Saturday, August 15, 2015


I want to sing a hymn today. Yea, a hymn to my sweetheart, my love, the woman whose every breath is my heartbeat, whose every footfall is an apple in my eyes. There is another song I know, a song that calls her the Virgin of virgins, of David’s royal blood. But you see, I never knew King David. The State of Israel may have David’s star as their insignia, but my love is the Morning Star that rises, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as the mightiest of David’s armies set in battle array.

My soul magnifies the Lord today, and my spirit will for ever rejoice in the Lord my Savior. For he has raised up a lowly handmaid and has set her before the universe as the Star of the Sea, before the many mansions in the Father’s House as the House of Gold, before philosophers as the Seat of Wisdom, before the successful as the Cause of our Joy, before the oppressed as the Mirror of Justice and the Comforter of the Afflicted, before my patients as the Health of the Sick, before the repentant as the Refuge of Sinners, before all men, Russians and Americans, Hindus and Muslims, Fulanis and the people of Jos, as the Queen of Peace.

Not everyone understands the Assumption. I am among the many who do not. And this is why I acknowledge it as a mystery. 

But I know that today, I have in my heart a love song I would like to sing to the woman that I love, using words that have yet to be crafted, to communicate emotions that I feel, yet find impossible to express. I cannot reduce my love for you to expressions made word to ear, ink to scroll, pen to paper. What I feel for you is far deeper, far more precious, far more sublime than any pictures can paint, any words relate.

Thank you Mother Mary for giving me Baby Jesus. 

And thank you Jesus Crucified for giving your mother Mary to your disciple John…

...and to me.

Friday, August 7, 2015


Category: On The Wall

When you become accustomed to profiling everyone you meet based on certain preconceived notions, you may be in danger of making grave mistakes - mistakes that could accompany you to the grave or even qualify you for an early trip gravewards.

By profiling, I mean such unfortunate generalizations as “Every Black man is a thug,” “Every White man is “civilized”,” “Every Igbo man is avaricious,” “Every Calabar girl is a pervert,” “Every Yoruba girl is dirty,” “Every Hausa man is an islamist terrorist,” “Every Edo girl is a Nigerian ambassador to Italy,” “Every Ghanaian…” I guess you get my drift.

A woman in her 50s - who, judging from the style of her headgear, might have belonged to the Deeper Life Church - came to see us on account of her fibroids. After having a chat with her, we had her taken to the ultrasound scan room where we intended to run a transvaginal ultrasound scan for her.

We noted that when she came into the room, had been properly positioned for the scan, and the scan was underway, her eyes rested on something behind and above the level of our head and her face dissolved into different contortions of sheer horror. But she did not speak, and we did not prod. We had a job to do; our business was with the ultrasound scan monitor, not with her facial features.

After the scan, she was in a hurry to leave, barely waiting to pick up the scan result and declining our attempt to discuss our findings with her.

After her abrupt departure, we wondered what it was she saw that discomfited her so. So we returned to the ultrasound scan room and looked up at the place where her eyes had been - and burst into laughter.

There, sitting innocent and proud on a shelf, was a box of condoms.

The condoms we use on the probes for the ultrasound scans. 

Yea. Did you know that? That condoms have uses other than the one most popularly listed on their USES résumé? And that one of those uses is as cover for the ultrasound probe when you go in for a transvaginal ultrasound scan?

I bet she didn’t know that.

Now you do.

As for the lady, she must have left, convinced of our reserved place of honour in Hell, at the right hand of Lucifer.

Not every Nigerian policeman is corrupt.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015


Category: Medicine | Health | Wellness


In early June, I received this rather terse SMS from someone:

“had a terrible day! was with a girl this morning and discovered her breasts had milk or something. she denied having a baby. i am scared!”

As many of my friends are in the habit of playing pranks on me (some of them no doubt returning favors similar to the ones I had previously done them), I decided that this was another prank and therefore thought nothing about it until, several text messages and phone calls later, I realized the dude was serious about being scared - of his girlfriend’s milk-making!!! 

I have just evaluated another patient this afternoon for a similar complaint. 

Between that SMS and today, I have seen at least 12 patients with the same problem - they are not breastfeeding mothers, yet their breasts are making (and oozing) milk. So yea, this deserves a post.

We think nothing of breastfeeding mothers. It is absolutely normal for a woman who has a child suckling at her breast to be able to discharge from that breast something that rewards the child for its suckling efforts, yea? However, we are worried when we manipulate our breasts - or breasts that, for whatever reason, we feel somewhat entitled to, albeit temporarily - and get for our efforts, nipples discharging fluid rather than nipples stiffening in bothers us because it is not the normal response that we are used to or that we have come to expect. It also bothers us because a lot of people have told us about breast lumps, breast cancers, and the like.

Well, that condition - the one where an adult non-pregnant female who is not breastfeeding, (whether she be in her reproductive years or long past them), has a milky discharge coming from her nipples, either of their own accord, or when someone manipulates them - that condition is called galactorrhea (or, in Britspell, galactorrhoea). 

Although I have specifically mentioned women in this definition, it may also occur in men. It may also occur in newborns, but that is usually because of a hormonal abnormality in the mother during her pregnancy.

Why does this condition occur?

Well, quite frankly, there are a number of things that may cause this. Sometimes, it may be possible to determine the cause, at other times not.

A lot of times however, the condition results when your body produces too much of the hormone that controls milk production when you have a baby. That hormone is called prolactin.

Now, why would your body just decide to go on a prolactin production bazaar? What could be responsible?
  1. If you take cocaine or some other drugs like opioids, some antidepressants , or certain anti-kolo drugs among others, those may be responsible.
  2. Certain herbal concoctions cause increased prolactin levels.
  3. If you are taking oral contraceptive pills, be aware that some of them may be responsible.
  4. If your brain has a kind of tumor called a pituitary tumor, that tumor may be producing high levels of prolactin which will lead to that milky breast discharge.
There are other reasons you may begin to notice a milky breast discharge, including:

  1. use of certain medications against hypertension.
  2. excessive breast stimulation by you or by your sexual partner(s) as part of foreplay.
  3. excessive nipple manipulation during overzealous breast self-examinations.
  4. the existence of a protracted kidney disease or of some diseases of the thyroid gland (the thyroid gland is a gland in the neck).
  5. certain types of chest injuries as well as some spinal cord injuries.
Sometimes, in addition to the discharge from the breasts (it may affect either or both breasts), you may notice a headache. Your menstrual periods may or may not be affected - but you will not know for sure if your periods are affected and to what extent if you have the bad habit of not keeping a calendar!!!

What to do?

You should see a gynecologist. 

Before going to the gynecologist, however, 

  1. take some time to look carefully at the discharge. You are looking to confirm that the discharge is all milk and no blood; note that it should be more important to you that there is no blood in the discharge than that it is all milk.
  2. Note when the discharge started. Doctors just love to ask “when did this start?”. Humor them. They are not babalawos. If they were, you wouldn’t be wearing your shoes in their office.
  3. Note any and all other symptoms you have, even if you think they are unrelated to this particular complaint. What you think and what the doctor knows to be the case may be very, very different.
  4. Note the date of your last menstrual period and the date of the one before that and the one before that. Note also any changes in your period since you noticed the discharge. By changes I mean things like whether the flow is heavier, whether it is more or less painful than usual, you know, stuff like that.
  5. Run a pregnancy test if you can. (You actually can).
  6. Note all the medications you had taken before you noticed the discharge (and this includes all the herbals you have taken). If you had taken any medications after noticing the discharge, please note them too.
  7. Oh, and puhleeeeaaaase, keep a menstrual calendar. You may not learn to do so from watching the Kardashians but then...
Sometimes, you cannot get to see a gynecologist as soon as you would like to. In cases like that,
  1. adopt other methods of foreplay. Just leave the breasts alone.
  2. stop traumatizing your breasts in the name of breast self-exams. Be more gentle in checking for lumps and so on. And perform those self-exams no more than once a month.
  3. ease up on the cocaine, if you can. You may no longer get your highs, but then, there will also be no spilled milk to cry over.
  4. get and use breast pads - especially if the discharge flows out even when you don’t squeeze. That way, you will not have to explain the cause of the embarrassing wetness that could appear on your clothes.

In fewer words,

If you have a breast discharge, or you notice that someone you care for has a breast discharge, examine the discharge. If it is clear, yellowish, or bloody, please check for any breast lumps and urgently see a doctor. It may be a sign of an underlying breast cancer. If it is milky however, it may not be cancerous, but you need to see a doctor all the same.

If you see a gynecologist and he examines you and conducts tests for you and determines that the breast discharge is nothing for you to worry about, then please quit worrying. Your worry will neither reduce the milkiness of the discharge nor its quantity.


Category: On The Wall

The Deputy Head of Mission 

Embassy of Spain 

Accra, Ghana 

26th April 2015 

Dear Sir: 

I applied for a short-term visa to attend a medical conference in Barcelona from 26th April to 29th April 2015 and by your response dated 22nd April 2015 I had been denied an entry visa to your country. As was written in your rejection letter, I have an option of lodging a contentious-administrative appeal at the High Court of Justice of Madrid (Spain) within a two-month deadline counting from the date of serving. Since it is nigh impossible for me to get myself to Madrid and lodge my appeal I have decided to personally write to you for some clarification. 

The reasons for denying me an entry visa were that the information regarding the justification for the purpose and conditions of the intended stay was not reliable and also that my intention to leave your country before the expiry of the visa could not be ascertained. 

I know it is your prerogative to decide whom to grant a visa to but I feel personally insulted for the reasons you have given for the denial. 

I am a highly trained orthopedic surgeon with specialty interest in orthopedic sports medicine and complex joint reconstruction. I have been a doctor for the past 20yrs. My current positions are: 

1. Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon at the KorleBu Teaching Hospital 

2. Lecturer at the University of Ghana Medical School 

3. Fellow of the West African College of Surgeons 

4. Consultant for West Africa Rescue Association (WARA). (I treat patients from the expatriate and diplomatic community including quite a number from Spain) I am sure if you were to injure yourself, am the most likely surgeon that you will be referred to. 

I have attended medical conferences in Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Japan, Canada, USA and Norway. Incidentally all these countries found my purpose for travelling justifiable except you. The letter of invitation I presented to you was written by a renowned surgeon in Madrid who trained in the same institution as I did in the United States. But I guess you did not find a letter written by such a person credible enough. 

I find it laughable that you think I will not return to Ghana and end up as an illegal immigrant in Spain where people of my skin tone are treated as second-class citizens. I have a wife and children whom I do not intend to abandon. Although I do not consider myself wealthy, I am very comfortable economically and have investments in property and other assets in Ghana. How did you ever come to the conclusion that I was a flight risk? 

May I kindly remind you of some basic facts about your country? 

1. The unemployment rate in Spain presently is 25% and youth unemployment tops 50%. Why will I leave a stable job and to go and join the unemployment ranks in your country. 

2. From January 2009 to end of 2013, 400,000 Spaniards emigrated to look for work outside of your country. And this is expected to rise in the coming years. 

3. Doctors in Spain are the least/worst paid in the whole Euro zone. Why will I want to go work in a country where my counterparts are leaving in droves for economic reasons? 

4. In the year 2012, it is on record that 2405 medical doctors applied for certification to work abroad, according to The Medical Spanish Association – a 75% increase compared with 2011. 83% of doctors seek jobs in Europe (mainly the UK and France) and 7% America. 

5. In 2009, the Health Ministry warned that there was a shortage and that the country needed around 3,200 more doctors. By 2025, at the present rate the shortfall will be around 25,000. The Spanish government has talked of increasing the number of university and medical school places, as well as making it easier for overseas personnel to work here. 

Sir, as a representative of the country of Spain, you have failed woefully in your responsibility to promote the interest of your country by denying me a visa. My skill, knowledge and experience will be invaluable to the Spanish people even if I decided not to come back to Ghana. Furthermore my budget for this conference topped €5000. This is the amount of money that would have been injected into the Spanish economy in a week. Can you imagine the economic loss if all the doctors from all over the world attending this conference were denied entry into Spain? I was due to present two papers and since I was not able to go I have informed the conveners of the conference of my inability to attend. This is an international conference and can you imagine the embarrassment your compatriot doctors will feel when it is announced that I could not present my scientific papers because you denied me a visa? Never mind that I cannot get a full refund for my ticket and my total booking for the hotel is not refundable. 

Given the reason for visa rejection, a detailed explanation on which aspects of my application did not provide sufficient evidence that I will return to Ghana is most welcome. I am particularly curious to know of the lofty economic standards set for Ghanaians to visit to Spain when Spaniards themselves barely meet these standards. 

Yours truly, 

Dr Agbeko Ocloo MB.ChB FWACS 

Consultant Orthopedic Surgeon 


The Ambassador 

Emabssy of Spain 

Accra, Ghana 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015


Category: Uncategorized 

A new NNPC boss is appointed and people complain, not about the paucity of his credentials and suitability for the job, but about the paucity of his Igboness

See why I have so many problems with these people? See why I think I am surrounded by imbeciles?

It is not because they are mentally retarded. It is because theirs is a diagnosis of mental putrefaction, the speed of decomposition of their powers of cerebration quickened, not slowed, by their knowledge of letters and numbers.


Category: Medicine | Health | Wellness

By Adam Eley

In July 1978 Louise Brown was hailed as the world's first "test-tube baby", born through the fertility treatment IVF. But how does her story compare with modern procedures?
Louise Brown

"On the day I was born, my mum had to be taken to the operating theatre for her Caesarean section in pitch darkness, with just a torchlight showing the way," Louise Brown explains.

"Only a few staff knew who she was, and my parents didn't want others realising her identity and tipping off the newspapers."

Louise's birth was cloaked in secrecy. Even her father John's first visit to see her in Oldham General Hospital was under the eye of police officers, who lined the corridor outside.

The reason was that his daughter, from Bristol, had become the world's first "test-tube baby", as the press hailed her.

More accurately, she was the first to be born through in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), a process in which an egg is removed from the woman's ovaries and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory, before being implanted into the uterus.
IVF pioneers Robert Edwards (L) and Patrick Steptoe (R) pose with Louise and the midwife following her birth

It is a treatment used to enable couples with a range of fertility problems to conceive a child, and now allows same-sex couples and single mothers to have children too.

Technological advancements mean - according to 2013 estimates - more than five million people worldwide have been born through this process.

But in 1978 it was highly experimental, and Dr Mike Macnamee, chief executive at the world's first IVF clinic - Bourn Hall in Cambridge - believes Louise "really was a miracle".

The two men who pioneered the treatment - gynaecologist Patrick Steptoe and Nobel Prize-winning physiologist Robert Edwards - "had gone through hundreds of embryo transfers before Louise was conceived", he adds.

The pair had joined forces a full 10 years earlier, with skills that perfectly complemented one another - Edwards having developed a way to fertilise human eggs within the laboratory and Steptoe having devised a method for obtaining the eggs from the ovaries.

When Louise's mother Lesley was put in contact with Steptoe by her doctor, she was warned there was a "one in a million" chance of success.

So when it worked, it was such a momentous scientific advancement that the birth had to be filmed - under agreement with the overnment - to give documented evidence that Louise was indeed her mother's.

Even before her mother was able to hold her newborn, Louise had undergone around 60 different tests to ensure she was "normal".

This is a far cry from modern procedures, which - owing much to the work of Bourn Hall in the 1980s - follow a refined and well-established clinical process.

"Once they [Steptoe and Edwards] worked out how to fertilise the egg, they very soon wanted to restrict the number of embryos they transferred into women - so they didn't have too many multiple births," Dr Macnamee explains.
Advancements in the 1980s mean eggs can now be frozen

"Development of the freezing technique in the mid-80s meant they could implant one or two embryos [into the would-be mother] and then freeze other embryos for future use, saving her the uncomfortable procedure of having the eggs removed again."

Progress can also be seen in the modern use of ultrasound imaging to harvest the eggs under a mild sedation, rather than the form of keyhole surgery known as laparoscopy that was previously employed.

Techniques developed in the late 1980s also made a big difference in treating male infertility by injecting single sperm directly into the egg.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is an approach in treatment of male infertility

These, and other, small incremental steps mean the success rate for each round of IVF has grown from 10% to 40% since the early 80s, when Dr Macnamee's first role included the hands-on task of mixing the eggs and sperm in a petri dish.

The chances of successfully conceiving through IVF decline with age, but the process is now more effective per cycle than natural reproduction. It does not, however, have approval from all quarters.

In November, Pope Francis said the process promoted children as "a right rather than a gift to welcome" and was "playing with life".

Yet in August 1978, Cardinal Albino Luciani - shortly to become Pope John Paul I - unexpectedly refused to criticise Louise's parents for using IVF, saying they had simply wanted to have a baby.

"It helped to counteract some of the negative things people were saying," Louise says.

"My mum got loads of letters from people. They were mostly positive, but there was some hate mail.

"They got an awful box from America which had a broken test-tube, fake blood and a pretend foetus inside. It came with a threat that the people who sent it were coming to see them."

Despite such isolated incidents, Louise - who conceived her two sons naturally - sees it as a privilege to have been the first person born through IVF.
Louise Brown, poster girl of IVF

"My mum and dad have had lots of people say that if it wasn't for them, they would never have been able to have children," she says.

Dr Macnamee thinks the chances of women conceiving through IVF will only increase in future - and says he hopes to see a 60% success rate in IVF cycles before he retires.

One prominent area of research is aimed at exploring the way in which embryos interact with the lining of the womb when they are implanted.

Many believe it is when the two fail to engage with each other that the IVF cycle can prove unsuccessful.

Progress is slow - as there is no model to undertake tests in the lab - but workers believe this line of research could be key.

This post was culled from the BBC, where it first appeared on July 23, 2015.

Monday, August 3, 2015


This morning, I came across an article on the BBC which tells that, per preliminary results indices, we may now have a vaccine which could offer us full protection from the Ebola virus. 

If this is true, this would be the best piece of news we have heard with respect to Ebola since the latest outbreak started in Guinea during the harmattan of 2013. This is especially so because at that time, there were no proven vaccines or drugs that could reliably tackle the virus, and this lacuna led to the deaths of more than ten thousand people, most of them West Africans, when the epidemic gained a foothold on the subregion.

Work on this particular vaccine was started by the Public Health Agency of Canada and it was subsequently developed by Merck, an important pharmaceutical company. 

To create the vaccine, workers combined a fragment of the Ebola virus with another safer virus in order to train the human immune system to more easily defeat Ebola. The subsequent clinical trial for this drug was conducted in Guinea. But it was a clinical trial unlike the usual clinical trials. When a patient was discovered, their family, neigbours, friends, and other close contacts were vaccinated to create what the workers called a "protective ring" of immunity. One hundred patients were identified in the trial between April and July and then close contacts were vaccinated either immediately (in the case of one group), or three weeks later (in the case of the second group). 

In the 2,014 close contacts who were vaccinated immediately there were no subsequent cases of Ebola. In those vaccinated three weeks later, however, there were 16 subsequent cases of Ebola.

Based on this apparent pattern of non-recurrence of Ebola in those who get vaccinated immediately, the decision now is that close contacts of Ebola patients in Guinea will be vaccinated immediately. 

The good news gets better. So far, the vaccine has been shown to be safe. That means that the treatment can now be extended to children as well.

Although these positive results are only preliminary and so are being welcomed with all the caution due them, officials at the WHO believe the effectiveness of the vaccine will end up being between 75% and 100%.

If a vaccine like this one had been been available 18 months ago, some 11,000 lives may not have been lost, and perhaps 28,000 might not have been infected with Ebola.

But Ebola will come again. It is safe - and wise - to presume as much, and to work on that presumption.

And here, on the graves of all those whose dreams and ambitions were cut short by Ebola, germinates the hope, fed by this vaccine and others like it, that a tragedy of this scale can never be repeated.

Saturday, August 1, 2015


Saturday, August 01, 2015

First posted Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When I came across this picture online, I burst into a long bout of hearty (and maybe even raucous) laughter - a reaction I think the writer must have intended to provoke. It did not help any that the notice, in addition to pointing out what the toilet floors were not designed to handle, went further to allude to the prohibitive cost of "professional" removal of semen stains on the floor, and then advised readers on what to do when they got bored. Hilarious!

At first.

Then that got me thinking.

Sometimes, in the course of our fertility consultations, we encounter people - guys and babes alike - who worry that they masturbate too often. Especially among menfolk of all age groups, there seems to be this nagging uncertainty about the health impact of their hands getting all too busy down there all too often - usually when the girls are not looking. By “too often”, some of these men mean they masturbate two to four times a month, others mean getting down and creamy one to two times a day.

My take is that neither of these frequencies is outside normal limits. As such, these men do not have anything to worry about. Masturbating a few times every day is not exactly harmful, in itself. In fact, if facts are to be believed, then it is instructive that a 2003 study in Australia found that men who ejaculated more than five times a week were a third less likely than their peers to develop prostate cancer. Of course, such a frequency of ejaculation can be attained by sexual intercourse too - but that comes with its own risk of sexually transmitted infections.

So while regularly getting busy with your hands may not be expressly harmful for you, there is something else that could. If your masturbation interferes with your normal life by getting in the way of your schoolwork, your work, your sexual and other relationships, then you are in need of the services of a sex therapist. As conventional sex therapists are not exactly commonplace sights in Nigeria, you may wish to settle for an assessment by a psychologist working in conjunction with a gynaecologist who is a fertility specialist.

In summary, it is not the frequency of your masturbation that could affect you negatively. It is how much your masturbation gets in the way of your normal life that could become a problem. If, as per the notice above, you have to leave school and go home to masturbate, well, that would be you qualifying to be labelled an addict to masturbation. As with an addiction to drugs, an addiction to masturbation feeds on itself to the detriment of the sufferer. But that is what happens when masturbation goes from recreation through preoccupation to obsession.


Saturday, August 01, 2015

Hello Blues,  

This time, you took a long time coming. The sun shone brilliantly in your absence.

Hope you make this a short stay. 

This time though, I will not be moving my stuff so you can be comfortable. You see, I really have no stuff to move around anymore. You will have to make yourself as comfortable as you can while you are here. And you will have to do that without my help. more thing, dear. Keep your stay short. I have learned the fine art of evicting visitors who overstay either their welcome or, as in your case, their claim to my tolerance. 

I'll take the bed tonight, every night, and as long as the night that is your stay lasts. Sorry there is no couch. The floor though is down this way. 

Be at your best behaviour. I am at mine. 

Your host,