I shouldn't be alive: My battle with high blood pressure

Mildred Kuya
Mildred Kuya has battled high blood pressure for a while Photo:NamedAfrikaStudios

I am 39 years old. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure by a doctor at the Webuye District Hospital.

It began one morning with a terrible headache, accompanied by intolerance to any kind of sound. All sound manifested as noise and I resisted the impulse to bang my head against hard surfaces. I was with my husband and he rushed me to hospital. They decided to check my blood pressure and it was at 210 over 110.

The nurse who checked me was uneasy about the result and she called in another nurse, who repeated the test. They had a hushed conversation before calling a doctor. He repeated the test and ascertained that the first one accurate.

He put a pill under my tongue, and then one of the nurses injected me with valium. They suggested admission but I resisted as my youngest child was two years old and I did not have a house help. I agreed to come in daily for assessment and medication. They put me on a drug called Inderal for my blood pres- sure, Lasix to drain excess water in my system and Ponstan Forte for the headache. Ponstan cost Sh300 per tablet then. It was too expensive do I didn’t buy it.

Also, my husband has a friend who is a medical doctor and he cautioned me against becoming dependent on pain killers. I was asked by the hospital staff about my family’s medical history. My maternal grandfather suffered a stroke just before I was born and was paralysed on his left side. He also resisted medication and lived 15 years after the stroke before he died.

After my first attack, a nurse told me I would end up having a stroke. I rejected that heritage. I was also asked if there was anything that was causing me undue stress. I told them that I had a relatively good life. One time I had an attack in the night when my husband was away on duty. We were living in a police camp at that time, a fact I thank God for.

My children were able to run to a neighbour’s house, my husband’s colleague named Koech, and he rushed me to hospital. I had a severe headache, and when they checked my pressure, it was extremely high. They tried to get me to agree to admission, but three of my four children were unwell and on medication. I had no help at home and my husband’s work hours could not be changed to fit their schedules. I could not leave my children alone.

My husband’s doctor friend told the doctor attending to me that he knew me, and that I would be faithful in taking my medication and also attending a daily clinic. Once again, I was injected with valium to help with the pain, and had a pill placed under my tongue. I later found out that that pill is called Propranolol. My pressure was still very high the next morning but the hospital did not admit me. I eventually stabilised.

I remained on Inderal and Lasix for the next two years. The headaches were less frequent, but when I had them, I took Panadol. In 2005, my husband was transferred to Malindi and because there the living quarters were inadequate, I opted to live with my mother in Kisumu. My mother is a clinician so she monitored my blood pressure and made sure I took my medication.

In Kisumu, after being prompted by a pastor on one April afternoon, I spoke to God from my heart and asked him to heal me. That evening, my mother measured my blood pressure and it had gone down significantly. Sometimes I get bad headaches but I am generally well, all glory to God. I have come to believe that the only thing that can beat science is faith in God.