, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 25 – It started out as bloating but it didn’t go away. And every time he ate something, his stomach got even bigger. A month later he couldn’t even drink water. He’d gotten so big, he says, he resembled a pregnant woman ready for delivery. And as the bloating progressed, so did the pain.
“That’s when I decided to get some medical attention. I finally realised that it might not just be constipation,” Isaac Njoroge shared with Capital FM News on Monday.
And so on he went to the neighbourhood clinic in Kahawa Wendani where he was told he had ulcers, given medication and sent on his way.
“It got a bit better and I was convinced I did indeed have ulcers but a few months later the medication stopped working. I wasn’t passing stool,” he said.
It was then that the clinic referred Isaac to a better equipped medical facility where he got a CT scan and an endoscopy, after that, which showed he could not pass stool because of a “blockage.”
Blockage being the word Isaac used to describe the tumour that had spread through most of his stomach, large and small intestines.
“Two-thirds of my stomach had to be taken out as well as part of the small and large intestines,” Isaac recalled.
And with that, at 24 years of age, life as he knew it ended.
“I’d just finished studying automotive engineering at Kabete Technical Institute and was looking forward to employment when I got the diagnosis and just like that what I had to look forward to changed. It was chemotherapy after the surgery and pooping into a bag for the rest of my life,” he recounted.
Isaac survived the six sessions of the chemotherapy losing only five of his 47Kgs but his outlook on life suffered a more devastating blow.
“I’d decided I’d be an invalid for the rest of my life. I couldn’t even be bothered to wear jeans let alone bathe myself.”
It was then that his family introduced him to a support group, Stoma World Kenya, “there I met people like me, pooping into a bag but running, swimming, doing everything I used to be able to do.”
And at 26 years of age, he now wears the colostomy bag on his side like a badge of honour; his outlook on life having changed completely.
“God never gives you more than you can handle. I believe God gave me this condition so I can speak for my people, colostomites worldwide,” he said.
And like Moses, he wants his people set free; set free from the burdensome cost of the colostomy bag.
He lifted his shirt to show where it sits on his lower abdomen, to the side of a surgical scar that runs the length of his abdomen.
Then he detached the bag exposing what looks like uncooked meat, the portion of his intestine that sticks out of his abdomen and pours his faeces into the colostomy bag.
“I usually have to switch out the disposable bag about five times a day and that’s when I don’t eat a lot. You can’t eat a lot with this condition. It’s too expensive,” he explained.