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Neu and I have been going backwards and forwards to Fortaleza to see a Nephrologist, a specialist in kidney problems. Our first visit to Doctor M. cost us R$180.00, this gave us the right to come back and see him within one month without having to pay again. Doctor M. is extremely kind and very good at explaining what is happening to Neu and what we need to do in order to stabilise Neu’s condition. Although Neu has lost 60 % of his kidney function, Dr M. assures us that, provided Neu’s blood pressure comes down and he responds to the treatment and therefore doesn’t lose any more function, Neu can live a normal life with the remaining 40%. Neu has to follow a no salt, low protein diet (something that is extremely hard for him, having lived on a very salty high protein diet all his life) and take a cocktail of drugs to lower his blood pressure and cholesterol. At some point he will need a kidney biopsy to find out exactly what is going on with his kidneys. As Neu has no private health insurance, we have had to pay for all his doctors, the multitude of tests and the scan, its all been fairly costly, just getting to Fortaleza is a financial strain, and as Doctor M. banned Neu from fishing until his blood pressure is under control, the money side of things is a real issue for us. Neu had his second (free) visit and the Doctor said he would have to come back the following week when he hoped to be able to tell us how much the biopsy would cost, he must have seen the colour draining from my face, because he said from now on he wouldn’t be charging us for treating Neu, my relief was so enormous I had a hard job not crying. Neu asked if the doctor liked fish and, to show his gratitude for the free treatment, on the next visit he took a huge Cavalo (one of the best fish in Neu’s opinion) on ice in a polystyrene box, Dr M. looked very pleased, we think it the least we could do and consider ourselves very, very lucky to have met such a lovely man.

©Claire Pattison Valente 2009