It was Monday morning, and as usual Doctor Emeka was looking dapper in his ward coat. He was about adjusting his glasses when a frantic knock at the door interrupted his hands midway. “Come in,” Emeka said, inviting a huge middle-aged woman, who gingerly made her way into the office and occupied one of the two chairs across from the Physician’s desk.
“Good morning,” Emeka, being his usual jovial self, greeted Mrs. Ade.
“E karo oo! Doctor (Good morning, Doctor)”, Mrs. Ade replied, leaning forward in her seat.
Mrs. Ade was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and she had come for her routine medical check-up.
“How are you feeling today?” Dr. Emeka asked, peering at her through his round-framed eyeglasses.
“Ah! Doctor! Throughout the night, I couldn’t sleep, oh!! She exclaimed, waving her hands for emphasis she continued; “I was waking up every 30 mins to urinate…. the worst part is I don’t know if the headache I have is due to lack of sleep or is something more serious. Because, Doc, my head is pounding!”
After a brief pause to see if Doctor Emeka was listening, she continued excitedly as she could see she had his rapt attention.
“Even today, when I went to open my shop, ..you know, so I could sell some fabrics before coming here, the headache still continued and I felt very tired”
Suddenly, she pointed at him angrily saying; “You people said I have diabetes. Ehn? Doctor? What kind of sickness is this? I have heard of this diabetes before but I don’t know what it is.” Mrs Ade said, gesticulating heavily. “Okay, so first of all”, Doc Emeka said in a way to calm her down, “I’ll prescribe some drugs for you so you can feel better”.
“Now, to your question:
Diabetes is a disease in which the glucose …that’s like sugar- that is gotten from the food that you eat cannot be properly processed and used by your body.”
Leaning forward over his desk, he continued, “You see, Mrs Ade, when you eat food, your body breaks it down to glucose and this glucose enters your blood. From there, a hormone, called insulin, produced by the pancreas, acts like a key that opens your cells for the glucose in your blood to enter the cells where it is used to make energy for living”
He paused to ask if she understood, Dr Emeka continued following an affirmative nod from Mrs. Ade. “In type 1 diabetes, this insulin is not produced at all. Therefore, patients having this type of diabetes have to depend on insulin injections, but in type 2 diabetes, the insulin produced in your body is not sufficient or the body cells have become resistant to it. In both types, your blood sugar level is usually higher than normal. This is called hyperglycemia,“.
“Okay. Thank you, Doctor. So why did you give me that injection to be using? Er…insu..insult..in…”
“Ehen! Omo mi (my child)! Olorun bukun fun o (God bless you)! Insulin, dear.”
“I placed you on insulin therapy because from the tests conducted, your body does not produce enough insulin.”
“Ah! But, Doctor! Me, tapping her chest, I cry like omokekere (small child) when I see needle oh! I don’t like injections at all! Arranging the oral medicines on one side and the Insulin Injector on the other, she continued; “Ah! I will be taking only those drugs that you gave me oh, and keep this injection one side,” Mrs. Ade looked away, pouting.
“Those drugs that I placed you on are only to boost your insulin sensitivity so that your body can make energy. But insulin therapy is necessary because your body does not make enough insulin.”
“But, wo! Is this how I will die, Doctor? I heard that diabetes kills people well well. Me, I don’t want to die and leave my children for another woman to take care of, oh!“, Mrs. Ade said, shaking her legs vigorously and almost crying.
“No, ma’am. The disease is not a death sentence. It can be managed. You’ll be fine,” Doctor Emeka consoled her. “
“I know you are upset and a bit scared of needles, but you must know that the insulin injectors come in various forms, like; he went along to name some of them, “…the insulin pens and pumps, all of them come with micro-sized needles…very tiny needles, the doctor, makes a gesture with his index finger and thumb so that they touch at the tips, “insulin is meant to be injected underneath the skin, that is subcutaneously, as such the needles are small and the prick almost painless!”
…Okay…Doc, you know best, so I’ll just try this insulin and see how it goes…Mrs. Ade reluctantly agrees. Just before the doctor could speak, she continued as though it was the same sentence, “But must it be in the Fridge, …you know as light is in this country..”
“You have to keep it in a cool place, and the refrigerator is best to keep it at an ideal temperature, to maintain its effectiveness.” Doctor Emeka, smiled his famous megawatts grin before saying; “don’t worry you can get an ice pack from the Pharmacy for those times when there are power outages”
“The Pharmacist will also show you how to use and refill the insulin Pen.”
“Don’t use more than the dose I prescribed, even if you missed a dose, take it as soon as you remember…unless it’s closer to the next dose”
“If you take too much insulin, your blood sugar level may drop too low and this could have serious effects like extreme tiredness, lack of coordination and even loss of consciousness….even normal doses of insulin have side effects too like bloating, and weight gain. If you notice any other changes, please inform me.”
“Ah! Ese oh, Doctor!(Thank you, Doctor) Olorun bukun fun o fun mi (God bless you for me)! Eeni jiya laye o(You will never suffer in life),” Mrs. Ade pronounced as she stood up to adjust her wrapper and leave.
Dr Emeka wondered to himself, as he picked the phone to call the pharmacy,
“maybe we need to enlighten this community about diabetes and insulin”.