Betty Kagwiria thought a dinner invitation from her ex-boyfriend of five years was going to be an interesting catch up. That night would, however, end up almost costing her her life.
The two had broken up in 2010 after two years of dating, but he made a habit of calling her every year to find out how she was doing. When he made a call on May 31, 2015, he told Betty – then in her fourth year studying for a Bachelor degree in international relations and working in the customer service department of a logistics and transport company – that he was on Thika Road and wanted to see her. She was curious to see how he had evolved over the years and they set a meeting for 7pm.
“I wanted a break from the senior year project I had been working on all day, but didn’t want to have a late night out because I wanted to get back on it the following morning,” she says. “He came to the restaurant two hours late; my best friend and her boyfriend kept me company. An hour later, they left us as I was still catching up with him.”
The couple then moved to a sports bar on Thika Road to watch a popular band performing. At midnight, Betty indicated that she wanted to leave, and her ex and offered to drop her off. They were on the highway and everything seemed fine… until they got to Allsops.
“Even though we were talking, he slept on the wheel and the car started speeding. I screamed because the highway wasn’t well lit back then. We hit the railing on my side of the vehicle and I lost consciousness,” she says.
METAL SCREWS IN PELVIS
When Betty came to, she was lying on the the service lane at Drive-Inn. Her seatbelt had come undone and she was thrown out of the car through the passenger window in the impact. She cried for help, trying to get up, but she was numb from the waist down. Police from Pangani got to the scene an hour later, cordoned it off and even performed a breathalyser test on her before she was given First Aid. She also found out that her ex had walked away from the scene, and that the car was a write-off. A Good Samaritan came by and took her to a nearby hospital, and disappeared. She had deep glass cuts on her thighs and legs. She was covered in a blanket and given very strong painkillers, but treatment didn’t start until she was able to get her insurance card.
“I didn’t have my identification or insurance cards on me when I left the house. I tried calling my mum and sister but their phones were off. I rang a client whose number and mine were sequential, and he came, picked my house keys and went to collect them,” she says.
She paid for an ambulance and was transferred to Aga Khan Hospital. A full body scan revealed that she had broken her pelvis in three places. She had three surgeries in three days, in which two screws were placed to secure her right pelvis to her spine, and a chain to hold her pubic bone to her pelvis. Her ex came by when she was in surgery, but claimed he didn’t have any memory of what had happened the night of the accident. He has not seen her since.
Betty developed an infection days after the surgeries and was moved to the high dependency unit for two weeks. Every 48 hours she had to go theatre for debridement and wound cleaning. A month later, her bill at the hospital stood at Sh2 million; her insurance limit was Sh1.5 million. She transferred to a mission hospital to continue debridement and her sister put up a fundraiser through Facebook. Her campus colleagues rallied around her and even came to visit her and donate blood. A month and a half later she left for home. For three months she lay on one side as her surgical wounds healed. Two months after that, she was be able to sit up. She also started attending physiotherapy to learn to stand and walk again. She was determine to get back to her life as before.
“I was back in campus three weeks after the September semester had started in 2015 even though I was still in pain. It being my final year at university, I decided to push myself. My lecturers were very supportive. I would take a cab there and back home. I was back at work in January 2016, limping and on a crutch. My boss made sure I was comfortable and could go for my hospital appointments. By March 2016 I was able to walk (without support).
“I wasn’t able to graduate as scheduled, but graduated in August 2016. I still have the metal plates in me, and when it gets cold I have to take pain medication. The screws are permanent. I want to encourage anyone going through a struggle that it is possible to get a second chance in life and be even better. Believe in whatever superior power you do,” says Betty.
She is at a different, better paying job now and holding a higher position. You would never imagine anything ever happened to her. Her ex did not help in offsetting the hospital bills, and she is trying to get remedy for this.