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Woman’s nightmare ends after 15-year struggle with fistula

People Daily

In this article, the People Daily writes about one woman who was healed of a fistula she endured for 15 years, through a free surgery provided by the Action on Fistula program in Kenya. The program is run by Fistula Foundation with funding from Astellas Pharma EMEA. 

By Enock Amukhale

Millicent Adhiambo sits pensively to reflect on her bitter past. For the past 15 years, she has been living in isolation and had turned to be the subject of ridicule among relatives and friends.
When she developed obsteric fistula, her husband of 12 years chased her away from their matrimonial home. “It was not my fault to develop that condition but my husband could not hear any of it,” says a teary Adhiambo. She recalls how they shared sweet moments before developing the condition.

“We spent time together and talked about everything, it is so sad that he left me,” she reminisces. In 1999, when she gave birth to her first-born, she noticed strange symptoms in her body, “I gave birth at home with the help of a midwife because I could not reach the hospital in time.

Since then, each time I went for a short call, I noticed feaces coming from my vagina mixed with urine,” she says. She says her vaginal muscles became loose and whenever she sneezed or coughed, stool came out. Obstetric fistula is a devastating injury in which an abnormal opening forms between a woman’s bladder and her private parts resulting in urinary incontinence.

It could also be described as a severe medical condition in which a fistula (hole) develops between either the rectum and vagina (recto-vaginal fistula) or between the bladder and vagina (vesico-vaginal fistula) after severe or failed childbirth, due to the unavailability of adequate medical care. It is also a common complication of child-birth resulting from prolonged obstructed labour.

She discloses that after realising the shameful complication, she tried to refresh herself all the time but when her husband discovered, he became violent and rude. “He started abusing me and calling me dirty and smelly. He became unfaithful and eventually chased me out of the home,” averred Adhiambo. She was also forced to close down her salon because her customers could not stand her foul smell.

She had to carry several inner wears to change regularly the moment the waste came out, something that made her feel rejected, isolated and ashamed. After staying in isolation for long, she confessed to her aunt, a medical staff in Siaya that she had a complication and did not know if she had been bewitched.

The aunt asked her to visit her and upon explaining to her what she was going through, she was assured that her complication was not witchcraft but a health defect which could be treated. She was later booked at Cherang’ani hospital where she was operated on, courtesy of the Fistula Foundation. The doctors carried out a minor correction surgery on her, which remedied the condition.

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