Meningitis in your words

Annie Tsabola's story

  • Location: Malawi
  • Categories: Bacterial meningitis
  • Age: Child 6-12
  • Relationship: Parent
  • Outcome: Recovery with after effects
  • After effects: Co-ordination problems
Annie Tsabola

Margareta Tsabola from Ndirande township in Blantyre, Malawi talked to Aspire about how her 9 year old daughter Annie has been diagnosed with meningitis and is recovering in hospital. 

“I have five other children at home – a 21 yr old, 18 year old who is about to become a mother herself, a 15 year old, a 12 year old, Annie and a 1 year old. My last three children are HIV positive, as I am, but my husband will not go for a test and blames me for contracting HIV and passing it on to my children. Only my oldest daughter knows. 

“My husband Leyton sells burnt bricks and I sell spices in a local market.

“Annie first became sick on Friday 10 October 2014. As she is HIV positive I thought it was to do with this disease and took her to the Ndirande health centre the following day because she was looking malnourished. 

"My husband had to hire a vehicle to take us to QECH because it was at night and their was no public transport available and we live too far away."

“The doctors did not tell me what was wrong with Annie but I was given some drugs (amoxile, bactrim and panadol) to take for three days. After taking the drugs for two days Annie got worse, she was complaining that her legs, head and her back where paining her so much and she wouldn’t stop crying. That evening we went back to Ndirande health centre and they referred us to QECH (Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital) because the clinician now thought it was meningitis because Annie had a stiff neck and her temperature was so high. 

“My husband had to hire a vehicle to take us to QECH because it was at night and there was no public transport available and we live too far away.

“When we got to the hospital we were taken straight into a side ward because Annie was now unconscious. The doctors asked if me or Annie had ever been tested for HIV and when I told them that we were both positive and on antiretroviral (ARV) drugs they decided to run some tests on Annie as they suspected she might have meningitis.

“The test confirmed she does in fact have meningitis and she they have given her some injections of medication.

“We have been in hospital for about five days now and Annie has not yet recovered . She cannot walk or talk but I am hoping she will make a full recovery if she is given the right treatment and if she takes her ARVs in the right order.

“Annie’s sickness has had a big impact on the family because I have to stay at the hospital and I usually do most of things at home. The other children are being looked after by their father, who is having to do more than usual with the help of my oldest daughter and I am worried about them all.

“I think I would know how to spot meningitis if someone else got sick and will tell my family members what to look out for. However I won’t be telling other people from my village about meningitis because I’m afraid they might think I’m a witch.”

Margareta Tsabola
December 2014