This is the continued story of Lydiah Kagere, a woman whose illegal abortion resulted in the loss of her uterus. Part 1 describes how the university student endured the procedure. Now we turn to see how she managed to survive it.
By Lucy Maroncha, Nairobi
“By now the abdominal pain was severe, and I was getting alarmed,” Lydiah says. She could not attend her lectures because of the foul smell and the overwhelming pain.
Over the next two weeks, the pain was so intense that she could barely leave the bed. Efforts to trace the nurse at the illegal clinic proved futile. Her boyfriend had virtually disappeared into thin air. Not wanting to involve her parents or the university authorities, she confided in a female councillor. “This is more serious than I thought, I cannot handle it alone,” she recalls, describing the councillor’s frightened look.
Against her wish, the councillor alerted the university authorities and Lydiah was taken to Kenyatta National Hospital in total black out. Her parents were called and they suggested that she be transferred to a private hospital where they would hire a private doctor.
“My inner self was alive and alert and I could hear and see all what was happening around me,” Lydiah recalls. “I was then taken to one of the best private hospitals in Kenya where I was admitted immediately. The doctors explained that there was an emergency need for an operation and, because I was very weak, my parents signed the consent form.”
“When I came to after the operation I was in the intensive care unit and my mother was seated beside me,” says Lydiah. She said that her mother’s calm face shocked her. She wondered why her mother was not mad at her or showing signs of disappointment.
With tears in her eyes, Lydiah describes how her mother gave her milk from a bottle-feed. “That is when it dawned on me how intense the situation had been. I tried mumbling something, but my mother gently patted my back and signalled that I should remain silent,” she says.
Lydiah was later moved to the private ward and her doctor seemed friendlier than ever. He calmly asked if they could talk. This is when he told her what the surgical operation had entailed. “By the time you were brought to us, part of your uterus had already decomposed and we had to remove it to save your life,” Lydiah recalls the doctor explaining.
She says the news struck like lightening. “You mean I now do not have a womb!?” She cried for days on end. The doctors let her be.
Keeping the secret
Lydiah was finally discharged, but decided to keep the secret to herself. Her parents sent her to a different university, where she studied hard. She never interacted with young men her age, much less did she hang out with them. “I had no reason to have a boyfriend,” she explains. “Who would want her woman who cannot bear children?
Lydiah says that her four years at the university were quiet and passed without incident until she graduated. Men thought that she was too proud to date them and they even labelled her a “classic girl”. But the secret reigned her life.
Still, she got a good job, thanks to her parents’ influence. She was posted far from her home where she thought she would make new friends who knew nothing about her.
After months of self-isolation, Lydiah joined a local church and became active in it. She was oblivious to the fact that the more she participated, the more she attracted men in the church. Still, she could not get involved in a serious relationship. “Not having the uterus tortured me! I was always insecure and behaved like a frightened rabbit!” She can chuckle now that it is over, but it's clear she has been affected. "Losing your uterus is not like losing one of your teeth,” she says.
Lydiah wanted to speak to someone, “someone I could trust”, as she puts it. The pastor in her church was kind and looked like he had a good share of his own trouble, so she decided to share her story with him. From what she had gathered, he was a widow, which convinced Lydiah that he had no one close to discuss her issues with. She prayed about it for several weeks and then she booked an appointment to meet him.
“He was very kind to me and reiterated that God had allowed that to happen for a purpose,” she says. Soon a friendship ensued and before Lydiah knew what was happening, she and the pastor began dating. He had lost his wife as she delivered their last child.
Events moved from one to another and soon Lydiah and the pastor were getting married. Today they are a happy couple. She is the stepmother to his three children. And Lydiah says that despite all the good that life has brought, the thought that she will never have her own children remains very painful.