National hero stranded in hospitalBy: SHEEFENI NIKODEMUS
LAST year disabled athlete Frans ‘Pac’ Paulus was the toast of the nation after his epic 700km-plus adventure that took him from Oshakati to Windhoek in a specially adapted wheelchair.
Now, while his peers bask in the limelight of the London Olympics, Paulus finds himself confined to the paraplegic ward of the Windhoek Central Hospital.
Paulus has a defective bone problem dating back to 2010 in his lower back that causes him to experience a persistent stinging sensation in his abdomen when he is seated.
Local doctors have advised him to receive medical treatment by experts in Germany, but he does not have the required 30 000 euros (about N$300 000) for the procedure.
Paulus said he had applied for aid with the Ministry of Health in February, but has been met with an inexplicable silence.
“One doctor told me that I am lucky to be alive with this condition. He said he was surprised that I was in such good shape with this problem. Half of my L5 bone is gone. I’m very lucky that so far it has not affected my other organs.”
After a month with no reply, Paulus enquired and was informed by the Ministry that his application had not been received, which – with the aid of the Oshakati State Hospital Superintendent – he resubmitted in March
Comment from the Ministry of Health was not available yesterday, but a signatory of the Special Fund assured The Namibian that the matter would be followed up.
“It’s not like we are trying to do this behind closed doors. We are following procedure. It is better if this fund is no more because it is helpless. How can it take so long to respond while we are in pain day and night? No! No! No! This is rubbish! I am tired and very stressed because of this,” Paulus said.
Paulus began receiving treatment for his condition in August last year but after a month the pain had become unbearable and he was hospitalised for three months.
While he was allowed to spend the past couple of months at home, Paulus was again re-admitted to hospital three weeks ago to enable doctors to closely monitor his condition.
“Even before the start of that trip from Oshakati to Windhoek I had a big examination for this problem,” he said. “All the X-rays we did in the past showed nothing. It was only after I went for a CT scan in October that we found the problem.”
Despite being widely publicised, his heroic fundraising initiative a year ago yielded little financial support.
Paulus, who braved cold and windy conditions to complete a five-day journey from Oshakati to Windhoek on his N$40 000 specially adapted wheelchair, had hoped to raise a substantially larger sum which would have enabled him to assist others with disabilities in purchasing much-needed state-of-the-art sporting equipment.
However to his detriment, this is not possible.
“I feel I need to be healed because I promised the nation that I will do something big for them. But now I can’t because I’m in this place.”
Paulus also said he was disappointed not to be able to competing at the London Games. Unfortunately until he gets operated on, he is barred from any rigorous activity.
“The Olympics was my big dream for this year. Unfortunately because of this situation I can’t do anything. I’m lucky because God created my heart strong so I don’t give up. When I finish this treatment I will keep my promise to the nation.”