The art of driving is one of the most stressful jobs in the world. In places like Nigeria, driving itself resembles war. Despite that fact, many people do not give driving a second thought when they get behind the steering, start their engines and zoom off to wherever it is they want to go. However, this is also one of the most dangerous jobs on earth with the risk of dying or suffering minor, moderately severe and severe injuries as a result of which some would experience life-changing events that would permanently alter their lives. Think of it; you drive out of your compound and set out on the road to your office. And then, a tipper driver whose brakes have failed rams into your car from behind causing extensive damage to your vehicle and damaging your spinal cord.
Paralysis results and it may be from the waist down to the legs or from the neck down. The kind of life that awaits such a person in a country that challenges even those who are physically fit is best left to the imagination. Many people do not even give a thought to problems like these as they hop into their cars at daybreak and head away from home.
In Nigeria, road traffic accidents are the third leading cause of death in the country. In January 2018 alone according to the Federal Road Safety Corps, there were 456 reported deaths from more than 800 motor vehicle accidents across the nation. More than 3,400 people were injured. In the previous month of December, 2017 there were more than 550 people killed in road traffic accidents. In most of these incidents, excessive speeding and reckless driving were to blame for the accidents. In the United States of America, there are about 6 million road traffic accidents every year with more than 90 deaths occurring every day from them. That figure translates to nearly 40,000 deaths annually from road traffic accidents and that is in a country with strict speed limits. In this less chaotic road traffic as seen in the US, some three million Americans still suffer injuries resulting from such accidents. These are humbling statistics that should alter our behaviour while on the road for the better.
The meaning of these sobering figures is that when you get into a car to head out to anywhere for that matter, you have about one chance in 24 of suffering significant bodily injuries or even death. This ought to be a sobering reality for many people but it is not often the case. Other related health risks of driving include anxiety and undue agitation. These are factors related to the peculiarities of driving on Nigerian roads, the presence of all sorts of competitors for the available road space such as cart-pushers, truck-pushers, and commercial motorcycle riders, pedestrians crossing major roads at unexpected points, commercial bus drivers and the new menace of tricycles. Some of these road users compound the chaos by willfully driving their various vehicles against the flow of traffic in both the cities and the country roads. When accidents occur therefore, they are often severe with many cases going unreported.
Adding to the anxiety, of course, is the presence of serious craters that can break the axles of your car, the mindless speed of other drivers regardless of these natural obstacles and the associated fear of running into violent gangs, armed robbers or kidnappers. The sheer effort made therefore to travel even a short distance is a problematic one and makes people arrive at their destination irritable, sweaty and tired. If the destination is the work place and this individual commutes from a significant distance, the effect can be better imagined. The work output is then poorer, diligence is shoddy and the individual is often in a hurry to do tasks that ordinarily would command his undivided attention. Attention span diminishes and the person is always tired. It is a vicious cycle that often can lead to other problems. In at least two cases known personally to me, there are women who do not drive their cars unless they have swallowed a tablet of the drug bromazepam. They argue that the medication helps them to cope with the madness but the brutal fact is that they are now addicted to that drug; they are unable to drive safely without taking it.
As the quality of sleep worsens, the person tends to gain weight. This sort of weight gain not based on diet but on stress tends to make such people prone to developing high blood pressure, obesity and heart disease. The trend is not one that could command a lot of attention from health workers but it follows logic that one who is weary in the morning is not likely to walk any significant distance if he has a car; they would rather drive. The person who takes at least 8,000 steps per day is effectively burning calories. It is noteworthy that such an individual who chooses to walk rather than to drive where possible is less likely to succumb to any of these conditions. Of all those health effects, the problem of heart disease and high blood pressure are the most worrisome for any driver. The addition of traffic related anxiety or even terror to these issues can bring a serious health emergency about such as a stroke while driving or a heart attack.
In a past essay, we learnt how a middle-aged man who suffered a stroke while driving his car ended up in a massive drain beside the road. By the time he was reached by rescuers, he was unable to move one side of his body. At least, he was alive. On a major road and at speed, he would probably have suffered significant injuries if not death and be in no position to talk about life. In addition, it is clear to many observers that even the happenstance of sitting still in a traffic holdup causes its own peculiar kind of stress. People develop anxieties in these situations because they have appointments to meet up with, flights to catch and a thousand other things. Sometimes, it is even a health-related emergency and the traffic situation just makes it impossible to get to a hospital. Only two years ago, yours truly was involved in having to take care of a woman under the bridge at Mile 12 in Lagos because she was stuck in traffic on her way to the hospital. While that particular event ended on a happy note in the end, things could easily have gone out of hand.
Finally is the specter of drug addiction that should also concern us. And by drugs here is meant the habit of taking any substance at all before commencing on a road trip. We have seen the two Bromazepam women above. Others take stronger medicines. Some take alcohol which is a surprise but one which allows them to behave like animals if necessary. Once under these unusual influences, such people become a danger to themselves and to other road users. It is a huge and growing problem.
Ask the doctor
Dear doctor, thanks a lot for your reply sir. I always go to the hospital every time I am weak and they always say it is malaria. I still went to the hospital last week Tuesday and the doctor said it was hay fever because I had cough and catarrh.
I vomited, weak, had temperature and was shivering but I will go to another hospital. I have seen different doctors since last July because I am in school. And they all diagnosed malaria. What about my menstrual cycle sir? firstname.lastname@example.org
I would suggest that you go to a public hospital where a team of doctors will see, examine you and determine together what your treatment should be. When you say you have been to hospitals, it is problematic when your problems do not lessen or go away largely because you were treated by one doctor who does everything. As for your periods, there may be a connection with your current health status. The kind of problems you have discussed are enough to mess up your cycles profoundly and it is not likely that your cycles return to normal until you are properly treated.
Dear doctor, Good day to you. God in His mercy will continue to bless you. The swab I did showed the following results: Microscopy————-Epithelial cells (+++). Pus cells 12-16/hpf. Culture: Isolate: —coliform bacteria. Sensitivity: Ofloxacin S (+++). Streptomycin S(+++). Sparfloxacin S (+++). Augmentin S(+++). Tetracycline S (+++). Ciprofloxacin S (++). Doxycycline S(++) 0703xxxxxxx
Thank you very much for your prayers. My belief is that you would be best served by using a combination of antibiotics to get rid of this infection. One should be taken by mouth and the other an injection. However, it would be better for you to take this report to your doctor so that they can choose the most appropriate combination for the benefit of your overall health.
Dear doctor, greetings to you and happy New Year. Please my son is 11 and his penis is too small. What type of drug can he use to increase his penis size? Please text to me the response in name of God. 0808xxxxxxx
There are several reasons why a penis may be small and those reasons need to be explored and identified. After that is done, treatment is possible but first he must do a hormone assay as recommended by a paediatrician. Treatment will depend on the result.
Dear doctor, thank you sir. Foreplay is my wife’s weakness. I have talked to her several times about this but she is not taking me seriously. Only God will help me. Thank you again doctor. I pray and hope she will improve this year. She has not been cooperating because she says that at 56 years, she has no time for that. All she wants is direct action and no more. Doctor, what do I do? What drug or supplement will you recommend that will bring about erections? I am not feeling comfortable at all as a man. 0805xxxxxx
Thank you very much for your prayers. I believe that since you had no difficulties while striking outside the marriage, there is nothing basically wrong with you. Accordingly, the extra effort you need to bring this erection about at home is to boost it with medicines like sildenafil or tadarlafil. You have been using these and similar drugs in the past with effective results according to your testimony. You can safely continue to use them to maintain your happiness.
Dear doctor, I am a boy of 13 years and I have a friend (female) who has cough. Anytime she coughs, blood will come out from her mouth. After that, she begins to lose weight. I need to know what is wrong sir. Thank you. 0902xxxxxxx
The best thing is to lay this observation before an elder or the girl’s parents. The line of action I would advocate is that she should be taken to the hospital where she will be properly investigated and given proper treatment. Cough with the coughing up or vomiting of blood is not good news but treatment is possible.
Dear doctor, your health advice has been of so much help. I am a 40-year-old lady who is trying to conceive. Several tests have been done but the funny thing is that my period always seizes for two or three weeks for several times but at the end of the day, I will see it again. Within this time, I will feel symptoms of pregnancy, for example, pains on my nipples. I am so confused. Please I need help. 081xxxxxxx
Well, thank you for your comments. You do not have to be confused but rather to be focused. I sense that what tests you have done are very basic, more like the entry level tests into discovering what might be wrong with you. It is equally important for your husband to have been investigated. If these have not been done, it is my advice that you see a gynaecologist with an orientation for fertility treatment so that you can be well served. Start early so that time can be saved.
Dear doctor, what can one do about repeated itching around the anus? It is very irritating and uncomfortable and my doctors have not able to show what is wrong. I am very worried by this and I need your urgent help. Thank you. 0802xxxxxxx
Anal itching is worrisome and can be caused by sweat around the anus or by diarrhoea. It can also be caused by the presence of pin worms especially of Enterobius vermicularis. But fungal infections and genital warts growing in that region are also culprits. However, if your doctor has examined the skin around your anus and found nothing to worry about, it may be worthwhile to have your stool examined in a laboratory for the presence of worms and their ova. As a precautionary measure, you may use a worm expeller if you have not done so for a long time. In addition, you have to take steps to ensure that the skin around your anus is kept dry as much as possible because if you do not clean it well and ensure it is dry around there, even smearing the skin there with stool will cause it to itch in the absence of any infection.