Behind the Lens: A story of Papa

Papa lives in Sothern Nigeria. Even though there are tales of its sojourn in the South-South region of Nigeria, it appears that Papa makes its home in South-West Nigeria – these people are more acquainted with Papa’s escapades.

I first heard and came into contact with Papa in November, when I was sent to the NYSC Orientation Camp, Ikare-Akoko, Ondo state.

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NYSC orientation camp, Ikare-Akoko, Ondo State, Nigeria. Shot on Samsung Galaxy J6+ by yours truly.

Papa was in our vicinity, its presence felt in increasing measures as our days turned into weeks.

Being a corp doctor, I was mostly in the clinic, attending to sick corp members and other NYSC officials who were camped with us.

Continue reading “Behind the Lens: A story of Papa”

A Chat with Dental Surgeon, Dr Ogunye, and 5 (+1) Oral Health Questions Answered

Oral health is one aspect of health that I consider under-represented in the media and at the community level.

The overall health-seeking behaviour of Nigerians is poor, and even more so for oral health.

One time I mentioned to my sister that I was supposed to go to the dental clinic for a checkup, she scoffed, ‘Dental clinic? Who books an appointment with a dentist?

Doesn’t the pain go away after a while?‘ She added when I explained I was having a toothache and suspected I had a plague around the tooth.

Her response mirrors that of most persons which is a wrong one.

Continue reading “A Chat with Dental Surgeon, Dr Ogunye, and 5 (+1) Oral Health Questions Answered”

Work & Life Lately

Happy new year, lovelies.

Allow me welcome you to your best year yet.

Yes, that’s how I feel about 2019.

In the days and weeks that I haven’t put up a blog post, a lot has happened revolving around work and life generally.

My last blog post was about my internal medicine experience and there was a lot of cheers to my tenacity, and I earned a community of friends and family who were counting down with me to the end of the posting.

Weeks after I made the post and had most of my seniors at work, who are thankfully my friends also, read the post, one said to me, ‘You better go and tell your blog readers that you are suffering now. You had not gotten the real taste of Renal when you made the post.’

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My Internal Medicine Experience, OAUTHC, Nigeria

I am four months into house job and have completed my surgery rotation.

I began Internal Medicine rotation about five weeks ago and got posted to Nephrology – the aspect of Medicine that deals with the kidneys.

Toward the end of my Surgery posting, I started conversations with my friends who were in Internal Medicine at the time, discussing the likely units in Internal Medicine that I may get posted to.

Unlike Surgery where you rotate through various subspecialties and get to spend two or a maximum of three weeks in each subspecialty, in Internal Medicine, you spend the entire 12 weeks of a given rotation in one subspecialty.

It is essential, therefore, that you get a benign unit, or one at least that comprised mostly of good persons.

Continue reading “My Internal Medicine Experience, OAUTHC, Nigeria”

Barry Agava: Muscle Memory – Your Body Remembers The Work Put Into It

I am dedicating this article to Deji since he coined the phrase “muscle memory” during the course of our discussion after he read my article on body types.

Deji had recently returned to the gym after a five-year hiatus, and according to him, his gym mates were quite suspicious about his massive and almost immediate gains since returning.

He had thought perhaps genetics and the fact that he is predominantly a mesomorph might have contributed to this.

After reading my article, he decided he was going to share it with his mates so they would understand why he was gaining faster than they did.

Continue reading “Barry Agava: Muscle Memory – Your Body Remembers The Work Put Into It”

Fun Ways To Exercise

What comes to your mind when you hear exercise?

Fatigue? Grueling pain? Or fun and a deep sense of fulfillment?

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What comes to your mind when you hear exercise?

Fatigue? Grueling pain? Or fun and a deep sense of fulfillment?

The mere thought of the word scares the socks off some people.

Exercise should be fun because it is something you are supposed to be engaged in for the most of your waking hours; your body was made to move.

Over the past decades, medical research has repeatedly cited the consequences of letting our bodies slow down to a halt.

Of the top three causes of sudden death, two are linked to a lack of exercise, and these are heart disease and stroke. So, I take for granted you already know you should exercise more.

Let me make it easier for you by helping you see exercise as fun.

Continue reading “Fun Ways To Exercise”

How I Almost Got Raped (+ What To Do In The Event)

In my fourth year in the university, I had what may qualify as my scariest life experience.

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In my fourth year in the university, I had what may qualify as my scariest life experience.

You see, year four is that dreaded year in medical school that your senior colleagues attempt to mentally ready you for.

It is nicknamed the toughest year in medical school; the year that when you get past you are certain you will survive medical school. In fact, anything in life.

It is the year of Pathology and Pharmacology.

Pathology is so broad you can be overwhelmed especially toward your professional exam.

Pharmacology can be hard to recall sometimes, and the poor test scores can double your doubt that you will eventually pass.

From the first day of my fourth year, I began to work hard. I listened attentively during lectures, read at nights in my room, and sometimes in the classroom.

It was on one of those nights that I almost got raped.

Continue reading “How I Almost Got Raped (+ What To Do In The Event)”

Making The Most Of Your Sleep Time

The first time I heard the word “agoraphobia” was during my Psychiatry posting as a medical student. Asides the tendency of medical students to associate the symptoms of a disease they are studying to themselves, what is referred as Medical Student Syndrome or Medical Student Disease, it was interesting to note that it was the opposite of “claustrophobia,” a word I learned much earlier from novels.

I was thrilled to be putting a name to the fact that I hated open spaces. Not typical agoraphobia, but I hated a person entering or exiting my room and leaving the door ajar. It made me feel exposed, in an uncomfortable way.

Over the years, as I grew, I learned to also sleep with the lights off; how “adults” (are supposed to) sleep.

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I noticed of recent though, that I slept most times with the lights on and more worriedly, did not seem to care as much if I was sleeping with my door ajar.

These made me wonder. “What is it that has made me let my guards so low?” 

It was a source of concern to me.

It made me think, “Could it be that I am developing poor sleep hygiene?”

I know some may be wondering if that is even a thing – sleep hygiene. Well, I also remember from my Psychiatry posting, that one of the first things you do while managing insomnia (inability to initiate or maintain sleep) is to educate the patient on behaviors that may help them get to sleep faster or sleep soundly.

By the way, I am sleeping soundly. I simply thought that we might sleep/rest better if we practiced a better sleep hygiene.

With the increasing demands of adulthood and generally making a handsome living, we get to sleep less on most days. When we get a chance to sleep we should optimize it.

Some things you could do to improve the quality of your sleep:

1. Obey your body clock

The body has an alternating sleep-wake cycle controlled by an internal “clock” within the brain.

If you get up at the same time every day, soon, this strict routine will help to “set” your body clock and you will find yourself getting sleepy at about the same time every night. This may require you set an alarm for the first few days/weeks.

Also, note that staring at the clock in your bedroom or watching the minutes tick away while trying to sleep, can increase stress, making it harder to sleep – the reason you should turn your clock’s face away from you.

When your body signals you to rest, obey. Don’t say, “let me write a few more lines,” “read a few more pages,” or “watch a few more scenes,” do what it asks – go to bed. Likewise, do not go to bed when your body is not tired. You will be reinforcing bad habits, like laying awake. This is the time to put in the “extra” work.

2. Improve your sleeping environment

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A higher quality of sleep is assured if your bedroom feels restful and comfortable. This is where the “adults” win. A dark room does help you sleep better. It signals to your brain: it is time to sleep.

If your mattress is too hard or too worn, a quality sleep is less assured. The aches from sleeping on a mattress that slouches upon laying on are enough to rob you of the rest you hoped to get. Invest in a good mattress.

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I read a post on Facebook. A friend was complaining bitterly about a church situated close to his home that would not let him sleep. This was as a result of the loud and discordant sounds emanating from their speakers. If this is you, too, then getting earplugs would do you a world of good, since you cannot chase them away – even though you would have loved to. Keep in mind that the added stress of cursing does not make the prospects of a quality sleep more assured.

Make sure the room is at a right temperature; increase the temperature of your air conditioner or open up your windows, as the case may be.

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You would want to reserve your bedroom exclusively for sleeping where possible, so your brain does not associate your bedroom with activity.

3. Avoid drugs that influence the brain activity, by either stimulating or depressing it.

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Such would include caffeinated drinks such as coffee, coke, and also cigarettes and alcohol.

Taking a warm, milky drink instead can help you sleep faster, as it contains a sleep-enhancing amino acid.

Although alcohol may help bring on sleep, after a few hours it acts as a stimulant, increasing the number of awakenings and generally decreasing the quality of sleep later in the night.

4. Relax your mind

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Ease the transition from wake time to sleep time with a period of relaxing activities an hour or so before bedtime.

Take a bath (the rise, then fall in body temperature promotes drowsiness), read a book, watch television, play some music or practice relaxation exercises.

Avoid stressful, stimulating activities — doing work, discussing emotional issues. Physical and psychologically stressful activities can cause the body to release the stress hormone, cortisol, which is associated with increasing alertness.


There are also a number of other measures you may adopt to enhance the quality of your sleep, such as exercise – exercise promotes restful sleep if it is done several hours before going to bed, having light meals for dinner and taking balanced fluid – not too little for thirst to arouse you from sleep or too much to be awakened by a need to use the bathroom.

Did you know taking afternoon naps reduces the quality of your nighttime sleep?

I know some persons go to sleep soon after they hit the bed, whereas, for some others, it is a tug of war. I hope the latter find this post useful.

Love,

Annie.

 

 

First Outing As A Doctor x Practicing In My Village

I was preoccupied with preparing for my final qualifying exam as a medical doctor, when a call came in from my mum, asking if I would be available to participate in a rural health outreach they were planning in August.
Someone had wisely chipped in during the planning phase, “Why outsource a doctor when one of our own is a doctor?
It was an honour to say the least, and my people defiled the popular saying, “A prophet is not honoured in their own home.”
That was in sometime in May, I would have completed my exam by August, would be free, and certified a medical doctor. So, I accepted.
I almost forgot about this agreement, until a few weeks to the time, when my mum reminded me of it.
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When it was confirmed I was listed as one of the doctors and was going to travel, my excitement knew no bounds. The joy in my heart must have rung louder than a grade six murmur. The prospects of clerking in Igbo, and most importantly treating my own people was too exhilarating to keep calm.
Having trained in Rivers state, interacting with people from its various tribes, and even doing a compulsory one-month rural posting in a community in Rivers state – Kegbara-Dere, sometimes having a colleague who is a native act as an interpreter, and learning a few of their language to get by, this was much-welcomed opportunity.
As we approached the venue for the outreach, my aunt who was with me in the vehicle worried about my proficiency in Igbo; if I would be able to communicate effectively with the villagers.
I did not hesitate in letting her know how grounded I was for this. I boasted: “We have been effectively trained for this. One of the things you have to get right in medical school is the ability to communicate with your patient – whatever their level of education was. That included finding ways to surmount the barriers of language and religion also.” By the time I had gone on to lecture her on the expediency of passing the counselling station in the exam, and explaining a patient’s medical condition in the simplest of terms, she was forced to believe more in my ability.
I alighted the vehicle feeling comfortable in my ordinary attire, no white coat or stethoscope to give me away as a doctor, when to my uttermost amazement some other person alighting from a motorcycle greeted me, Doctor.
Poker-faced, looking down at my bag to crosscheck that my ward coat and stethoscope were safely tucked in, I stared back in his direction blankly, wondering what gave me away as a doctor. After he settled the bike guy, he repeated his greeting, as if to erase any doubt I had, concluding that I probably didn’t recognize him. The doctor who was to become a partner and a potential friend explained that we had the same Alma Mata and he knew me while we were in school. He was some classes ahead of me, had seen me a couple of times in the library and was currently serving in my village. Small world.
In no time, the patients were ready to start seeing the doctors, and the doctor and I were initially positioned in different consulting rooms.
“I mere añunu?” I started. The only Igbo Isuikwuato I was sure of.
The elderly woman began her compliant. At some point, I wanted to plead with her to stick to basic Igbo but decided against it.
When I had gotten all of her complaints and had an understanding of her condition, I proceeded to prescribe her medications.
One thing I didn’t do was fake knowledge where I would have used some guidance. That would be grave and foolish of me. So, I asked questions and sought clarifications when I needed one. If that made me seem “incompetent” or not schooled enough, that was your thinking.
“Better be humble and learn more, than prideful and kill innocent persons,” I admonished myself.
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Shortly afterward, we were joined by an older doctor who had been in practice for years. He was from my village and owned a hospital in a neighbouring town. I gave up my consulting room to share space with the other doctor who was serving in my village.
At intervals, my aunt came to check on me; to be sure I had no difficulty communicating with the patients and help if I had one.
I reassured her that I was doing fine, with a smile. The other doctor was from Akwa Ibom and didn’t understand a lot of Igbo. My aunt helped out when I was busy, and I took on the task of interpreting when I was less busy. I was too happy to.
He understood some words. When they said ishi/isi, he knew they were talking about their head… So, headache. When they said ukwu, they were referring to their waist. And so on.
The majority of the patients complained of headache, waist pain, leg pain, and general body pain. And of course malaria. This was to be expected considering their major source of livelihood is farming, my village is hilly, and the major age group of the presenting population elderly.
Children also came. If you have treated malaria, then the other most likely complaints were cough, ukwara and its accomplice, catarrh, mmiri ukwara.
Everyone that presented to the health center was dewormed.
Among the mpas and mmas, hypertension, as expected, was predominant and a few accompanying or isolated cases of diabetes.
There were few other random cases, and patients were referred to the General Hospital, and to be followed up when there was a need.
It was obvious some came for a refill of their medications, which was OK. That was why we were organizing the free medical outreach, everyone should make the most of the opportunity.
Of particular note was a certain old man, who looked vaguely familiar when he stepped in. On interaction with him, I asked him if he knew my grandpa and he answered in the affirmative, recounting some fun memories with him.
I was more than impressed when he took out a small note, where he had beautifully written down his complaints. I had to show my partner, he didn’t seem as impressed as I was, but I was and made sure the old man knew I was. He smiled and said he used to be a teacher. I scribbled his name on a paper and made a mental note to ask my uncle or granny when I got home.
I also met some other persons who knew me as a child or knew my family, and when they tried to place whose child in particular I was and were told “nwa Moses, Ada ya,” I could see them wearing the happiness in their hearts on their faces. Their own daughter was treating them. And I, too, found satisfaction and inexplicable delight and gave them my best.
We were joined by another doctor, who is from my village and works at the General Hospital.
His family is based in Port Harcourt, but he has a love for community medicine and enjoys working in the village to give back to his community. A lot of persons attested to his humanitarian and selfless service to the community.
The three of us soon got along and by the end of the second day, the last day of the outreach, we were heartily retelling stories of medical school. I didn’t realize how exhausted I was at the end of the day until I lay to sleep, but one thing was certain: The joy in my heart had no match, and my people were more than happy, blessed.
Tired, but surely excited, I managed to pose for photos at the end of the day:
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*I mere añunu? – How are you? (in my dialect)
*Mpas and mmas – Fathers and mothers (the elderly)
*nwa Moses, Ada ya – Moses’ child, his first daughter
Love,
Annie (or I should sign off with my Igbo name, Chioma? 😁)
Ps – This outreach was part of the infamous August Meeting, the annual meeting Igbo women attend in their village. Isn’t it cool that it has evolved to become an avenue these women seek ways to give back to the community? Shout out to the Onicha Amiyi-Uhu women of Isuikwuato local government area, Abia state. Onicha Amiyi-Uhu to the world! ❤