Storytelling is a unique way of communicating vital information that can stick to the memory for a long time.
So, the content of this write-up is presented as a story. Read, and enjoy the prose and dialogue.
But most importantly, get the main gist — that pharmacists have a key role to play in peptic ulcer therapy.
Anna was a peptic ulcer patient. A gastroenterologist at her town’s general hospital had diagnosed her of peptic ulcer five years ago.
Three weeks before the diagnosis, she was feeling a hot painful sensation at the left part of her abdomen. The pain usually resurfaced after over two hours of having her meal.
Before the onset of her peptic ulcer symptoms, Anna was a lively personality. She was jovial, fun to be with and never allowed the stress of her job to get to her. She could catch some fun whenever and however she wanted to.
At age 30 and unmarried, she had a keen interest in tourism — traveling to the hinterlands for a week, at least every quarter of the year. Skating and cycling were her hobbies. Her life was super fun.
She lived a life of freedom and adventure. No one could limit her. Not even at her workplace, because she was the CEO of her company.
But her life took a rather sad turn after she came down with peptic ulcer.
There was no more weekend quaffing at her favorite bar. Her traveling reduced to twice a year for just two weeks in total. Job stress got to her – she yelled at her staff frequently and was no more fun to be with.
Taking pills regularly affected her psychology and made her feel sick and incompetent. Her life changed and she wanted urgent help.
The gastroenterologist that diagnosed her condition had prescribed Omeprazole and an antacid. She took the medications as instructed and was relieved of her symptoms. But not for long.
At least once a month for the past 5 years, Anna suffered a painful bout of stomach discomfort.
Sometimes, taking her anti-ulcer medications didn’t resolve the pain she felt. So she would hold on and wait patiently and painfully for the symptoms to resolve on their own. While struggling with the pain she felt, Anna would be sweaty, weak and full of tears.
She had heard that there’s an excellent pharmacist at Timjuls Pharmacy in Warri. Though Anna lived in Ugheli, she made up her mind to go visit the pharmacist.
“Maybe he can help my situation”, she said to herself.
Her cousin had told her about Pharmacist Adam’s pedigree of helping several patients with peptic ulcer. Pharm. Adam had successfully managed the peptic ulcer that Mabel, Anna’s cousin, once had.
At 8 AM one rainy Monday morning, Pharm. Adam was already at his pharmacy. He’d barely settled in when he heard the voice of a lady beckoning on someone to open the gate of the premises so she could quickly come in and be rescued from the heavy downpour.
No staff was around by then. So it was Pharm. Adam who came out to open the gate.
She hurriedly ran into the pharmacy without saying a word to him. Well, she didn’t know who he was — the savior she’d traveled over 1,000 Km to come and see.
It was now 8:05 AM and after sitting down to recover from the trauma of being drenched by the rain, Anna raised her head to speak to the young, dark, handsome man, who at this time was without a lab coat and was arranging the drugs on the antibiotics section of the drug shelves.
” Ehm… I’d like to speak with the pharmacist”, she said, in a rather unfriendly tone.
“I am he”, replied Pharm. Adam.
” No, I mean, Pharmacist Adam, the superintendent pharmacist”, she added, but now in a respectful and surprising manner.
” Madam, how may I help you?”, Pharm Adam replied confidently, looking straight at her.
” Oh, you’re the Pharm. Adam? Oh sorry. Ehmm, I’d like to see you”, she stuttered.
Pharm Adam smiled in a calm and professional manner. He directed her to his consulting room and listened attentively to her complaint.
Then he asked about her medical history, medication history, social life, and other relevant questions.
In the end, Pharm. Adam realized that Anna took Diclofenac or Aspirin on an empty stomach whenever she felt body pains after a stressful day. Also, for the past five months, she has been taking a daily pill of ferrous sulphate. He also realized that two months earlier, she had tested positive for H. pylori.
After the interview, Pharm. Adam recommended a combination of Lansoprazole, Clarithromycin, and Amoxicillin to be used twice daily for 14 days.
He took sufficient time to educate Anna about proper use of NSAID pain killers and their tendency to induce or worsen the symptoms of peptic ulcer.
He also advised her against eating spicy foods, soft drinks, alcohol, and smoking. And he ended the counseling by sharing some stress management tips with her.
Anna felt a unique feeling after the consultation — a kind of relief and hope she had not experienced for a long time.
She thanked the pharmacist for his patience, counseling and professionalism. Before she left, Pharm Adam asked her to tell him the counseling tips he’d just shared with her. And she did it accurately as proof that she understood all he said.
After the 14 days of drug treatment, in addition to the non-pharmacologic therapy Pharm. Adam shared with her, Anna began to feel much better.
Her quality of life improved within a short time. She became friendly to her staff again. Her muse was restored. She resumed cycling and skating as before, but had quitted smoking and alcohol. Pharm. Adam had advised her against every unhealthy lifestyle.
And for the past 5 months, Anna hasn’t felt the ulcer symptoms. She has also tested negative for H. pylori.
Anna called Timjuls pharmacy to thank Pharm. Adam for his intervention. And she made Timjuls her pharmacy, as well as recommending it to others.