So, I took off and went to Cedarcrest Hospital, Abuja to see a patient. On the floor of the patient, I met a nurse rolling by with a portable BP machine (BP is blood pressure, for the uninitiated).
Casually, I asked if she would do my BP for me.
‘’Yes, Doctor. Please sit down and I will do it for you’’, she said.
She did and the numbers were shocking. 150/102 mmHg.
‘’Please do it again’’, I said.
The second time read 149/94 mmHg. This was also definitely discomforting. I have never had BP any higher than the normal 120/80 mmHg as far back as I can remember and this may have lulled me into a false sense of security. I always thought I was the calmest stone in the river and totally unruffled by events of the day.
It seems I have joined the group of ‘’hypertensives’’ and have a new diagnosis to add to my medical history. Not funny! I returned to the hospital, perturbed and disturbed. What happened to my BP? When did it creep up to such a dangerous level?
What have I been doing wrong?
Is it the coffee? I take 2-3 cups of coffee a day. The early morning waking up? I wake up at around 5 am daily. If not by myself, I am often woken up, definitely, by the call to prayers from the loudspeakers of the local mosque.
Why do we still do this in this century with phone alarms everywhere?
Anyway, no point worrying about that!
The next day, I got to the hospital and asked my nurse to check my blood pressure. She was amused and wondered why. ‘‘What happened’’, she asked. ‘’Nothing’’ I replied. ‘’Just check it please’’.
151/92 mmHg. Pulse 65.
‘’Houston, we have a problem’’
I called my wife and told her the BP saga that was unfolding in front of me. I told her I had been to the cardiologist and he recommended sex twice a day to calm things down. She laughed heartily and said, ‘’you must be joking’’.
She asked again, ‘’did he really say that? I said, ‘’Yes’’. She said, ‘’the two of you had better get on with it then!
Death among doctors is on the increase and a few stalwarts have fallen. Dr Ajah, a well-known and much liked anaesthetist died recently while playing football. Simply slumped and died before anyone could do anything on the football field.
Dr Adeyemo also died. Adeyemo, a former Osun State Chairman of the Association of General Private Medical Practitioners of Nigeria (AGPMPN), who was said to have operated till late the previous night before succumbing few hours later to “heart attack”. Several similar cases of doctors dying suddenly after or during the business of the day abound.
Dr Obidoa also died recently after a brief illness.
This year alone, the number of doctors that have answered the final call has increased to alarming levels. Our susceptibility has been worsened by the climate in the country, with the stressful economic conditions, security challenges and apathy.
According to Dr Kay A Adesola, 1st VP, AGPMPN, ‘’the time has come for doctors to treat personal health issues with deserved seriousness’’. The health awareness and consciousness of all doctors as regards self-preservation must be awakened. Annual general check-ups must be seen as mandatory rather than a voluntary exercise among doctors. But, don’t ask for and run the health checks yourself or in your own clinic to save costs. Ask Synlab to run a comprehensive medical for you according to their protocols.
Every doctor must have a personal physician. No benefit treating yourself because ‘’you know best’’. This is a fallacy and a sure way to real harm in the long run. Doctors should also learn to create more time for recreation and socialising. As at today, the worst set of guests you can have at your party are doctors. If they bother to show up in the first place!
We sit in a hurry, eat and drink in a hurry and before you say Jack, the section of the party for doctors is empty. Even our annual meetings and conferences are often poorly attended because many feel too busy to take the time off work.
We worry too much about other people’s health challenges and ignore self. We fail to delegate appropriately and run every aspect of the business till we run into the ground.
Well, all that changes for me!
My cardiologist has spoken and I intend to take his advice.
My wife agrees and I intend to follow her hint.
I just need a new cardiologist!
Dr Biodun Ogungbo, MBBS, FRCS, FRCSEd, MSc