They lived happily ever after – as co-wives
Posted Sunday, July 29 2012 at 01:00
Mr and Mrs Gitau, farmers from Nyahururu, simply captivated me.
As soon as they sat in front of me and started talking, I was fascinated by their rustic background, their unsophisticated charming gestures and the guileless expression on their faces.
“My wife Wairimu has been complaining of pain in her knee for some time,” Mr Gitau spoke on behalf of his wife, a situation I often encounter in older couples, especially those who come from upcountry.
The wife, as it turns out later, is articulate but is initially either shy or reticent and the husband helps her out.
However, if I address the woman directly and persistently, I eventually establish a direct channel with my patient.
In the case of Mrs Gitau, this usual trend continued until I asked her “How many children?”
She looked at her husband, silently beseeching him to take over again.
“She has no children of her own,” Mr Gitau explained. “She could not conceive, so I took a second wife and we now have five children.”
I searched for any resentment on Mrs Gitau’s face at her husband’s disclosure but saw none.
After history taking, examination and an X-ray, I reached a diagnosis of osteo-arthritis in Mrs Gitau’s knee.
It is an age related condition where, after a certain age, the joints, especially the weight bearing ones like the knee and hip, start hurting because of their long use.
I used my standard spiel for such cases. “Osteo-arthritis is wear and tear of the joints,” I said. “Like the tyres of a car, which get worn out after running for over 25,000 kilometres, our knees, after carrying a weight of 70 kilos for 50-plus years, also buckle under.
“Taking the simile further, the joints need retreading or replacement.” I saw the couple absorbed in my motoring metaphor. “But before we take these radical measures, we first try oiling and greasing.”
I was now referring to injection of Cortisone into these joints to see if we can avoid major surgery.
I did the necessary and told the couple to report after six months so that I could see how much relief my treatment had given.
As they left my office, I could see their utter faith in me visible in their eyes.
My curiosity was also aroused about a man so happily married to one wife taking another and how the first wife views somebody who I would consider an intruder.