If you are an ardent listener of Radio Jambo’s morning drive show ‘Patanisho’, you must have heard Gidi Ogidi say that his co-presenter Ghost Mulee was praying for the programme.
It was a longtime joke by Gidi to mean Ghost was dozing off mid-show. Ghost had lived with a condition that made him dizzy with sleep at any time of day.
The Harambee Stars coach used to experience sudden exhaustion, and when he talked, he would start gasping for breath.
Sometimes when driving, he would experience sudden fatigue and become sleepy.
“I’d have to park the car on the roadside and catch a one hour to one hour thirty minutes sleep to refresh before I resume driving,” he told the Star.
Ghost was allergic to cold and would never take a cold shower. During the cold weather in June and July, he said, he went to work heavily dressed, with thick jackets, scarfs and caps to keep warm.
Ghost told the Star in an interview on Monday that he had embraced this all his life. His doctors had told him during his annual medical examinations that he had an allergy and had just to make do with it.
Things changed when he went to India to donate one of his kidneys to his elder brother in April.
The kidney specialist who reviewed his brother’s condition cleared him of the cut, despite a recommendation by a Nairobi doctor.
The condition did not need Ghost giving his kidney. He said his brother was treated well, recovered and is now back to his normal life.
So the plan changed. Ghost set to travel back to Nairobi, but just before that, he decided to do his annual full body checkup in the country.
An encounter with an ear, nose and throat specialist changed the plans, again, as she flagged what appeared to be a throat growth that needed an urgent surgical correction to save his life.
“The doctor said I was living on borrowed time. It was a miracle that I walked in myself, that I was alive,” he said.
Further sleep tests helped diagnose the 52-year-old football tactician with obstructive sleep apnea.
It is the most common sleep-related breathing disorder and is characterised by recurrent episodes of complete or partial obstruction of the upper airway leading to reduced or absent breathing during sleep.
The episodes are termed apneas with complete or near-complete cessation of breathing, or hypopneas when the reduction in breathing is partial.
In either case, a fall in blood oxygen saturation, a disruption in sleep, or both may result. A high frequency of apneas or hypopneas during sleep may interfere with restorative sleep, which—in combination with disturbances in blood oxygenation—is thought to contribute to negative consequences to health and quality of life.
“I should have died in sleep. I was shocked because I have been taking tabs from local doctors to curb the said allergy,” he said.
The coach was booked into a surgical theatre to cut off a mass of growth at the base of his tongue adjacent to his throat. This mass, the doctors told him, was obstructing his breathing system and altering the rhythm, putting his life in danger.
While he was undergoing treatment, the Ministry of Health in Nairobi ordered a lockdown to contain the third wave of Covid-19 infection spread.
All flights from India were banned and he was forced to spend more days abroad, incurring more expenses while at it.
As he recuperated, he said, he would do a daily two-hour run at his hotel balcony while listening to their popular drive show, fading off the pain and binding the wounds.
The procedure was not just a lifesaver, he said, it also removed the burden of having to clad extra heavy to keep warm. He is now alert during their morning show and does not pray for the programme.
“I can now take a cold shower, and I’m very alert, not falling asleep anywhere.”
If he had believed the assessment of his general practitioner doctors in top Nairobi hospitals, he might have slept one day and never woken up.
“It is very annoying if you think of it,” he said, adding that the fact that the surgery was far cheaper in India than in Nairobi makes it more exasperating.
“I pay like Sh200,000 here for the whole body examination and it is done by a general practitioner. But in India, I paid Sh30,000 equivalent and I got examined by multiple specialists focusing on different organs of the body,” he said.
The radio presenter known for his raucous laughter on-air said his affordable medical intervention in India was an indictment of the quality of the medical care that the doctors and the government dispense to Kenyans.
Doctors who have monetised their service, seeking to get rich quickly hence scamming their sick patients to their grave, are part of the intricate problem, he added.
“There are efficient medical services in India, complete with modern machinery and government financing to citizens so that they can walk into the public facilities and have the attention they need free of charge. That is exactly the opposite of what we have here. We are in a mess,” he said.