The middle-aged lady walked in, colorfully dressed in the Northern Nigerian costume, heavily-perfumed, but looking not-too-happy, and noisily dragging her feet on my clean, un-carpeted hospital office floor.
“What’s the problem, madam?” I asked, motioning her to sit down.
“Hmm… doctor, it’s malaria and typhoid o”, she complained, convincingly.
She sat down. I leaned forward, looked her in the eyes, and smiled.
“Are you a magician?! How did you know you have that without doing even a blood test?” I made her smile a little.
“Likita, I know myself!” she insisted. “I have had this malaria-and-typhoid issue for over 10 years now. I don tire. I know we can’t stop mosquitoes from biting us, but my own com too much!”, spicing her conclusion with broken English and Hausa.
I paused. I listened.
“Sorry, Madam. I understand how you feel. It’s okay. We will see what we can do for you. Okay?” I empathized.
She nodded, childishly.
- Wash your hands frequently, thoroughly, with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and before eating. Hand-washing is one of the simplest, yet proven, extremely helpful habit you could develop! Stop saying your hands are not dirty; just go wash them. No more talking… just do it!
- Cook your food properly. Order your meals to be served hot and steaming! Avoid street-hawkers and public eating places (as much as possible), especially the not-too-good-looking ones. Finer restaurants are more likely to be healthier. Cook your food yourself (or get married if you are still single!)
- Watch the water you drink. Boiled, treated water is the best. Bottled water is better. “Pure water” is not usually pure. Drinking- and cooking-water is a significant source of typhoid. Drink responsibly!
- Wash your fruits and vegetable properly. And do it yourself! Wash your vegetables with warm, salted water. Wash your hands before washing your fruits (even the ones that you may have to peel); I am not talking about potatoes! Potatoes are not fruits!! [Laughs]
- Maintain strict personal hygiene and sanitation. Keep nails short. Keep toilets clean and free of flies (else they visit your food, loaded with stuffs!) Regularly clean handles of toilets, doors, and water taps. Don’t let your kids use your back yard as “comfort stations”.
Mehn, this article is getting too long! And, my gosh! I forget to tell you about the symptoms of typhoid. Anyways, if you feel you have malaria, you may actually have typhoid! See your doctor!