My Story: The Cost of a Miracle

 

 

After completely killing it at adulting and cancelling the biopsy procedure while avoiding the calls to reschedule the appointment, I started to look forward to my appointment with Dr. Kokayi. I scheduled an appointment and tried not to think about how much it would cost. I began my investigative work on everything about Patients Medical and Dr. Kokayi. I was quite impressed with the reviews, the pictures of the facilities and the treatments offered. Some of the treatments were things I had only heard about because some celebrity used it as a fountain of youth, like a hyperbaric chamber. I knew that I was gong to be healed by this place and I quickly forgot about any kidney biopsies, rashes, and hair loss and for the first time in a long time, I was hopeful. My hopefulness turned into low-key obsession and stalking and I looked up everything about Patients Medical, including the reviews, treatments, doctors and facilities everyday, multiple times a day until the day of my appointment. I was nervous again like it was a first date, or more importantly an issue of life and death. I woke up earlier than usual and just laid in bed contemplating how much my life was going to change after this appointment, both physically and financially. I realized that I was putting a lot into this visit, so much so that I had cancelled my last acupuncture appointment with Dr. Ni a few days earlier. It was at that moment that I started to panic, and worry about what I would do if none of this worked for me. Before I could work myself into a bigger frenzy I got up and ate what I could and left early before I could talk myself out of going. I got to Grand Central Station almost an hour before my appointment and wandered in and out of stores that I had no intention of buying anything. My wandering almost made me late for my appointment.

The waiting room was pleasant  with soft chairs. They offered free water bottles and the good soft mints. After signing in at the front desk, I quickly stocked up on both items under the judgmental watch of the receptionist. I figured if I was going to pay a minimum of $400 for this appointment I was going to get my money’s worth, even if it was just in water and mints. Having to pay out of pocket means not having to wait long to see the doctor. Before I followed the nurse, who called me back to the clinic, I grabbed another handful of mints just in time to see a full eye-roll from the receptionist. I took it as an act of endearment since he had to know that I was the one indirectly paying for him to sit there and judge me. After getting my vitals taken by the nurse I briefly waited for Dr. Kokayi to enter the examination room. He walked in and I immediately felt at ease. He was a tall, with a long face and large glasses. He had a deep caramel complexion with a receding hairline and smart, kind face. He was very fatherly in his demeanor and delivery while maintaining a professional dialogue. We talked about why I was there and he said that he he believed he could hep me.  He had looked over my medical records from all of my previous doctors and was optimistic. I was thrilled. He asked me to follow him to his office so we could discuss more.

He asked me if I was currently on any medication for my lupus. I told him about my horrible experience with plaquenil and that I was currently making trips to D.C. for acupuncture and I showed him the black, gummy pills Dr. Ni’ had given me. He looked over the pills and gave a disapproving shake of his head. He told me that my disease was too “deep” for something like acupuncture to help me. He explained that he studied ancient Chinese and African medicine and that it wasn’t going to make a difference with my disease. What I was going through was affecting me at a cellular level and I would need an advanced treatment for it. He also told me to stop taking those black pills because they could be more harmful than helpful. The labels were in Chinese so there was no way of knowing what was in it or the regulations on such things by the Chinese government. He explained that I could get weekly or bi-weekly peptide injections specific for lupus. There were different injections for different diseases ranging from MS to arthritis. It was a treatment that had been used in Europe and tested at Oxford for over 30 years at the time, but wasn’t covered by insurance in the US because it was seen as “alternative medicine”. Basically the pharmaceutical companies couldn’t make money off of it so the insurance companies wouldn’t pay for it. He also said that he would recommend a few supplements for me to take that they supplied in the clinic.

I was already planning a Mexican feast to celebrate the outcome of this visit when he began to talk about my diet. My chips and queso dreams were dashed when he told me I would have to change my diet as well. I still think about his words to this day, “You have an autoimmune disorder, 70% of your immune system is in your gut. It is inevitable that your diet will affect your disease.” Whaaaat? I was to go on a total elimination diet for 2 weeks, this meant no rice, potatoes, bread, dairy, sugar, or joy. I explained to him that I was Nigerian and as a Nigerian we literally have meals that just consist of rice. My pleas for leniency fell on deaf ears and we agreed that I would go on this strict regimen until my next appointment with him. The crappy news kept on coming as he started talking about the price of all of this. The injections were $367 each. My heart sank. How was I going to be able to afford this bi-weekly? I felt sick to my stomach as he continued to talk about the many supplements I would have to take as well. I followed him to the store and after he went through and gathered all of his recommendations for me and took me to the check out desk my total amount due for my first visit to Patients Medical was $1276. So this is the price of a miracle!

 

 

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