One of the greatest lessons I have learnt this past week is to pay attention to my body and not ignore any signs it gives me. I have experienced sharp pains in my lower abdomen, my back and my waist —all at different times.
At times, I wake up in the morning with waist pains which go away after I walk to the bathroom or while I stand to do my ironing.
Even though I did not complain about the pain (which I assumed was due to fatigue, sleeping on the wrong side or just too much sitting), I observed that it became more intense when I stood up after sitting for a long time. As a result, I was compelled to stand for a while for the pain to ease before taking a step.
Two weeks on, the pain would not go but got worse even after walking around, taking a bath and ironing. It became unbearable when I sat for close to 4 hours.
I knew it was time to visit the hospital!
Even that, I still thought I needed to exercise more, and did a 20-minute walk with a friend for 2 days in a row. On return, I could not bend to take off my trousers, I could not squat to wash my feet neither could bend to wipe the water off my lower body.
I knew there was trouble. The next day, I went to the clinic and an X-ray was done.
It showed nothing. I was glad nothing was found but a little voice told me not to be happy because with the pain I was feeling, it had to be something.
I showed the X-ray to another doctor who thought it was nothing too.
But the pain won’t go!
It minimized occasionally, so at some points I thought it was gone. The moment I sat and then stood up, it came right back.
I went to another doctor, who wrote a different kind of X-ray for me to do. This time, there was something- a disc prolapse!
Do not worry about what that is, it is a shift in some part of my lower back bones. I’m undergoing treatment or ‘management’ till I take a test.
Now here is the catch, if I did not pay attention to give accurate details of what and when I started feeling the pain, I would have spent more money doing more tests because when a question is asked and you can’t answer correctly, an examination is done to find the answer.
If you aren’t lucky, that examination will be done after a month; or more because the largest teaching hospital in Ghana, Korle Bu, has just one machine that does certain tests. The CT scan, the MRI, the EEG and the EMG are examples of these machines that are one-man-standing and they usually break down!
When they are fixed, there is a long queue of patients waiting to be attended to. I was booked for the MRI to further confirm or rule out the primary diagnosis and administer concise treatment. The soonest date I could get was in 3 weeks. Never mind the doctor went personally to book a date for me.
Let me chip in that the X-ray was done at the private clinic because the doctor wanted the result the same day (I have been wondering why the private hospital could generate a report for me 30 minutes after the test and the government hospital could not).
Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital Radiology Department
Anyway, I had to take the MRI (twice the cost) at a private hospital because I needed a solution ASAP.
So people, let us save ourselves the misery and pain, pay attention and be more cautious of our health because our health system has big challenges; lack of adequate amenities , wrong doctor-patient ratio, machines that break down every now and again, inability for the system to issue on-the spot reports (patients are ‘managed’ till it’s their turn to take a test for treatment to begin).
Take periodic examinations and seek medical attention when you don’t feel right. Even if you feel right but you see something unusual, get it checked.
Remember to go to the hospital for this and not just a pharmacy. Some have issues in their delivery which I realized during this same period of illness (I will address that later).
Be safe. Ghana needs you, although it is not doing enough to keep you alive!
Do you have any experiences to share? Let me know in the comments section below.
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