On the 9th day of Christmas, FFF shared with me...a moving story of recovery

I am Joyce Mutama aged 30 years old. I contracted fistula in 2006 following a home delivery. During the delivery, the traditional birth attendant caused significant damage and at the tender age of 19, my life took a different direction. I could not control my bowel movements at any time.

I lived a very sad and miserable life not knowing where to find help or who to talk to about my condition. I isolated myself from people due to shame, fear and the bad smell around me. Sometimes I used to starve myself to avoid the mess when I was around people.

I joined college in 2007 but dropped out due to my condition. I could not handle the stigma and the shame. My life was full of sorrow not knowing where to find help. Later in 2014 January I decided to move on with my life and went back to college not minding what people around me might say about my condition. While in college, I took a certificate in community health and HIV management whereby we were taught about maternal health and child survival. Through it I learned that if a woman is not taken good care of during delivery, she can acquire certain conditions. I got interested with that topic that I asked as many questions as possible and that is how I discovered that my condition could be treated.

It was after gaining this knowledge that I decided to share my condition with my sister. She then shared with her friend who was working in a nearby community hospital in Kitale Kenya where an organisation was offering treatment for fistula.

In 2015 January, I decided to go for the treatment. The surgery was done and I went back home but after 2 weeks the fistula opened. I went back to the hospital and another surgery was arranged and done but the fistula opened again while still in hospital. At that moment I was so discouraged, heartbroken and in much strife wondering what was to happen next. Later on, the surgeon advised me to go back home and come back after 3 months for yet another surgery which was now the third one.

Due to the confusion and the sadness in me, I did not to go back after those three months. After a lot of persuasion, I went back to the same hospital after 9 months for yet another surgery. The surgery was done but after a week it opened again. At this point I was devastated and felt completely hopeless. I decided never to go back to hospital again.  In a deep depression,  I decided to lock myself around my home.

One fine day, I received a visitor who encouraged me to try another treatment through Kenyatta National hospital. At first, I was hesitant about it but when she told me that she had the same condition and was healed through Kenyatta hospital, I was convinced and followed her advice. I travelled from a far distance which took me 3 days to reach Kenyatta hospital. That is how I met FFF. Another surgery was arranged (4th surgery) which went on well and I was discharged after a week. While still in Nairobi at my cousins’ place waiting to go back for the check up before traveling, I noticed something strange at the surgery scar which lead me to seek medical help immediately. On reaching the hospital, the doctors confirmed that the fistula site was breaking again. I was extremely distressed and got confused.

The doctors had to calm me down and advised me to have a colostomy surgery to allow the scar enough time to heal. It was sad news but I had no choice but to go for it. Another surgery for the colostomy was arranged in June 2016. It was very tough journey with the colostomy for 9 months until 27th January 2017 that is when the colostomy was reversed. Although it was a long and difficult journey, I thank God it brought good results because the fistula healed completely and once again my joy came back after ten years of suffering.

My gratitude goes to freedom from fistula foundation and all the donors because they restored my dignity, revived my shuttered world and brought light into my life which I thought I had lost for good. Right now, I am very proud working as FFF staff through giving psychological, physical and emotional support to other fistula patients.

Am very happy that FFFF has really changed my life from worst to the best by bringing sunshine, joy and happiness in my life after 10 years of misery. Thank you FFF for your support and care may the Almighty God bless you all for I can smile again