It all started as a casual conversation on the benefits of circumcision with my friend Jonathan as we sat in the newsroom on a Friday morning last month. But, where it ended, even I couldn’t believe it!
It ended with me on a surgical bed at a clinic at the Parliament Building where legislators were undergoing voluntary counselling and testing for HIV under the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians against HIV and Aids initiative.
The initiative is aimed at promoting awareness and fighting stigma associated with HIV and Aids supported by Population Services International (Zimbabwe).
As a journalist covering a national and historic event, I convinced myself that this would be the perfect opportunity to not only report on the event, but to take an active role as an important member of the society.
I told myself that this was a time for me to be exemplary to my fellow scribes as many have succumbed to Aids although all the information is at our fingertips.
I also remembered that the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS recommended that male circumcision be included in the HIV prevention package of 13 East and Southern African countries with high HIV prevalence, low levels of male circumcision and generalised heterosexual epidemics.
This was based on research that medical male circumcision reduced the risk of HIV for heterosexual men by 50 to 60 percent.
When I arrived at Parliament Building, I first underwent voluntary testing and counselling in Africa Unity Square where New Start counsellors were offering free VCT to the public. The counsellor who attended to me was thorough and she asked me about my personal sexual history.
After counselling I got a referral letter from the New Start Centre and soon after, I was back at Parliament waiting for my turn.
One Parliament worker sat quietly on a chair also waiting for his turn. There were three doctors undertaking the surgical procedure. I remember Dr Dhobi.
Inside the theatre were two beds, with two really bright lights beside each, a clinical officer and a nurse — both fully covered in white medical scrubs and masks.
I was told to drop my pants and lie on the bed exposing my manhood. They covered me with a light green material with a hole in the middle that only exposed my genitals.
Although they looked jovial the clinical officer signalled Dr Dendere that all was set. My heart started pounding heavily and he cracked a joke to calm me down.
I was both excited and scared but I was ready. This was my moment and I couldn’t let anxiety or anything else take it away from me.
“Do you have kids?” I said no and he went on to jokingly say: “Do you know you are not going to have any kids,” with a passionate smile before asking me if I felt any pain.
“Click, click,” sounded the surgical equipment. But, first came the local anaesthetic injection. Honestly, this wasn’t fun! Actually, it was the most painful part of the entire procedure. Ironically, the needle into the base of my organ was meant to ensure I didn’t feel any pain at all.
It didn’t last long, but it felt like ages as Dr Dendere and his assistant administered the anaesthetic.
Dr Dendere was already cutting my foreskin but that pain I felt earlier had disappeared. I could not feel anything as I looked at him and his clinical officer as they conducted the procedure with their sharp instruments.
I remained calm and didn’t move as the knife moved back and forth loosening the foreskin from my manhood. I “felt” no pain in my mind and my body didn’t seem to feel anything at all.
Soon after removing the skin he told me that he was doing another procedure to stop the bleeding and stitched round where he had cut off the skin. After about 15 minutes, it was over! The clinical officer told me that I could get up and dress.
I was given painkillers and asked to go for counselling yet again for nursing the wound.
A jovial clinical officer took me in a private room and congratulated me for undertaking the procedure before warning me saying: “I know it’s now Eversharp, but this is not a key for you to go writing all over!”
She joked with me and talked about the six-week healing period during which I was to abstain from sex and how I was expected to nurse my wound for proper healing — no bathing or getting it wet for at least four days.
I was also told how I should put two teaspoons of coarse salt in a peanut butter jar and dip my manhood twice a day.
I returned to work and announced to some of my workmates that I had gone under the knife and they could not believe me and dismissed it as a bluff. Others who took me seriously asked how I could be at work straight from the theatre.
I told them that I had made this bold step not for religious or cultural reasons but as a way of shielding myself from HIV and Aids.
Male circumcision is complementary to other proven HIV prevention interventions including abstinence, being faithful to a partner whose status is known, condom use, delaying sexual debut and reducing the number of sexual partners.
Even when the anaesthetic was gone after four hours, I took a painkiller that I had been given. My first night was the hardest as I did not sleep at all because of pain caused by an unexpected erection.
The next day I started feeling less pain and it disappeared completely after seven days.
Through of all this, I continued to heal steadily. My bandage was removed four days after the procedure, as instructed, and a clinical officer examined the wound a week later to confirm that I was on a steady road to full recovery.