptoms presented like the dreaded condition.
“It was hard for me to believe; I cried and cried because they told me that it would take some time before he could walk again. At that time, he could not eat, see or hear and he did not have the use of his hands as well. It was too painful for me and all I could do was just cry. Once it was confirmed, there was nothing we could do but just live with it,” she said.
Once he got better, he regained his sight, hearing but not the feel of his hands and legs and this really shocked us. His dad, Jonathan was beside himself with grief, given that his son had been named after his grandfather. He, however, had to get over his grief, accept the situation and help his wife take care of their little son.
Being in KDF, he could not always be there as he would have liked and this means that his wife had to take the lion’s share of the burden of taking care of the little boy. This means she had to stay at home with him full time after domestic managers kept leaving because the situation was just too much for them to handle.
“My business was not the only casualty of the situation; my education was affected as well since I planned to go back to school after giving birth. You see, I got pregnant after my form 4 class so I was hoping to continue but things went wrong. No one can look after him as well as his mom because I understand him,” she explained.
“I don’t know what to tell you, I really get tired because I have to get up very early in the morning, make breakfast, do washing and assist him when he needs to use the bathroom,” she continued.
It also meant that she had to shut down her business and this really impacted on their finances at a time they needed each and every coin. This was not just because of the hospital bills but because of the therapy for their son which is done three times a week.
“We have spent a lot I can’t even calculate coz since he was discharged from hospital that was 2011, I used to go for physiotherapy in Nakuru because I live in Gilgil and I used to go to a private hospital.Each session cost us around 2k and we also had to pay for the fare,” said Benter.
“He is now in a special school and still attends the therapy sessions which have helped his legs to become stronger,” she added.
Apart from the money issue, the couple has experienced alienation from their neighbors and some of their friends who said that their son had been bewitched. All is not doom and gloom, however, because some of the neighbors have been very supportive.
So far, things have started looking up because he started crawling and trying to walk while holding to the furniture in the house.
The doctors say he will eventually walk and the mom of two hopes that this will happen as soon as possible. His right hand has started to respond but his left hand is still in bad shape.
The boy is a top performer at school and really loves singing. Benter has a message to any woman whose child is undergoing a similar condition and she said,
They should love these children no matter what; these kids need a lot of attention, care, and all other things. I am always a proud mom to my son he is my everything I know God has a good plan for him, and also not to hide these kids because some parents are known to hide their children.