I'm not a fan of hospitals, scratch that, I'm actually okay going to hospitals as long as I'm not a patient.
I do not enjoy drugs, I hate them to the point that I might actually fall sick at the thought of having to take drugs, they almost always get stuck in my throat especially the tablets.
Like most people I know, I'm not exception in only going t hospital when in pain and absence of pain means that all is great. This is not always the case.
At some point I realised that maybe we do not want to face the unknowns hence shy away from hospitals and doctors.
Save for my dentist, therapist and that one doctor's visit my sibling had that I got to tag along, did I mention that I asked the doctor so many questions I was sure he wished he could throw me out at some point and this was clear from the look on his face, I have not seen a doctor for almost three years.
We had the first support group meeting for MDSK over the weekend, that got me talking to my therapist for some referrals, a conversation we then picked up yesterday. She always manages to get through to me amidst all the stubbornness.
I thought of how I can get back to my search for that doctor to walk this journey with, someone who has a heart, a good heart not just a pumping one, a good smile would be an added advantage too in light of all the heartbreaks that might come our way. My brother and I often joke how we also want a doctor who will not die before us ( evil sibling humour).
I met this doctor who looked and sounded kind some time last year and had since then made a mental note that maybe he would make the cut.
There are less than 15 neurologists in Kenya as far as I know to cater for over 41million Kenyans. Studying medicine will take no less than 5years for undergraduate an additional 3 or 4 minimum years for post-graduate specialisations. These doctors study to the point of doubting their sanity just so that they can provide the best care for the patients. I have A LOT of respect for doctors.
I digress, so over lunchtime, I finally dialed the doctor's office to see about booking an appointment. Finally, I was mentally ready to deal with having a primary doctor in my life, big decisions and all.
I told the nice lady on the other end of the line that I wanted to book an appointment with the good doctor, she proceeded to ask if I was a new client to which I said yes, what came next had me doubting my hearing capacities. "For the first appointment, we charge Ksh. 24,000 ( equivalent to 240USD) consultation fee, we do not deal directly with insurance companies so clients pay in cash then seek refunds from their insurance companies...." She went on to explain how the doctor spends no less than an hour per client but I interrupted as I wasn't sure I heard her right, Ksh.24,000??!!! I must have asked her three times. We ended the phone call with her "giving me time to think about it and get back to her".
Immediately, I called to find out how much the last appointment I attended by proxy had cost, Ksh. 2,500 ( 25USD). This was just to be sure that I was not overreacting. Well this might still be the capital city but hey, most doctors charge in the range of Ksh.1,000-5,000 for consultation, so no, I do not think I'm overreacting.
This charge is consultation alone, not a single test included, just talk, plain talk, and no I'm not talking about counseling kind of talk, nope, just talk. I sat and wondered for a while why this bothered me so much and came to a few reasons;-
1. When someone wants to visit a neurologist, they're not doing it by choice of it being their most preferred hobby, it is because they need the specialist around them.
2. When you have a neuromuscular condition which has no known cure, more often that not, going to a neurologist will be conversation and reviews about how a condition is progressing or not.
3. There are often no definitive tests for these conditions and those that exist, genetic tests in this case are also exorbitantly priced. ( Did I mention there's a genetic testing lab that charges as much as it would cost to travel to the UK, get tests done and come back home for a single test?)
4. Most health insurance companies, most is the word here, do not cover chronic conditions often for the simple knowledge that it costs an arm and a leg.
Let me refocus and start the search for a primary care giver, no, I will not pay whatever amounts simply because my insurer caters for muscular dystrophy as a chronic condition. I think it is extortion. On that note, if you know a neurologist or a general physician who wouldn't mind an inquisitive patient, please tell me.