It had been 11 days since I first met Sibelo and I had been busy doing various things around the hospital, as well as visiting another completely different private hospital in a sugar plantation. In the meantime this gentleman had been to see the HIV specialist who had done a brief medical assessment of him and then referred him on to the only neurologist in Swaziland – exactly the right doctor to see considering his problems and his CT scan.
Today I got up early to catch a “combi” (a public transport minibus) to the capital, Mbabane. This is where one of the government hospitals operated from, and as mentioned was the only hospital in Swaziland to own a CT scanner. It was here that I had agreed to meet Maké (a very motivated rural health worker) and Sibelo himself, in order to go with them to the consultation with the neurologist.
The consultant went through a full consultation with Sibelo, and during this realised that both his medical records and prescriptions were all over the place. Regardless of this, he booked him in for another up-to-date CT scan in order to compare it with the scan from a year ago. I wasn’t able to see the scan as the printer had broken and it was only kept on the computer database.
Once Sibelo had had the scan taken, he went back to the neurologist who confirmed that very little had changed over the last year, and that there was a mass of 9cm x 8cm in Sibelo’s brain. He admitted Sibelo to a ward in the government hospital for further investigation from the country’s only neurosurgeon.
At that time, it all seemed quite promising. Sibelo was finally receiving the care that he had required for at least 2 and a half years, being seen by the appropriate doctors and getting the tests required to work out what the mass in his brain was. It was very unfortunate to hear later on from my colleague, Emma, who spoke to Maké over the phone, that the mass was caused by a brain tumour and that because of its size and location it was almost certainly inoperable. I am currently trying to get hold of Maké from back in England to confirm this – though if this is true it seems like there is very little that can be done to save this poor gentleman’s life.