For a Bulawayo woman, the immeasurable joy of having her first child turned into the worst nightmare imaginable.
About a week after Mongiwethu Mathe (27) was discharged from Mpilo Central Hospital in December 2019, she was horrified to see excrement coming out of her privates.
Yes! Human waste coming out through her se_xual organ, not from its usual orifice.
Her heart pounding in her chest and panic coursing through her system, she rushed to a clinic in Emakhandeni suburb where she lives.
For her, the look on the nurse’s face confirmed the worst.
She was dying.
She was referred to Mpilo Central Hospital as an emergency case.
“My mind in a spin, I decided to first go to a private doctor. The doctor removed more human waste from my privates. He said during a caesarean operation when I was giving birth, the doctor mistakenly cut my rectu_m and left a hole that now connected it to my vag_ina,” she said in a quavering voice, tears streaming down her cheeks.
She said a doctor at Mpilo did not mince his words.
“He said the person who operated on me was careless and cut my rectu_m more than what he was supposed to. He said emergency corrective surgery was needed. Now I poo through a colost0my bag,” she told B- Metro.
Mongi, who is studying towards a Diploma in Education with United College of Education (UCE), needed to go for attachment.
“I had to seek medical help from a private doctor who is a friend to my husband because I needed to go for attachments. From December 2019 the doctor tried to stitch the “intestine”, he finally managed to stitch it in July 2020. The doctor mounted a colostomy bag,” she said.
But the problem was not solved!
“Some of the human excrement discharged through the colostomy bag while some came through my se_xual organ. I then returned to the doctor and he said he could have mistakenly missed another hole in the rectu_m so he stitched me for the second time in October 2020 and said after three months (February 2021) I would be able to relieve myself in a normal way. After that I went to the loo, but the situation had not changed,” Mongi said.
“I went to Mpilo again for the operation in May this year. I was operated on. Sadly when I went for a review I was told the doctor is at theatre since then I have not been attended to. A doctor at the hospital told me to contact doctors from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who usually come to Zimbabwe to offer their services for free. He said they could repair my rect_um. I phoned them and they told me that they will come when Corona cases have subsided,” she said.
She said she tried to get redress from Mpilo Central Hospital but has been shuffled from one office to another, to no avail.
“I tried to engage them, but they promised to attend to my problem. Sadly they have been referring me from one office to another. And they are demanding money for the operation. They have been threatening to unleash debt collectors to collect money on their behalf,” she said.
She added: “They are demanding $14 099-87. I cannot raise it. I wonder why they are demanding money when they ruined my life.”
The despair in Mongi’s eyes is palpable as she explains how the problem affects her marital life and how it forced her to stop breastfeeding her baby.
“I feel I’m no longer woman enough to my husband because it’s very painful to use these bags while you are a married person. The problem now is that I do not feel pressure to relieve myself, I see human waste in the bag, usually it spills from the colostomy bag,” she said.
She uses five colostomy bags a week, but when it’s cold she uses seven bags.
“My husband and my father help by buying the bags for me. The bags cost US$5 each,” she said.
Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director and chief executive officer Professor Solwayo Ngwenya said: “This is a natural consequence that could be caused by prolonged labour or big baby. That is a difficult situation but the hospital will try and help her in repairing her rect_um.”
He added: “I‘m aware of her predicament. She must talk to accounts department about her bill.”