What A Wonderful Save

Ketina Muringaniza

© Copyright 2019 by Ketina Muringaniza

Photo of a person with arms raised.

This is a story of how throughout my life I was inhibited by numerous health problems which emerged each time a new developmental stage was reach blocking any academic, financial and economic progress. They took various form until I was drastically immobilized, living precariously on a very tight rope being given a very short life span and having lost all hope in life. From the blue on June 3, 2015, a junior doctor revealed the major cause of my health problems. Totally collapsed hips needing total hip replacements! How could I survive such major operations when I was suffering from acute heart failure? Where the intelligence and powers of man fail to operate, God will indeed take over!

According to Mildred Taylor, “We have no choice of what colour we`re born or who our parents are or whether we`re rich or poor. What we do have is some choice over what we make of our lives once we are here.” Neither does one determine what sort of health one desires to experience throughout one`s life! Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything. To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan but also believe.

While ability is what you are capable of doing, motivation determines what you do and attitude determines how you do it. Throughout my life during moments of desperation; enthusiasm the sustaining power of all great action, the volcano on whose top never grows the grass of hesitation, enabled me to achieve impossible things despite inhibiting health conditions. In life, there are two ways of meeting difficulties; you alter the difficulties, or you alter yourself to meet them. One`s attitude is either the lock on, or key to the door of success. How I perceived my childhood difficulties and gainfully utilized my time paved my ultimate fate.

According to John Blanchard, the trials of life are designed to make us better not bitter. Throughout my lifetime, I had problems with my health. Problems which were taking form from one ailment to another. There were all sorts of explanations given for my sort of eternal ailments. Most said I was bewitched from early childhood and the curse haunted me up to my old age. Some said some witches and wizards were sending satanic spiritual attacks through their demons, satanic agents and the like. Taking into consideration the cultural background I grew up in, I had often begrudged why God had allowed for me to live such a difficult style of life. If he loved me, why did He allow me to be so callously used by the so called witches, wizards, demonic powers or whatever explanation people attached to my unique life, when I had been serving him so diligently I had often moaned? What I had not realised then was the fact that, God prepares an individual for whatever task He has in store for him/her to carry out later.

From early childhood, I had persistent stomach upsets resulting in constant constipation, diarrhoea or excessive vomiting. That actually became a lifetime consistent ailment! At one time, it was diagnosed as ulcers. For quite a long time I was on ulcer treatment and often when having stomach problems have it prescribed. In my teens, I suffered from partial paralysis of the right hand some weeks before writing my final Form 2 examination in 1967. The missionaries at Mrewa Mission organized adequate physiotherapy to ensure I sat for the oncoming public Junior Certificate examination without hustle. Miraculously I wrote the examination and came out with very good results even automatically qualifying to be enrolled as one of the 6% of all African children in the nation, who had started at Sub A then to proceed to Form 3.

Thus, I proceed to Form 3 through that narrowly winnowing bottle neck type of education blocking the African child, especially the girl-child, the right to get adequate education! I eventually sailed through my Cambridge O`Level with flying colour which could have been easily curtailed by the paralysis of the right hand, which was then crucially needed to write the final exam at Form 2 level. I had to do my A ‘Levels and Bachelor of Education degree much later in life through distance education. To clarify matters let me briefly explain the existing education system then.
Education in the 1950s was a rare treasured commodity like gold or diamonds to the African population. Whilst every possible chance, opportunity and gazetted laws ensured that all whites, Asians and Coloureds were adequately educated; stumbling blocks were set to block Africans from attaining even the basic elementary primary education. The colonial government built many schools offering free education up to secondary level for whites, Asians and Coloureds but only a handful for Africans sparsely located in urban areas only. Missionaries were the ones who build majority of the few schools for African children which were too far apart and too few for the large population.
Extraordinary intellectual talent, stamina as well as understanding parents were prerequisites for African children to creep through such a difficult prohibitive, eliminating and winnowing maze to get just the basic primary education. A restrictive education system selected and winnowed candidates at various points from lower primary level. Most illiterate parents felt there was no need for further education if a child could read and write. This was even worse for girl-children whom the African community felt needed no educational background, which they felt education alienated them from the prohibitive cultural expectations. Thus, girls were only traditionally prepared to be effective hardworking subservient wives while boys, as possible breadwinners, needed it to communicate effectively with possible white employers.

I was lucky to have an educated father, who knew the value of education. There were only a few far spaced African schools scattered around the country offering lower primary education up to Standard 3, the official cut-off point of African education then. Missionaries build mission schools offering upper primary classes up to Standard 6 and offered secondary education to only a selected lucky few as per government stipulations. The colonial government had enforced a highly restricted bottleneck type of education sieving from Sub B going upwards. Only about 30% of the few enrolled African children completed primary education then. Only 12.5% of the 30% which completed Std 6 proceeded to secondary school level. At Form 2 level, only about half of 12.5% proceeded to Form 4 which was the highest qualification an ordinary African could attain. In 1968, when I was in Form 3, of the 180 Africans who enrolled for lower VI in the whole country only 22 were girls.
When I was enrolled for teacher training in 1971, knee joints problems ensued which blocked my chances of success. In the middle of first year at Umtali Teachers College, I developed problems with my left knee. It was swelling alarmingly and very painful which doctors claimed was due a strained ligament incurred during a physical education lesson. From diagnosis of strained ligament, it went on to being later diagnosed as rheumatism and the like. Eventually I had to have it operated during the third term, as it would just jerk and give in during practical lessons and I would just fall down when it lost grip and balance. As I was doing a practical course with three two-hour sessions a day each requiring always standing up and no sitting down, there was no way I could carry on. I had to have the recommended operation so as to remedy the problem. My father agreed to authorise and signed the consent form. That operation done instead of relieving the problem, only aggravated the problem because no ample time was given for healing before strenuous chores were resumed. No adequate physiotherapy had been recommended and done to ensure adequate healing before embarking on normal activities due to lack of adequate medical advice. Thus, rather than relieve the problem, it instead created chronic problems.
As I assumed with lessons barely a month later, we were sent out for teaching practice where for the whole day I was expected to stand on the barely heeled knee. Unconsciously I must have put more weight on the right leg, when the left leg became painful since it was not yet fully healed. Despite trying to explain my plight to relevant school authorities, it was a stipulated expectation that no practical teacher would sit down during a practical lesson during the two–hour sessions. As student teachers, we were expected to continuously move round all the time supervising children`s work. I could rest a bit when I was alone without officials behind my neck but each time officials came for supervision that was impossible. As time went on under such strain before the term was out, both knees started to swell, became extremely painful and would just give in and I would fall down constantly. Ignorance is no defence, had I known I could have discontinued the course and given myself time to heal before carrying on. The chances were difficult to come by then hence such perseverance. School authorities wanted me to ensure my health problems were ironed out or else I would be declared medically unfit. 1972 was the most strenuous and difficult year I ever encountered physically, socially and mentally in my life in an effort to acquire a professional certificate. Another operation was suggested for the right leg when the left leg had not yet fully recovered. My father was called in again to authorize the second operation on the right leg mid-1972. After consulting with various doctors who advised him not to allow it or else I would be disabled for life, he refused to sign the papers to authorise the operation. By refusing to authorise the second operation, it appeared a war had been declared between the two authorities parental and college authorities leaving me grossly abused. The college lectures wanted to prove I was not fit. Several times I would be assigned to impromptu remedial teaching practice sessions even not during teaching practice periods, where for the whole day I would be forced to teach under close supervision by lecturers or external assessors without break. It was not surprising that before the end of the day one of the knees or both of them would give in and I would end up hospitalized instead. Those strenuous ordeals went on like that up to end of third term. It wasn`t a surprise then that at the end of 1972, I did not get a certificate because I was medically unfit as each time officials came for supervision, which always took them the whole day in my class, I would end up falling down when the joints could no longer endure the strain. Instead of proving my capability those sessions left me hospitalised. Surprising rather than casting me out, they deployed me to undertake the same lord with the qualified teacher being paid less.

The ensuing developments persisted giving me unbearable pain until in middle age, when diagnosed arthritis and by then all my knee joints were severely damaged beyond repair. One inspector, a Mrs. Barberries fought hard for me and suggested I should be given my full certificate for I was performing a lot better than the so called qualified teachers as proved by the out coming public results, but somehow it never materialized then. After independence I decided to undergo teachers training again but opted for primary education which would not be so strenuous. When going for teaching practice again according to records they discovered that I had already trained for secondary. Then all F2 trained teachers were going for one-year in-service training to acquire same status with their fellow F1 teachers trained at Gweru. The government recommended I do just one-year in-service training and get the certificate in education as the other teachers. After weighing all the odds, I decided to continue with my primary education training. The two teaching certificates, secondary and primary, were then on par. If I wanted an academically better teachers certificate I would do a degree with Zimbabwe Open University later which had just been introduced under University of Zimbabwe which would instead accrue me academic advantage rather than a mere certificate in education. Indeed, it was a good option for I came out with a distinction in my language studies rather than being confined to the strenuous practical lessons. On deployment, I was thus deployed to teach in secondary schools as a language teacher. Throughout my life I always was inhibited in mobility as I limped about hobbling in excessive pain.

As if that was not enough hustle, in 1974 at Nyashanu Secondary School, only a month after my traditional marriage of paying lobola session, I collapsed and was diagnosed cerebrum malaria for which I was hospitalized for over a month. Thereafter, it was declared chronic malaria so much that for years thereafter each time I fell sick I had to tell the doctors I suffered from chronic malaria. I also suffered from poor eyesight since I fell sick in my early childhood as a toddler, when I had become blind for several months, resulting in poor eyesight due to short sightedness and incurable night blindness. I started wearing spectacles as early as my primary school days.
As I grew older, all the joints right up to spinal joints were so severely corroded to the extent of inhibiting mobility that in 2014 the medical board recommended early retirement on medical grounds at fifty-five years of age. Thus, barely five years after acquiring a Bachelor of Education degree in education and being promoted to status of substantive head, I was incapacitated. Thus at the peak of my career, my professional came to a dead end! The persistent pain and worry resulted in uncontrollable high blood pressure resulting in heart malfunctioning and its relevant complications like diabetes. At one-time, physiotherapy was recommended which instead of improving worsened the situation. The pain intensified and it was noted my right leg had become shorter by 3 centimetres. I had to go through the expensive procedures of having special shoes made for me but the situation only worsened.
Solutions were being suggested but not really getting to the actual source of the trouble. I was referred to bone specialists but to no avail. Why? The arthritis kept on getting worse until my hips collapsed without detection. I had had several X-rays almost yearly but none had suggested hip X-ray. This was only diagnosed when my state had degenerated to the lowest ebb and I had lost all hope of recovery. As the pain intensified my heart weakened. I had several heart attacks until eventually I was diagnosed heart failure. My heart then was flooded with water; thus I was transferred from Gweru to Harare, by ambulance, to be under the care of heart surgeons. I was living precariously on a very tight rope.
All sorts of stringent diets were suggested at different times, but my health continued to deteriorate tremendously, going on a downhill tumble. At one time I was purely on a no salt, sugarless and fat free whole meal vegetarian diet. No mineral drinks or junk or tuck foods were allowed except certain fruits. That helped but it was indeed a tough time. Eventually, I was put on a tightly regulated liquid intake, when for the whole day I was not to take more than 500 millilitres of fluids including that for intake of tablets. I remember at the wedding feasts of both Simbarashe and Kuda, my sons, I had to do with my restricted salads diets while others enjoyed themselves to the pity of many. I understood the value of such a diet but most did not understand, but instead pitied for me!
Despite all these drawbacks and what explanations people attacked to my condition, I was not deterred. Whatever was happening in my life was not to discourage me and instil fear leading to my ultimate failure. I needed to build dykes of courage to hold back the flood of fear instilled by the satanic powers destroying my life. A man as a general rule owes very little to what he is born with—a man is what he makes of himself. What I needed throughout my life was unique determination! Yes! I really needed determination to overcome all those inhibiting health factors. Determination gave me the resolve to keep going on in spite of the roadblocks that lay before you. My life was not a bed of roses but a prickly one. To achieve anything, I needed supernatural power. I needed the Almighty God, who through Jesus Christ brought me salvation, as my pillar of strength.
On retiring, I became a full time creative writer, I wrote and completed several manuscripts but failed to have them published. I didn`t have the money to have them published. In Zimbabwe to have sponsorship you need to have someone influential to help you, money given to organisations to help literary work, mostly funded undeserving gurus` work due the corruption which had penetrated every section in the nation. Those problems made me sympathize the marginalized and socialize heavily with them thus giving me zeal to reveal their plight. The world needed to know! What could have become an income generating venture became a stalemate as manuscript piled up gathering dust on the shelves.

The moment I realized that my life was nothing but a spiritual warfare, I handed over the reins to the Almighty to take over for this was not my battle but His. Patience is the fruit of maturity—and sometimes extended trials. Am I a patient believer, my heart remained fixed on God? Am I brave enough to ask God for patience—and to thank him for the answer I always asked myself? Often times, we are cheated when we choose our own way, whatever we may attain, we miss the purpose of God. Often times, I often wonder if out of desperation then, I had forced my way into the wrong profession rather than following God`s will. Our God the Almighty can bring beauty out of ashes, joy out of mourning, and praise out of heaviness because he is sovereign. Gold medals aren`t ready made of gold. They are made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.
After reading proverbs 26:2 which says: “Like a flying arrow, like a flying swallow, so a curse without cause shall not alight”. If it was so what had I done to deserve so troubled a life? Was it because I was trying my level best to live a faithful Christian life that open warfare by the devil and his agents had been declared on me, I often wondered.

As I became more spiritually matured, I began to take my physical inhibitions differently and eventually ignored them accepting them as they were. A necessary thorn in the fresh! Often times I prayed to the Lord to ease me the burden, which had befallen me, according to his will not according to my wish. After reading such texts like; Jeremiah 29:11 which says, “For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” I wondered what those words really meant to me with those numerous ailments. I constantly prayed that God should restore my health at the appropriate time as it was not his wish for me to always have such poor health, as He had also promised me good health 3 John I:2. I always prayed for Him to relieve me of my ailments as He had promised that we call on him in our times of trouble, Isaiah 50:15. As I prayed it appeared my condition worsened.
The only thing which surprised me is that I found consolation in the Bible. I enjoyed those quiet times of meditation, as I read the Bible intensively. I joined World Bible School and went into its in-depth studies. Yes, as I understood the Bible better and found consolation in it in the most painful moments of my life, I finally found hope, peace, developed unimaginable faith and then really started to enjoy life despite the pain, which many might fail to understand. I seemed to develop a better understanding and could somehow enjoy personal spiritual communication and interaction, which I at times personally failed to comprehend. In my suffering, somehow I had found spiritual peace and I thoroughly enjoyed working with the marginalized people.
In 2011, I had a stroke when I had gone to an all-night prayer session. I suddenly felt very hot in the early morning around four o`clock. Gweru is a city of extreme cold spells especially in the morning around four in the morning in winter. As I tried to remove my warm cardigan I suddenly became very weak and suddenly passed out with only one sleeve removed. I found myself floating in the air having access to view from overhead all activities that was happening in the church during a lesson taking place. Some were fast asleep, some on their phones charting on line and some even conversing privately. Someone was pinpointing all some of the ills which happen during such gatherings. People attended such gatherings with different missions and lack total dedication at times. Somehow to my surprise to my utter surprise I was having full view of all activities going on in the church despite the fact that I was sitting in the middle of right wing near the alter of a T-shaped church where I had very limited view of the middle main wing of the church. We were in discussion it appeared with mighty power. With whom you might ask? All I know is that I was imploring for more time as I had recently taken under my care my brother`s orphaned sons for both their parents were late. Nobody was willing to take them under their care! I had cut short my stay in Malaysia solely for them. If I died who would look after them?
During the 2008 economic depression, my grandson and I had relocated to Malaysia for medical reason because in Zimbabwe it was difficult to get adequate help and medication. My daughters had suddenly organised my relocation to go and live with my daughter who had got a five-year contract work under Linkokwin University as liaison officer in students` welfare and recruiting students from Africa. The answer was that it was not yet my time for there that was not God`s will at that prescribed time. I still had three tasks to fulfil for the Lord! The first being ensuring that the orphans under my care were to be cared for and had adequate education up to university level. Of the two orphans under my care then, Tinashe who was doing his lower sixth then, completed his first degree in accounts with a first class and is currently doing articles with Grant Thornton in his second year. He was the topmost student at the end of his first year in 2018. Takudzwa who was in Grade 6 is currently in his first year at Midlands State University also in accounts. The second was to fulfil the oath I had taken as a local preacher, I wasn`t preaching then not according to my wish though. Because I had been abroad for over a year in Malaysia where Methodist in Zimbabwe does not exist I had broken their rule of being inactive for more than three months. I had to start again from beginning until I could be reinstated as preacher. I tried to clarify my dilemma for that was not my fault. During that mysterious discussion, I was promised that since that was not my fault, I would be duly reinstated which was done in less than six months in incomprehensible ways. On the issue of pastoral care to the needy I enquired how I would manage it as I was no longer mobile due to arthritis. The answer was it was not yet the time; when it was time it would happen without any hitches. Definitely I would walk when it was time. The third was that my writing career which had come to a standstill. It was not my own initiative but spiritually inspired for a purpose. My writings would not be published until a certain particular article was published when the time was ripe which I am still waiting for.

As we sort of floated in the church where we had access to all wings He pointed out a figure slumped in an unconscious state. He asked me if I knew anybody who could help? I pinpointed my niece`s friend, who was more like a daughter to me. She had been sitting next to me but had sat on the floor to allow her daughter to sleep besides her. Carrying out given instructions I floated to her to alert her of the position of her adopted parent by a pat at her cheek. She is the one who raised alarm! I was carried out of the church as I watch from the air. Nurses in the congregation a doctor from within the congregation were called to help but they declared that there was no longer any heartbeat. So much was said and their major concern was not to disrupt and spoil the smooth going session. My supernatural companion was rather shocked by the misguided workings of the human mind. He instructed me to go and tell them to take the person to a doctor who would know what to do. I told them from the air as I had been instructed that it was a cardiac arrest; they were to take the patient to Claybank Hospital for Doctor Mushangazhike would know what to do. Carrying the instructions ended our spiritual discussion as people made frantic efforts to carry me to hospital as in my weakened state I began to realize what was happening around me. Blood tests taken later at the hospital verified that I had had a massive heart attack and doctors were asking whether they had used jumpers to reactivate the heart. The God almighty had done it!
Many people including some veteran Christians approached me with most convincing arguments that I was to visit certain prophets who would certainly heal my ailments but I paid no heed. As Paul once said, my ailment might have been a necessary evil in the development of my personal faith. Maybe if I had been without this ailment, had been fit and rich; I could never have seen the need to turn to Christ Jesus the saviour. I personally was not envying to see the miracles of man but the wonder working miracles of God when the time was ripe and ready, like he did to the man on the poolside, bleeding Phoenician woman, blind man, and the paralyzed man not forgetting Lazarus who had been dead for four days. That was what led me to write ‘Spiritual Growth Self-Analysis’. I had totally dedicated my life to serve him in the best way I could despite being physically inhibited. Little faith will bring your soul to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your soul. Then from nowhere soon after committing myself, one junior doctor suggested a hip X-ray which brought my salvation. That diagnosis of collapsed hips needing hip replacements on 3 June 2015, brought the final breakthrough in my life.
Can you imagine the magnitude of my current case then? All my knees and the shoulder joints, especially left shoulder, needed replacement as well. Even the spinal joints were severely affected. I was in the third degree stage of severe osteoarthritis; most areas of cartilage were completely worn away causing bones to rub against each other causing so much wear and tear that the hip joints especially the right hip had completely collapsed. When the doctor first saw the X-ray, she thought I had been involved in an accident which had damaged the bones. That was what osteoarthritis had done to me. The suggested costs, on the right hip replacement only, were astronomical, considering our current economic situation. We could not afford the cost. My medical aid policies PSMAS and First Mutual were non-starters. In frantic panic, my children tried all they could but it was tough going. That was being done for a purpose! My doctor suggested we try Indian doctors which might be cheaper. The idea born in their minds, all my kids started running around. That was how Tendai my daughter met someone whose relative had been to India and even directed her to meet the Indian doctor, Dr. Rajesh Verma, director of SEAR Health Joint Replacement and Ortho Spine Surgery, and Joint Replacement and Spine Surgery Artemis Hospital. He was currently holding a workshop in Zimbabwe then. His areas of specialization are minimally invasive spinal surgery, pelviacetubular injuries, bone tumours with limb salvage, joint replacements, pediatric orthopedic surgeries, minimal invasive spine surgery, foot/ankle reconstruction, osteoporosis and rheumatic diseases.

Wow! What a God sent answer! When she approached him, he merely looked fully at my medical record, the X-rays and MRI Scans then fully explained my problems to my daughter and what was to be done urgently. Rather than just operate on one hip he would do both hips at far less than the locally stipulated quotations for one operation. He would operate one hip at a time but do the second at least three days after the first then the physiotherapy would ensue later. In the two months, everything went on fast track as the Lord had taken over! Within that period a passport had been obtained, funds had been sourced, travel arrangements made and hospital and lodge been booked. Tendai had been given tips on how and where to look for sponsorship and with my sister`s co-operation God took control of everything. The hitches met on securing the travel tickets necessitated my sister to go ahead, for she was the one to look after me when her operation was on the mend which could not have been possible if we had gone together as we had originally planned. Tendai who accompanied us as our attendant slipped spinal disc there and had to have spinal disc setting operation as well. That meant my sister took over my care when I was in hospital despite her having had a spinal operation. My sister, Patience, had left five days earlier on our stipulated date August 2 while we followed on the 7th of August 2015. God has his own way of doing things, which we mortals can never understand! Everything on that medical tourism was sponsored for both my daughter and I.
People might have had their own explanation but when I look back, my case was due to lack of relevant knowledge and lack of adequate help at the most appropriate time. This chronic problem of arthritis which I now know as osteoarthritis must have been due to inherited genes which were aggravated by an injury to my knees. As early as 1971 as they diagnosed then, I must have been injured when I was training in physical education at Umtali Teachers` College. When they operated on the left leg I overstrained the right leg and the operated knee by resuming normal duties, when thinking I was fully healed. I had resumed with the strenuous work during the teaching practice for a stretch of four months where as a practical domestic science teacher. I would stand for the whole day, five days a week, during stretches of two hour sessions without sitting down from 8:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon. That was when the trouble started in earnest. Several times my knees would just jerk and give in. Thus I would fall down and fail to stand on them as the pain would be too painful to bear. Doctors had all sorts of explanations then like rheumatism but it appears they failed to give adequate medical advice and treatment then. A second operation was prematurely suggested on the right leg. Fortunately, my father, who had fully enquired from other doctors refused to authorise it, on the strength of given advice. A second operation was not advisable before the first was fully healed. The fact that I worked as a teacher throughout my life did not help for that aggravated my case as I strained the knee joints until all other joints were affected. Now I have been educated on it, I only wish I could have been alerted of my plight then. I would have been more careful by taking precautions not to aggravate my condition until my state was so bad,
Osteoarthritis (OA) is a condition where there is breakdown of the joint fluid and cartilage, which is the slippery tissues, that covers and protects the ends of bones in the joints. It made me feel intense pain, stiffness and loss of movement in my early twenties due to that injury where in normal cases it generally starts around fifty-five years in women, but generally people over sixty-five years. From that tender age of twenty-one, throughout my life, I suffered from constant knee pains, joints stiffness, acute swelling, loss of free movement and a crunching feeling and eventually the sound of bone rubbing on bone in the knees as bones rubbed against each other. Risk factors of osteoarthritis are age where generally it begins around forty-five, obesity which put extra pressure on knees, gender because OA is more prevalent in women after fifty-five, inherited genes, injury or overuse and finally muscle weakness – weak thy muscles. As they say there are three stages of osteoarthritis; mild, moderate and severe. Mild OA sets in when cartilage begins to wear down and the symptoms of generally mild pain which come and go. In the moderate stage, as the cartilage continues to wear away, joints may begin to lose the ability to lubricate and cushion the knees thus signified by more pain and difficulty in movement. When areas of cartilage totally wear away severe osteoarthritis sets in which case the bones rub against each other resulting in the extreme pain felt.
They say there is no cure for osteoarthritis. Throughout my life, I endured it as best as I could. At first, they prescribed mild pain killers changing to stronger drug until they became ineffective. Relief creams were prescribed but in the long run they also became ineffective. As the pain intensified and swelling increased they would inject steroid injections in the knees to ease pain and reduce inflammation and the swellings. Occasionally they would inject an Intra-Articular injection to replace diseased synovial (joint fluid) which would reduce pain and improve function a bit. This could only be done after a certain period and fear of side effects also hampered continual use of such injections. At the stage my bones had degenerated to, there was no alternative except to have bone replacements. The right hip replacement had to be done urgently. The only snag was the condition of my weakened heart. Could it sustain such major operations? Two of them! To ensure my safety Dr. Rajesh Verma said he would use local anaesthesia.

As if by miracle I got sponsorship from Ministry of Health $9 411 to cover part of the operation costs in India and Ministry of Home affair from gambling and beer taxes $9000 to cover air fare tickets hotel expenses and topped up hospital expenses. Even PSMAS promised some payment towards my medical expenses which covered the physiotherapy and purchasing of medicine from India later. On 7 August we finally boarded for India. On arrival, I was instructed to rest in the lodge by the doctors and not to even visit my sister who had already had her spinal operation. That indeed is easier said than done; I sneaked in on Sunday and saw her to my satisfaction.

On Monday, my sister was discharged to go and rest in the lodge while I was admitted to Artemis Hospital and preparatory activities started then. On Tuesday, they had said I would go into surgery for the operation after the pre-operation tests were complete. I had the MRI X-ray and various other tests. When I was attached to the heart machine and they put a certain liquid into the drip, something went amiss. I was told to keep on pumping a certain ball placed my right hand but at one point everything went hay wire. Intense pain, severe jerks and acute tiredness overtook me! I could not comprehend what was going on! I cried out that they were killing me! To begin with, I could hear their frantic instructions, when in despair I gave up trying to keep alert as they were insisting on, I was overwhelmed! I completely passed out.

When I regained consciousness I could hear sighs of relief. They were patting my cheeks calling my name continuously. As I regained slowly my energy, subconsciously I just found myself frailly trying to carry on with those frantic instructions before the passing out drama. Then, they had urged me to keep on squeezing the ball; someone even coming to the extent of helping me to do so. On resuming squeezing of the ball, someone commented that when they had frantically wanted me to do so I had failed to do so why carrying on now when I had failed them then. I was just too weak to respond. That must have been meant as a joke but they carried on with their administrations until I was strong enough to respond to their various questions. Then I could tell their major concern was about the state of my heart.
The doctors wanted me to explain when I had last had a heart attack, how often, what I had felt before the attacks and various other intricate questions. It was obvious that all the various other doctors who had been observing from other surrounding annexe rooms had all converged around me. It was quite some time before I was strong enough even to raise my hand. When I was finally wheeled back to my room I was then attached to several monitoring machines with two different drips one entering through the lower spinal lumber through which each time the machine tinged nurses would throng around my bed and put medication in that small plastic bottle drip, which was constantly changed or call a doctor. In our room, as my attendant and I were sharing it with an Indian male and his attendant, the tedious questioning continued. Different doctors came to ask, test and verify any other problems which could have contributed to my passing out like that. Whatever they discovered must have led to the treatment strategies they resorted to. What I found unique about India was that every problem which was identified had its team of doctors paying particular attention to and monitoring it at all times. During the rounds the various doctors would all be present that most times I would have more than five to seven converging around my bed. As time went on, I began to identify them depending on the ailment they were specialized in for they would often visit for particular observations and questioning if an anomaly was detected. For the next three days the tests continued but although daily I was starved for surgery no operation was done. I remained strapped to the various machines whilst others were being added. I wondered which part of my limps remained free. I had become a completely bed ridden case being fed by a spoon lying on my back straight facing up. For almost two weeks I was thus strapped up so much that when I was first roused to sit up the world rolled over and over, became acutely dizzy as an unimaginable headache overtook me.

After various questions on when I would have the operation mid Thursday morning I was finally taken to the operation preparatory rooms. There the anaesthetist explained my state. I was supposed to undergo a major operation which would take hours to complete. Due to the state of my heart, they would have to use local anaesthesia. That I knew as it had been agreed upon with the medical government officials in Zimbabwe as their condition of authorizing the operations, total hip replacements. Another point was the terms they had stipulated; they were not to take any unnecessary risks on the patient, she told me, the director doctor ministry of health had specifically stipulated that. Thus, she further explained, the next item concerned my medical status. My right hip was so seriously damaged that they would have to remove the whole ball and socket and start rebuilding it. Thus cut it off from the femur. Second there were only 35% slim chances that the operation might be successful! I might be confirmed to the wheel chair for life. There were 65% high risk chances of total failure. I might not pull through the operation thus die on the operation table considering the state of my heart. As a result, they had decided not to have the operation, unless somebody waivered that stipulation. I said I was willing to sign the papers but she refused saying that would not stand considering I was the one concerned whose life should be safeguarded. At first I told her I had a daughter who could sign it but she was doubtful about it until when I mentioned that I had brought my own blood sister with me. That one she agreed would do. So my sister and daughter were summoned into the compartment. The state of affairs was explained to them fully.
The two were overwhelmed with shock as indicated by their grave faces. Determined not to lose hope, my sister Patience took my palm in hers and with the other took my daughter`s hand as she started singing one of our worship songs. To complete the circle my daughter took my other palm. We sang emotionally asking for Gods intervention with tears flowing down our cheeks unconsciously! What a pathetic scene it must have appeared to the on looking team! God was to take full control of everything from then onwards since He was an able God and nothing was impossible in His name! After a time, Patience faced the doctors boldly. She knew she was taking a tough stance to endorse my death warrant! She answered endorsing the words I had already uttered that the God we believed in was an Almighty God who could perform overwhelming wonders! Nothing was impossible to him for He was the creator of all things! Could they allow us to pray for His wonder working power to take over the oncoming operation? We were allowed to do so for fifteen minutes. We sang, prayed and meditated emotionally and in the course of our singing my sister asked for the forms, signed them with untold boldness, handed them over and prayed emotionally. The lady touched by what she had witnessed phoned the doctors of the signed consent to get ready for the operation. She gave us twenty more minutes to pray for the success of the oncoming operation. Where there had been five attendants two more doctors came to the room and joined the five. All looked on attentively nodding their heads rhythmically as we sang emotionally and bowed their heads as we bowed our heads as we prayed in desperation. That must have been very touching indeed for Indians worship idols. When we headed for the theatre, we continued our emotional singing right to the door leading to operating rooms. My sister and daughter were told they could not proceed any further, but they were not to join other attendants in the waiting room. They were assigned to a room nearer where they were to carry on with their vigilance in prayer. In case something went wrong in the operation room they would be called to come and pray again.

That operation was an experience not to be relived. I was fully aware of all the procedure happening in the theatre! A blue curtain had been put up, just at the end of neckline along the shoulders, so that I could not see what was happening to my lower half. I was to lie inclined to my left in a specific position. You can do it easily for a limited time not hours! Those were the most strenuous hours I have ever endured. Those doctors are no more different from carpenters; there, on the side tables waiting, were four huge metal boxes hiding their vital tools. Throughout the operation session, I was not allowed to close my eyes in case I went to sleep. I was closely monitored as the anaesthetist critically monitored the various machines around her to which I was attached. I was so positioned that she could critically observe me fully as she also monitored the machines. Each time I dosed, the anaesthetist would pat my cheeks call my name urgently and tell me to wake up. To avoid a repeat, she encouraged me to sing, as we had been doing in the preparatory room and pray unceasingly to God! That is easy in 10-20 minutes not for hours on end. When I waivered she encouraged me to go on. In no time the frightening procedure began, as they started sawing and hammering on the bones. My bones seemed so hard and brittle, as indicated by the strenuous exertion going on behind the blue curtain. As time went on, caution was overlooked as some of the tools were placed on my chest as they raced against time as I was beginning to show strains by my wanting to sleep.
The lady anaesthetist spoke to me encouragingly as she stressed that the success of the operation depended on my holding on and keeping alert. In the observation preparatory ward, I had shown so much courage and undaunted strength where had it gone to, she encouraged. It was too late to give up! They were almost through so I had to persevere right to the ultimate end which was the last stitch! Didn`t I want the operation to be a success? With renewed strength I sang, prayed and called all three; God, Jesus and Holy Spirit to come and raise me up high so that I pull through that ordeal without failure to their glory. Indeed, we must build dykes of courage to hold back the flood of fear I reminded myself Martin Luther King Jr.`s words. So I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13. One of the doctors anchored on a rail steel block piece, placed on right side of the bed, used his hip to anchor my lower back as he worked tediously. What a team those doctors were! It was a tense serious business oriented atmosphere signified by explicit instruction in a language I could not understand unless they were talking to me. I suddenly felt that I was in safe hands! I had faith in the team leader and I could feel God`s presence around me! I felt exhilarated as I recalled all that had happened in the last two months. Nothing would go wrong as this was a divine operation, indeed!

I could feel every action they did to my body but feel no pain. The hammering of the metal peg into the femur took quite some time! As they drilled into the pelvic girdle for screws or bolts I sang in wonder and amazement! When they finally finished I could not believe myself, I had pulled through! Dr Rajesh Verma had told me before he left when they were doing their last touches to relax for they were almost through. The senior doctors who had worked so relentlessly on me suddenly disappeared! Maybe they did not want me to see their soiled selves. They were nowhere to be seen except for one who monitored my being transferred from the bloody operation table to my ward bed, for wherever we went I was transported in it except for the first time I was taken for tests when I had been in a wheel chair and had to be transported back in a stretcher bed.
As I was wheeled to the observation ward, I pinched myself in wonder and in renewed strength sang in jubilation. “You are faithful oh Lord!” I continued to praise Him in wonder. What a wonderful saving God we served I meditated in praise. Some Christians` faith rests in their prayers rather than in God who calls them to pray. But God is sovereign. He has the right to answer our prayers as He sees best. When Patience and Tendai came in, they gaped in surprise when I welcomed them with jubilant singing! In excited exhilaration we sang in praise! As we sang in excitement my heart machine started beeping as the blood pressure rose alarmingly! The attending nurses and Tendai warned me not to overdo it. The two were allowed to stay by me for some time as they sang, praised and prayed thanking God for my miraculously pulling through that operation. Then I remembered the words of Psalms 28:7 which says, “The Lord protects and defends me; I trust in him. He gives me help and makes me glad; I praise him with joyful songs.” Afterwards, they were told to go away and leave me to rest. Before I was taken back to the ward they did take various X-rays, waited for some more time until instruction was given for me to be taken back. That began the period of lying stiffly in a stipulated position with a pillow stuffed between the knees until the next Monday when I went for the second operation. Until completely recovered, that stipulation was dogmatically adhered to.
The next morning, Dr. Rajesh Verma confirmed that the operation had been very successful. I had been very lucky and should be grateful everything went well. It was quite a very happy excited crew which passed jokes very unlike the serious business-like crew I had observed in the operation room. After checking the monitors and giving instructions, they headed for another patient elsewhere. That morning one of the doctors came back specifically to ask about my faith. When I told him that I was a Christian, he enquired about my denomination and I told him Methodist. He was wondering what had given us that amazing faith where the doctors had had doubts about the success of the operation! As we had done before we explained about our faith this time in detail. He promised to get in touch with one of the Methodist missionaries on our behalf. The next day the missionary came and did a good service with all the relevant prayers and testaments to our contentment. From them on so many workers and doctors were so inquisitive about our faith and seemed to be in some awe of our God who had done miracles they could hardly comprehend. As a result, we made quite a lot of friends of the hospital staff and many were inquisitive to hear it from the horse`s mouth.

The following Monday, I had the second operation which was not so complicated. It was less strenuous as could be detected by the relaxed atmosphere in the room signifying this was more like the usual routine operations they were used to. Even the anaesthetists seemed more relaxed than the first time. Although it was more routine, the sawing hammering and drilling routines, were equally terrifying. This seemed to take less time. Since I had pulled through the first operation everybody seemed less strained as this was straightforward operation without complications. Tuesday morning brought the physiotherapist starting to train me muscle relaxation, lifting my arms in the sleeping position and breathing exercises. Wednesday brought her with sitting exercises, which made me realize that I could not sit up on my own without help nor could I sit up straight for long because I felt too dizzy. By the end of the day I could sit up with ease. The next I was being trained to stand up with help of a walker. Thursday brought earnest lessons on walking. What a task that was. By the end of the day with her moving my legs I had only walked to the door only a couple of metres away. Friday brought with it more walking exercises where I had to do it on my own clinging to the walker of course. By the end of the day I could walk along the corridors which amazed all, but that was not achieved without eminent perilous accidents. I was only saved in the nick of time with God`s help or disaster could have happened then. Often times I was overzealous and over confident when I realized that with determination I could achieve the impossible. Several times, I was told to slow down a bit because I was going beyond the expected standard. I was discharged that Friday afternoon to continue with physiotherapy sessions at the hotel lodge. In actual fact I never had any more physiotherapy sessions due to ensuing problems. As I was discharged, Tendai was admitted in hospital the same night to have a spinal operation the next morning. The emergency arrangements, our clearance sessions on Monday made it impossible. All final clearance arrangements had to complete before Tuesday 3:00am 26 August our departure time.
I would like to thank my sister for her perseverance and the ambassadorial team who helped to achieve the impossible for all arrangements were done in record time. Patience then had to divide her time between me and Tendai at the hospital. We couldn`t expect her to achieve the impossible for whatever I did and wherever I went she had to assist me. The same applied to Tendai. What a tough time she must have had herself being also a patient needing attention.

I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Zimbabwean ministry of health and ministry of home affairs for making my recovery a possibility. Without their assistance I might be no more or so physically handicapped to be wheelchair bound. My sister, my daughter and I were well looked after by the Zimbabwean diplomatic team in India. The ambassador, security officer and the defence attorney were regular visitors who ensured of our wellbeing. Even a most high ranking army officer, who was also a patient of Artemis Hospital, living in the same lodge with us, saw to it that we were well looked after. Special considerations are for DA Gorerava who literary personally adopted me as his own mum. His love and concern gave me the zeal to please him by proving the operation was indeed successful by trying to achieve the impossible in the shortest possible time. I doubt I could have achieved so much in such a short time if I did not have such a motivating incentive.

At the lodge I was having problems waking up from the bed which was rather low so much that Patience had each time helped me up despite her spinal operation not fully healed. I just felt guilty to be the one to undo the good that had been done to her medically, if she did slip another disc as had happened to Tendai`s. The whole of Saturday morning I was being helped in almost everything. If I wanted to go to the toilet someone had to assist me, get up and stand on my two feet before I moved round with the help of the walker. Like a toddler indeed learning to walk. By Saturday evening, I could see Patience was really worn out. When I wanted to visit the toilet I learnt how to slide sideways until I was at the edge of the bed. Tactfully I tried all angles until I could manage to slide my left foot down first. Yes, the left side of the bed could do. When I managed to put both my feet down I pulled my walker close by and started standing up tactics. When I managed the rest fell into place like a cross-word puzzle. Twice I managed to visit the toilet without Patience being aware of it. The third time I was doing so she woke up exclaiming why I had not called her for help? I told her to cool down and let me be. I managed my way to the toilet but now I knew the tricks to do it. She was ecstatic about the progress. The next day I had a surprise for them when they came back from visiting Tendai from the Hospital. I took both Patience and DA Gorerava by surprise, when I walked without the aid of the walker right out of the room to the reception area taking all the attendants by surprise who clapped in excitement as I moved around. Guts! Indeed, I had lots of them. Encouraged by this progress the DA decided to get us out for a drive. What a difficult time I gave him and Patience when they practically carried me over the steps to his apartment. What a patient, caring and loving person he is. It`s rare to find people of his calibre in such a position. May God bless him in all his future undertakings? He is the one who also made Tendai`s operation become a reality through his help. Even when we encountered problems on the return fright on 26 August; had he not taken us with him we could have failed to board the plane back because we had been refuse permission to get into airport terminal to check in because we did not have printed tickets, due to terrorists’ threats. Using his diplomatic rights, he managed to go in and had the tickets printed out for us to be allowed to enter the terminal to check in. In a nutshell that was all about India. India had indeed restored me to good health. It had given me a second chance, to become independent and fully execute my duties, through God`s grace.

On my return, I carried on with physiotherapy in Harare for almost three months at St Giles Rehabilitation centre until 21 November 2015. The St Giles physiotherapists were really surprised with the progress I had made on my arrival from India. Only two weeks after the first operation! Then I transferred to Gweru Hospital when I could manage to move with one clutch. When I returned from India I had been weaned off the various tablets I had been taking. I was then only taking 1 calcium & vitamin D tablet and 1 Amoldipine tablet a day. As for the relevant pain killers I only took them when in uncontrollable pain. Once a week I would take a calcium sachet. The heart problems, diabetes, uncontrollable High blood pressure had become history. I could take normal meals taking controlled salt, fat and sugar and organic white meat and fish. In six months I could move around without clutches although I was not yet fully stable and I had to take things lightly though afraid of overdoing it. I had had several nasty falls and as a result I curtailed walks around the community, which somehow slowed down my progress for some time. I was afraid to undo the good work done on my hips. After a year I was very mobile moving around without support.
What most doctors predicted would take at least three years to heal had been achieved in a year. After a year I was moving around Mkoba doing pastoral care to needy Christians at least once every week using the very legs the Lord had restored to do his very work. I was supposed to have replacement on my knees and shoulders! God is great and really amazing how he works. I never had any replacements, yet I can walk freely. Although at times depending on weather I feel encumbered, I have never felt so agile and felt any better than now! Currently I am slowing down a bit, being careful not to undo the healing done.
What a miraculous breakthrough indeed! Thanks to India for its great medical achievements! The Lord used it as the agent of restoration! Praise the Lord for he is great!

Ketina Muringaniza, a pensioner, resides in Gweru urban Zimbabwe. She became fulltime writer on retiring. Ketina enjoys intensive reading, socialising with the marginalized and gardening. She loves dogs. Currently she is serving the Lord in appreciation for miraculously restoring her health.  

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