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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

I underwent dangerous surgery for a condition I didn’t have -Survivor of medical misdiagnosis

Medical misdiagnosis is a widespread problem in Nigeria. This issue often arises when healthcare providers have limited knowledge of certain diseases and insufficient infrastructure for comprehensive assessment.

According to a scientific study, such human errors pose significant risks to patients, leading to an estimated 371,000 deaths and 424,000 morbidity each year.

A survivor of medical misdiagnosis, Godsfavour Onyekachi, tells SONIA OKERE her story

Please can you introduce yourself?
My name is Godsfavour Onyekachi, and I’m from Abia State.

Tell us how it all began
While growing up, I didn’t experience any issue with my menstrual cycle. However, after I got married and had my first child in 2019, I was told that I had tiny fibroids growing in my womb.

When I got that report, my response was, ‘God forbid! It’s not my portion.’ Initially, I had no symptoms, but a few months later, I started noticing some changes in my body. My menstrual flow became very heavy and would last up to two weeks. So, you can imagine how much I was spending on sanitary pads.

I didn’t experience any issue with my menstrual cycle until after I got married and had my first child in 2019

After losing blood for two weeks, I used to be very pale and anemic. Additionally, I experienced severe cramps, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. In fact, I was always very weak and would faint due to any little stress. All these made it challenging to carry out my daily activities, so I used to stay indoors whenever I was menstruating.

Did you seek medical help?
Yes! I went to the hospital, and the doctors sent me for some scans. According to the results, they said I had fibroids, and the only solution was surgery. Back then, the cost of myomectomy was over N500,000, and I didn’t have such an amount of money. So, I started looking for alternative methods to shrink the fibroids.

I was told that I had fibroids and the only solution was surgery. My menstrual flow became very heavy and would last up to two weeks

I tried different herbal drugs, yet there was no result. Then, I started buying natural supplements from health and wellness companies, but unfortunately, those didn’t work either.

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One day, during my online research, I read that food items with a bitter taste have the ability to heal fibroids. That’s how I started drinking bitter leaf juice. Due to the heavy monthly flow, I was always boosting my blood level by eating vegetables and drinking blood tonics. There were even some months when I needed transfusions because my blood level was very low.

What about my sex life? Having sex with my husband became something I feared because it was so painful. I couldn’t even have a proper sleep at night due to the cramps and I used to cry always. Gradually, I started isolating myself from people because I didn’t want them to know about my condition. As the months went by, the symptoms became unbearable. However, raising the finance to fund the surgery was a huge challenge.

I read that food items with a bitter taste have the ability to heal fibroids. That’s how I started drinking bitter leaf juice

Did you later go for the surgery?
Yes! I underwent surgery in July 2023. At that point, I was scared that I might lose my life if I didn’t undergo it. So, we had to raise the money. Before the surgery, we did another scan, and the results still showed tiny fibroids. However, when my womb was opened, the doctors were shocked to find no fibroids inside. They told me that I was misdiagnosed and the actual condition was adenomyosis, not fibroids.

So what did the doctors say about the condition?
According to medical experts, adenomyosis occurs when the tissue that normally lines the uterus (endometrial tissue) grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. The displaced tissue continues to act normally — thickening, breaking down and bleeding — during each menstrual cycle. It’s often described as a ‘hidden condition’ because it can be hard to diagnose and is frequently mistaken for other conditions like fibroids or endometriosis.

Having sex became something I feared because it was so painful. I couldn’t even have a proper sleep at night due to the cramps

The surgeons explained that if they had known earlier, my condition could have been managed with the right medications. This means the doctors had been prescribing the wrong medications, and even the surgery was unnecessary.

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Do you know how many people have died due to misdiagnosis and medical negligence? That’s why I’m always grateful to God for saving me. After they stitched me, they started the correct treatment for adenomyosis. The medications were quite expensive, and after spending some days in the hospital, I was discharged. Thankfully, since then the heavy flow, cramps, weakness, palpitations, fainting, and other symptoms ceased. So I’m doing very well now.

Before the surgery, we did another scan, and the results still showed tiny fibroids. However, when my womb was opened, the doctors were shocked to find no fibroids inside

Based on your experience, what advice do you have?
Firstly, if you’re suffering from any medical condition, don’t rely on the diagnosis of a single hospital. Visit at least three different hospitals and consult with different doctors. Even your scans should be done at different facilities for accuracy. After that, follow your doctor’s advice.

Delaying treatment is dangerous. For instance, if they recommend surgery, then go for it. I heard about a young girl who delayed seeking medical help despite experiencing symptoms of adenomyosis. Sadly, by the time she sought help, her womb was irreparably damaged, and they had to remove it to save her life.

I understand that lack of finances often prevents people from seeking medical care. However, I would suggest that while you’re praying for a miraculous healing, also pray for the financial means to fund your medical treatment.

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