Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki
The last 15 years has been one of pain, lack and trauma for Onele Arinze, a native of Ezzagu, in Ishielu Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
A strange illness symptomatic of epilepsy has consistently tormented his life. His case has almost become hopeless. The strange ailment started when he was nine years old. And since then, young Onele has known no peace.
The sickness has frustrated every of his effort to do anything his mates were doing, including going to school and fending for himself, his poor mother, a widow, and the immediately family.
Strangely, too, the search for a cure for the ailment has been fruitless, while also eating deep into the finances of his poor family,
Now 24, Onele is hospitalised again at the Alex Ekwueme University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State, where doctors are battling to save his life following injuries he sustained when the sickness attacked him recently.
The fourth child in a family of five, he told Daily Sun from his hospital bed that he lost his father at a tender age, which worsened his chances of seeking quality medical attention.
He said his poor mother had done all she could, including taking him to a psychiatric hospital in Enugu, all to no avail.
Onele explained that, when the problem starts, the sickness would first make him to shout, fill him with shock and then drag him down and leave him unconscious.
“That has been my life for 15 years now,” he told the reporter.
He stated that the ailment came back worse after a period of calm and threw him into the fire, which burnt his legs. It was learnt that some flesh was cut from his lap to fill up the burnt part of the legs.
Onele’s chances of walking again are now very bleak because his poor mother cannot afford to pay for his on-going treatment at the Alex Ekwueme University Teaching Hospital. He is, therefore, soliciting assistance from government at all levels, non-governmental organisations, corporate bodies and public-spirited individuals to come to their aid and assist his poor family to offset his medical bills, which he said amount to over N345,000.00.
He said: “This thing happened to me in March. My face was turning and I fell into fire. I was very shocked before I fell into fire. I wanted to put food on the fire when I started feeling dizzy, and I fell into the fire with my legs. Nobody was around when it happened to me. I felt very dizzy before it happened to me. I was shouting but nobody came to my rescue. I later regained strength and came out of the fire; by that time, my legs were already burnt.”
His mother, Josephine Onele, said she was trying to raise money to put him in a skill acquisition centre (since the sickness could not allow him go to school) when he was afflicted again.
“It was in March this year. Arinze was cooking and went to bring down the food on the fire when the ailment dragged him down and he fell into the fire. The fire burnt his two legs and nobody was around to help him out.
“He remained in the fire till he regained consciousness. It was some passers-by who saw him crawling like a baby in front of their house with burns that he sustained from the fire that raised the alarm and asked him where his mother went to. He told them that I was in the church and they quickly rushed to the church to inform me about the incident.
“That thing that always dragged him has been happening to him since, but it stopped three years ago. It came back and we started giving him treatment. We took him to the psychiatric hospital in Enugu, where some drugs were prescribed for him. He started taking it and the thing reduced to a great extent.
“The thing started disturbing him from childhood. That time, he would shout very loud and become shocked. It started after his father died and I wouldn’t say it was a result of the shock from his father’s death because he was very small when he died. My husband died 15 years ago and Arinze is 24 years old now.
“In this hospital, there is a drug I buy for him every day at N2,500, which was recommended by the doctor. I started buying that drug in March that we came here, but there is no money to continue buying the drug for him. Because I stopped buying the drugs, infection has entered the legs and the hospital has discharged us, giving us a bill of N345,000 to pay before we are allowed to go.
“That thing that made Arinze to fall into fire is still disturbing him. I am helpless; I don’t have money and I don’t have anybody to run to for assistance. I need assistance from all quarters. I need help seriously. To feed is very difficult, let alone buying his drugs and paying the hospital bill. My husband is no more. Nobody visits us in the hospital, except some persons from our place who gave us N3,000 when they visited. Since then, nobody has visited us and my late husband had no siblings. He was an only child.”
She said anybody who wished to assist could contact them via 08068698905, or send support through Onele Kingsley’s account at Access (Diamond) Bank. The account number is 0007681205.