Patient Stories: Maria
Maria has suffered beyond what many people can bear. She was born in a very remote area in the southern coast of Kenya. When Maria was a little girl growing she reports that there was hardly enough food for her and her siblings to eat. Resources were extremely scarce and life was difficult from childhood. This caused her to remain stunted from this form of malnutrition.
Malnutrition can cause poor development of maternal pelvic bones and contribute to obstructed labour in adult age. At Age 25 Maria got married and became pregnant the same year. This gave her the great hope of becoming a mother soon. However, things did not work well for Maria despite making it through the pregnancy.
When the time came for Maria to have a baby, her spouse took her in good time to the government Hospital. To their surprise the health workers were on strike. The next hospital (private) was very far from home and would be extremely expensive for the family members to afford. Maria was in labour for seven days because of the delays involved in making the right decision, transportation to the hospital, nurse’s strike in the main hospital and later transportation to another private hospital. At the time she received care, her uterus had ruptured and doctors were fighting to keep Maria alive. Sadly the baby had died. Doctors had to remove Maria’s uterus to save her. After a few days, Sepsis set in and the doctor had to perform another operation on Maria to drain pus that had accumulated on the operation site. After this operation Maria realised she was leaking urine uncontrollably. Maria’s family had a huge hospital bill to settle even though their patient was still suffering. The cost for the treatment of fistula was even more than the two surgeries Maria had undergone.
When Maria travelled home, she met a friend who had suffered fistula and was by then dry after undergoing successful repair at the St Mary’s Hospital in Nairobi. Maria came for treatment and the first repair broke when the patient went home. Water was very scarce and Maria could not get enough water to keep clean as needed. The second attempt was successful at surgery but the repair did not take. Staff placed Maria on a high protein diet and commenced counselling before a third attempt at surgery. Finally the third attempt was made and Maria finally became dry again!
Maria has had a difficult journey with many losses but to her the worst of it all was leaking urine. Now free from fistula, Maria is happy again.