Thursday, March 24, 2011

What's in my cup

I like to touch myself. I believe it's healthy to be familiar with your body, lest you develop a third eye (not the good, all-seeing self-actualization kind) and you didn't know.

I was in Mombasa one year, enjoying the repressive blanket of heat that constantly covers that coastal town, when I noticed a swelling in my boob. (And why did I notice? Because I like to touch myself. It all comes together now, ay.) I was like, um. There's, like, a swelling. In my boob. There wasn't one before, was there?

There wasn't. So I started to mildly panic. I say mildly because I'm those silly people who think it can never happen to me. Insolent, and ignorant. But I guess you're so rooted in denial that something, anything, could marr the orderly structure of your not-so-perfect life, that you automatically refuse any threats to it.

I stayed with the lump in my breast for quite a while. I didn't do anything about it until the next year (it was December, I did something about it in January). Why did I wait, other than paralysing fear?

I didn't have insurance. And even worse for me was the thought that something may actually be wrong and I would be in NO WAY financially equipped to deal with such a catastrophe. SO I got insurance, THEN I went to the doctor's.

The coonsultation fee was 2000. Then I had to have an ultrasound instead of a mammogram, because I haven't had any babies. That was 4000. My heart was pounding within my chest the whole time. I was fearful, but detached. By the time she put that cold fluid on my breast, I had set myself up to accept whatever the outcome was going to be; mostly, because I would have no choice.

"It's not cancerous," she said. Something broke within me and I almost wept. " It's a fibroadenoma (sp?)." Which is apparently just a normal lump that happens in women, sometimes. Or something. The point is, it wasn't cancer!! P. H. E. W. (X. Lol.)

I felt fortunate to not have had to go through that. But how many women go through the same thing and fid out it IS cancer? Several, of course. Worse still, how many don't go to get checked - not because they don't want to, but because they can't? I didn't have insurance, but I could get it. How about those who really, would not be able to afford the 6000 shillings needed for a consultation and an ultrasound?

The healthcare system in Kenya saddens me imensely, mostly because it's easy for an outsider looking in to believe that it only caters to the elite, those who can afford it. I have no idea what is being done about it, and no idea what a common mwananchi would do. Someone needs to educate me: what is being done to make healthcare more affordable? Is free healthcare a feasible plan, or an unachieavable ideal? What can we do? Because there is someone out there just like me who has a lump, and is frightened terribly, and feels completely powerless; and if the government can't help, maybe the people can. Maybe the people should.




  1. happened to me. i was more than terrified to say the least kwanza that one month to get a date with the breast person-doc whatever they are called, uh uh. but i thank God twas negative.but i enjoyed the ultrasound but not the biopsy, horror!

  2. You just made me remember how completely scared my ex was when she had a Fibroadenoma. And the stupid doc hadnt bothered explain to her it wasnt cancerous. Thank God for google.

  3. Lumpy bumps in lady humps...

    But yeah...I know there was a drive to implement universal healthcare at the cost of 65 bob a month that would afford in and outpatient care for pretty much every Kenyan.

    Prof Nyongo made a spectacular fuckup of selling the concept though. I do believe its on going with NHIF being the principal institution backing up that plan.

    Lets see how it goes.

  4. I find myself getting angry whenever the govt says there's no money where Kenyans are concerned, and i mean Kenyans: the ordinary citizen we encounter day to day. At this point in time I have such hatred for the govt and policy makers i don't believe they really are from our mother who is Kenya.
    The irony being even the Minister for health doesn't believe in the healthcare system he heads. What i don't get is why the anger isn't showing. We are all angry at our parliament and the govt, so why aren't we showing it to them in all its uninhibited abrasiveness?
    Is it ok that we are at a point where if anyone gets admitted in hospital we don't really expect them to come out upright? That we have been reduced to that primitive level where the death of another human being, hell, somebody close, is an ordinary occurrence?
    We are human beings and it's about time we demanded the type of services we deserve as human beings. But the biggest question is: Who shall cast the first stone and get the revolution going?

  5. 1st of all... P.H.E.W.K.S!!
    secondly: I once read that Kenya's annual government Budget, the one read by the finance minister for hours in parliament, is the same amount as The New York State Universities annual budget...figure that.
    Thirdly, number 2 above made me realize kenya sucks!

  6. I'm happy for you, Ms tSN. You raise an interesting question. I remember when I thought I may have stomach cancer (it turned out to be bilharzia. WTF) and had to pay 27K for an endoscopy at Nai Hosp. From my very first salary, no less. It was painful, to say the least. Two years later, the 'what ifs?' keep plaguing me and I also kept wondering what if the diagnosis went south and I didn't have parents that could bail me out (to some extent).

    Btw, NHIF works (to some extent). Folks are just unaware (NHIF's fault). People should speak to their employers.

  7. I can relate to this on so many levels: patient, doctor, long-suffering citizen...

    First up, I empathise with the whole situation, the diagnostic nightmare, I'm glad in the end, everything turned out good.

    Second, it sucks that healthcare in Kenya is heavily hierarchical. The majority are not getting proper healthcare because they cannot afford it. It's also sad that the people that control healthcare provision are selfish bastards that are only in it for themselves. I try and get involved in medical camps and things like that, offering free healthcare to people that would otherwise not be able to afford it but aside from consultation and curing small illnesses, that admittedly isn't really making much of an impact.

    I think about this a lot especially lately, what can I do to contribute to a revolution in our healthcare system, so far sadly, no answers.

  8. i've been having one for like, two months now. at the base of my right boob and i'v never thought of going to have it checked. mainly because i'm afraid the lump might be cancerous or just a kigrowth... i just decided to not know, than to know and get worse due to stress. i only get to know about it after ovulation coz it becomes painful, but when the red robot departs, the pain is mild and sometimes there's no pain at all...

    to cut the whole thing short, most wmen would rather, not know. and the 6k is a lot to some....i know a few who wait for the BC month to see if the check ups are's messed up. and sad.

  9. Sweetie,I feel you need to go get that checked. When I had my lump I asked a doctor friend of mine and she said that sometimes lumps show up around ovulation,so it could be nothing,but then know? Babe,you'd rather find out mapema.

  10. Pheewks!!!

    I have had those moments too... panic attacks sending me helter to the doctor's ...But as you say, makes you wonder ..what if....

  11. There was the suggeted healthcare solution that would have meant an additional tax on the citizenry. I don't feel that the money I already give in tax is used well enough to justify my coughing up more money, regardless of how good intentioned it is. And there is the obvious fear that it would go to fuel someone's campaign anyway!

  12. I had a fibroadenoma when I was 17. I don't usually panic and think the worst, but it was a bit scary especially since I was so young. I got checked and had it removed as it was growing rapidly. I found more lumps later, but they aren't a problem but at least it taught me to check my girls (boobs) and to speak to others about it. As for healthcare in Kenya, I'd love for it to be sorted but you know how asking for anything good fro our government is always too big a task for them.

  13. As you start with how you like to touch yourself. That’s quite the capturing line, lol! But yes, heslthcare in this country is outrageous. The expense is unbearable for most of the population hence I’m trying my best to take care of myself by watching my diet and being as healthy as possible. Sickness like poverty, is too damn expensive! I’m a firm believer in ‘the responsibility lies with you’, so I take it upon myself for those around me. I may not be able to pay your hospital bills but i can tell how to avoid the place all together.