The confusion on the immigration officer’s face faded when he observed the mirth on my face. We both shared a laugh. I was fascinated by the diamond stud I saw on one of his teeth as he smiled.
I was joking, even though I was being truthful. I had planned to do nothing else on the trip but rest and sleep.
“Why?” the immigration officer asked with a smirk, dropping two quick stamps on my passport booklet. “Enjoy your sleep in Dubai,” he said, handing the booklet to me through the tiny hole in his cubicle.
The man approved my stay in UAE for ten days.
I was really feeling exhausted.
The moment I checked into my hotel room, I ordered for a meal of vegetable salad. The time was around past 7:00AM UAE time.
Before I could finish the salad, I was already yawning with tears settling on my eyeballs. I laid down in the bed. It was well-laid with a snow-white bed sheet and duvet. I must have slept soundly that morning. I woke up waddling like a drunkard. When I returned from the lemon-scented rest room, I checked the time. It was past 10:00PM local time. I had slept uninterrupted for about fifteen hours. That was a record for me as I do not go to bed until 2:00AM every night.
I called my darling wife up in Nigeria to tell her the good news. She was really excited that I could sleep that long at a stretch.
I felt very refreshed. I continued my sleeping and eating routines for three more days.
The trip did wonders and I felt rejuvenated when I returned to Nigeria. I was anxiously anticipating conquering the mountain of workload I was sure had piled up on my desk in my absence.
One morning, about three weeks after I returned to Nigeria, I woke up feeling very weak. I felt uneasy. My limbs were swelling and I just did not “feel” that my body was mine that morning. I prayed for God to take away the physical heaviness.
There is this instinctual feeling you get when you know you are on the brink of a major illness. The feeling that nothing in your body is working the way it should. Like your body is slightly off-balance. It was not easy to explain but I felt that way.
I immediately booked an appointment to see my family physician, Dr. Adedapo Morawo. He had been attending to all the members of my family for twelve years. It is only in his hospital, DeVine Hospital, located on Lawal Street, Off Kudirat Abiola Way, Ikeja, that my family members feel confident of receiving expert and friendly Medicare. We trust him more because he is a medical practitioner who also believes in prayers and divine healing.
There was something unsettling about the look of the ever-bubbly Dr. Morawo that afternoon. His face was gloomy as he reviewed all the results of the laboratory tests I had done. He looked pensive despite his efforts to keep a professional face.
He shuffled the sheets of paper containing the test results I had done. His hands appeared balmy as he leaved through the papers again. His reading glasses perched on the bridge of his nose.
“Have you heard of nephrotic syndrome, sir?” His face looked sober as he fixed his gaze on me for an answer.
I was confused. What was this talk about a syndrome? I had come to the hospital expecting pieces of advice about taking a rest from the doctor and a prescription, not to be quizzed about a medical condition I had never heard of.
“No,” I said. “What is it about?”
“It is a rare kidney disorder,” the doctor said. “I advise that you study it via the internet.”
He removed his pair of glasses and carefully folded it before placing it on the table. He then looked at me expectantly.
“What has that got to do with me?” I asked. As far as I knew, no one in my family had a kidney disorder with a name I could hardly pronounce.
“You know how the kidney helps to filter waste and excess water? Well, this nephrotic syndrome happens when the blood vessels in the kidney that does these functions are damaged.”
I let out a drawn-out sigh. My impatience was starting on my face as I sat there wondering what this whole thing had to do with me.
“Your symptoms,” the doctor started to explain, “The swelling, the bloating. They all point to urine retention which is a key indicator of this syndrome. You also mentioned fatigue and weakness. They are also symptoms of this syndrome.”
I nodded. I was starting to understand what the doctor was getting at.
“But the thing is, this syndrome most times always have a precursor. Like an underlining health issue like hypertension, diabetes or STDs. But knowing your medical history, you are not hypertensive and I don’t think you’ve ever treated STDs.
I shook my head, “No, I’ve never treated STDs. And I maintain my blood pressure well.”
“This is a rare situation. I’d refer you to a specialist. So that you can know more about this syndrome.”