“I would rather sit at home and wait to die in pain from these chronic headaches as I cannot afford medical fees that Mpilo Central Hospital is demanding. I would rather save for a decent burial.”
These are the heart-rending words of 56-year-old Ms Zondie Moyo of Lobengula in Bulawayo who for the past two years has been failing to secure at least $500 that is needed for a Computerised (or computed) Tomography (CT) scan of the head.
She has perennial headaches and pus oozes from her nose as the pain intensifies.
A CT scan creates detailed pictures of the body, including the brain, chest, spine, and abdomen. The test may be used to diagnose cancer or identify masses and tumors.
Ms Moyo, who does not know the cause of her headaches, is waiting for a decent burial as she has no hope of getting assistance.
Ms Moyo’s problems started in 2013 when she developed a headache and she assumed it would soon fade away.
“I started getting serious headaches in 2013 and I dismissed them as just normal headaches but I realised they were getting worse each day. I tried getting tablets for pain but the situation didn’t change,” said Ms Moyo.
“As time moved when the headaches would come they would be accompanied by pus oozing out of my nose and I visited the hospital where I was told to go for an X-ray of the head.”
Ms Moyo then went to Mpilo Central Hospital where she was told she needed to do a CT scan of the head so as to ascertain the cause of the headaches and the pus. She was told that the scan would cost $500.
A strong looking Ms Moyo told the Sunday News that her condition was tantamount to torture as she could smell rotten meat with every breath.
“Right now the smell inside my mouth and nose is that of rotten meat. I can taste it in my mouth and I always want to vomit because the smell is so awful. It is then accompanied by thick pus that flows out, something inside my head is rotting and I am worried,” she said.
Ms Moyo said one of her neighbours never used to understand her condition until one day she called her to see for herself.
“I asked my neighbour if she was strong enough to take a look at the pus that comes out of my nose and she agreed.
After seeing everything she was then convinced that I have a serious problem that needs attention,” she said.
She said people seldom understand when she tells them she has pus oozing out of her nose when she is attacked by a chronic headache.
She said it was especially worse when she swallowed the pus that flowed into her throat.
“It is so nauseating when I swallow it. I once decided to start taking umdombo (snuff) so that my nose would run and the pus flows out but this hasn’t worked at all,” she said.
To add on to Ms Moyo’s problems is the fact that no one is employed at her home.
“No one is employed here, some of my children stay here and they do not work so it is difficult to feed them, again my husband died over 20 years ago so no one can assist me. I also stay with my daughter-in-law who has a young baby,” she said.
She said it was very difficult to put food on the table or even purchase medicines. Ms Moyo has over the months been trying to nurse some fruit trees and sell them to eke out a living. She also said she was hoping to get cow hides for resale.
“I asked someone who stays at Fatima Mission to collect some cow hides for me so that I can sell them. I hear the market is there so I am hoping I will get some so that I can feed the family and also buy medicines,” she said.
A part of Ms Moyo femininity has been robbed from her as she cannot do the duties usually performed by a mother.
“I cannot bend on the sink and wash dishes, clothes or even clean the house because my head aches all the time and when I bend it just gets worse. When I do get the strength, I sit on the floor and wash dishes and ask my daughter-in-law to finish off,” she sobbed.
The challenge faced by Ms Moyo is not unique to her alone as thousands of people in the city are failing to access health care due to the unavailability and also high costs of services. Most health services are beyond the reach of the average person, making several people resorting to living with their untreated chronic illnesses.
Services such as kidney dialysis, CT scanning, chemotherapy just to name a few, are very expensive for many people coupled with the fact that a majority of the citizens are not on medical aid meaning that they have to pay cash for services.
In Bulawayo CT scans are available in private practices at high costs with some going for as much $1 000. Many Government hospitals have obsolete machinery that is supposed to service the general public at a subsidised cost.
“Right now I can safely wait for death because I have no clue when I will be able to do a scan to ascertain the problem. I thought I could negotiate for treatment then I pay later but this has failed,” she lamented.
A local doctor said Ms Moyo might have a type of brain tumor that is cancerous and could be rotting from inside, hence the foul smelling pus that comes out of her nose regularly.