Free from pain after 24 years

2012-08-09 00:00

AFTER living with chronic pain for more than two decades, Nokitika Saraphina Tshazi (44) of Umzimkhulu can smile today without shame.

There is no need to cover her face with a beach towel, like she used to.

Tshazi has had an aching growth hanging on her face for 24 years.

She was diagnosed with an amelo­blastoma tumour, a rare condition that develops in the jaw, only in May 2012 after being referred to Grey’s Hospital. She had a seven-and-a-half-hour operation last month.

Doctors say the size of the tumour was eight by 13 cm.

Tshazi said that when the pain started, she thought it was a toothache and received little help from all the other hospitals she visited.

“I’ve had this tumour since 1988, when I was pregnant with my first-born child, who is now a grown-up.

“I visited hospitals and clinics all these years and if they didn’t give me a Panado to numb the pain they told me that they have lost my results. I’ve had sleepless nights and was not even able to go fetch water or cook for my husband.”

Even though her treatment is still incomplete, when asked how she was feeling, Tshazi was quick to declare she was “healed”.

She still needs to undergo a hip graft that will help in the reconstruction of her jawbone

“After my surgery I looked at myself in the mirror and I couldn’t believe it was me. Please make sure that when you publish the story you mention that I’m so grateful to the doctors that helped me,” she insisted.

Tshazi was lucky to become one of the patients who benefited from the first virtual surgery performed at Grey’s Hospital under Dr Avin Singh.

Virtual surgery and stereolithography in maxillofacial surgery are revolutionary surgical concepts that use computer-assisted design (CAD) technology for pre-surgical planning, guiding and performing surgical procedure.

Singh said: “The tumour is actually cut on the computer. Then it’s transferred to a machine which makes the patient’s bone without the tumour.

“This is all done before the actual surgery.”

He said this was done to save time and theatre costs.

Singh said the hospital was relying on sponsorship for her implants and for a new set of teeth.

“To offer patients such first-world technology and treatment in the public sector definitely means that our government is moving in a forward direction,” said Singh.

Singh said there were cases of women as young as 19 who were being treated for the type of tumour Tshazi has.

“We’re not trying to make her [Tshazi] Miss World, but what we can say is that she can compete,” he added.

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