Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 13th 2016 Contents Minimum wage still to be reviewed --- McLeod News --- Page A6
Tuesday, September 13, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
for 12TH SEPTEMBER, 2016
Weighing 600 pounds,
Marissa Nelson has been con-
fined to her bed for the past
Yesterday, the 32-year-old
woman broke down in tears as
she pleaded with Government
to intervene and provide spe-
cialist medical care, urgent med-
ication and a 24-hour caregiv-
"Please, someone, help me
before it s too late," Nelson said
during an interview at her one-
bedroom Johnson Street, Valen-
Nine years ago, Nelson lived
a normal and healthy life.
She was married but the rela-
tionship soured and she divorced
Nelson said she had everything
going for her working as a geri-
atric nurse, a job she loved, tak-
ing care of the elderly.
In a strange twist of fate, Nel-
son now has no one to attend
to her needs. She lives alone and
depends on the generosity of her
neighbours and her 68-year-old
mother, Sylvia, who is an
amputee. Her mother s leg was
amputated due to complications
Before she became ill, Nelson
got married at 18. The marriage
to her childhood sweetheart last-
ed five years before she got a
"Then suddenly in 2008, I fell
ill with pneumonia and was
unable to breathe," she said.
Doctors then diagnosed Nel-
son with lymphoedema after
doing a series of tests at the San-
gre Grande Hospital.
She was prescribed medication
which had powerful steroids and
within a short space of time Nel-
son started to pack on the
"I was 175 pounds before I got
sick. Then the weight started
piling up on me."
By 2012, Nelson lost mobility
in both legs, which are now cov-
ered in mammoth growths.
These growths, the size of bas-
ketballs, sometimes erupt and
"The doctors told me there is
no cure," Nelson said.
Though the upper part of Nel-
son s body is normal, below her
waist looks abnormal and weird
with her enormously swollen
"When I walk, the growths
used to collide with each other.
It was a very painful experience.
For the last four years I have
been bedridden...a prisoner in
this bed. It s not a nice way to
live. I have to do everything
here...bathe and relieve myself
in my pampers."
To keep herself active, Nelson
cooks her meals from her bed
using a one-burner stove
perched on a small table. She
uses the handle of a broom to
reach for anything she needs.
"I know it s dangerous but I
don t have a choice. I can t get
up. Also, I don t depend on my
mother, who is an amputee, to
do everything for me. I like to
be independent. I am afraid if
my mother dies today or tomor-
row, what will become of me?
I will suffer in this house and
die because I have no one but
her to help me."
Nelson said her mother
changes her bedliners and cleans
her ulcers every day.
"I am grateful to my mother.
She helps however she can. But
she can t do much since she is
in a wheelchair."
She said attempts were made
in 2013 under the former People s
Partnership government to have
the growths removed, but after
spending a month at the San
Fernando General Hospital her
blood count dropped too low
and she was discharged.
Nelson was also promised by
former Minister of the People
Glenn Ramadharsingh to be sent
to Cuba to have gastric bypass
surgery, but that too did not
"No one contacted me...no
follow-up calls were made and
it was just left there," she said.
Ramadharsingh said last night
Nelson s case was "very com-
plicated and complex" and he
had instructed his technocrats
to try their best to help the
He said after he left office in
2014 he was unaware of the
progress of the case.
In February, Nelson said she
had to call the T&T Fire Service
and T&T Defence Force who had
to lift her bed, with her on it,
and place it in the tray of a Reg-
iment truck to take her for med-
ical attention when she was suf-
fering from a bout of pneumonia.
Although she receives $1,800
monthly disability grant and is
a recipient of a $410 monthly
food card, Nelson said the money
was not enough to buy her pam-
pers, bedliners, antiseptic soaps,
25 packs of baby wipes, bandages
and gauze, which total about
"Sometimes I would
raise funds by holding a
barbeque. The people in
the community would buy
the tickets to help out. It
is really hard to purchase
all these things and I don t
have the money. Many
times I do without."
Brimming with emo-
tion, Nelson said she des-
perately needed the help
of a caregiver and medical
"I didn t call this upon
myself. It happened. If I
get a caregiver that would
In 2014, she applied for
a caregiver but was
"I was told that I was
too young and the care-
givers do not look after the
disabled, but the elderly."
Nelson s case was
highlighted twice by
CNC3 in the last three
years but help has been
slow to come.
Valencia woman, 32, wants to live a normal life
'It's too much for me to handle'
Marissa Nelson, who suffers from lymphoedema, uses a stick to turn on her gas tank as she prepares to
cook at her bed side. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON
It is the abnormal accumulation of protein-rich fluid
that results in swelling. It usually occurs in the arms or
legs, but can occur in any area of the body. It is the result
of an impaired lymphatic system whose vessels and
nodes are responsible for draining fluid from the tissue
cells in the body and removing waste products. This
system not only filters lymph, but also helps to fight
infection and produce white blood cells.
Medical help available
Head of the emergency department at the Arima
District Hospital Dr Helmer Hilwig said Nelson, whom he
described as an extraordinary case, could be helped.
The first step is being admitted to a hospital, where
doctors and dieticians can work towards helping Nelson
lose weight through an intense programme before gastric
bypass surgery is done.
The programme would entail daily exercise and a low-
calorie diet through professional help.
"The only thing is, to put somebody who is 600 pounds
to sleep before surgery is dangerous. The patient would
first have to go on a diet to lose a reasonable amount of
weight over a specified time to make her suitable for a
reduction of the stomach. You would need a holistic
approach through a dietician, surgeons and
endocrinologists. She needs a team that is really willing to
solve this problem." Hilwig said Nelson would also require
care following the surgery.
"If she is left at home chances are she can get
pneumonia and die."
Links Archive September 12th 2016 September 14th 2016 Navigation Previous Page Next Page