Oh, oh!...First trip to a doctor in almost three years!...An expensive medical appointment...

Tom waited with me in the exam room at the urgent care center in Kapaa. Photo taken with my phone.  Notice our Africa bag on the floor that we purchased for $2 in Kenya many moons ago.  Its holding up quite well.
Traveling the world for years without a home base to return to for doctor and dentist appointments, is challenging at times.  Somehow, over these past two and a half years since leaving Minnesota, we've managed to figure out health concerns on our own.

Before my health was renewed almost four years ago, via an extremely low carb, grain, starch and sugar free diet, often referred to as a ketogenic diet, I'd often seen our local doctor once every month or so.  (For the detailed documented science on ketosis, please click here.  We are in no manner associated in the sale of this book).

I was a mess of pain and chronic illness, all precipitated by hereditary inflammatory disease often becoming further ill with infections, viruses and myriad symptoms.

Three months after embarking on this restrictive way of eating, never faltering by ingesting a grain of sugar or rice, I awoke to good health, pain free, symptom free and feeling better than I'd felt in decades.

Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital, which we visited on Friday.
Since that day, I've felt wonderful almost every day, continuing to be pain free and healthy. Occasionally, I fall prey to a virus or infection, most often when exposed to other people's germs or bad food.  In our travels, I've been ill twice a year, not unlike many of you. 

As for Tom, he's been ill a few times, once in Morocco, once after a cruise but seems to recovery more quickly than I do.  I suppose my immune system may take a little longer to recover from a lifetime of illness.  I'm patient in the interim, knowing that without this miracle (for me) way of eating, we wouldn't be traveling at all.  Who's to complain?

So, on Tuesday when I developed a horrible pain in my left groin that neither Tylenol nor Motrin would help, we became concerned.  What would it be?  Of course, I spent hours online looking for possible causes and came to the conclusion I either had a kidney stone on the move or a UTI (urinary tract infection).

In my research, I discovered that on a daily basis I consume an inordinate amount of oxylates especially drinking lots of brewed tea and spinach, both huge contributors to the formation of kidney stones. 

Just in case, I immediately stopped drinking tea switching to plain water and tossed out my remaining container of organic baby spinach, knowing no matter what, I may have done so too late.  The pain continued and worsened over the next few days and nights, resulting in little sleep.

Oh gosh, I was thinking to myself, trying not to worry Tom, we have to be on a cruise in a little over two weeks.  What if I needed surgery?  What if we couldn't go on the cruise and lost our $6010, non-refundable at this late date?  Where would we stay?  What about our upcoming 89 day rental on June 11th in Australia for which we already paid in full? 

Rather than do a number on myself worrying, I became proactive drinking tons of water, moving about as much as possible and praying for a speedy resolution.

Yesterday morning, after three nights of this dreadful discomfort, it dawned on me that it could be a UTI.  It felt like a UTI which I hadn't had in many years.  Looking online, I realized that if it was a UTI it was unlikely it would resolve on its own. I can't drink cranberry juice with all of it's sugar. By noon yesterday as the pain escalated, I told Tom who of course was very worried, we needed to do one of two things:

Option 1:  Drive to the hospital in Lihue (one hour drive) which would result in a urine test and an pricey CAT scan.
Option 2:  Drive to the urgent care center/tiny hospital in Kapaa (30 minute drive) and get a urine test.  If it wasn't a UTI, I'd wait for the kidney stone to pass at least for a few more days and then if it didn't, we'd have no choice but to go to the hospital in Lihue.

We waited for the test results and the doctor in this typical exam room.
The cost for option two would be considerably less than option one.  We only have major medical insurance that only pays for hospital stays (100%), not urgent care or doctor visits. 

Yesterday afternoon at 1:15, we headed to the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital (more of an urgent care facility than a hospital) in Kapaa, easily finding it by taking a right turn near the end of the Kauai Path which we visited a few days earlier, before the pain developed.

The process was easy with prompt service, a kindly male nurse and an amazing female doctor, Dr. Betty Dilley.  Within a half hour of our arrival, as we sat in the exam room awaiting the test results, the doctor entered telling us I did in fact have a UTI and that one week on the antibiotic Keflex would take care of it.

We both smiled, relieved that it wasn't more serious,  We then had a laugh fest with the doctor and in no time at all, we were on our way to the business office to pay our bill and then head back to Princeville to the pharmacy at Foodland. 

The receipts for the two prescriptions we purchased yesterday.  Pricey.
Since neither of us had been to a doctor in almost three years, we asked the doctor to renew our Epipen prescription which had long ago expired.  We're both allergic to bees, wasps and hornets.  Australia is filled with these buggers (as Australians would say). At the end of our appointment, Dr. Dilley handed us a prescription for both the antibiotic and the Epipen.

On the way to the business office, we discussed the reality that this was going to be one pricey doctor visit.  Compared to the $1000's it would have cost to go to the hospital, whatever it was, we would be fine.  Let's just pay and get out of here!

I suggested Tom wait for me in the car while I took care of the bill.  I started up a lively conversation with friendly Brenda the billing clerk. We heartily laughed and commiserated while she figured out our bill. 

The moment I sat down at her window she warned me that the fee would be outrageous.  She explained that today we'd pay the hospital charges and later we'd be billed (to our mailing service) for the doctor's intervention which would most likely be under $300.

When she mentioned the total of $456 (excluding the doctor's fee), I cringed.  She looked at me and smiled, saying, "I like you so much I'm going to give you a discount."  However small it may be, I was appreciative.  After a 35% discount (more than I'd expected) the bill was down to $296.40! 

The bill from the urgent care facility in Kapaa, Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital.  Notice the discount we received which was appreciated.
I was so grateful I offered her a  tip which she refused, warmly grabbing my hand and thanking me for our business and the friendly chatter.  Wow! That's Hawaii for you!  These people are amazing!  We'd never have received a discount at the urgent care in our old lives.

Back in the car, I shared the good news with Tom as we headed to Foodland to fill our two prescriptions.  The antibiotic was a reasonable $32.41 and the Epipen two pack was $485!  I almost fell on the floor when I heard that.  There was no way we couldn't buy it.  Its a matter of life and death.

Overall the costs for the day including hospital bill, estimated doctor bill at $300 and two prescriptions totaled $1113.81 plus, while at Foodland, although I wasn't up to par I quickly purchased groceries spending another $232.34 for the day's grand total of $1346.15. 

Now, we have groceries for the next week while I recover. Taking my third dose of the antibiotics upon awakening this morning, I can already tell that I'm on the mend.  Thank goodness. 

Once again, "safari luck" prevailed and this relatively innocuous illness, easily remedied, will be long gone by the time we board the ship, two weeks from tomorrow.  We're leaving Kauai two weeks from today.

Laying low for the next few days, we'll cover our previously mentioned story of sugar plantations in Kauai and before too long be back out and about for more photos.

May all the moms out there have a fabulous Mother's Day!

Photo from one year ago today, May 9, 2014:

We posted this photo last year that surely resonates with our lifestyle.  For details on this post, please click here.


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