When Peter graduated from university, his kinsmen were so sure that the lots of their village had changed. So, they attended his convocation in huge numbers. 18 of them chartered a bus from Jos to Enugu where the event was going to take place. It was quite expensive to make this trip but they did it anyway. Peter, their son, had made them proud.
Peter was a brainy who spent most of his time outside the classroom studying the concepts learnt in the class and challenged himself to always stay ahead of the class. He was an excellent student. He was unafraid to ask questions from the teacher, but was courteous enough to not make the teacher look bad when he senses that they do not have an answer. He was what some parents would call a “sweet boy”.
But his parents were no more. In fact, he never heard anyone call him a sweet boy. His education was sponsored by his eldest brother who works as a plumber in Lagos and the chief of his clan.
There was one problem, however. Peter always had these terrible headaches in the middle of his head. At first, he was able to use a single day dose of paracetamol to handle it. Lately, however, he needed more to do the job.
Hypertension shows different signs to different people. The most common symptom is the headache. When there is a constant headache that does not go away for many days, you definitely need to see the doctor.
In fact, people forget sometimes that analgesics and over-the-counter medicines like paracetamol have on the body of the medicine and on the body of the pack that a doctor should be consulted after three days and no relief from the aches in the head. The reason is simple, sometimes the ache is a sign of something more sinister, more dangerous to one’s health.
It could be a tumor or stress. It could be alcohol or a chronic migraine. It could be a high blood pressure, otherwise called hypertension.
Peter presented his headache to his university’s clinic in the second semester of his penultimate year in college. At first, they sent him away without further investigation. He was given malaria tablets for his trouble which he used judiciously.
The next time he went, the nurses at the clinic were present and when his vitals were checked they discovered it was “just over” 130/97 mmHg, and asked him a few questions about his habit. Questions like how often he stayed awake at night? How much sleep he got? His eating habit and the content of salt he likes in his food. He was advised to prioritize sleep and rest, that he was a young man and his BP is not ideal but if he manages it properly there’s nothing to worry about.
But there’s something to worry about. Peter does not listen.
He believed that being in school was his opportunity to help his clan and set up his brother. He wanted to study so hard that they’d be proud of him. He wanted a high paying job and believed that studying would give him exactly that.
Hypertension comes slowly but surely, and between the many days, Peter did not check his blood pressure, his blood pressure had moved up and down. What he never told his brother, the one person he shares everything with is that he was managing hypertension.
WellaHealth developed a simple plan that can be accessed by parents and their children. With this plan, you are reminded regularly to check your blood pressure. You can even check it at no cost to you at nearly 2000 locations in Nigeria You are also able to speak to a doctor via phone or SMS. You’d receive weekly health tips to better manage your health. All these for only one thousand seven hundred Naira (N 1,700) Basic Plan or two thousand, three hundred Naira (N2,300) HospiCash plan.
He had been brought in to the clinic by another roommate that he had fainted in school. And when his blood pressure was checked, it was nearly 170/120 mmHg. He was quickly admitted stabilized for a couple of days and sent home to buy anti-hypertensives which he got.
Anti-Hypertensives help patients managing hypertension to lower their blood pressure, but you still need regular check to confirm if the treatment plan is working. And there is always a location in your neighbourhood you can get one if you have a WellaHealth plan.
The party for Peter was extensive at the convocation ground. The people cheered Peter as he walked onto the stage to receive his award. He graduated as the best Engineering student from his faculty, and although he had his eye on the best graduating student honours, this was okay. This assured him of a place in one of the leading oil firms in the country, or a position as a Graduate Assistant in his department, if he wishes.
His life was already set up the way he had dreamed it. He worked his hearts out for it, literally. His brother was proud of him. His villagers already saw all their dreams on the development of their community in him. He wished his parents had the opportunity to see him.
So that night, they discussed for long in the bus, they would sleep in, as they had no extra funds to book a hotel. They talked heartily about people who came so close. They talked about Mr. Jonah’s son who came as close as entering the university but was suspended. They were sad when one of them talked about beautiful Miriam whose life was cut short on his trip back from the university. They talked about Abu who just entered the university and shows some promise like Peter. They talked late into the night, and were proud that they saw this boy through, themselves. He was their child.
But somewhere in the night, Peter laid face down. He had excused himself to go back to the hostel which was not so far from the convocation ground. He had felt a twitch, in his leg and lost his balance. The blood supply to his brain had been cut. He was in agony and wanted so badly this future that he worked hard for.
It was one of the guards who saw him lying there, drawing long loud breaths. He would be admitted again in the hospital, but this time there was nothing that could be done. Peter had missed his dose severally while he applied and studied job application materials for opportunities outside the guaranteed firms, he would get a job at for being the best graduating student.
And while he walked proudly to receive his award in the presence of his kinsmen with flashes of his future, he walked on a borrowed time. Only that he did not know. Neither did his brother, nor his kinsmen.
The journey back home was gloomy and sad. Only yesterday, Peter shone like Ikene, the sun god, of his people. Only yesterday, they’d imagine the road network that he would cause to be developed in his community. Only yesterday their prayers were answered. Only yesterday…
This is why hypertension is called the silent killer.
Wow, if only 😔
This is so insightful.
Glad you enjoyed the piece. Hope you take action on the silent killer.