Friday, September 30, 2011

September 30, 2011 - Unusual Allergy and other stories

Two weeks ago Charles was sick with a cough and some wheezing when he breathed.  We sent him to a doctor at a clinic that he likes to go to, who apparently said that Charles was allergic to the cold.

Me: "I'm sorry, you're allergic to coal?"

Charles: "He says I am allergic to the COLD.  He gave me three medicines to take and I have to go back to see him next week.  If I am not better I have to get a chest x-ray to see if I have asthma."

Allergic to the cold.  Chest x-ray to diagnose asthma.  These are things I've never heard of before.  It is hard to know whether that is what the doctor really said, or just what Charles heard.  Honestly.

Charles' cough stopped right away and he said he was feeling better, although not quite acting like himself. He went to the doctor last week who told him that he was better but not completely fine, and he should take one more week of medication, get a chest x-ray because he might have a serious condition of asthma, and then come back.  I have to admit, in these situations with Charles I have to try really hard to keep a straight face.  Further conversation revealed that he is really afraid of having asthma. I don't know where the fear came from or if he even knows what asthma is!  I tried to explain to him the things I know about asthma and how it is diagnosed ("Maybe it is different in Kenya but in our country asthma is not usually diagnosed with a chest x-ray."), and that I'm sure that's not it because he is already so much better since taking the cough medicine.

But still, he was really worried and went for the chest x-ray, which revealed that he has pneumonitis (which is some inflammation in his lungs, but is not actual pneumonia).  The story gets murky after that because he told me that the doctor said he needed two weeks of (very expensive) antibiotics.  After discussing it with Kristoffer, I told him that we thought that was extreme considering that his symptoms were gone.  I said one week of antibiotics is something we would consider, but that we were not going to buy two weeks of antibiotics for a not-that-serious condition.  Then he came back and said, "Actually, the doctor said one more week of cough medicine and THEN a week of antibiotics," which of course makes absolutely no sense.  I told him, "Let's just see how you are next week."

Please don't think I'm just really mean - Kenyans and Kenyan doctors are known for over-medicating.  They believe antibiotics will cure everything when, as we learned when I was very sick and was incorrectly given antibiotics in the ER, that is not the case.

So this week.  Charles tells me that he has pains in his chest when he breathes.  

Me: "Do you want to go back to the doctor so he can check you out and see if it is related to the pneumonitis."

Charles:  "Yes. I think it's because you didn't buy me that other medicine."

He then goes back to that quack doctor who supposedly tells him, "if you still have pains tomorrow come back and I'll know exactly what medicines to give you".  Note that for some reason the doctor didn't charge him for the visit and that what he supposedly said makes absolutely no sense (Kristoffer wonders if Charles was really taking care of "other business" during working hours with our car). Charles goes the next day and is given one week of (very expensive) antibiotics and one week of painkillers.  

This bizarre medical drama coupled with the collapse of Charles' stove business, means Charles is sort of in the dog house of our minds right now.  That stove story goes like this:

Charles told me, the same day as going to the doctor, that he had given his nephew, Steve, a lot of cash (about $150) to take to the bank to deposit for the purchase of more stoves to sell.  This money came from the other stoves he sold (which we bought we our "seed" money).  He said he was very excited to purchase more stoves.   

A few hours later he tells me: "I haven't heard from Steve and can't get in touch with him.  I hope everything is OK."

Then yesterday he tells Kristoffer that Steve was robbed of all of that cash and his cell phone when he was on his way to deposit the money at the bank.


We think there are 2 possible scenarios here.

Scenario A:  It is a true story, and a terrible coincidence.

Scenario B: It is not a true story.

Sadly, we are leaning towards Scenario B.  We suspect - as Kristoffer started to suspect a few weeks ago, actually - that Charles used his stove funds to help his mother pay for the land she wanted to buy with the money from the tree that that other guy chopped down, or for some other non-stove-related reason.  We also suspect that Charles wants us to reimburse him that money to continue his stove business, which we will absolutely not do.  It was his responsibility to save (and/or guard) the money and reinvest it into the business; regardless of how that money is now gone, we are not a bottomless well.

Last night we were really sad about it, because it was a fantastic opportunity for him and his family and we really wanted it to work out for them.  But they'll have to find another way now. 

I'm hoping next week is a better week for us with Charles.


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