Sipho’s TB success story: from broken to triumphant

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He had been diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) and cryptococcal meningitis while in hospital, and needed assistance with mobilisation, and general support. 

He appeared to be neglected and at that point was fully dependent on the care of others. As Sipho lived alone in an informal structure, it was of utmost importance that focus was kept on trying to develop some degree of physical independence in order for him to be able to return to the community and his home.

He was visited by the social worker on the same day he was admitted to the in-patient unit. During their discussion, Sipho shared with the social worker that he came from a difficult family background and grew up without a father figure in his life. Although he had a grandfather, they had not developed a significant bond.

Sipho left primary school and became involved in drug abuse, where he found himself turning to meth-amphetamines as a means of coping. He claimed that he had no hopes and dreams for the future, and lived a life that he believed had very little emotional and spiritual meaning. Of course, living in a disadvantaged community didn’t help. 

Sipho disclosed to staff that he had been diagnosed with HIV a few years ago, but did not see the need to be on anti-retroviral treatment (ART), and generally showed no care for his health. Although he lived directly opposite the community health care centre, he never went for follow-ups and subsequently defaulted on his ART. ART was re-initiated several times, and each time Sipho defaulted. 

It took some time for Sipho to settle in at the in-patient unit. After several days he started to enjoy being there, and mentioned that he loved the calm, tranquil environment and, most of all, the food. 

The social worker and other hospice staff continued to build relationships with Sipho, getting to know and understand him better each day he was in the unit. With each day, he became more eager for support and guidance. 

The staff contacted Sipho’s mother, and with support and encouragement from the social worker, she also started to visit Sipho on a regular basis. This meant so much to him. His mother was the most significant person in his life, but he had not treated her well due to his drug abuse. She was able to forgive him for things he had done in the past, and they started to strengthen their bond as mother and son again.

It was amazing to see the improvement in Sipho’s physical, psychological and emotional condition with every day he spent in the unit. He had made a conscious decision that he wanted to change his lifestyle. 

It was as if he had been given a second chance at life, and he wanted to make the best of this gift. Sipho requested assistance with his drug addiction, as he realised that he could not turn to drugs again, and that there were other ways to survive, both physically and emotionally.

His spirit had been broken by the drugs, and he wanted his spirit back. The hospice referred him to an outpatient drug rehabilitation programme, which was to be implemented as soon as Sipho was discharged from the in-patient unit. 

Sipho has now been home for the past seven months and is doing remarkably well. He still enjoys regular visits from the hospice team, and is actively involved in his drug rehabilitation programme. 

He is now free of TB and since restarting ART, has not missed one appointment at the community health care centre. His CD4 count is gradually improving, and he functions well in society. Best of all, Sipho has a lust for life. Sipho has his spirit back! 

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