Stroke: ‘Our ex­pe­ri­ence, and your risks’

Daily Trust - - HEALTH - By Ojoma Akor

Onyinye Praise Iromba, woke up from sleep in the night to ease her­self in Septem­ber last year only to find out that she couldn’t move her body. She forced her­self up, but fell on the ground. She man­aged to pick up her phone and called her pas­tor and his wife, who rushed down to her house.

But she couldn’t even move to the door to open it for them. And only man­aged to give them key through the win­dow as she stays alone. She was rushed to the hospi­tal, and told her blood pres­sure was very high, and then re­ferred to the Univer­sity Teach­ing Hospi­tal, Gwag­wal­ada where she waited for about seven hours be­fore they at­tended to her.

Iromba who holds a BSc in bank­ing and fi­nance and a Master De­gree from Univer­sity of Nige­ria, Nsukka was di­ag­nosed with Stroke and spent over a month in the hospi­tal be­fore she was dis­charged.

The thirty year old lady said she was sur­prised, at the stroke di­ag­no­sis be­cause she was well and even went to work on that day only to go to bed and be­come un­able to move.

Iromba‘s prob­lems in­creased when she re­turned to work af­ter some­time only to be told to re­sign by the owner of the pri­vate firm, where she has been work­ing for two years.

She said it re­ally af­fected her be­cause she needed money for treat­ment and care and has no sup­porter as she was the bread win­ner of her fam­ily be­fore she fell ill.

To­day she is bet­ter and can walk, even drive but wher­ever she goes for em­ploy­ment, they al­ways tell her to go and re­cover first be­fore she comes for em­ploy­ment.

She is com­puter lit­er­ate and se­ri­ously needs a job to able to be meet up with her needs and that of her fam­ily, and calls on well mean­ing Nige­ri­ans for help.

Ikechukwu Obio­rah a fa­ther, slumped while tak­ing his bath in May last year and was rushed to Garki Gen­eral Hospi­tal. He was on ad­mis­sion for six months, four of which he spent in a comma and breathed only with the aid of a ven­ti­la­tor, and life sup­port ma­chine.

Ac­cord­ing to his wife, he was op­er­ated upon twice on the head and lost his mem­ory. He lost kid­ney func­tion and was on dial­y­sis for some time. She said the doc­tors told her his stroke was at a level that only very few peo­ple sur­vived.

To­day Mr Obio­rah can walk, drive not too far from the house, and grad­u­ally re­cov­er­ing his mem­ory loss through the as­sis­tance of his lov­ing wife.

Her daily rou­tine now is al­ways mon­i­tor­ing his blood pres­sure, sugar level, tak­ing him for reg­u­lar check­ups, talk­ing to him and help­ing him to re­cover his mem­ory and do ex­er­cise among oth­ers.

She added that her hus­band is of­ten de­scribed as the man who died thrice be­cause of the ex­tent f his ail­ment. He ap­peared dead to any­one that saw him ex­cept for the ma­chine read­ing near him to show he was alive, she said.

She said one ma­jor thing a stroke pa­tient need is love and care, and while it is not easy to care for them, fam­ily, friends and oth­ers must en­sure they do so. Ac­cord­ing to her, Stroke is not like malaria or other dis­eases from which you could say the per­son has re­cov­ered, the per­son needs con­tin­u­ous care.

She ad­vised Nige­ri­ans to al­ways check their blood pres­sure and their health reg­u­larly so that any changes will be de­tected on time

While the fam­ily basks in the joy of his mirac­u­lous re­cov­ery, they still owe Garki Hospi­tal over four mil­lion naira in hospi­tal bills. Mrs Obio­rah calls on Nige­ri­ans to help her off­set the bill as it is giv­ing her sleep­less nights, adding that she only earns lit­tle in­come as a civil ser­vant, and is the only one cater­ing for the fam­ily now.

Stroke am­bas­sador team leader for Stoke Ac­tion Nige­ria, a non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tion, Mrs Florence Mbonu, said Iromba is men­tally fit to work and be rein­te­grated into the so­ci­ety

Mbonu who is a carer for stroke sur­vivors and also lost her hus­band to the dis­ease called on Nige­ri­ans to em­brace peo­ple suf­fer­ing from stroke and not look down on them.

The Rtd. Pub­lic Health Di­rec­tor and ad­vo­cate of stroke sur­vivors and im­proved stroke man­age­ment, con­demned the at­ti­tude of the pub­lic to­wards stroke sur­vivors and ad­vised peo­ple to re­port cases of stroke im­me­di­ately, be­cause with stroke time loss is brain loss.

She en­joined

the gov­ern­ment to work with Stroke Ac­tion Nige­ria, Nige­ria Stroke Ref­er­ence group and other re­lated or­ga­ni­za­tions, and part­ners in im­prov­ing stroke ser­vices and man­age­ment in hos­pi­tals to re­duce stroke in­ci­dents and im­pact in the so­ci­ety.

Oc­to­ber 29th is the World Stroke Day and this year’s theme is “I am woman stroke af­fects me” it is es­ti­mated that stroke af­fects more women than men in re­cent re­ports. This year high­lights the im­pact of stroke on women.

Ac­cord­ing to Dr. Bio­dun Ogungbo, a brain and spine sur­geon and a di­rec­tor of Stroke Ac­tion, Nige­ria, a non­govern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion a stroke is a “brain at­tack” and can hap­pen to any­one at any time. It oc­curs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this hap­pens, brain cells are de­prived of oxy­gen and be­gin to die. When brain cells die dur­ing a stroke, abil­i­ties con­trolled by that area of the brain such as mem­ory and mus­cle power are lost.

“It is a lead­ing cause of long-term dis­abil­ity and death. Each year, more than 160, 000 Nige­ri­ans die from stroke though we do not know the ac­tual num­ber. This is more than Malaria and HIV com­bined any­way. How­ever, stroke is not truly rec­og­nized as a killer and given the due dis­hon­ourable credit it de­serves. Many of the deaths and dis­abil­ity is of­ten as­cribed to Malaria and witch craft,” he said.

The med­i­cal ex­pert said for sur­vivors and their fam­i­lies, the long-term costs, both financial and in terms of qual­ity of life, are of­ten over­whelm­ing. Over twothirds of sur­vivors must live with chronic con­di­tions, such as paral­y­sis and re­duced phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, speech prob­lems, and the abil­ity to un­der­stand speech. Th­ese con­di­tions can im­pact an in­di­vid­ual’s abil­ity to re­turn to work, re­turn to school, and be­come a func­tion­ing mem­ber of so­ci­ety once again.

Com­mon stroke symp­toms in­clude: sud­den weak­ness of the face, arm, or leg; sud­den con­fu­sion; trou­ble speak­ing or un­der­stand­ing speech; sud­den trou­ble walk­ing or see­ing; loss of bal­ance; and sud­den, se­vere headache. The abil­ity to rec­og­nize th­ese symp­toms and seek med­i­cal as­sis­tance im­me­di­ately is crit­i­cal to sur­viv­ing a stroke and min­i­miz­ing long-term dis­abil­ity. He said stroke af­fects peo­ple of all ages, but sev­eral un­der­ly­ing fac­tors that put in­di­vid­u­als at higher risk in­clude high blood pres­sure, di­a­betes, high choles­terol lev­els, obe­sity, tobacco use and phys­i­cal in­ac­tiv­ity. Un­der­stand­ing the risks in­volved with cer­tain life­style choices and mak­ing health­ier choices can of­ten help re­duce a per­son’s risk of stroke.

On re­duc­ing the in­ci­dence of the dis­ease, he said we must carry the ad­vo­cacy as re­gards the risk fac­tors of stroke to the grass­roots, doc­tors and nurses must treat high blood pres­sure ef­fec­tively, and the vic­tim must be rushed to a hospi­tal im­me­di­ately for in­ves­ti­ga­tion and treat­ment. He also called for the es­tab­lish­ment of stroke cen­tres.

He also ad­vised that the gov­ern­ment through the fed­eral min­istry of health must find ways to ef­fec­tively sup­port stroke sur­vivors and their fam­i­lies through the ad­vance­ment of new treat­ments. By rais­ing aware­ness, we can min­i­mize the rates of dis­abil­ity and mor­tal­ity re­sult­ing from stroke

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