Tuesday Column By VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO
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One does not know the value of something until when one has lost it”. How true. Many of us take good health for granted, as long as we are able to move about, go about our activities without any physical pains. No one illness is the same in terms of the experience. My recent ill health was quite unique for me because it lasted for quite a while and till date, I have not fully recovered from its aftermath because I am yet to resume my daily routine fully although I am gradually sliding into it as evidenced by my being able to write this piece.
And what was the illness? It was the usual ‘suspect’ in this part of the world, especially during the rainy season – fever, malaria fever. As usual, it starts with a headache, and then you have this rather high temperature in the mornings and evenings, subsiding in the daytime. Not being one that is good at taking drugs, I said to myself that it would disappear after some two days when I consume some liquid herbal medicine. After a lull, the high temperature soon turned to feverish conditions while I gradually began to lose appetite for food.
Thereafter I decided to go for the often advertised malaria drug. One week after, there was no significant improvement. Instead, the feverish condition degenerated to shivering particularly in the evenings/nights, exacerbated perhaps by the cold weather as it was raining cats and dogs every day. It became routine for me to wear multiple dresses in addition to a sweater to try and ward off the cold. Soon, I slid to another level – I became disinterested in happenings around my environment and found eating an unwelcome activity.
I had over the years cultivated a habit of listening to BBC’s radio news programmes between 5 a.m. and 7a.m as well as news channels, breakfast and talk shows on local television stations, always looking forward to them. Alas, as the illness weighed me down, I no longer found any joy in them. In fact I had no inkling for them as I was always lying down on bed, my thoughts far removed from television and radio.
Ditto food, no matter how sumptuous they were. I tried to read some hard copy books as well as browse the internet. But I found these rather tasking and difficult, I could not concentrate on what I was reading and both phone and book often slipped off my hands. These are activities that one enjoyed indulging in; not anymore.
At this stage I had to seek out the medics as this was turning out not to be the ‘ordinary’ fever I was used to which normally disappeared after about one week of taking the common malaria drug. At the hospital the medics conducted some tests, said they would have to ‘detain’ me (admit me), after the test results which revealed that my illness was not malaria fever but typhoid fever, adding that it had gone far. They put me on a big drip and gave me some ten sets of drugs. When I remarked that the medicines were rather many, they replied in the negative.
My thoughts reverted to how I was going to ‘battle’ these many drugs because I am not good at swallowing things. Even our traditional ‘swallow’ foods, I chew. I do not know how this came about but I think it is a habit I formed from childhood. And because of this ‘phobia’, I usually waited until noon before taking those set of drugs that were due to be consumed in the morning, skipped those for the afternoons and forced myself to swallow the ones for bedtime. Thus did I struggle with them until I gradually exhausted them. It was a rather slow process of recovery. After what appeared to be an age literally, I felt well in that the symptoms are gone and I could now eat somehow. I still felt unwell inside in that I was still weak. Thus the recuperating continued for a few weeks.
I am told by non medics that typhoid fevers could be ‘stubborn’. And when I am tempted to lament over what I would have done with the money I spent to restore myself to good health in the hospital, I am reminded that ‘health is wealth’. It was indeed, a humbling experience. Now I am cautious about what I eat and drink, especially outside. I wish you all good health!