TOP
Wednesday,August 12,2020 12:51 PM

Stranded with a rotting leg

By Vision Reporter

Added 4th September 2012 07:02 PM

Richard Mugabi lies on a bed tucked behind the pieced-up wooden door of his tiny dark mud-walled room. The 32-year-old resident of Kayunga village in Mafubira sub-county, Jinja district, breathes heavily and winces in pain.

Stranded with a rotting leg

Richard Mugabi lies on a bed tucked behind the pieced-up wooden door of his tiny dark mud-walled room. The 32-year-old resident of Kayunga village in Mafubira sub-county, Jinja district, breathes heavily and winces in pain.

Richard Mugabi lies on a bed tucked behind the pieced-up wooden door of his tiny dark mud-walled room. The 32-year-old resident of Kayunga village in Mafubira sub-county, Jinja district, breathes heavily and winces in pain. 


He was once a taxi conductor, but now his movement is restricted. He has an abnormally dry wound that has cracked open the lower part of his left foot. He is also HIV-positive, just like his mother Zainah Nakagolo, who takes care of him.

Nakagolo, a former sweeper with Jinja Municipal Council says her son's troubles started in March this year, following a tiny wound he got on one of his toes. 

“The infection then spread to the other toes. He complained of being in pain, but we always thought he would get okay. We were wrong,” she says sadly.

Hospitalised
Nakagolo says reality hit them hard when Mugabi, a father of two, stopped working. The pain had intensified and the wound had gotten worse, yet Mugabi was the sole bread winner of the family. They sought medical help. 

“We took him to a Chinese medical facility in Walukuba Division in Jinja Municipality. The doctors told us his toes had got rotten due to gangrene. They referred us to Jinja Hospital.”

For two weeks in Jinja Hospital, Nakagolo says the nurses kept on injecting Mugabi, saying they were treating the problem, but visibly, his condition seemed to be worsening — he no longer just breathed heavily, but wailed. In the third week, they were discharged without a clear explanation.

But the wound kept growing. In April they took him back to Jinja Hospital, where the doctors said they would have to amputate the limb. 

Runaway wife
As they struggled to come to terms with this, Nakagolo's troubles were worsened by her daughter-in-law, who left with the children.

“She had said she was going to visit her parents but since then she has been nowhere to be seen. Today's woman is impatient — she would not be by Mugabi's side and left me with all the responsibilities of taking care of him,” she narrates.

Stranded in hospital
For a month, Nakagolo says, they waited. There was no clear explanation from the doctors. Other patients came and left while no one seemed to care about her son Mugabi. 

“Whenever we asked what was going on, the nurses would respond in their English — we could not understand them,” she says.

Eventually, they were referred to Mulago Hospital. Nakagolo was afraid of going to Mulago because she was not sure of where to start from while there. For two days, they remained stranded in hospital. Her pleas to have the operation done in Jinja fell on deaf ears. Nakagolo believes the operation could have been done in Jinja if she had money to give the doctors. 

“Some people whose patients were treated told me they had parted with some money. Still, some nurses also told me it was all about money,” she says, adding: “At one time Mugabi was wheeled off to the theatre, only to be brought back with no operation done. They said they needed more time to study his sickness.”

“Going by his wailing, his condition was getting worse — the entire lower part of the leg was visibly rotting,” she says with a grim look on her face. She worried about how to get him to Mulago.

“As you can see I am a poor woman — I have struggled with my two children since their father died when they were still young.” 

Nakagolo, who says she is also diabetic, took the undesirable, but easier option of carrying Mugabi back home at the beginning of May.

One of her friends advised her to try Soft Power Health Facility in Bujagali. The doctor there re-examined Mugabi and said the disease had spread much faster. A bigger part of the leg had to be cut off.

Following this recommendation, they were referred to CorSu Rehabilitation Hospital in Kisubi on Entebbe Road. 
The documents from CorSu show that Nakagolo has to pay sh800,000 for Mugabi's amputation and sh168,000 for food and admission in the hospital for seven days.

“We cannot afford that. From the look of things, my son is undergoing slow, but surely painful death,” she says in a receding tone.  

“I request people, regardless of what they can afford, to help us have Mugabi's leg amputated. This will give him new life so that he can resume his work and look after his children,”she appeals.

What is gangrene?
Experts on vascular-related complications say, gangrene is the end stage of a disease process known as arterial occlusive disease. 

Gangrene basically means a dead tissue which affects the living one with toxins. You cannot leave dead tissue, which is poisonous, near living tissue. 

The disease mostly affects peripheral arteries, mostly in the limbs. Gangrene, which is a result of total vessel blockage, is a small portion of a bigger problem. The magnitude of gangrene is on the rise, affecting mostly smokers and diabetics.
The vessel blockage can, however, be in other parts such as in the heart, resulting in heart failure or attacks, and in the brain, resulting in strokes.

Once a patient has reached the gangrene stage, the only option is amputation. There is no question of how to best look after the wound.

Gangrene results from lack of enough oxygen delivered to the tissues due to a compromise or a reduction in the size of the lumen, which is the inside space of an artery.

As a result, there is insufficient blood and oxygen supply to the tissues.  
This eventually results in pain with every exertion on the affected part, which could increase with time until total blockage of the blood vessels.

It is important to seek medical advice early so that appropriate investigations are done.
The problem can be prevented or controlled with lifestyle modifications, for example, if one is a smoker, one should stop immediately.

And, if one is diabetic, one should ensure that it is well controlled and regular treatment is attained.
Serious exercise and a regulated diet are recommended. For example, solid cooking fats should be avoided since they have high levels of cholesterol. 
 
 

Stranded with a rotting leg

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author