Clinic Notes

There used to be a kind and hardworking professor in our hospital. He died only few months ago. Yesterday, I passed by what used to be his office and the door bore another name. They have given Professor Akang’ s office to another man. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is instructive to me, and it should be to every doctor, particularly the younger ones.

Medical practice is demanding, and that is literal. Medicine stretches out her hand, daily asking you to give up your valuables, constantly placing a demand on your very being, your very essence, and you often cannot give enough.

They trained us to think that the more we give, the better we are, the more we are worth. So, we can be addicted to giving, to dashing out to the world, tangible pieces of our own lives. Ours is essentially a call to martyrdom. And martyrdom can be appealing. Let us not be confused though. Let us not believe a lie. As a man, you will not be able to save the world, regardless of what they tell you. That job description is taken already.

We should be dedicated doctors, committed to caring for our patients to the best of our abilities, but let it not be that we equate our lives to medicine, let it not be that we discard every other factor, sacrificing our own very existence on this hungry and cannibalistic altar.

For a young, ambitious doctor, the temptation is to say ‘I will begin to live a proper life when I have sorted out my career’. Well, people never really sort out their medical careers, never. In this job, your work is never done. That is why hospitals are open all day, every day.

Whatever a ‘proper life’ means to you, start living it today. I must know that I am not the one keeping the whole world alive, I am not the one keeping the world’s blood pressure and glucose levels down, I am not the one stopping cancers from spreading, I am not the one fixing the world’s fractured bones. When I am not there, the world will take care of itself.

A certain Dr Ameyo Adadevoh personally and literarily stood between Ebola and Nigeria one year ago. She gave her life for it. And the world applauded. That hospital most definitely has another consultant physician now. Her death did not stop people from embezzling funds that were meant to fight the same cause she so sacrificially gave herself for. That is the exact picture.

The doctor is in an abusive relationship with the world. Only that he often shows that he enjoys the relationship. The doctor himself has a name for that kind of behavior. It is called masochism. We should live the lives accorded to us. Shall we? I speak to you. I speak to myself.

For Effiong Akang and Ameyo Adadevoh.

Babatunde Yusuf

August 2015


Random non-medical things I learnt in medical school

indI went to medical school at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife and it was a rich experience for me. I passed, I failed, I was afraid, I was confident, I was broke, I won scholarships and even had to reject one, I made friends and most importantly, I learned. My learning was beyond how to diagnose acute appendicitis and leukaemia. These are some of the other things I learned that enriched my experience.


From having four-hour sessions in choking, formalin-filled dissection rooms to having to answer 2000 questions at a go in a single exam to standing for hours moving from ward to ward during endless ward rounds, you simply can’t survive medical school without endurance.

Sticking together / Team work

You cannot afford to go through medical school alone. From access to critical information to someone’s place to eat Indomie® late at night (after reading the night away) to sharing a ride to a distant posting; you definitely need people.

Consistency trumps brilliance

I’ve seen brilliant people get withdrawn from medical school and average students going through relatively unscathed. Medical school is a marathon and not a sprint.

Everything has a strategy

Blind effort doesn’t yield much. There’s a method of doing everything. I learned this first hand durin my first time in 200 level. I read but I failed and had to repeat the year. It was different from the previous year in 100 level of physics and chemistry. This time, you needed to focus your reading and look at as many past questions you can lay your hands on to study the pattern of questions. I changed strategy, I found out what I should do differently and I passed with less stress the second time.

It’s not always about reading

50% of what you need to know in life you will be taught by someone, the other 50% you will have will have to find out yourself. Sometimes the 50% you are taught at seminars and ward rounds are usually high yeild. There should be a balance between reading and listening to teachings.

Are you at risk of developing breast cancer?

Good to be back on my blog again after a long break. I recently started my postgraduate training in radiology which left me little time for blogging. I apologise for keeping you waiting.

This write up has been at the back of my mind for some time and was inspired by my experience at work. In my institution, we hold fortnight multidisciplinary meetings about breast cancer. All health workers involved in the management of breast cancer (surgeons, radiologists, pathologists, nurses, social workers etc.) are usually present and we discuss patients care and follow up.

One thing that struck me in the past few meetings is the decreasing age of women with breast cancer. There is currently an unmarried 29 year old woman with breast cancer on our list being followed up!

I thought I owed it to women to educate them about the risk factors of breast cancer emphasising prevention and early detection. Incidentally, October is also the breast cancer awareness month.


Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer in women and accounts for most cancer deaths. To be clear, there is no known definite cause of breast cancer but there are known risks. Breast cancer is also not preventable but the risks can be lowered. It can also be detected early.

The following are established risk factors for developing breast cancer:

Being female: 99% of breast cancer occurs in females. (Males also have breast cancer).

Age: It increases with increasing age.

Family history of breast cancer (especially in mothers, sisters and daughters).

Personal history of breast cancer.

Obesity increases the risk of developing breast cancer.

Alcohol consumption also increases the risk of developing breast cancer.

Exposure to radiation.

Having never being pregnant.

Having your first child at an older age.

Beginning your period at a younger age.

Beginning menopause at an older age.

Hormone replacement therapy.

It must be emphasised that these are risk factors that increases the chances of developing breast cancer and they don’t necessarily mean someone who has them will, with certainty, develop breast cancer.

Breastfeeding and regular exercising have been found out to lower the risk of breast cancer

The aim of this write-up is to create awareness about breast cancer risk factors and steps that can be taken to detect breast cancer early.

The risk factors that one has control over should be addressed e.g. losing weight, stopping/reducing alcohol intake, exercising more. There is nothing one can do about a family history of breast cancer or ones gender.

Early detection is a crucial determinant of survival of breast cancer thus the following are recommended:

Adult women should perform a self breast examination monthly. The idea is to be familiar with your breasts so that you can alert your doctor if there are any changes. (See picture at the end of article). Don’t panic if you feel a lump (8 in 10lumps are not cancerous) but schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Your doctor will then examine you and based on her (his) findings will order some other investigations which may include breast ultrasound scan (for younger women) or mammography (for older women) or removing a sample of breast cells for testing (biopsy) to further evaluate the breasts.

It is also recommended that women undergo annual breast cancer screening with mammography from the age of 40. For high risk women, annual evaluation of the breasts is recommended to start earlier.

I am appealing to you all, please inform your wives, mothers, sisters, friends, girlfriends, cousins, nieces an all females you care about (and those you don’t care about) about breast cancer and ask them if they have been screened.  Before that, have you been screened?


Feel free to ask questions in the comments section.

Many thanks to Kemi Akola for ensuring this article was put up.

Help! I’m pregnant! What do I expect?

Well…congratulations! The 9-month race (minus the few weeks before you knew you were pregnant) has begun.

Pregnancy is a journey with different phases and can be a very stressful time in your life. If you know what to expect, the journey will be easier.
You should however note that every pregnancy is a different experience altogether.
Register for antenatal care as soon as you know you are pregnant. This gives health care providers more time to anticipate and prepare for any problem that may arise. Adhere to instructions strictly and this is not the time to use drugs anyhow. In fact you should not take any drug without checking with your health care provider.
What to expect?
Early in the pregnancy :
Nausea and vomiting (morning sickness)- can occur as early as the third week of pregnancy and at any time of the day. This is caused by a heightened sense of smell in pregnant women. Eating food in small portions and frequently may help. If severe, go to a hospital.
Food aversion, heartburn and constipation- these are caused by the generally reduced movement in the digestive tract.
Dizziness,tiredness- the low blood pressure and low blood sugar during pregnancy may cause these. Eating food rich in iron and being active may reduce the severity
Emotional distress- the interplay of the different hormones may take its toll on a pregnant woman. Worry, anxiety, delight and exhaustion can take their turns in mood swings. Reassure yourself that what you are going through is normal and look to your partner for encouragement.
Mid Pregnancy:
Growing belly- as the baby grows your belly protrudes.
Skin changes- your skin generally turns darker especially face, breasts and thighs. Stretch marks may also show up on those areas.
Breast enlargement- as the breasts prepare for milk production they may grow bigger and may become tender.
Shortness of breath- the lungs are processing more air for you and your baby so you may be breathing faster and feel slightly short of breath.
Bladder and kidney infections- there is an increased risk for both during pregnancy. If you experience a burning sensation when urinating or fever, back or abdominal pain, see a doctor.
Vaginal discharge-you may notice a thin white vaginal discharge which is normal. When the discharge becomes strong smelling, yellowish/greenish or accompanied by redness or itching, see a doctor.
Baby movements- these begin around 5months and continue throughout pregnancy. If you sense a reduction at ant time, go to the hospital.
Late pregnancy:
Weight gain- as the baby grows so does the placenta with more amniotic fluid being produced. All contribute to weight gain.
Leg swelling- The growing baby compresses on pelvic veins that return blood to the legs. Raising your legs on a pillow while you sleep may help reduce leg swelling.
Heartburn- the growing baby pushes the stomach out of its position causing heartburn. taking small and frequent meals may help.
Frequent urination- this is caused by the baby compressing the urinary bladder.
Backaches-the weight gain and relaxed joints can put some pressure on your back. Massaging might be of help here.
Warm-up contractions- they are weak and go unpredictably. True contractions are stronger, more regular and closer together.
These are just some of the things to keep in mind. Please attend antenatal care regularly and ask questions about anything not clear to you (there is no foolish question) If you notice anything unusual don’t hesitate to contact your health care provider. In this case knowledge is not just power, it is life itself.

We are high on drugs!

A lot of us have the impression that the practice of medicine is about laying complaints to a doctor who listens to some imaginary sounds on the chest and abdomen, pokes around, may or may not order tests, comes up with a diagnosis and ,as a matter of compulsion, writes a prescription.

Emphasis on the last word- prescription.

We have come to expect drugs with every visit to the doctor. When a doctor legitimately does not prescribe drugs, we as patients feel there is something missing or that we wasted our time showing up in the hospital in the first place. Worse still, we feel the doctor is incompetent.

Cases like viral upper respiratory tract infection, viral gastroenteritis, stress related symptoms often diagnosed as malaria or typhoid most times do not need medications.
Some patients even have their diagnoses in mind and only show up in the hospital to tell the doctor what to prescribe! “Doctor, it is typhoid that is worrying me, write Ampiclox and Ciprotab for me”

Drugs are just one of the ways of managing patients. There are other things involved. Watching and waiting is the most appropriate approach to handle some cases. The practice of medicine is definitely more than just prescribing drugs. Reassurance and bed rest could be all that is needed in other cases.

Some do not even see any health care professional before using drugs. Everyone seems to be an ‘expert’ in health care these days. From neighbours to market women to colleagues at work, there is no shortage of opinions.

Our present world is most definitely an over-medicated one. We just love to pop pills. There are drugs for almost anything. (‘Teething’ mixture for babies anyone?) Drugs that should be prescription only are freely available on the open market. We would rather take drugs sometimes than modify our lifestyle or take other disease preventive measures. We would rather take supplements than eat good and nutritious food.

Unfortunately, physicians are under constant pressure from different parties to prescribe unnecessary drugs. The patients themselves, the pharmaceutical industry (Big Pharma) for obvious reasons, and the hospital system. The pharmaceutical industry is a multi billion dollar industry and is very ‘aggressive’ in her marketing. In 2005, global pharmaceutical sales totalled US$602 billion.

The great English philosopher-physician Sir William Osler (1849-1919) once said, “One of the first duties of the physician is to educate the masses when NOT to take medicines” How sorely is this needed today!

Indiscriminate use of drugs is not without its dangers: over and under dosage, drug resistance (especially antibiotics and antimalarials), adverse drug interactions, adverse drug reactions, chronic poisoning (all drugs are actually poisons), organ damage (chronic use of some pain killers have been shown to damage the kidneys)

The way we are headed is fraught with danger moreso with the emergence of strains of disease causing microbes that are resistant to available drugs. Indiscriminate use of drugs is a ticking time bomb that needs to be defused now.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Hello and welcome!

Welcome to my blog. I am Dr Abimbola Sojimi and I will be discussing health issues from a doctor’s point of view and some other important things.

I hope this will be a platform where we can have some of those health related questions answered.

Thanks for dropping by. See you soon.