When Patrick Wanjala decided to go under the knife, it was a culmination of soul-searching, consultation and deliberation.
His decision to undergo vasectomy was the last card on the hands of the 50-year-old father of 10, after his wife developed cold feet to embrace family planning methods, fearing health risks.
Excited about the possibilities of not getting more children, Wanjala, a peasant farmer, thought it wise to give the ‘harmless’ procedure a try, unaware that what awaited him would leave him in pain and confined to a hospital bed.
“I was approached by a community health volunteer who convinced me to undergo the minor procedure, a suggestion I willingly welcomed oblivious of the implications that awaited me,” Wanjala says, adding: “I own a one-acre parcel, which I find hard to divide amongst my nine sons.”
He visited Kharanda Health Centre in Navakholo Sub-county on May 6, ready to undergo the male sterilisation procedure, also considered permanent contraception.
“I consulted my wife about it, and she gave me the green light to undergo the operation. We hoped everything would go on well, until I started feeling chronic pain and discomfort in the scrotum barely five hours after the surgery,” he said.
Now he is recuperating at Kakamega County General Hospital after developing complications that left his testicles swollen.
Not even the pain killers and antibiotics that were prescribed by the medics at the dispensary would lessen the pain. He feared for the worst when the scrotum started swelling, making it difficult for him to even wake up.
Although his wife was fully aware of what was happening, it was unthinkable for Wanjala to explain to his children or the other families living at Kharanda Primary School compound where they are housed after their homes were marooned when River Nzoia burst its banks.
A local assistant chief made arrangements for him to be picked from the camp to the hospital for specialised treatment after his condition started deteriorating.
Ruth Nekesa, a general surgeon at the county hospital, said preliminary investigation on the patient indicated the operation was done by someone with little knowledge on anatomy. “We observed that the surgical procedure done at the facility where he was operated on was sub-standard, which caused the swelling in his scrotum,” said Dr Nekesa.
The doctor said Wanjala was out of danger after a second operation, where they removed dead tissues that almost caused decay from the scrotum.
However, she indicated that Wanjala would need more procedures until he fully recovers. “We cannot say whether the complications led to sterility, but he was at risk of losing both testicles.”
Wanjala said he felt much better, although he had challenges standing on his two feet and walking as he used to.
Wanjala had nowhere to hide his face when the secret of him undergoing the surgery came out, and worse, at the camp.
“In the Luhya community and particularly my Banyala clan, men are not allowed to undergo vasectomy. Only women are expected to embrace family planning methods,” he said, adding: “I will become a laughing stock and even suffer stigma and rejection in case my community gets to learn I accepted to have my scrotum tampered with”.
Wanjala was discharged on May 21, but he cannot leave until he offsets a bill of Sh36,000 that continues to accrue. “The doctor who put me in this state had promised to meet my medical bills. He has been here once, but it appears he is noncommittal,” he said.