Thursday, February 13, 2014

The $9.26 Ultrasound

I believe it is important to always give credit where credit is due and today, kudos to medicine in Rwanda!

I have felt like there has been a side stitch in my upper right abdomen for over a day.  I thought at first too many lentils the night before.  We put lentils and chick peas in everything for added protein as meat is a rare high dollar commodity for the team.  

I woke up this morning after having tossed and turned all night, listening to my meditation iTunes, trying not to go down the road all expats do who live in places where the medical system can be a bit unknown and frightening.  It's a really bad cramp, I am not in need of a bowel dissection.

This morning, however, it hurt…a lot!  So I texted a friend, an expat who is a doctor at the local hospital.  Two favors in one week I am pushing it!  I stopped by her house for a few months and she told me to meet her at the hospital for an ultrasound.  She did say, "You know you'll have to pay for it."  Yes, I know.  I do have travel insurance but in a country like Rwanda its cash or Mutual upfront.  

I drove over to registration after getting the team off (another blog as that was a complete disaster this morning!).  I walked up, handed the woman behind the window the note Dr. L had given me and I heard the woman say, "6,300".


$9.26 for a consult and an ultrasound and I was in and on the table within an hour of having stopped by the doctor's house.  

$9.26….what the ??? is wrong with the US?  That would have been thousands of dollars and three different doctor referrals and I would have either died or gotten better in the time it took to get in to see the specialist.

Granted, it is not always so smooth, case in point Wednesday, however, in both cases we (the rider and I) received good care.

So I have a couple of B&Ws of my gall bladder.  My GB seems fine at the moment, but it was nice to rule it out.  I'm not really a candidate for gall bladder issues as I'm thin, exercise and eat right but good to rule it out.  Especially, because the mind does crazy things to you in Africa!  

I remember when I broke my collarbone in Tanzania 4+ years ago.  My sister, a doctor, told me, it was going to hurt a lot for 6-8 weeks and then one day I would be fine.

At 5 weeks I remember telling her I still was in pain, asking her if maybe it didn't heal back together, was there a bone shard in there? do I need surgery? My mind would spiral within seconds to the point of amputation.  I could hear her sighing over the phone, I can be a very annoying patient at times, telling me to suck it up, take an Ibuprofen and let her know in 8 weeks if it's still hurting.  Somewhere around 6 weeks and 3 days I woke up and it was as good as new.  That was it.

I suck as a patient.

Dr. L and I talked for a bit about what it might be and frankly you cannot rule out simple stress.  Yes, that is always my go to diagnosis as well.  My body has been under an incredible amount of stress lately.  Dr. L called it compassion fatigue….Compassion fatigue and it's all BALLED up in my digestive track.  I was given a paper with a Maalox type medication written on it and oh, joy, Africa, a dewormer.  Nice….I like thinking it's psychosomatic and not imagining I have crawly things in me.

The best part of the whole visit….when we were talking about the stress, the compassion fatigue (she's got me beat by 6 years here!), I felt like I was going to bust out crying just because…it's been that kind of last couple of weeks.  She asked if she could pray for me.  Deep sigh…"Absolutely, please do."  It was exactly what I needed.

Prayer and a $9.26 ultrasound….

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