Lilibeth, Meningo.org Foundation, Philippines
Lilibeth is the first born of Gerry and Rita Lozada. Their story started when Lilibeth was 10 months old back in 1972. Now 41, Lilibeth continues to be a big motivation for the entire family to work harder to sustain her medications and ensure that she gets the support she needs.
Belonging to a low income family in a country where there is no medical insurance and healthcare spending is purely out of pocket, contracting a disease such as meningitis was a enormous ordeal for this family whose only source of income is Gerry’s daily wage as a truck driver of a construction company. Their only hope then was the charity ward of a hospital run by Catholic priests.
Starting as high fever that would not go away for three days, followed by seizures and chills, and several needle pricks on her frail body, young Lilibeth had to stay in the hospital for three long months. Almost every doctor would want to see her and study her condition. She’s been the subject of many case studies and medical conferences in the hospital. One paediatrician even offered to adopt Lilibeth, but Rita could not let go of her first born child.
Rita recalled that a few weeks before Lilibeth had the first symptoms, her daughter fell from the daybed. This happened as Rita turned her back for a brief moment to pick up the bar of soap she had left on the bathroom floor. For many days, Rita was blaming herself about Lilibeth’s illness. She thought that the fall was the culprit and it was all her fault. It was only after many reassurances she got from the doctors that she started believing them.
Before they were discharged, doctors had informed Gerry and Rita about the long-term physical and mental consequences of Lilibeth’s disease. The couple was warned of delayed walking, delayed speech and brain damage. To everyone’s surprise, Lilibeth started walking just weeks after they left the hospital.
Today, with a toddler’s mind, Lilibeth is physically unaffected and can do household work. She helps her mum with cooking and can fry an egg, sunny side up, without breaking the yolk. She washes her own clothes, prepares milk for her young nephew and can follow instructions from Rita. She also learned how to write her name.
With regard to her health condition, she continues to suffer headaches, seizures and chills, at least once a month, during her menstrual period. During these episodes, she would shout and faint momentarily, but soon forget what happened and return to her normal routine.
Lilibeth’s hobby is watching her favourite noontime show on TV. But this could also be the trigger for her temper tantrums, especially when someone would dare tune-in to another channel while she is quietly seated on her nook by the living room. Her lifelong dream is to see the dashing TV host in person.
Asked what she wants after the interview, she was quick to beg for a cosmetic kit and her own TV. She was instantly rewarded with a lipstick, a pressed powder and a pallet of eye make-up. Meningo.org Philippines, are exerting their best efforts to make Lilibeth’s other wishes come true.
To read another personal meningitis story from around the world, click here.