Necessity is the mother of invention, so it is said.
For Dr Vladimir Shchukin and his wife Dr Lyudmila Shchukina, this adage proved to be true in their choice of medical practice.
The couple are the brains behind Holistic Living; a weight loss clinic located at 5th Avenue building in Nairobi’s Upper Hill.
Holistic Living was registered as medical practice at the start of the new millennium. The couple began their practice in Kisumu, before moving to Eldoret, finally settling in Nairobi.
“It is around that time that obesity was becoming prominent in Kenya,” Dr Shchukina says.
Shchukina trained as an obesity specialist while in Ukraine. She studied non-surgical methods of tackling obesity, including psychological correction of eating habits, termed as psychotherapy.
When the wellness center was first registered, it mainly addressed non-surgical methods of treating obesity as well as healthy lifestyles.
Today, Holistic Living offers a range of surgical services: gastric balloon, gastric sleeve, gastric bypass and gastric band.
Ironically, Dr Shchukin suffered from obesity himself and struggled to lose weight. He would undergo gastric sleeve surgery (one among other bariatric surgeries) to lose weight, having grown fat and unhealthy himself.
He says: “Over the years I had grown fat without noticing it. But it reached a point when my health began failing and my wife and children persuaded me to get back to good health.”
Dr Shchukin was operated on by one of his medical school professors in Sweden in 2015. At the time, Dr Shchukin says, he couldn’t find a specialized bariatric surgeon in Kenya to operate on him.
Prior to his surgical treatment Dr Shchukin had been training on bariatric surgery: a range of surgeries spanning from gastric band to gastric sleeve.
“We don’t have so many specialized bariatric surgeons,” he says. “I realized that if at Holistic Living we could provide surgical services – at affordable costs – and provide Kenyans an option to be treated here (at home) so that they don’t have to fly abroad it would make sense.”
At Holistic Living, Dr Shchukina says, obesity patients has the advantage of pre-treatment analysis, “to ascertain their journey – how they got to obesity – then devising the best treatment schedule specific to them.”
Surgery, in medical treatment, is usually the last resort.
“With our course of Lifestyle Coaching and Calculation of Calories, we train the mind subconsciously to change its attitude towards food; essentially reverse-engineering one’s mind and cutting off this excessive dependency,” says Dr Shchukin.
Patients who visit Holistic Living have different reasons why they do so. Some want to ‘look beautiful’ while some want to improve the quality of life.
“Ultimately, for us, it is about wellness and healthy living,” Dr Shchukina says.