Homeless orphan struggles with tuberculosis in Thiruvananthapuram

Employer sends patient away due to continuous cough

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: To be afflicted with tuberculosis is not scary. But when a homeless person contracts the disease, it should be. It has been nearly three months since 22-year-old Johnson, a former inmate of Children’s Home in Poojappura, has been admitted to the Chest Diseases Hospital, Pulayanarkotta. Johnson is yet to be certified negative, but doctors advise him that it would be better for him to leave the hospital and take medicines from home.

It will take at least six months to be fully cured. As he waits for the cure, there is a fear that he might get further infected by other patients in the ward. (TB treatment is so advanced now that patients can continue normal life, only that they have to strictly take their medicines.) Johnson, too, was desperate to leave as he found it suffocating to be confined to the hospital bed, surrounded by acute TB patients.

Two days ago, Johnson left. The doctors let him go after they were convinced that he had found a job and a place to stay, in Vallakkadavu. As is the norm, an arrangement was also made with a local government hospital to provide him regular medicines. But no sooner had he left than he is trying to get back. “When I coughed a lot, the person who gave me the job asked me to leave,” Johnson said.

The Chest Hospital has no qualms about taking him back. “He will definitely be given a bed here. He just has to move through the admission process, like the one he did when he came here three months ago,” a nurse at the hospital said. Johnson is epileptic, too, and every second spend without shelter will aggravate his illness. Nonetheless, return to the hospital too has its risks.

Ever since he stepped out of the Children’s Home, he has been sleeping on pavements, or on the stone steps of Napier Museum or in the Railway Station. It was a Social Justice Department official, a caretaker named Santhosh, who took him to Pulayanarkotta after he stumbled upon him inside the Museum shivering with high fever and huddled under half a shade on a rainy day.

Had he not been spotted by Santhosh, Johnson would have gone about his job of selling evening papers after “sleeping for a while”. Sisters of Malankara Catholic faith, after visiting him in the TB Centre, have agreed to take him into the TB Rehabilitation Centre they run near the Centre. But they can admit him only after his sputum test shows negative.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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