Ally & Pastor Jackson Khosa

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African holiday Oct 2005 Part 1

African holiday Oct 2005 Part 2

My Accident in 1995

Are new amputees unrealistic?

Finding the CP you want

MAS Socket Diaries

MAS Test Socket Photo's AUGUST 2005

Building a disabled friendly house

What to do when a new amputee comes home

Glossary of Terms

Can planned amputees take control of their pain?

Lightning Hazard???

Skydiving with an Amputee

Paragliding with an Amputee

Your Responsibility to your Disability

The Phantom of Pain - by Alistair Plint

Lesley's RBK Story

Contact Ally




The Day of my Accident...

I used to be a professional entertainer, and started off with a 5-piece rock band called Jam Ally. It was a bunch of fun. We had been gigging for a good few years and the band was really coming together. The last function was Easter Monday in 1995.

We were on our way home, about 7.30pm. I was dozing in the passenger seat. My next memories are a bit hazy but I remember lots of lights, lots of pain, and been bundled into an ambulance. I remember bits and pieces of arriving at the hospital; someone asking me if I was pregnant (I wasn’t), my friend Pat's face for a few seconds, and then I woke up 5 days later in the Intensive Care Unit. Eeeek!! Three drainage bags coming out of my tummy, a pipe that goes straight to your heart (so they can give you an emergency shot of adrenalin if your ticker stops), can't remember how many drips, and I swear the longest pipe in medical history up my nose.

It was a bad one. I had terrible internal injuries – a liver that wouldn’t stop bleeding so they kept me open that whole week, irrepairable damage to my gall bladder, a few broken ribs, dislocated shoulder and hip, big ding from a Doc Martin shoe buckle in my left foot - and I lost my right leg above the knee. I also left two thirds of my blood on the road. I learned later that, quite by chance, there was an ambulance travelling just behind us on its way to another accident. That particular road is very dark and quiet. I was lucky.

The doctors told my mother to call a Priest to give me my last rites, I was dying, wouldn't make it through the night. The only man my mother knew was my pastor (Christian not Catholic) – Pastor Jackson Khosa – what a man! That's me with him in the picture on the left. Somehow she managed to get a message to him, but all he heard was that he was desperately needed at Intensive Care in the Johannesburg General Hospital. He raced through but when he got there, he didn’t know who needed him. They wouldn’t let him through. I still believe that had he been a white man, they would have made an effort to find out, but they turned him away.

Anyway, the next day he came again, this time knowing it was me, and they finally let him through. And instead of praying death over me, he prayed life over me. It still brings tears to my eyes. He prayed LIFE. I survived, and he came every day to pray over me, I was unconscious. Then came more bad news. I had lost circulation in my other leg and it needed to be amputated as well. As they wheeled me to the operating room, Pastor Jackson was there. He asked for a moment to pray. He prayed LIFE over my leg. Even the nurses couldn't believe what they saw. The leg grew warm, and pink all over. I never needed that amputation. That was a true faith healing. And I must also make mention of the hairline crack in the vertebrae in my neck – possible paralysis - mysteriously vanished. I am fully recovered now, except for the amputated right leg, but I get on with my life as best I can. Don’t you think that is a fabulous story? I love it!

There was a Christian nurse in Intensive Care who used to sing to me. I often think about her.

Anyway, the phantom pains were unbearable and the opening on my stomach was about 30cm long. Not very pleasant. After two weeks they moved me from Intensive Care to the Trauma ward. No man! Gun shot victims, drug overdoses, muggings – and a little old lady across from me was so badly beaten that she passed away overnight. They just let her slip away, and nobody came to see her. Horrible.

I wasn't allowed anything by mouth for the first 2 weeks because they weren't sure if it would leak out my stomach. They took blood every few hours, and eventually my body rebelled against all the abuse. Every thing hurt. Even my hair. I was on morphine for the pain, and I remember a nurse saying “this one’s easy, just give her morphine and she’s quiet”. Funny thing is though, morphine never seemed to take the pain away, it just kind of distanced my head from my body. Weird feeling.

I kept on asking to go home. That trauma ward was so unpleasant. Let me quickly mention that I had no medical aid, so it was a public hospital. The nurses were rough, the ablutions were disgusting, and there was a constant stream of different doctors and interns coming to stare and poke and ask stupid questions.

I had a total of about 120 stitches between my leg and my stomach – staples actually. Stitches would have been a hellava lot better I think. I also had 3 pipes coming out of my mid-section, for drainage or something. Then came the time to take them out. Well, the nurse managed to get two of them out, but the thickest one just wouldn’t budge. It felt like she was going to rip my insides out. Eventually she realised that something was not right (DUH) and we waited for the surgeon to come and check it out the next day. He looked, and tugged a bit, then he said “grit your teeth” and gave it an almighty yank. Lawdy lawd, out came the pipe AND A STITCH! It was attached to something inside. Man that was sore.

The nurses and doctors kept on telling me that I couldn’t go home because “you can’t even clean yourself yet”. Nice one – sent someone off to liberate a wheelchair from another floor, and that day (it was about 4 weeks after I had been admitted), between the two of us we got me into the bath, hair washed, the whole trip. Ok, so it took about 3 hours, but mum’s the word there. I had become accustomed to having a full time drip in my hand, so it was easy to disconnect it for that time, and just pop it back on afterwards. And nobody missed me from the ward. Go figure.

I was discharged the next day (1st set of doctors said ‘no’, later that day I asked again and the 2nd set said ok). An intern gave me a bottle of Dolorol (your basic over-the-counter aspirin), and said ‘bye’. Charming. I had no idea how to look after the residual limb, what to expect, how I was going to cope physically at home or anytime in the future. Nothing. Never mind looking after the leg, the damn stomach was the problem – it opened up in 2 places about 3 days after I got home. Apparently not uncommon. Hello, thanks for the warning guys!

My son was 8 years old at the time of my accident. I didn't want to see anyone while I was in hospital (very few anyway), and he was the one person that I am grateful NEVER saw me while I was in that state. He has no idea how really bad it was, and if he wants to know one day, I am sure someone will tell him. When he eventaully came to see mom, he had a look at the leg, asked if I would be able to play soccer with him again, and that was that. My trauma never became his. And I have two wonderful people to thank for this - Jimmy and Charmaine. Friends and angels in more ways than one.

Since then I have had a problem with adhesions on my colon. Damn thing just grew closed. Just like that. Another delightful experience and once again, I wasn’t on medical aid. By the time I eventually got to the hospital, they reckoned I had about an hour to live. But, of course, they couldn’t operate immediately because there were patients lined up outside the operating theatre in droves. My poor mother. What I haven’t put her through, I swear. I was very weak by that stage, so I don’t remember things too clearly. I will never forget the following though – the man who was with us heard an anesthetist calling “who’s next?” He just grabbed my gurney and pushed me into the theatre. The theatre was a shocker in itself. No heating, blood splatters from the previous guy, a gun shot victim, and the doctor shouting for the nurses who apparently had decided to go on a tea break. That was about 3am.

Ah the joys of government hospitals in South Africa. I remember on the third day in the ward, the nurse came and said that she was removing the catheter because I had to get up and walk – the exercise would do me good. Anyone who’s had a laparotomy or any kind of stomach surgery will know the full extend of the pain you go through. No sneezing, no coughing, no moving. I just looked at her. I said “but I can’t walk”. She said “what’s wrong with your legs”, the sarcastic cow. After 3 days in her ward, she hadn’t even noticed that I was an amputee. Yip, those places will kill you for sure!

I can go on and on about my bad experiences in our hospitals, but I won’t. We’ll all have nightmares. Just do yourself a favour – if you don’t have medical aid – GET ONE NOW. And if you are travelling to SA, even for a short spell, please don’t even think of not taking out adequate insurance.

A friend of mine fell 3 stories onto a concrete parking lot. After 28 days in a public hospital in Cape Town, someone realised that she was starving to death. She had smashed her jaw, her tongue was held on by a thread, and she hadn’t been able to eat!

Public health care sucks. Period. I am lucky to be alive.




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