January 6, 2024

“Health Is Wealth”, By Francis Ewherido

“Health Is Wealth”, By Francis Ewherido

There is nobody reading this article who has not heard this short sentence, “health is wealth,” before, but what does it mean? Everybody might know the literal meaning, but very few people know the connotative meaning.

When you wake up in the morning, after a good night sleep, empty your bowels and bladder effortlessly, do some exercises, get dressed, and head off to work; it all looks so smooth and natural. Contrast that with these scenarios:When you get tired and go to bed, sleep eludes you. The implication is a sleepless night (insomnia) or you take medication to enable you get what you should get naturally: sleep.

Also, you are pressed at night, you get up to empty your bladder, the bladder is full, but you cannot pass urine. You roll in bed in pains with a full bladder. After a while, urine begins to come out in “bits and pieces.” Sometimes your pants, boxers or pyjamas get soaked by involuntary discharge of urine. You are probably suffering from enlarged prostate or related infections. Sometimes it looks like a simple matter, but if it is not intentionally and deliberately tackled, it can cost the sufferer a fortune and even his life. 

One of the functions of the kidneys is waste removal from the body. But the kidneys of some people are not functioning optimally. They resort to dialysis regularly to temporarily perform this function. Dialysis costs money and there are really no options. The patient does it regularly or dies gradually. Kidney transplant is the “permanent”solution, but it costs a fortune.

Moreover, it is not full proof. The best solution is to run away from anything that compromises your kidney functions. Not all the solutions are within our control, but most are. In 2012, I went to India for medical reasons. I had to because even with the costs of treatment, tickets for two, accommodation and upkeep, it was still N200,000 (as at 2012) cheaper than the bill they gave me in Nigeria. I used the opportunity to do general check-up. When reviewing the results, the doctor said, “I don’t want to scare you, but watch your kidneys.” Since then, I have been deliberate in watching my kidneys. I cannot use ignorance or a foolish lifestyle to compromise my kidneys.

I had a neighbour for about 10 years. I only met her twice and that was when I went to her house. She managed to come downstairs. Arthritis had confined her to the upper floor of their one storey building. The children did all the running around. After all the children left home, the husband did the running around, while an emergency kitchen was created upstairs to enable her cook without coming downstairs to the kitchen she had used before arthritis took over. 

There are many more instances where health challenges have completely altered people’s lives.There are those who rely on treatment or taking drugs regularly to stay alive. They take the treatment daily or periodically as prescribed. The cost might be cheap or expensive. There are those who spend hundreds of thousands or more monthly just to function normally. There are also those who spend huge sums of money just to be alive, but they cannot function normally. Living and earning an income gets disrupted by health challenges. Some people spend their financial reserves on medicals and drugs to just stay alive. With time, they dispose of assets they had accumulated. Another name for this situation is burning a candle on both sides: spending without earning income.How long can the candle last?

 Finally, we have those in the above conditions but are in addition suffering from debilitating conditions. We have critical stages of diabetes, cancer that has spread, kidneys that have failed, etc. Unless a miracle happens, it looks like the people are only living on borrowed time. They hang on to hope and become broke or accumulate debts after spending all they have on treatment. At the end some still die. These people and their families and devoted friends are the ones who really understand the connotative meaning of the sentence, “health is wealth.”

If you do not fall into these categories, thank God for getting into 2024 in health of body and mind, but you cannot rest on your oars. Remember Apostle Paul’s admonition: “those who think they stand firm should be careful to avoid falling” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Happy New Year once more. I advice every adult, especially those over 40, to declare 2024 a year of “health is wealth.” The implication is to take your health very seriously. In the last week of 2023, we were hit by news of the death of the former governor of Ondo State, Chief RotimiAkerodolu, SAN and Ghali Na’Abba, former speaker of the House of Representatives. Akeredolu died of cancer. The cause of death of Na’Abba was not disclosed, but we know prolonged illnesses that cause death in Nigeria: cancer, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, failure of key organs like the heart, liver, kidneys, etc. These illnesses can be managed if detected early, so everybody should look after his/her health.

We must be careful what we consume, but we must also know what works for us. Our granny on my maternal side, AmerhevuOfeheri lived up to 101. Until her death, she continued to eat starch, banga soup, owho soup and raw palm oil. All these are palm oil-related meals. Yet some young people are running away from the same foods? How did Granny Amerhevu live up to over 100 years eating these foods till the last minute? We need to investigate the impact of these foods before we jump to conclusion.

Anyway, till date do not mess around with Urhobo, Isoko, Itsekiri and Ijaw people where banga, owho and starch are concerned. They will not take it easy with you. A ceremony devoid of Owho soup and starch is incomplete. I eat what agrees with my body constitution. I am taking more interest in condiments/spices like irienre, eyirhe, eb’itien and lemon grass. We use them in the Niger Delta to prepare pepper soup. I strongly believe they have medicinal values. I am still researching, but I enjoy them in my unripe plantain pepper soup as often as my wife obliges me.

Prostate enlargement has been one of my areas of interest. It affects more than 50 per cent of black men from age 40, particularly 50 years and above. I had previously committed some resources to it. The expedition continues. Once I find a reliable remedy, I will blow it here for interested men to follow up independently. I spoke about tomatoes remedy some time ago. It is still potent, but from my investigation, it is better taking it to manage the prostate, not to cure the enlarged prostate. Prostate cancer is a major killer of men, so we must kill it before it kills us. 

Many people died in 2023. Some of these deaths could have been avoided if detected early. I want to spend some time discussing these health issues on this column to help us avert avoidable deaths. We shall continue next week.