Yes or No? The consent question - Beaking Kenya News

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Tuesday, 9 February 2021

Yes or No? The consent question

 

Consent. Yes, means yes and no means no. The explicit nature of these utterances tend to have a myriad of repercussions in an assortment of scenarios. It also begs to ask; can a voluntary initial agreement be taken back, after it has already been given? You see, as you lay in the maternity ward, staring up at the bright white lights, separated by nothing but an ugly green drape between you and your neighbour in labour, you start to ponder over a few things. The day you sat down with your better half, held each other’s hands and agreed to being conferred upon the honour of taking up the Mum mantle; was what you are going through now what you consented to? Because clearly, the wails being heard across the ward, tell of a not so anticipatory moment that’s soon going to embrace you without delight.

As the contractions set in, seated by your bedside is the same chap with whom you had this initial consensual agreement and looking over at him, now with a gruesome demeanor, you demand to know where in that gentleman’s contract did, I agree to this my love? Woe unto you because this is one ‘YES’ has no U-turn. But this isn’t even the ‘consent’ whose highlight is today’s piece.

Compliance

When finally, you are wheeled into theatre and duly informed the ‘baby is coming’, the next stage is one you can never anticipate. All you hear is push! Push! Push! So, you unreservedly comply as you squeeze the hand holding yours. Oh! He is still there – remember that guy who got you into this in the first place? Exhaustion is setting in. You can no longer push no matter how hard you try. The baby has been semi-ejected and without that final push panic is setting in, as the doorway isn’t open wide enough for the tiny being to slide out. In that moment the Doctor looks over at Mr. Man and says to him ‘we need to perform an episiotomy now! The baby doesn’t have enough room to make it out and we need your consent’. The definition of episiotomy on the internet is ‘a surgical incision of the perineum and the posterior vaginal wall usually performed during second stage of labor, to quickly enlarge the opening for the baby to pass through’.

By now, you can see form the corner of your eye a rather intimidating sized surgical scissor is being waived in front of Mr Man’s face as he is left to make this hasty call – you are too engrossed to make the call yourself. The immediate response is a worrisome but resounding yes and away goes the snip snip. A few stitches are taken later to ‘patch you up’ and all focus turns to the joy in your hands. But, no one prepares you for the next few months of pain that you will go through thanks to this small ‘procedure’. You aren’t sure of what would have happened, had the consent been withheld. What you do know now is that that one uninformed decision, made on your behalf during labour, can bring you agony during the process of healing.

Medical consents can be tricky but knowing the situations in which they could arise probably prepares you better if nothing else. And by the way, as we women like to blame our problems on our better halves and especially in cases where you aren’t the one who said ‘yes’, the only little piece of vengeance comes when being informed that thanks to the laceration, the gates of heaven shall remain shut for at least eight weeks post-delivery!

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