No matter the test, you can dream again
June 8, 2001 will forever be lodged in James Wekhomba’s mind. At age 26, James had a promising future; a beautiful fiancee, a good job in Nairobi, and a sport he participated in passionately, basketball.
On that day, James and his brother were offered a free ride in a friend’s lorry. It was ferrying maize to Kitale Town.
“The driver was driving too fast in what I assume were attempts to show off his skills but suddenly the lorry hit a pothole and overturned,” James recalled.
His friends and brother escaped unhurt but he was not so lucky as the truck shattered his leg. He was taken to Kitale District Hospital for treatment.
He said the doctor who treated him at the district hospital disregarded the pain he was going through and plastered his whole leg without cleaning the wound.
Months later, his leg started producing a foul smell prompting his family to take him to Kenyatta National Hospital.
After examination, the doctors said he needed to undergo surgery to do a procedure called surgical toilet to clean the wound.
“I was shocked at what came out. There were bones, stones, maize and leaves mixed with bodily fluids; they had formed a green, jelly-like slime on the plaster. I wondered how the previous doctor hadn’t noticed all these before doing the plastering.”
James was booked for seven more surgical toilets in a span of two months with each one taking an average of eight hours.
During the last surgery, he was fitted with external fixators to support and hold together the upper and lower parts of his leg. It was after this surgery that he went into depression.
“I had already made up my mind to be an alcoholic after leaving the hospital just to drown my sorrows and the pain,” he said. He even leased four acres of his father’s land to get money to buy alcohol.
When he visited the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret to have the fixators removed he only received bad news. The doctors told him that he had osteomyelitis, an infection of the bone. Treatment entailed removing part of the wound.
This left him with one foot shorter than the other and this depressed him even more to the extent that he tried to kill himself.
“I had a good day with friends and family to leave them with good memories of me, then I went to my room and popped sedatives and some insecticide,” said James . It didn’t work.
His failed suicide attempt left him in a week long coma with people mocking him for his poor judgment. That experience was a turning point.
“I lost all my friends but found a new lease of life.” He joined a church where he volunteered for missionary work and gave up alcohol and drugs for good. But still the troubles came.
“My bones were fusing abnormally threatening to block or cut through a major vein so I had to get an amputation to avoid this,” he said.
This time though, he had the right coping mechanisms in place as he had stopped feeling sorry for himself. He was even able to joke about losing his leg.
Today, he performs the tasks that any other able bodied man would.