I am raising this topic today because I can’t help but feel really upset and angry at myself at a situation that happened to me earlier in the year. It was recommended to me that I seek out the help of an Integrative Medical Naturopath. This is a person who understands western medical practices and can incorporate both medical and naturopathic medicine for the best possible outcome. As I am not about to leave the comfort of my own home to live naked, eat organic and grow hairy armpits in the rainforests of Brazil, I thought ‘Perfect this is exactly what I have been looking for’. This person was highly recommended to me by a couple of people so I sent an email entailing my situation and made an appointment.
Let me start by saying, this person is AMAZING. She was extremely professional and certainly knows her stuff. She was all about what I could do moving forward and being proactive with my health and how we could monitor my funky cancer genes. She gave me a few things to try and this ended the consultation. I made a follow up appointment, go to pay and OUCH $270.30!!! First consultation fees and very little back with my private health (not to mention a 35 minute drive from my house) made for a very expensive round trip.
Second consult, just as good as the first one. I had handed over my supplement sheet, medical records and blood tests in my previous consult and she had gone away to do her analysis. More encouraging outcomes and a prescription that needed to be filled by a Compounding Pharmacy. (Pharmacy compounding is an established tradition which allows a physician to prescribe a very specific medication, prepared by a pharmacist, for a patient’s individual needs.) End consultation, make follow up appointment, go to pay….still ouch $129.00 but not quite as bad this time.
A few weeks had gone by and I was following up the prescription with the Pharmacy, turns out one of the ingredients was obviously coming from the arse of a Lama which was sitting on the top of Mount Kanchenjunga in Nepal. So I waited a few more days and then they called to tell me it was ready. The conversation went something like this…. (names have been changed so I don’t get sued!)
Them - ‘Hello, this is Tina from ABC Pharmacy, I am calling to tell you your prescription is ready’
Me - ‘Oh, great how much is it?’
Them - ‘$379.40’
Me – ‘Sorry, was that $379.40 cents?’
Them – ‘Yes, extra if you want delivery’
Me – (nervous giggle) ‘Gee I hope that is a month’s supply’
Them – ‘No this is for one week’
Me – ‘Well I guess I have to pay for that (as you have already sent a small slave child up a big mountain to collect the droppings of a Lama) . I just want to tell you that I am extremely surprised and really disappointed that I have to pay this amount. We are a one income family and this is ridiculous. I should have been warned it was going to cost this much.’
Them – ‘Yes, some of the ingredients (mainly the stuff from the arse of that Lama ) in your prescription were very expensive. Best you speak to your naturopath.’
Me – ‘Yes, thanks I will do that’. (Reluctantly handed over Visa details and address)
I got off the phone and apart from being in absolute shock, I was totally devastated. How was I going to explain to my husband that this magic gold dust was going to do everything that I needed in order for me to stay cancer free and see my little boys turn into men. I did indeed call and speak to my ‘Integrative Medical Naturopath’ and clearly explained our financial situation. (Just for the record I already consume approximately $200 worth of vitamin and nutritional supplements a month, just add the gold dust of $379.40 a week, her consultation fee and seriously no one in their right mind could afford this, let alone a one income family) She apologized and said she wasn’t aware that it was going to cost that much. As much as I wanted to believe her I figured if you do this every day and it is your profession I’m going to have to call ‘Bullshit’.
That night I sat and cried, a lot. There was a massive assumption that we could afford anything that was prescribed to me. There was no upfront explanation that some or all of my medication was extremely expensive. You almost get pushed into a corner and feel obligated that you must follow this path in order to live a healthy life. Cost seemed to be an afterthought to them. Of course there was no way we could continue to do this and I felt let down, angry and frustrated with the entire situation. Here I am, wanting to take the best possible care of myself and in my opinion I had been manipulated. My question of cost during the consultation was met with ‘I’m not sure about that, but it will be around $150’. I’m not sure who I was more mad at, me for feeling guilty that I couldn’t afford medication for my health and wellbeing, the government for not supporting and supplementing natural medicine, the naturopath for charging too much and under quoting my costs, the pharmacy for overcharging, or the Lama! Mostly I was just sad because I felt this avenue was no longer an option for me because we weren’t in a financial position to pay for everything.
I continue to search for complementary medicine and do self development and spiritual work on a daily basis. I understand that this body is my vehicle to get me through this lifetime, I need to take care of it the best way I can. If there is one thing I have learned through this experience it is not to put all your eggs in one basket. I have a great team of medical and alternate support people around me. Don’t get discouraged by one set back, life is full of other opportunities you just have to make the choice to go out and look for them. I must say Brazil’s looking pretty good!