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Health: CONFESSIONS OF A WITCH?( IS IT? ), By Dr Afolabi Tiamiyu

Health: CONFESSIONS OF A WITCH?( IS IT? ), By Dr Afolabi Tiamiyu

There is always some measure of delight and anticipation when as a physician plying the trade away from the shores of ones motherland, you find out the next patient you are about to see bears a name that signifies the patient is from your native homeland.

The joy of the opportunity of conversing in ones mother tongue, the opportunity to discuss news back home , a momentary cure of homesickness .

A rare opportunity to give back to the people who have contributed immensely into your being in that particular position .
Something so simple but the rarity makes it special .

Such it was on a beautiful summer morning somewhere in the United States as I looked at the name of the next patient I was about to see, a Yoruba name it was , my native tribe , in the western part of Nigeria , West Africa .

As I walked down the hallway beaming with smiles , I could see a young lady standing at the entrance of the patients room forced to respond with a beautiful smile to a stranger walking towards her with a friendly wide smile .
No sooner had I opened my mouth to greet her in my native dialect , did this young lady’s beautiful smile leave her face, taken over by a look of apprehension and worry .

It was only after we walked to into the room to see her mum , the patient and after a quick assessment , did I understand the reason for the change of emotions on the young lady’s face I had observed a couple of minutes back outside the door .
Something painful enough to change a moment that is supposed to be happy relief into a moment of worry and apprehension .

Mama has Dementia, the old lady was speaking in my native tongue, contents of what she was saying quite embarrassing to the daughter and more embarrassing to her , due to the fact that I fully understood the native tongue she was speaking and her not being sure of my perspective towards it , hence the change of emotions on the young lady’s face .

Of course for me I perfectly understood what was playing out and quickly made the young lady comfortable by explaining to her my understanding of the situation .
That was when she told me her mothers story .
A story unfortunately far too common in our society .

The young lady had to go back to Nigeria to take her mother away from her village, a village her mother had lived happily for over seven decades of her life , until about a year ago .
A decision that had to be taken to prevent further harm being done to her mother .
Her mother had developed the dreadful disease, Dementia .
Fellow villagers , neighbors , relatives in her village had wrongly and ignorantly termed her condition has confessions of a witch.
Even other relatives , family members , educated ones living in big cities , who should know better , also bought and perpetrated the misconception .

She had been isolated, left to suffer and pay for her supposed sins , segregated , physically and verbally abused before her daughter came to rescue her before she is made to pay with her life .
They termed all the confusing snippets of a confused , almost absent memoryed words coming out of an utterer who mostly doesn’t really know what they are saying , as confessions emanating from a witch , now being tormented by some good Holy Spirit to confess her sins . Forces far greater than any evil force , she possesses .

I’m doubtful if such misconception about Dementia only exist in my own culture alone , the possibility exist that different or similar versions may exist in different cultures around the world .

I believe this is an issue we need to a have discussion on amongst ourselves, as it’s an issue affecting us as a society , hopefully we will all live to those old ages , it is important that we enlighten ourselves about those challenges that may arise and how we as a society can meet this challenge in the interest of us all.

The hallmark of the disease called Dementia is the loss of memory .
Confusion emanating from possible delusions and hallucinations .
In simple words , these patients totally forget who they are , they lose memory of everything that has ever happened them , they forget their children or family .
Hence when these patients talk , they do not know what they are saying mostly ,they say things they are not even aware they are saying , jumbled expressions of possible snippets of anything that possibly flickers across their minds in any form .

Different forms exist, Alzheimer’s , Lewy body to mention a few .
It is said to be caused by the destruction of brain cells affecting the ability of the brain cells to communicate effectively. It affects mostly the elderly , both men and women , all races affected .
Unfortunately the medical world has not yet found a cure for this disease at this point, however certain medications are being used to alleviate the symptoms .
Perhaps the most famous person to have suffered from this disease is the former President of the United States, President Roland Reagan .

Women bear more of the brunt from society amongst these elderly patients of dementia , as in most cultures the beauty that we all came from , is often too seen and depicted as the arbiters of the evil of this world , an assertion that obvious facts do not support.

It is not unusual in our society to hear of a case of an old woman found somewhere , who had unfortunately wondered away from home, or perhaps, some even casted away by family members found on the street with people, noticing her confusion , gather around her and conduct a kangaroo court right there .
Some onlookers would quickly make up stories that the woman is a witch who was flying like a bird returning from the witches meeting at night but daylight broke and she turned back into human .
It’s not even unusual to see newspapers publish these stories , further perpetrating the misconceptions .

They then begin to subject these victims into rigorous questioning , a demented patient who does not even understand the questions being asked or circumstances surrounding her , who probably answers affirmative to all the evil wrong doings these kangaroo mob court surrounding her is asking her .
The judgement is passed , the victim is guilty ,the mob goes ahead to deliver the punishment ranging from maiming to lynching .

Certainly the science of Dementia is beyond the scope of this writing. It is however aimed at addressing perhaps the most important challenge to the gains of the advances in the study of the science of Dementia .

It is also written with a lot of hope. Hope that maybe someone would read it and extend an arm of kindness to these old people amongst us that develop Dementia .
Hope that someone reading may witness a gathering were such a patient with dementia is about to be unjustly punished and wrongly judged and would speak up to save that victim .
Hope that someone reading may know of any elderly person suffering that unjust fate and treatment at this moment somewhere and just reach out to save that elderly person .
Hope that our society at large will understand , it’s NOT the confessions of a witch.

It’s Dementia .

About Mikail Mumuni