There is a way the best-laid plans go terribly awry as do the best-intentioned decisions.
Welcome to the cruelty of Murphy’s Law. “Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong," goes the adage that has found a cruel echo in western Kenya.
Patrick Wanjala, 50, sits pensively at the edge of his bed at Kakamega County General Hospital staring at other patients wondering why the hell it had to go this way.
Wanjala is a victim of a botched vasectomy that saw him rushed to the hospital on May 13 in excruciating pain after developing complications that left his left testicle swollen.
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The father of 10 opted for the elective procedure after his wife refused to embrace family planning methods fearing the health risks associated with tubal ligations, pills, copper wires and so forth
“I was approached by a community health volunteer who convinced me to undergo the minor procedure, a suggestion I willingly welcomed oblivious of the dangers,” Wanjala says.
Excited with the possibilities of not being able to impregnate his wife again and taking care of his 10 children without the possibility of having more, the peasant farmer thought it wise to give the procedure a try.
“I own a paltry one-acre parcel which I find hard to divide amongst my nine sons,” he says.
May 6 found Wafula at Kharanda Health Centre in Navakholo Sub-county ready to undergo the male sterilisation procedure also considered permanent contraception.
“I shared with my wife about it and she gave me the greenlight to go ahead. 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 recalls.
Not even the pain killers and antibiotics prescribed by the medics at the dispensary could ease the pain. He feared for the worst when the scrotum started swelling making it hard for him to even to wake up.
Although his wife was fully aware of what was happening, it was unthinkable for Wanjala to explain to his children or his neighbours at Kharanda Primary School compound where they are housed after their homes were marooned by floods after River Nzoia burst its banks.
A local assistant chief made arrangements for him to be picked from the camp to the county general hospital for specialised treatment after his condition started deteriorating.
Ruth Nekesa, a general surgeon at the hospital says preliminary investigations indicate the operation was done by someone whose knowledge of anatomy is, at best, dubious.
“We observed that the surgical procedure done at the facility where he was operated on was substandard, which caused swelling in his scrotum,” says Dr Nekesa.
The doctor says Wanjala was out of danger after a second operation where they remove dead tissue from the almost-decaying-scrotum.
However, she indicated that Wanjala could 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,” says the doctor.
Wanjala told us he was feeling much better although he had problems standing on his two feet and walking as he used to.
“I cannot encourage any man to undergo vasectomy after the pain and anguish I am suffering.”
Wanjala had nowhere to hide his face when the cat was out of the bag.
“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 says.
In fact, only his wife and medics at the dispensary knew about it, not even his children had a clue until the lid was lifted.
“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,” he said.
Too late. It has happened.
Wanjala was discharged on May 21 but he cannot leave the hospital until he offsets a bill Sh36,000 that accumulates daily by Sh500.
“The doctor who put me in this state had promised to meet the medical bills on my behalf, he has been here once but it appears he is noncommittal,” he said.