Victoria's Story

Victoria* is a 32-year-old woman who we first met in Hospital. She was weak, emaciated and visibly short of breath. She complained of chest and abdominal pains. She had been admitted and investigated for long standing health problems and was found to be suffering from AIDS. The hospital referred Victoria to The Shepherd’s Hospice and she agreed that once she was sent home we could visit her.

The day after she was discharged the team set off to find her. She lived in a remote area in the hills. We drove as close as we could in a land-rover and then had to proceed on foot. We found Victoria sitting on a mat on her veranda. She was happy to be home but still short of breath and in pain. Since coming home she had not been able to sleep due to coughing at night, she complained of chest and neck pains and was eating very little as she had oral thrush. Unfortunately, she had left hospital without her ARV drugs needed to treat her HIV infection.

We promised to liaise with the Sister at the hospital to obtain her ARV drugs. She was too weak to attempt the return journey. Meanwhile we gave some medication for the pain and treatment for the thrush.

Two days later the Community Health Officer returned to reassess Victoria. She was visibly stronger, eating a little food now that her mouth was healing. She now felt strong enough to make the return journey back to the hospital to get her ARV drugs.

One week later, we found Victoria sitting over a pot cooking for her children. She was much stronger and her shortness of breath had also eased. She was now taking her ARV drugs. She still needed to take Paracetamol for the chest pains. In view of her on-going respiratory symptoms the Doctor had requested she have a chest X-ray to rule out TB infection. She could not afford the L30,000 (£5) fee. TSH patient support fund was able to assist her and she was given L35,000 to cover the costs including a taxi fare.

We await the results and continue to monitor her progress and support her as she takes her ARV drugs.

*Patient's name has been changed

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