I Begged Doctor To Amputate My Leg Because Of Severe Pain Ibadan Poly Graduate Tells Her Story

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Adeola Adewunmi, a Nigerian online fashion vendor, has talked about how she lost one of her legs.

In this interview, she tells TEMITOPE ADETUNJI how a small toe injury she had led to the amputation of her leg

Could you narrate the event that led to the amputation of your leg?

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My name is Adeola Adewunmi, and I’m 32 years old. I’m from Efon-Alaaye Local Government Area in Ekiti State. I’m presently based in Ibadan.

Sometime in September last year (2023), I was trying to take something from my wardrobe and I slipped, fell, and then I had a tiny bruise on my toe. The next day, I went to the pharmacy to buy painkillers and antibiotics, which I started taking. I was going about my daily activities without much thought about the injury.

After a week, I went to Balogun market from Ajah where I reside to buy goods. I sell things online. While moving around in the market, I observed that I was walking normally and wasn’t feeling pain, but my toe injury was still fresh. I just felt maybe it was the painkiller I used that suppressed the pain.

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However, some days after I got back from the market, I was feeling feverish, and shaking, and had to do a video call with my mum to let her know how I was feeling because there was nobody with me. After the call, I was still not feeling fine. I then decided to manage to get to my neighbor’s apartment to seek help. But on getting there, I fell and collapsed. They poured water on my head to revive me. After that, I fell asleep.

The following day, my neighbours called a nurse who usually treats them. She asked me when last I treated malaria, and I said it’s been long. She then commenced malaria and typhoid treatment on me and placed me on malaria and typhoid drip and injection. After that, she left.

On the next day, I had a strong migraine, and I had to call her to ask why I was having a migraine despite being on treatment. She said she was surprised too, adding that with the drips and the drugs I was on, I ought to have gotten better. After the call, I went to the bathroom and I saw pus coming out from my leg. It was coming from the same spot where I had the injury. It was shocking, and I was like why is pus coming out of my leg? I didn’t even understand how my leg was looking anymore. I called and told the nurse that I had an injury on my toe. She said I should snap the injury and send her the pictures, which I did. She asked why I didn’t tell her on time. She said it looked like a diabetic foot ulcer. She said she would show it to her doctor immediately. She showed the doctor and then called me back and said, “Deola, go to the nearest hospital and do a blood sugar test now.” I immediately complied and went to the nearest hospital and did the test. They told me that the blood sugar level was too high, and while all this was happening, I’d been drinking a lot of water.

I never knew that someone my age could have diabetes. I’m not the type that falls sick. Whenever I feel weak, I just rest and I get better immediately. I don’t joke with food because I eat a lot.

The first hospital we went to told me that they would have to amputate my toe. We went to another mother and child hospital, and they referred us to a general hospital at CMS, but it was far from my house so I decided to go to a private hospital. By the time we got to the private hospital, I was already having convulsions. So the private hospital said they would carry out the operation that same day and that we should go and bring N1.2 million. I then called my dad. He came and I was already on oxygen when he arrived because my blood sugar was already high. They were trying as much as possible to bring it down. We hadn’t even seen the surgeon. The doctor told my dad that they would have to cut off my leg, but they didn’t want to tell me. So they said the hospital couldn’t treat me because my case was too critical that I either go to the teaching hospital in Ogbomosho or University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan.

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They eventually brought me to UCH, and the doctor said the only way to save my life was to amputate the leg. However, he couldn’t carry out the operation because the doctors were on strike. I was already dying. I was in so much pain, and my leg was turning dark. At first, I was initially telling the doctor not to cut my leg because I just started a modeling gig for a brand. I was told it was my toe that had to be amputated, and the doctor said it was not even about my toe anymore as the infection had spread, and it was already affecting my liver. I was all swollen up, all bloated. The doctor told my parents that if they wanted him to cut the leg, he’d have to amputate it above the knee. However, the surgeon was God-sent because they later didn’t amputate above the knee. He tried as much as possible to cut below my knee. After the amputation, the nurses were not treating it as they should because it needed everyday cleaning. They almost amputated the leg again the second time because it got infected again. They had to scrape it. After I was discharged, we got a private nurse who was coming to clean my leg and treat me. I spent two months in the hospital, the leg is healing now.

I posted my story on my social media platform and appealed for help. A lot of people made contributions to help me with the treatment. Some even contributed as low as N1,000, N2,000. This went a long way to helping me with my treatment. However, because I’m diabetic, I still need to take drugs every day to ensure my blood sugar is okay. I spent the donations on my leg treatment and buying drugs for diabetes. I spent about N50,000 daily, so I couldn’t save any money for the prosthetics. Nevertheless, someone was ready to help me with one million naira to get a prosthetic leg. So, I collected the invoice from the company selling prosthetics here at UCH.

When did all these happen?

Last year, between September and October. I had the injury and amputation within a month. After that, I relocated to Ibadan.

What was your reaction when they told you that you had diabetes?

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I was shocked and couldn’t even explain how I felt. My whole life changed with a twinkle of an eye. Everything I believed in changed. However, I’m happy I had the injury. This is because, if not for the injury, I wouldn’t have known I had diabetes. Some people die of diabetes without knowing. But mine was hereditary according to what my doctor told me.

How did you feel when you were told the amputation was necessary?

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After doctors explained to me how necessary the amputation was, I begged them to cut the leg because I was in so much pain and thought I was going to die. I didn’t want to die. My mom and dad were separated, and my mom lives in Abuja. She came to see me and was saying they wouldn’t amputate my leg and that God would do it. I said I know God will do it. But, I was in pain. I was bloated, I couldn’t even drink water. I was so pale. I looked at my leg and I knew that it had gone already. My mum said we should go to the Redeem Church for prayer and the doctor said “If you take this girl from this hospital, we’re not going to accept her here again.” It was at that point that I begged my mum to let me stay and get the recommended treatment. I’m so thankful to God for keeping me alive because I’m the only one who knew what I faced. I’m trying to look for a way forward now while also trying to heal.

Do you have siblings?

Yes, I have siblings. I’m the first child of the family. We’re nine from my dad, and we are three from my mom.

So how did you adjust to life after the amputation?

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Maybe the pain I went through at the hospital made me see life from a different perspective. I now know I’m strong. At first, I didn’t even know that there was a prosthetic leg. One day I was doing my physiotherapy here at the UCH, and I was always feeling bad anytime people were staring at me. I was with a friend on this particular day, I couldn’t hold back the tears as I thought about my life for a moment, and he asked, “Why are you crying?” I looked at myself in the mirror crying and he said he wanted to show me something on YouTube. He showed me one beautiful lady. Her name is Shaba. She’s an amputee and a dentist here in UCH, and she’s walking with prosthetics, and you wouldn’t even know. So I drew my strength from her and started watching her videos because before then I didn’t like using my phone because I felt irritated by it. After all, I felt my life was already condemned. Then my family started sending me videos of prosthetics, and I started searching more for different ones. I decided that the amputation happened for a reason and I had to choose life and move on. I try my best to stay happy and I channeled all my energy into my business. I sell anything fashionable. So I started posting my bags, shoes, perfumes, and all online.

Are you in a relationship?

Yes, but I’m no longer with the person I was dating before the amputation. I wouldn’t say it was because of what happened, but on the other side, it was partially because of what happened. He was younger than me and because of distance, it didn’t work, and he wasn’t there for me at all. But God brought somebody helpful and he is with me now. But, maybe it is still too early to say we’re in a serious relationship.

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Have you made your findings about the cost of the prosthetic leg you need?

Yes, I have. The invoice I collected indicated it would cost N3.5million. Someone has already donated N1 million, and they gave me an invoice for the N2.5 million balance. That’s what I’m looking for now.

What has been the most challenging part of adapting to life with the amputation?

Everything is difficult. But God is making it easy for me. The crutches are painful, and having to take my drugs all the time is hard. I fell twice, hitting the amputated leg on the tiles, and I have phantom pain.

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Are you staying alone in Ibadan?

My mom relocated to Ibadan because of me, and my two other siblings are here with me too.

What lesson have you learned about yourself through this process?

I’ve learned that God is in charge of our lives and God has a purpose for me on earth. I believe this is part of the purpose he has for me. I believe in God more now and I believe I’m going to achieve more now even better than when I had two legs.

What advice would you give to others who are in a similar situation?

My advice to them is that there’s more to life. You just have to discover yourself, and every other thing will be fine. At first, it might seem hard; people will stare and look at you differently. People will do this or that, but all that matters is how you feel about yourself. Life is worth fighting for; fight for yourself.

Are you a graduate?

Yes, I finished at The Polytechnic, Ibadan. I studied Insurance.

How do you stay motivated and positive as you move forward in life after the amputation?

For now, I’m still finding myself. It’s still very difficult. That’s why I need prosthetic legs so that I can make something out of myself because being indoors and asking people to help me is not what I want for myself. I want to be able to own my life, do my business, and walk again.

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