…In sickness and in health, Mercy Cherop stayed true to her vows. Since 2016, she has been a caregiver to her husband, Erick Odhiambo, who suffered from stroke
Sandra Wekesa @andayisandra
Mercy Cherop lovingly feeds her husband, Erick Odhiambo a piece of bread. She waits for a second, before helping him sip his tea. She is careful not to spill it on his shirt. She holds his gaze. A romantic sight, you may say. Only that Erick, who has stroke, cannot do anything by himself. He also can’t speak coherently as he stammers one word at a time.
But Erick, who is now totally reliant on Mercy, is nothing like the man she married. She had met him nine years ago while working at Opportunity Kenya Limited as a branch manager. They worked in the same building and Would frequently visit each other and spend time together. He was a charming man. Their friendship further blossomed to love in 2010. They moved in together and everything went on well.
However, in March 2016 Erick started falling ill, but Mercy says that she didn’t think it was something serious at first. “My husband never fell sick throughout those years that I knew him.
So, this day, we were preparing to go to work, when Erick came out of the bathroom and he tried to tell me something, but he just couldn’t talk. He kept on making sounds like a dumb person for close to 30 minutes. I couldn’t believe him. I thought he was joking because I had known him to be a joker all through,” she says.
When she saw it was serious, she got worried and decided to take him to hospital. But by the time they got to hospital, his speech was back.
She thought the episode was as a result of a throat infection he was previously being treated of.
However, the doctor ruled it out and recommended a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan, which was expensive for the family at the time.
Erick’s life went back to normal for two months. In April, just when they were about to formalise their union, Erick fell sick again. “He woke up with a high fever and I thought of postponing our wedding. But he braced himself for the occasion and the day was successful,” Mercy narrates.
Immediately after the wedding, they had the tests done to establish the cause of his illness. Still nothing. Further tests were done and in October 2016, he was diagnosed with brain infection, which was causing his stroke.
“October didn’t seem to be my best month that year, I had to resign from work to take care of my family. I made sure I was there for both my husband and our three children. Erick would get close to 50 convulsions a day that would last for 30 seconds,” Mercy recalls.
In May 2017 they decided to seek further treatment and visited a neurologist in India. “This was the most challenging part—I had to leave my children with a close friend and travel to a foreign land with a patient. He was responding well to treatment and we were to come back to Kenya in June the same month. However, the seizures recurred and wasn’t responding to any new medication.
Love that conquers
She was only allowed to see him three times a day and most of the times, he couldn’t communicate. “I felt lonely and had sleepless nights for about two weeks. Eventually, a new combination of drugs was introduced and seemed to work well. So we returned home in July last year,” she says.
Now, Mercy plays the role of a wife, mother, caregiver, provider, among others. Even through Erick’s sickness, Mercy recognises him as the head of the family.
She also makes sure he is comfortable and takes him out on his wheelchair once in a while. However, it hasn’t been easy. Despite her being able to provide for the family through her husband borehole drilling business, which she manages from home, she still feels lonely. Her only wish is to see her husband better.
She believes love is the most important thing in any relationship. “My unwavering love for Erick has made me stick with him,” she says.