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Umar’s deadly fever 4: lessons on self medication

Dr. Akin-Onitolo A.



continued from part 3


18th June 


All of this must be my fault. Maybe I ate something bad during your pregnancy. I learnt there is something wrong inside your head, like a big bag of pus. How could I not have noticed this? I wonder what kind of mother I am. All this time we were using antibiotics at home to treat your fever, I even had you treated for malaria twice. All this time, if I had known it was something this serious, I would have brought you to hospital sooner. 

The doctors say it must be the reason you have been crying a lot more than usual, and you had that convulsion that scared the life out of me two nights ago. Umar, you have always been a gentle child. As long as you are well fed and have a dry nappy, you would sleep peacefully and play when awake. I should be thankful we did the brain scan the doctors requested even though it cost a lot of money. If we hadn’t, they would not have found the pus. I have been crying since we got the news. I wonder what will happen now. What if you do not get well? What if the surgery does not remove all the pus? How can you even have pus inside your brain? Where did it come from? 

Umar, I’m so sorry for putting you through this. I refused to allow Mama hold you because you are my son and I must be there for you. I hope you get through this fast enough, I cannot afford for you to die. My only son, your birth is what gave me grace in my mother-in-law’s eyes. I know she still expects your father to take a second wife but your coming stalled her evil plans. You must get well, my dear. You must grow big and strong and care for your 4 sisters and I. You know they love you too. It would break their fragile hearts if you die now. 

The matron stopped me from giving you any food this morning because of your surgery. When you cried so much, they put in a drip and I managed to rock you to sleep. I am writing now for lack of something to keep my hands busy. You must get well, Umar. 

Your loving mother, 



P.S.: Self-medication

Self medication is using drugs and/or herbal preparations to treat yourself when you feel ill. It could be beneficial if appropriately and responsibly done. It is dangerous to self-medicate for the following reasons;

The herbal preparations and drugs used may cause adverse effects that compound your illness,

Your illness worsens as time is wasted while using the wrong treatment making you present late to hospital,

You may use 2 or more drugs together that should not be use together,

When you do not use an antibiotic for as long as you should or use as much you should, the bacteria develop resistance to the antibiotic. The antibiotic becomes useless against them and the bacteria become difficult to treat,

If you feel you have gotten well with your treatment, you may wrongly advice someone else to do same when they have similar symptoms and put them at risk of mismanaging their illness

Instead of wasting valuable time trying out various drugs and preparations, it is wise to check with your healthcare provider as quickly as possible. But if you must, please read carefully the instructions on the label of whatever rug you intend to use and use with caution. Seek professional help if symptoms persist.


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click here for part 5 tomorrow

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Dr. Akin-onitolo A. is a graduate of the University of Lagos whose mission is to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs) using health promotion and improved health literacy. She is an MDCN (Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria) certified doctor who had her elective at King's College London. Hugely interested in travel, meeting people and generally being creative, reading and writing fiction are a few hobbies you could find her engaged in during her spare time. Catch up with her on Twitter @Akinonitolo and Instagram @t_onitolo