Dinaaz’s bizarre medical journey


By Kersi Meher-Homji

Battle Scars by Dinaaz Lentin, published in Sydney in 2020. Foreword by Dr Patrick Weinrauch. Pages: 243. Price: A$35 including postage and delivery. The book can be ordered from the author by visiting her website  https://dinaaz.com/battle-scars

In her first book, Dinaaz Lentin takes us to a journey of many failures and frustrations but  ends with success, the moral of her life story being “say not struggle not availeth.”

Dinaaz is a truly indefatigable and inspirational person. Her safari of misadventures and misdiagnosis started in 1978 when a surgeon operated on her wrong knee. What, operated on her wrong knee? Did this happen in a backward country with surgeons operating in candle lights? No! Believe it or not, it happened in Sydney.

As a 19 year old, Dinaaz went in for knee surgery only to discover after she woke up from the anaesthesia that she had been operated on the wrong knee. To make it worse, the surgeon refused to accept responsibility for his error (operating on the good left knee instead of on the right knee) and sent her a bill for the operation. He even threatened to sue her to recover the money but only relented  when Dinaaz took him to Supreme Court of NSW.

The court room drama is described in 3D effect and I felt as if I was there in the court sharing Dinaaz’s emotions. The surgeon admitted liability in the morning of the case and offered settlement. The judge decided to offer her $7130 as compensation for the case.

Writes Dinaaz in Battle Scars, “A large chunk of that money went back to Legal Aid for supporting my legal expenses over three years. The remainder of the money I received, I gave to charity. The case was not about seeking a financial reward but rather was based solely on principle of what was right, getting an apology, and most importantly, changing hospital system.”

At the young age of 22, Dinaaz had come out of the tunnel with experiences of both medical and legal professions. But that was not the end. Her life story continued with more drama and trauma, more misdiagnosis and cover-ups by the medical profession.

In 1994 Dr Ian Isaacs fixed the paralysis of the right arm/hand. It was only because of this success that made Dinaaz fight for her left arm/hand paralysis in 2016. Unfortunately, Dr Isaacs had died in 2009 and she struggled to get an efficient surgeon later on.

In 2016, following a complication from kidney surgery, Dinaaz’s left arm below the elbow was paralysed. The condition was so rare that the majority of doctors advised her to accept her fate and live with it. Not one to give up easily, she used her single-minded determination and fought to the end, till she saw light at the end of the tunnel. Her memoir Battle Scars follows her prolonged and bizarre medical journey to achieve full recovery.

At times she became her own medical adviser by Googling and reading research papers on-line. At times she advised the doctors whose knowledge was inadequate to say the least.

Her road to recovery took her from Sydney to Melbourne and Brisbane for consultations. Her pain and paralysis below the elbow continued and many advised her to give up and accept her pain and disability. But the indefatigable Dinaaz continued with her epic journey for redemption.

In between many frustrations she came across a knowledgeable surgeon Dr Chandler O’Neill, who diagnosed her problems and ultimately cured her. In fact she has dedicated the book to two surgeons, Dr Isaacs and Dr O’Neill. She also thanks Dr Patrick Weinrauch from Brisbane for his guidance and encouragement through her medical maze.

The names of some of the people portrayed in this book have been altered.

As Dinaaz writes in the final Chapter, “The total medical costs of my journey were in excess of $35,000. Was my arm worth it? Without hesitation, an absolute YES.”

Each chapter of this enthralling book starts with quotations from several sources. She also keeps the readers engrossed with her own quotes:

The facts were as clear as blood on snow.

The air was heavy and I felt like a slab of chocolate melting away in a gooey mess.

I was on my own, my personal army of one ”“ the general, sergeant and private.

The difference between a dream and a goal is that goals have deadlines.

There are more such verbal delights but I’ll let you find them as you read the book. And who was the first to give her the idea to write a book of her bizarre medical journey? Her daughter Annita. However, Dinaaz only started writing Battle Scars after encouragement from Dr Weinrauch who said, “We can’t teach humility and the human side of medicine well at university, but the medical students can learn it through the eyes and journey of someone like Dinaaz.”

In between medical appointments (she visited 49 doctors in 14 months) she thanks her parents, her husband, daughter Annita, son Kevin and many friends ”“ especially Julie for her prayers of divine intervention.

This inspirational book is illustrated with 13 pages of eye-catching photos.

Publication of Battle Scars has led to invitations to the author as a motivational speaker about never giving up. She is also an ambassador for Diabetes in NSW and ACT.



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