Having a stroke – a non-communicable disease is a big challenge for most survivors. The reason for this is that although survivors are happy that they did not die of stroke, the fact that they have to depend on others for life for their care and sustenance because they are paralyzed is often very distressing. . ANGELA ONWUZOO spoke to stroke survivors who lamented the frustration of living with the disease in Nigeria, where health services still rely on out-of-pocket payments. They said living as a stroke survivor in Nigeria without support is a slow and painful death sentence.
November December 22, 2021 is a day Mr. Christopher Obialor, 56, wished he had never seen coming. That day, Obialor, a businessman, was struck with a stroke that completely paralyzed his left hand and leg.
Before he suffered a stroke on that fateful day, Obialor said he had been taking blood pressure medication for more than 30 years.
According to Imo State Indigene, he was diagnosed with high blood pressure in his early 20s and was in his third year of college.
Stroke despite blood pressure medication
The University of Jos sociology graduate and University of Lagos master’s degree holder said he was shocked to have a stroke despite having his blood pressure controlled with medication and constantly monitored.
Share your experience with PUNCH HealthWise With a pensive mood, the father-of-two recalled how difficult life has become for him and his family since he suffered a stroke, despite being a successful businessman and a breadwinner before the incident.
Obialor, who cannot move around without help, said he now depends on charity for his survival as the stroke not only crippled his body but also his source of income.
Poor man can’t survive a stroke in Nigeria
According to him, the cost of managing his condition has placed a huge financial burden on his family, lamenting that it is difficult for poor stroke victims in Nigeria to survive the disease.
He noted that stroke patients who lack the resources for treatment and the right support not only die unnecessarily but painfully and slowly.
Direct payment for health care unacceptable – Health care providers
Direct payment for health care is 76% in the country, according to the Association of Health Care Providers of Nigeria. Health care providers say the challenge of direct payment for health services must be addressed, noting that it is unacceptable.
Recounting his ordeal, Obialor said: “It happened on November 22, 2021. I had planned to go to work when I started feeling unwell, although I started feeling dizzy the day before. When I told my wife the night before that I was dizzy, she told me it might be due to lack of blood.
“So I took the blood tonic we had. So when it continued the next day, I called some of my family members and told them that I didn’t feel well.
“When they arrived they said why I let malaria hit me so hard before I went to the hospital and we joked about it.
“While we were talking and joking about it, I started feeling heaviness in my hand and leg. At that point, I didn’t know it was a stroke lurking.
“So I was rushed to a nearby health center in Ebute-Metta where I live. When we arrived the doctor said it was a stroke and asked me if I I was hypertensive and if I was doing very well with medication and I said yes.
“He asked me if I was going to the hospital, I said yes I was using the Federal Medical Center in Ebute-Metta. He said he would refer me there and I said no because I was not satisfied with their services.
“The doctor insisted that I go to FMC Ebute-Metta because they have my file. But after a lot of hanging around, I decided to go.
“But when we arrived they told us there was no place to sleep. A doctor there even told me it was not serious although the signs of stroke were there from what the doctor at the primary care center told me.
“I was then referred to Yaba military hospital where we were received. They took me to the emergency room and I spent 10 days in the hospital before being released.
“That’s how I had a stroke that paralyzed my left hand and leg. Since then I’ve been using both traditional and orthodox medications to manage it.”
The 56-year-old, who still wonders why he had a stroke despite having his high blood pressure under control, however, ruled out the issue of the illness being caused by a spiritual attack.
According to the World Health Organization, strokes are a major health problem as they are the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability worldwide.
“15 million people suffer a stroke worldwide each year. Of these, 5 million people die and another 5 million are permanently disabled.
“Almost three-quarters of all strokes occur in people over 65, and the risk of having a stroke more than doubles every decade after the age of 55,” the WHO said.
Obialor told our correspondent that he suffered from insomnia but was not diabetic.
Stroke, a mystery
He explained: “It’s a mystery to me that I had a stroke while on blood pressure medication. Those who know me are surprised that I have a stroke because I don’t joke about my health.
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