Written by Nadege Ngeh
Edited by Peter Tah & Njoka Divine
“On that fateful day, I was returning home after drinking two bottles of Malt. Suddenly, I felt so dizzy and couldn’t make sense out of things around me. Upon arriving home I passed out,” Mr. Forsuh Bamuh Simon tells me while still looking mesmerised.
Mr. Forsuh, a retired Physiotherapist, can still remember clearly the ordeal he went through. In 2016, while on a visit in Douala, he fell and fractured his hand. In the hospital, he was diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension.
“I was declared diabetic and hypertensive. So, the two bottles of Malt were the immediate reason why I found out about the conditions I had been living with without knowing,” says Mr. Forsuh who resides in Bamenda.
Like many ignorant victims of diabetes and hypertension who aren’t aware of the causes of these health conditions, Simon used to drink lots of bear and sweet drinks. The doctor’s diagnosis was a bitter pill for him to swallow. It would take him a while to come to terms with his health status. What was even more distressing for him was the new eating habits and lifestyle he now had to adopt for his survival.
“Despite the fact that I was told not to drink beer, I still found myself unable to resist. I was causing harm to myself. I was so inconsistent in managing my condition. There were times that I still hard to believe that I was diabetic and hypertensive,” narrates Simon who is a father of four.
“There were times, I said to myself, ‘many people have died even younger than me, so if this was my end, so be it,’” adds Simon as he attempts to recreate the frustration that characterised his life shortly after his diagnoses.
In 2017, Simon’s friend who is also is diabetic and hypertensive, referred him to the Diabetes Unit of Nkwen Baptist Health Center Bamenda, where he started to have his condition managed. Simon is intentionally about turning his lifestyle around as he struggled to adopt healthy living habits following the doctor’s advice.
“At first I was worried about my condition, but later when I learned that I wasn’t the only one with this condition, that many people have been living with diabetes and are doing fine, I began to have some hope. I started attending the diabetes clinics at Nkwen Baptist Health Center Bamenda,” explains Simon with a glamorous face.
Simon describes the survival strategies he and other diabetic and hypertensive patients have adopted to live healthily after being diagnosed with the disease. “Every month, I visit the Clinic for my medication refill and screening. At the clinic, we receive educative health talks and encourage each other. We share our stories and challenges and how to overcome them. Ever since I started this follow-up at the Clinic, my condition has improved. From the beginning, my sugar level was 312 and now it has come down to 106,” testifies Simon who looks quite optimistic.
“Today, I thank God for giving me another chance in life because from every indication, I had been living with diabetes unknowingly for long. When I got the news, so many thoughts crossed my mind. I said to myself ‘many have died of diabetes and I’ve always heard that diabetes is a silent killer disease,’ today I have experienced it myself, and I’m alive” avers Simon.
He expressed with great shock the fact that he could have died after fainting just because he wasn’t paying much attention to his health. He says he was ashamed of the fact that as a retired Physiotherapist Technician, he had failed to set a good example for others.
“I try to think positively always so that my blood pressure doesn’t go up. My family visits me constantly and applaud me for the behaviour change – their encouragement and support has kept me going. I try to be more active; doing some house chores and working in the farm among others,” adds the visibly contented Simon.
As a victim, Simon now advices everyone to avoid excessive alcohol and sweet drinks and limit salt and sugar intake. He actively uses his testimony to admonish others to stay healthy. He also recommends everyone to do regular check-ups such as ‘Knowing their Numbers’ because as he explains, diabetes is real and everyone is exposed to the danger of this silent killer on a daily basis.