You know me – you know I like to have a good whinge now and then.
Well, now is one of those times! Sorry – it’s going to be a long one!
When I was expecting V, I chose my ob/gyn based on the fact that the clinic was right next to school. It meant I was able to go straight for my appointments after the school day and then head home. I had been to this clinic several times prior to being pregnant – when LagosDad and I were doing all our fertility tests, etc. So I was happy to go back there.
On the other hand, my parents and in-laws, and LagosDad actually, didn’t want anyone to know about the pregnancy until I was in my 2nd trimester. So if no one is meant to know you’re pregnant, how are you meant to ask advice on which doctor to see?
Anyway, so I made my choice and was quite happy. I went there at about 7 or 8 weeks to have a blood test to confirm. Then the doctor saw me at 10 weeks for an ultrasound. At 13 weeks I was referred to Crestview Radiology Ltd for my nuchal scan and I had to go back there for my 20 week anomaly scan. The clinic didn’t have the staff or expertise or machinery or whatever else to do it in-house. And that was fine.
Before 13 weeks I had to pay each time I saw the doctor. The consultation, the blood test, the scan – all was charged separately.
After 13 weeks we paid about N120000 ($750) that included all appointments, medication, scans and antenatal classes every other week until week 32. At 31 weeks I collected my ‘Fit-to-fly’ letter and left for London.
The only problem I had throughout all this was the waiting times. It didn’t matter what time I made my appointment for (usually afternoon because I was at school until 2pm), I always had to wait about an hour to be seen. ALWAYS. It didn’t bother me too much at that time because I wasn’t rushing to do anything. Work was done for the day. I didn’t have a kid to rush home to or to pick up from nursery. Nothing.
Now this time round… I came back to Lagos from Dubai at 9 weeks. We delayed a couple of weeks because I’d had some bleeding and was advised to see a specialist before travelling (more on this at another time). So we came back mid-week and a couple of days later I started bleeding again.
I panicked and called a friend and asked her who I should go see. I had kind of mentally decided that I wouldn’t go back to my previous ob/gyn as I’d initially only chosen him because he was near school. My friend recommended another doctor. I called his clinic and couldn’t get an appointment for two weeks! Not knowing what to do, I called my first clinic and they told me if I came right away they’d let me see the doctor before the 1st appointment of the day (10am).
I went there and was kind of glad to be there. I know the layout, how it works, etc. It sounds silly – but the ‘not-knowing’ about things worries me!
I waited an hour before seeing the Dr. After all the initial paperwork stuff – DoB, LMP, EDD, etc. I showed him the reports I’d brought with me from Dubai – including ultrasound pictures (which the Dr in Dubai told me were necessary so that any other Dr could see what had happened). He did an ultrasound. Everything was fine. He gave me a picture and told me to ‘add it to my photo album’. Then I had a blood test and he told me to book in for my nuchal scan and to see him again in four weeks.
I paid for the consultation, the ultrasound and the blood test. Altogether, it came to about N36000 ($220), I think. I don’t remember, exactly.
A few days later I received an email from another doctor at the clinic asking me to call them as they had my blood test results and weren’t able to get in touch with me. I realised that I’d changed my phone number around the time of V’s first birthday and hadn’t updated my records. Anyway, so I called them and everything was fine. I explained to the doctor that my phone number had changed and I could I update my records while speaking with her. She said to just wait until the next time I came in (for my nuchal scan).
When I booked my nuchal scan, they told me it could only be done on a Tuesday as they had someone who came in to do it and that I would have to pay N35000 ($215) I was surprised that they didn’t refer me to Crestview again, but it had been four years and things do change! So I was booked in on February 18th at 6pm. It was the only (and last one of the day) slot left.
I couldn’t wait for this day to come round – it was only after this scan that we were going to start telling people that we were expecting!
So – come the 18th and LagosDad left work early to come and pick me up. We arrived at the clinic and I was told, ‘Oh – didn’t anyone contact you? We’ve had to move some of the scans until tomorrow because there were too many booked for today.’ They then went on about how my phone number wasn’t working. Yes, true. But if they could email before, why couldn’t they do it again? They gave us an option of two times – either one was fine with me, but LagosDad had meetings all day and had to move his schedule around. We took the 1.30pm appointment. I was so disappointed.
We went back the next day in plenty of time. And we waited and waited and waited. It was 4pm before we were seen. Why did we have to wait so long? LagosDad kept complaining and the receptionist kept apologising. When we finally saw the sonographer he also apologised. I think he arrived late from wherever he was before. In fact, I know this is true. LagosDad saw him arrive when he popped out for a cigarette. I didn’t particularly like him very much. It irritated me that he kept leaning his arm on my leg while doing the ultrasound. But anyway, at least everything was ok. He booked me in for my anomaly scan for April right then and gave me the first appointment of the day (10am) so that I wouldn’t have to wait. One of the doctors called me the next day to apologise. I appreciated that.
At my booking-in appointment I paid N20000 ($100). I thought this was a booking-in fee so I didn’t question it. I couldn’t (and still can’t) remember how the payments worked last time. A different doctor saw me this time (after I waited an hour) and I went through all the same questions I’d gone through at 9 weeks. Previous pregnancies, LMP, EDD, etc. etc. etc. Didn’t he look at my file? He gave me some iron pills, calcium pills and some anti-malaria medication and told me to come back in four weeks.
I made sure that I booked the first appointment of the day (10am) for my next appointment. And yet, I still had to wait an hour to be seen. I just don’t get it?? I wasn’t asked to pay anything this time and thought since I’d paid at my booking-in appointment they would ask me for a lump sum, or for payment at week 32 or something. The doctor didn’t do an ultrasound – he just used the doppler thingy. This was the appointment where I told the doctor about my pain, by the way. He told me to book an appointment to see him in four weeks. I was disappointed that he didn’t do an ultrasound, but then thought it was a good thing that I’d at least heard the heartbeat.
When I went to book my next appointment, the receptionist told me that the anomaly scan would no longer be there, but at another clinic nearby. She said someone would call me the day before with the address and directions, etc.
It was about two or three weeks later when I started panicking about not feeling any movement – so I took myself off to Crestview and had a scan. The receptionist asked me what kind of scan I wanted – I told her I just wanted to check everything was ok. She said that would be N10000 ($50). They were quick and efficient. I was happy.
On Tuesday I went for my anomaly scan. The clinic sent me a text message the night before (at midnight) giving me the address and directions. We got there five minutes late (no thanks to LagosDad). As soon as we arrived the security turned on the generator. Clue number 1 that no one was there.
This clinic was brand new (it’s been open since February)- and it was totally empty except for one nurse. She asked if I’d been referred from XX clinic, I said, ‘yes’. She took all my details (even though they already had them all on file). She wrote everything down on the tiniest scrap of paper and then took my blood pressure. We then waited about 40 minutes for the sonographer to show up. He hadn’t arrived yet.
When he did arrive, he went upstairs to set up. When we followed he started asking me all the same questions again. I figured this was because all my details were on his computer, which the nurse was trying to start up and he was trying to waste a bit of time. Then she couldn’t find my file.
He told me the scan wouldn’t take long – probably only five minutes. I looked at him and said, ‘Only five minutes?’ I was a bit annoyed. I’d waited so bloody long and he wanted to take only five minutes? For an anomaly scan? I don’t think so. He realised this and said, ‘But you know, it could take longer. Maybe five minutes or maybe one hour. It depends on what I find.’ He then went on to drag everything out – repeating himself and just generally wasting more time. I was not impressed. There were no air conditioners on anywhere – apart from in the waiting area, and I found the sonographer to be disorganised and a little unprofessional. He did that whole leaning his arm on my leg thing again!
We said goodbye when they finally finished and went downstairs. We said goodbye to the nurse at the desk as well and left. No one asked for any payment and I didn’t ask if I was meant to pay.
Maybe this doesn’t sound all that irritating to you. Maybe you’re thinking, ‘What’s she complaining about?’ But it’s all annoyed me. But yesterday is what annoyed me more than anything else. Maybe it was just the icing on the cake. I was ready to have a full on tantrum.
I had a 10am appointment at the clinic. The cashier asked me to pay N20000 ($100). I paid and then asked her what I was paying for. She said that I have to pay N20000 each time I want to see the doctor. I told her that when I was coming to the clinic before I paid a lump sum at the beginning and why didn’t I do that now? She said, ‘Oh. It’s because you’re nearly at the end.’ Am I? Really? I told her I was only 21 weeks. She said, ‘Ok, would you like to pay the N120000 then?’ I told her no, I didn’t. But I wanted to know why it was never an option. Why didn’t anyone mention it to me before or give me the choice?
To be honest, I think I’ve spent less this way. But I’m wondering if I’ve received the same quality of care I would have if I’d have paid the lump sum.
I had my vitals taken and then waited an hour to see the doctor. I walked in and saw my file on his desk. And he always inputs everything in his computer while talking to me. Or is he actually on Facebook or playing Solitaire? He asked me when my last menstrual period was and then picked up his calendar to calculate how many weeks I am. SERIOUSLY?? ISN’T ANYONE READING MY FILE??? HOW MANY TIMES WILL HE ASK ME THE SAME QUESTION WHEN THE ANSWER IS RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIM??? No bloody wonder my blood pressure was elevated! He asked if I had any complaints. *snort* Told him of the pain again and said I felt like I was being ripped apart. He told me to buy a pelvic support belt. Finally – advice! I asked him if I would find one easily and he said, ‘Probably not.’ Great. Thanks. Again – no ultrasound – just the doppler. I was out in five minutes and made an appointment for four weeks’ time.
I realised that he wasn’t doing any ultrasounds because I’d not paid that N120k.
But you know what – and LagosDad agreed – I’m not going back there again. In four weeks – or whenver I feel like it, I’ll go to Crestview, pay half the amount, wait half the time and get better service.
There’s only another couple of appointments to go until I leave for London, anyway.
And I can’t wait.
I’ve had enough