When people hear of ulcers what mostly comes to mind is that the victim is probably battling stress related issues or depression. I won’t call it ignorance but rather lack of information. I was in your position too before I met Austin and listened to his story.
I bet you want to be in the know about this infection that is not so popular but painful and draining. Join me as we go through Austin’s medical journey as I compiled it few days ago;
To what started as mild pains around Austin’s chest quickly developed to intense discomfort in a couple of days. When the pain became tough to endure having toyed with the idea that it could be stress which could somehow be solved by going easy on himself and opening up to close friends and relatives, the pain had none of this. When this failed to work, the most prudent thing was to call a friend to rush him to a nearby hospital one late evening. He was misdiagnosed with Asthma by the nurse on duty. The doctor was away. Be careful with private clinics. He actually learnt of the misdiagnose close to a week later when he checked in another hospital only to be treated for Anxiety Disorder. The doctor made him believe he was a Type A personality just like renowned familiar public figures to name a few – Presidents Uhuru and Obama. Google defines Type A personality as more competitive, outgoing, ambitious, impatient, aggressive and self critical. They are short fused meaning their temperament can be slightly out of normal. They are also highly status – conscious, workaholics, rigidly organised, anxious and proactive. Type A personalities are highly vulnerable to stress related illnesses than the rest of the personalities.
Austin having been diagnosed with Anxiety disorder was prescribed with medicine that would make him relax his mind. The side effect was, he tended to sleep more. No sooner was he done with his dose after a month or so, than his chest pains re-emerged once more. He visited another different hospital and this time round diagnosed with stress. He was made to believe his body was producing excess acid which in effect, affected his esophagus, because acid burns, right? He was cautioned to avoid issues that would make him overly stressed and also consider engaging in hobbies that would relieve his mind off the serious stuff. In other words he was to embrace unwinding seriously than before and to have a strong support around him. The remedy here helped him relieve off the acid but had nothing to do with treating peptic ulcers.
Two months later the pains kept playing hide and seek; jumping from one area to another. It went to a point where his rib cage ached from time to time. Austin became convinced its time he had an X Ray of his chest. He booked an appointment in an established Mission Hospital where the result came with a clean bill of health. Here, he was diagnosed with pneumonia. He was advised to keep warm, avoid conditions that would lower his body temperatures unusually, exercise more and strictly drink warm water. He was medicated and got temporarily recuperated.
As soon as he was done with this medicine composed of antibiotics and pain killers, the pains resurfaced this time more angry, rebranded and confronting. Meanwhile, Austin was developing stress out of not getting a lasting solution about his pains. Besides, the checkups were draining him financially and disappointing. One day, he sipped tea and felt nausea. The next minute, he was holding his breath to stop untimed vomit. How so? With the pains stubbornly persisting he was dealing with another problem; of handling nausea. I remember him joking – I felt like I’m pregnant. No pun intended.
By sheer chance, one of his distressed siblings advised him to go to a reputable hospitable with a credible laboratory where he would be tested for amoeba. For your information, amoeba causes nausea and headaches. Austin identified another hospital where he had his tests done. This time round, he met a proficient doctor who diagnosed him correctly. He calmly told him his illness had nothing to do with stress but hygiene! How? Yes. He was suffering from an infection called Peptic Ulcers caused by a bacteria referred as H.Pylori. This was evidenced by the tests done from his blood and stool samples.
The doctor advised him to avoid taking meals and water from public places – Hotels etc. The bacteria is mainly caused by contaminated foods including fruits , water and spread from person to person. I assumed it’s through kissing. Washing ones hand regularly and thoroughly is also highly recommended. By all means avoid those tempting street mutura in your neighborhood, normally prepaid by this lad who is always in a dirty, dust coat. Please also ignore the aroma that comes from that kibanda that sells chips mwitu. Be careful with where you buy your greens too. They might have been grown in sewage rich areas. The bacteria attaches itself along the digestive tract and triggers acid which the burns the esophagus which lead to pain around the upper part of the chest. As you read this, Austin has fully recovered. He has shed off the pains and carried along vital lessons.
He is worried of one thing; Social media. You know of those ‘forwards’ on Whatsapp that read – if you have this type of pain bla bla bla please consider visiting a doctor as it may be trigger a particular chronic illness bla bla bla…. They end with familiar conclusions that go like; please share with at least ten of your loved ones.
These messages made Austin paranoid. They made him struggle with self assurance. He consoled himself with the fact that, most of these information spread across social media are mostly inaccurate and unverified. However, Austin has one plea to put across; that please do not forward any message on whatsapp or whichever platform especially to do with one’s health if you are not a clinical officer or health expert. This messages can easily trigger panic attacks to individuals who are not as lucky as you forwarding them. Lucky in the sense of a credible support system and people around them at that time of reading these forwards. They can easily get paranoid. They may also be living alone, you know. Think of what could happen when their blood pressure suddenly shoots up out of reading such forwards.
The issue of going for comprehensive medical checkups at least once in a year should be taken more seriously. It might be slightly expensive but; ….THIS IS ABOUT YOUR HEALTH! The cliche that prevention is better than cure is so true. In any case, the money we spend in clubs drinking ourselves silly just in one weekend is enough for a thorough medical checkup. Is that much to ask!
Lastly; Avoid alcohol as much. Alcohol worsens these conditions.