‘You’re fat’ doctors wrongly tell mother with post-pregnancy hernia

‘You’re fat’ doctors wrongly tell mother with post-pregnancy hernia

A mother of five in Limpopo alleges she has been sent from pillar to post for almost three years in her desperate attempt to get her hernia properly treated.

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“Whenever I ask doctors for advice, they say I must lose weight," says Khwathelani Mashau who alleges she has lived with an untreated hernia for years after the birth of her fifth child. (File photo)
“Whenever I ask doctors for advice, they say I must lose weight,” says Khwathelani Mashau who alleges she has lived with an untreated hernia for years after the birth of her fifth child. (File photo)

To date Khwathelani Mashau, 39, who was diagnosed with a hernia in 2012, has not received any treatment, bar for a few panados and painkillers, for the pain.

A hernia is the result of tissue or an organ pushing through a weak area of muscle or tissue that contains it.

According to the US health non-profit, the Mayo Clinic there are various reasons for different types of hernias, one of them being having multiple pregnancies.  Hernias can be accompanied by various complications, and if left untreated can cause severe pain, and in some instances the complications can even be fatal, according to the organisation.

Mashau’s hernia developed a few months after she delivered her fifth child, a daughter delivered by caesarean section, at Limpopo’s Tshilidzini Hospital in 2012.

Mashau’s hernia, which has caused her severe pain, has been untreated for almost three years.

‘Lose weight,’ say doctors

Mashau, of Itsani village outside Thohoyandou, says that although she was overjoyed at the birth of her healthy daughter, she has been suffering for three years with an untreated hernia that developed within a few months of the birth. She says, no one at the hospitals in the area have taken notice of her.

“After delivering my child I was very happy, but my joy was short-lived when three months later my stomach started growing bigger and bigger,” she tells OurHealth.

Mashau says she realised that it was more than just normal weight gain from pregnancy because the growth of her stomach was accompanied by severe pain.

“Whenever I ask doctors for advice, they say I must lose weight,” she adds. “Sometimes I get tired and feel severe pain on the lower part of my stomach. I now live on painkillers and panado they gave me.”

Turned away

It has been so debilitating that she has not even been able to work. “The pain is so severe I have been unable to help my husband, Million Kutama, who is self-employed, support the family.”[quote float= right]”Whenever I ask doctors for advice, they say I must lose weight. I now live on painkillers and panado they gave me”

“I was in serious pain but whenever I went to the Tshilidzini Hospital they kept on postponing my consultation. When I eventually asked them what was wrong, they said it was hernia.

“I continued going to Tshilidzini Hospital hoping that they would help me stop my stomach from growing but they never attended to me until October 2014 – two years after the hernia had first appeared – when someone helped me meet the CEO of the hospital.

“I was then transferred to Polokwane Provincial Hospital where they said I should come back again in July this year,” says Mashau.

Mashau says she is worried that nothing was done at the hospital. Meanwhile, she says her stomach grows bigger and a growth is also developing under her navel.

“I am concerned that my appointments at hospitals are being postponed non-stop whilst my stomach is growing bigger and bigger. The strange growth is also stressing me.”

Limpopo Department of Health Spokesperson Macks Lesufi promised to intervene and get Mashau the treatment she needs.

He said he would get her transferred to the Polokwane Provincial Hospital before her July date date and he would ensure she was given proper treatment.

At the time of going to press, Mashau was still awaiting treatment.