This 18-year-old girl is stylish and vivacious, amiably chatting to doctors and confidently able to wear a miniskirt, but a glance downwards reveals a right leg which looks as gnarled and thick as the trunk of a great oak, and which is in no state for walking upon.
The disease which ravaged her leg is none other than elephantiasis, a disease usually caused by parasitic infestation of the lymph glands, leading to tissue growth irregularities, and in her case she has been so afflicted since birth.
The disease has left her with one leg literally twice the size of the other, and walking, let alone wearing shoes, is rendered hugely difficult.
The young lady is said to have lived a life of hardship, both being bullied on account of her ruined limb, and also suffering for want of affection from her very parents. Though she soldiered on as far as she could, she was eventually forced to drop out of school at the age of 14, saying of her continuous pain: “The pain was like being bitten by a million ants”.
As if this wasn’t enough, the story takes on an almost pantomime level of harshness, when her parents suddenly sold her off as “wife” to a 44-year-old man she had never met, older even than her own father, who himself had a 15-year-old daughter, for the knockdown price of $150. She is said to have even contemplated suicide at this stage, such was her despair. At least she got away; many are not so fortunate.
Her servitude could not have been too strict, however, for she managed to flee the marriage after only a month, and returned home.
After this her fortunes turned, and she saw a boy suffering a similar condition on television, and resolved to see about getting herself treated too. She even realised her long held dream of finally wearing a skirt.
She did manage to receive treatment, although doctors report that the conversation they had with her father about her case was less than inspiring: “We ain’t got the money to pay for that girl’s treatment. Do us a favour, treat her with some rat poison and put an end to her”.
Though now without a home to return to, she praises the kindness of the people around her now, and resolves to work and help other people herself if her leg is cured.
Another fine tale of medical sino-Forteana; but whatever the poverty of medical treatment these unfortunates endure, it seems they are reassuringly not afflicted by a poverty of character in facing up to their adversities.