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A day in the life of a patient suffering from Leishmaniasis

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Leishmaniasis has become a major obstacle in my life. If you have not heard of Leishmaniasis, let me tell you that it is an infective condition. I am suffering from this infection for 3 months and there is no sign of any improvement. It has made me very weak. My skin has changed from being perfectly clear to quite ugly. My life has taken a turn for the worse. Here’s how my days have been since I came to be a patient of Leishmaniasis.

Waking up in the morning

Leishmaniasis is a simple parasitic infection caused by a parasite of the Leishmania species. This is what I was told when I asked the doctor what exactly I was suffering from. However, it took me time to understand that when he said a ‘simple parasitic infection,’ he was just trying to explain it to me in easier words. The infection and its symptoms are no simple! Every day, I get up with severe body ache, and joint pains. Sometimes, I cannot even get up from my bed unless I pop up a pill of a painkiller and wait for it to start showing its effects.

Starting the day

I have also developed ulcers and sores on my skin. The problem is that these sores are almost all over the body and keep changing places. So, my doctor has advised me to avoid taking a bath every day. I have to take a sponge bath and make sure to pat the skin dry to prevent infections. The sores also increase or decrease in size. These sores begin to appear as small bumps and end up leaving an ulcer.

These sores and ulcers have affected my appearance to a great extent. Some of these ulcers are covered by crusts. You can imagine how painful it must be for me if something touches the affected part accidently. So, I have to be very careful while wearing clothes and doing other tasks to minimize the sores in coming in contact with anything.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner

I have been advised to eat a balanced diet. There are no specific changes recommended in my food habits. The doctor has advised me to take proper hygienic precautions and eat nutritious foods. He also told me to avoid eating junk foods, especially the fatty and fried foods, as they can hamper my recovery. I also drink plenty of water every day. This should detox my body and cleanse the blood and help me get rid of the infection in a shorter duration.

Going to work and taking medications

It’s not possible for me to travel to office and work for the entire day when my skin is covered with ulcers and sores and my joints are aching with severe pain. So, till the infection resolves completely, it’s a forced leave for me! I will be able to join work only after the symptoms subside, at least to a bearable intensity.

There is no specific treatment for leishmaniasis. The treatment approach is based on the symptoms. The doctor has prescribed some oral medications and ointments to be applied locally. I have to apply the ointments over the ulcers and sores to support their healing and prevent reinfections. I am also prescribed a few supplements to prevent any vitamin deficiency that could worsen my health.

Prevention of complications

Unfortunately, most complications of leishmaniasis stay hidden for several years and become noticeable only after considerable damage has already been done. The skin symptoms can spread to the mucous membranes and lead to mucosal perforations. There can also be secondary infections. In some cases, this infection can spread to the organs like the liver and cause hepatic failure and cirrhosis.

The only way I can know what’s happening inside my body and whether leishmaniasis is causing any hidden complications is to undergo regular screening tests. I visit my doctor once every week. I also undergo ultrasound scanning of the abdomen and laboratory tests for the liver functions to ensure the infection has not affected this organ. The doctor has assured me that regular screening tests will help to detect any complication before it can cause serious consequences.

What are the daily limitations and what are the fears?

Leishmaniasis has already caused facial disfigurement. I loathe going out even for a walk. I can hear the whispers of people who comment on how my skin has changed from clean and clear to this state. This infection has limited my social life. There is also the fear of increasing joint pains and weakness that does not let me work properly even within the confined walls of my house. It scares me to think of what the future holds for me!

How does the future look like?

At present, this infection has affected just my skin because Leishmaniasis also cause cutaneous symptoms. However, if it is not controlled properly, it can spread to my liver and other organs and cause life-threatening complications like hepatic failure. The visceral symptoms are also common in this disease. Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for this condition. So, my future depends on how well my immune system responds to the infection and the diet I follow.

What are the risk factors?

The doctor told me I might have contracted this infection due to the bite of an infected sand fly. It is difficult to realize the presence of these flies around you because they do not make any noise and are very small. However, there is one characteristic of these flies, which could guide us for preventing leishmaniasis. The sand flies are usually active in the evening, and night. So, I suppose avoiding venturing out in the places where there are many bushes during these times should help to prevent the bites by Sand flies and also, leishmaniasis.

The causes and evolution of Lleishmaniasis

Leishmaniasis can worsen over a period of time and cause fatal consequences by affecting the internal organs and immune system. The sores on the skin can leave permanent scars and lead to disfigurement. It may prove to be fatal if not managed properly.

What are the psychological effects when you have this disease?

The fact that leishmaniasis can affect my internal organs and even lead to death is very scary. I am struggling to cope with the skin symptoms caused due to this disease. I am not sure how long it will take to resolve these sores and ulcers. Even after they resolve, they might leave ugly scars. So, even if I recover completely, I will not be able to live a completely normal life. Leishmaniasis has spoiled my life. It has done irreversible damage to my skin. This has affected my self-confidence and self-esteem!

Topics: Leishmaniasis

Dr. Jyothi Shenoy

Written by Dr. Jyothi Shenoy

Dr. Jyothi Shenoy is a doctor having a clinical experience of more than 15 years. She has an expertise in treating acute and chronic diseases like obesity, IBS, asthma, arthritis, Autism, ADHD, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, allergies, cancer, infections, and skin diseases. She believes in treating the patients in a holistic manner. She aims at educating the patients about the illness and providing tips related to their lifestyle and diet to ensure a long-term relief from the disease and preventing its recurrence.