The Story of my life: How I became Blind from Malaria (Part 2)

Philomena Nweze-Malaria complication of Blindness

This Article was featured in our Malaria Edition of HALA Magazine. FREE Download here!

Here is the beginning of Philomena’s Story…

Unfortunately, that was just the beginning.

By the next day when I eventually came out of the coma, I could not open my eyelids as they felt tightly glued to each other. After several complaints the doctors eventually came around and applied an ointment which enabled them to force my eyelids open. With my eyes finally opened I realized that I could not see clearly and one eye seemed worse than the other. My mum said both of my eyes were blood-shot red.

There was no explanation as to what caused it. My mother wondered aloud thinking it was the drip they gave me that went into my brain and eyes. The only answer we got from the healthcare providers was that it would go away; any further complaints seem to fall on deaf ears. By the next day, I had totally gone blind!

Only then did the doctors realize the gravity of our complaints.

With all the irregularities and mis-diagnosis so far, my parents thought they had seen enough of this Government hospital and decided to take me to another hospital- howbeit, it was already too late. “Cortical Blindness” that is what I later on learnt had happened to me. It is an obvious complication of malaria which is unfortunately more common among children, especially when the malaria is severe enough to cause neurological disturbances.

Thank God I did not lose my life to Malaria even though I was sad; very sad.

Understandably, my family members were very furious. My parents wanted to sue the Government hospital but then when my case file was requested for, they all suddenly couldn’t find it; it had mysteriously disappeared. (Maybe my file sprouted wings and flew away, LOL). In the end my father decided to let the matter go. In his words, “what will happen in the end? Highest Government will offer to send Philo to school- which I am already doing”.

It took a lot of love and support from my amazing family to help me adjust. Initially it was not just about the blindness. By the time I was taken out of that Government Hospital after 3 nights stay, I was literally crippled. I could not walk. For 3 months afterwards I was carried around on the back by my family members. I could not chew or eat solid food. I was on just liquids and pap for those 3 months before I gradually fully recovered.

Again, THANK GOD I did not lose my life to Malaria!  

Moving on with life, barely a year after this sad event l was enrolled in Pacelli School for the Blind and Partially Sighted Children in Ajao Road at Surulere, Lagos where learnt how to read the Braille. Looking back now I must admit that I turned out well, thanks to God and my wonderful family.

My mum died a couple of years ago, but I still remember all her efforts to get my eyesight fixed. Once she took me to Parklane Hospital in Enugu and insisted that the Doctors should replace my eyeballs with hers. She only gave up the idea when she was told that it was impossible.

My mum once took me to Parklane Hospital in Enugu and insisted that the Doctors should replace my eyeballs with hers. She only gave up the idea when she was told that it was impossible.

I am indeed thankful for the way my life evolved despite the sad turn it took. I have a diploma in Mass Communication and a B.Sc in Sociology. I also have a post-graduate degree in Communications & Developmental Studies from Ohio University, Athens Ohio, USA. Currently, I am the Programs Controller in Kapital FM (Radio Nigeria), Abuja where I produce and present two different shows called “Health-Friendly” and “Radio Psych”.

My Health-Friendly program basically addresses health issues and I typically host medical practitioners as resource persons while Radio Psych directly addresses social and psychological issues. This second one is my passion because I love to share in people’s concerns. I developed a keen interest in these areas while in the US because I spent a major part of my vacation with several young people that had experienced difficult challenges and thought all hope was lost.

Besides, one of the classes I took was Health Promotion & Health Behaviour and so I am committed to addressing health behaviors in Nigeria. I am also a Fellow of the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Programme, IFP. And guess what my hobbies are: Reading, listening to Music/Radio, travelling, meeting people and making new friends- especially teenagers and the elderly (oh my goodness, I love the stories old people tell- regardless of whether I know what they are talking about). I spent a lot of my leisure time in nursing homes back in the US and I visit orphanage homes back here in Nigeria. It’s probably just my passion for vulnerable people and so help me God, I’ll most likely retire setting up an NGO for one of these group of people.

AS YOU CAN SEE I AM NOT HANDICAPPED even though I am blind. My motto is when there is life, there is hope and I share this with people I know.  Finally I give this word of encouragement to you dear reader you can affect the world by becoming a role model or an example in your small circle of influence”.


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  • Bonni
    January 9, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    Sad, yes…and INSPIRING to read your story. I just love your mom for wanting to give you her eyes, I know exactly how she felt, I would want the same for my children. Thank you for turning your tragedy into a way to reach out to and help others. Blessings on you!

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