Patient Stories: Annie
Annie suffered with Obstetric Fistula for 30 years After seven pregnancies, Annie has lost four of the children she gave birth to. Married at just 16 years old, Annie had her seventh pregnancy when she was just 22 years old. When she went into labour on her seventh pregnancy she went to the Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) but was not given any help after staying there for more than a day. This was when she went to the hospital and the doctors gave her a caesarean section. When Annie had the operation to remove the baby, sadly, the baby was stillborn. After the operation they noticed her stomach continued to swell, even after the baby had been removed and so they had to operate again to remove her uterus. As time passed and Annie was recovering from the surgery, she realised she was constantly leaking urine.
For thirty years, Annie suffered with fistula. Facing isolation, problems with her husband and health issues such as blisters on her upper legs, Annie persevered with life but was not truly living. Her friends did not support her or visit her, her husband would not sleep with her and he would go to look for other women, it was a challenge being able to provide for herself and her children but by farming every day, Annie survived.
It wasn’t until 2015 that Annie heard about the Fistula Care Centre on the radio and realised that there was hope for another life, a life worth living. Annie travelled to the Fistula Care Centre and received treatment in October 2015. Since then Annie’s life has completely turned around.
All of the relationships with those around her that were before so miserable have turned around. Her spouse no longer goes looking for other women and is back to being her husband, her friends come to visit and include her in their gatherings and her family support her as well. She is happy now because her past experience showed her that life can be terrible but that it can turn around. She no longer has to continuously wash her clothes and life has really changed for her. While at the centre, Annie said she benefitted most from the health classes. She learnt how to be hygienic, to wash and bathe properly and now knows the importance of these practices. She now practices these routines daily to ensure that her health stays well and her recovery is on track. In the future, Annie hopes to build her own house and live a happy life in her community. For now, she is sensitising her village and found a patient in her village who has gone to a local hospital to get checked for fistula and if it is fistula then she will bring the patient here. She also received a Bboxx when leaving the centre and she never thought she would receive such gift.
Those in her village cannot believe that she received this as a gift. She uses it to light her home and everything is fine. Unfortunately, it has been difficult for her to make money from the BBoxx but she is grateful every day for the gift and for her chance to be free from fistula after such a long time.
“I am so thankful about the work that is done at the Fistula Care Centre, the kindness and help I received changed my life. The chitenje I am wearing is from here, the top I am wearing, I have light in my house. I am so happy, thankful and appreciative of everything that the centre has done for me.” - Annie, April 2016
Annie is 52, married with 3 children and lives in Sitima in Thyolo district of Malawi