Sat | Jan 19, 2019

A single father's struggles

Published:Saturday | June 20, 2015 | 12:00 AMShanique Samuels
Beres Walters stands by his daughter's side nothwitstanding the many challenges.
A closer view of Terriann's legs.
Beres and his daughter Terriann Walters.

MAY PEN, Clarendon

Most countries across the world will celebrate Father's Day tomorrow, for some fathers, it will be a fun-filled day, for others, not so happy. The latter is true for Beres Walters a single father with an ailing daughter and another who had to drop out of school so he could focus all his resources on caring for his sick child.

Terriann Walters is 24 years old and was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 10 years ago. Her father said one day he noticed a change in her routine behaviour as she was drinking a lot more water and was visiting the bathroom more often than usual, that's when he had a gut feeling that something was wrong.

Walters said he took her to the doctor the following day and had her tested for diabetes. His worst fears were confirmed - she had diabetes at 14 years old. Terriann received medication, but after he noticed her health wasn't improving after one week, he took her back and was given insulin, which she has been taking ever since.

A few months after finding out that her daughter was ill, her mother also fell ill and died within a few days. Walters was left to undertake the full cost of the burial. He had barely made the costs and buried his children's mother when four months later, Terriann went completely blind. "While in grade 10 at Vere Technical High, I realised in class I had to keep moving closer and closer to the front, then one day I went to school I couldn't see anything on the board," she recalled. Walters said he took her to the ophthalmologist six times, and because she was diabetic, she had to be admitted for treatment and care sometimes. "When they checked her, they realised that the sight gone and she couldn't see nothing, not even the food she couldn't see fi feed herself."

Almost at his wits end and broke, Walters was referred to a Cuban doctor who advised him to send Terriann overseas for an operation. He found the money and managed to send her to Cuba for three weeks to undergo an eye surgery. She was put in the care of a woman whom he paid to assist her. "When the three weeks done, and mi go fi her a airport, she stay from far and see me. I couldn't believe, mi affi cry when she run come hug me up," Walters recalled. After being blind for one year and four months, his daughter had regained sight. He added that the doctors told him that she went blind because the diabetes damaged a nerve in the eye. She has had to remove her left pinky toe, a finger and had to cut and drain infectious fluid from one of her breasts twice because of the diabetes.

Terriann felt better physically and started attending evening school in an effort to continue her education as she had high hopes of becoming a nurse.


getting back on his feet

Just as he was getting back on his feet, Terriann fell ill again, this time, she was diagnosed with a disease called Human T-Cell Lymphotropic Virus (HTLV). Simply put, Terriann says she was told by her doctors that the virus affects and breaks down the nerves in the body, and, in her case, it has severely affected her spine which has paralysed her from the waist down leaving very little sensation in her legs. Her upper body is also weak and movement of her arms is limited. Terriann said she was also told that the virus was passed to her from her mother either at birth or through breastfeeding. "I had it all this time while growing up, it was in my body and nobody knew because it never affected me, but it seem like since I was growing into an adult, that's when it started acting up," she told Family & Religion.

Terriann has been bed-ridden for the last nine months, since the virus was detected in her body.

"Growing up, I was a hearty child, I was upbeat and very active, I took part in reading competitions and won prizes and attended school regularly. Now I just feel weak and since I have the HTLV is like there is no strength in the body," she lamented.

Walters said Terriann has to be lifted to move her from one place to the next, and chartering taxis to take her to the hospital is a cost that is bearing down on him almost monthly. He said he does not work as he is her sole caregiver and has to be with her every minute of the day. "You see like how she stay, me prefer fi look after her myself, I do everything for her, from a pin to an anchor," he said.

As if that is not enough, Walters was asked to vacate the dwelling he has called home for more than 25 years. He said he was asked two months ago to move or pay in excess of $2 million for the 'capture land' on which he had built a house, but he has nowhere to go or take his ailing daughter. "Sometimes I ask myself how I manage. We a survive, but I don't know how, a just the Almighty a carry we through. A struggle me a struggle with dem, but it rough, it rough bad," he said with tears streaming down his face.

Walters is appealing for any assistance he can get as he is desperately in need of money to purchase toiletries and healthy food for his daughter.