Bhumisuta was 19 years old when she was diagnosed with leprosy. Six years on and she’s had several sessions of reconstructive surgery operations on her hands at our centre in Sonepur. Each time this requires her to stay away from home for many months but it’s the only way to help her regain mobility in her clawed hands.
Bhumisuta has never been to school and helps her mother with her younger siblings and the housework. She says that the lack of feeling in her hands means she regularly injures herself without realising. This explains the blisters she has.
“I burned my hand when I was cooking because I had no feeling in either of my hands and I couldn’t feel the heat.”
Bhumisuta discovered she had been affected by leprosy purely by chance.
“A mosquito bit my hand and it became swollen. I was told first that I had a skin disease. Then I went to a medical centre and they gave me medicine but didn’t tell me what the disease was.”
She then began to get fevers and as they got worse her family’s hunt for a correct diagnosis hastened. Eventually, the family was referred to us and our team was able to diagnose Bhumisuta with leprosy.
“I felt very bad because I had six sisters and brothers but luckily none of the other members of my family had leprosy. Eventually, I accepted it. I was on multi-drug therapy for a year and now I’m cured.”
Despite being leprosy-free, Bhumisuta is still living with a disability, although that’s something our team is continuing to try and remedy. She’ll continue to have surgeries and work with our physiotherapist.
“Before my first operation, I wasn’t able to do things. Eating was really difficult. After the operation, my hand became strong.”
Her main worry about the disease was always about whether or not she would be able to marry.
“When I learned I had leprosy, we were all afraid that if the community found out, my whole family would be rejected. My marriage had already been arranged.”
When we first spoke to Bhumisuta she had told her fiancé about her diagnosis but worried his parents would stop the wedding if they knew.
She said: “We haven’t told his parents yet and we won’t tell them until after the wedding. My fiancé refuses to tell them. There may be problems ahead, but with him at my side, I feel confident.”
Since then, the couple have had a change of heart and told her fiance’s parents. Much to their surprise, they are allowing the marriage to go ahead as planned and she says that Lepra is invited!
“Initially I felt ashamed but not now. I want to marry and be a good housewife.”
Bhumisuta is now using her own experience to help others.
“I helped a girl in my village who had a small patch. I told her to go to the referral centre and she was tested positive. I told her I took treatment too and I am cured now.”