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A tale of Winding Engine Driver’s medical treatment!

January 29, 2019

Many times people experience pain in their bodies, they tend to ignore it, and resort to consuming painkillers. Sometimes people tend to ignore skin rashes and growths altogether and instead buy over-the-counter medicines instead of seeking thorough medical examinations.

Others ignore the pain or rashes altogether in the hope that it would eventually clear. As a result, some people pay the ultimate price as the pains or rashes result in serious ailments.

The case is no different for 43-year old Leonard Yambayamba, a Winding Engine Driver at the Nchanga Underground in Chingola, where he has worked for 12 years. He ignored for some time the pain he felt in his fingers.

“Over five years ago, I started experiencing pain in my fingers and ignored it until the pain spread to my shoulders, and my fingers and hands started getting numb,” he recounts.

“I went to Nchanga South Hospital here in Chingola, where I started undergoing physiotherapy for four years. I did not get any better as the pain and numbness spread to my legs as well,” Mr Yambayamba said.

Mr Yambayamba’s life changed as he endured constant pain and depression.

Little things like lifting feeding himself became a challenge and he could not drive and walk with peace at the back of his mind because his legs would become numb at any time. His work was affected as he was on sick-leave and bed rest for nearly seven months.

Leonard said, “The doctors at South Hospital referred me to Fairview Hospital in Lusaka to do an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan. The results showed that I had Syringomyelia (a rare disorder in which a fluid filled cyst forms within the spinal cord and as it expands and lengthens over time, it compresses and damages part of the spinal cord from its center outward).”

According to medical experts, the damage may result in loss of feeling, paralysis, weakness and stiffness in the back, shoulders.

“I was then referred to the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) to see a neurosurgeon and have an operation to remove the cyst.”

Mr Yambayamba turned to his employer, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) for assistance for the surgery, which cost K27,500.00 Over a period of seven months, Mr Yambayamba made several trips to the Capital city for consultations and preliminary treatment before he underwent surgery on 23rd November, 2018.

“I underwent an 11-hour operation which thankfully was successful,” he recounted.

Mr Yambayamba is full of praise for Konkola Copper Mines for providing financial assistance, the doctors for the successful procedure and his wife for being a “strong woman who stood by me throughout the whole ordeal.”

“I am enjoying taking walks without the worry of falling down unexpectedly and I can now drive my car. I have a passion for football. I actually coach our Business Unit team, I can do that now,” Mr Yambayamba said.

His word of advice to others is to “go for regular medical check-ups. Most diseases can be resolved at an early stage. Do not ignore that constant pain in your body.”