Saturday, April 28, 2007

trials and tribulations, cont.d

I'm just back from Johannesburg, South Africa - been on a mission of mercy. My poor father has been diagnosed with multiple myeloma and is already in a fairly advanced stage: he's been in hospital with a severe bout of pneumonia and septicaemia. He was initially expected to pass away over the Easter weekend, but a change of meds pulled him through.

So, I have been resident for the last few weeks in my parents' retirement home - with no internet access and therefore no blogging.

Of course, I was out there last year aound this time, for about three months. He had had a stroke and a fall and broke the C1 vertebra. The hospital he was admitted to - a very zooty northern suburbs one - did not diagnose the stroke or the myeloma. I learn from my reading now that fractures are a primary indicator of myeloma (and advanced age and maleness), as are opportunistic infections of the lungs and renal system (both of which he contracted in a big way immediately upon entering the hospital for 'tests' - he was in their ICU for 8 weeks). So it is not comforting that they missed it, but of course we can't really complain as the condition is incurable anyway.

So. Poor old mum is not accepting the prognosis at all, so that was difficult. But on top of all this she was served with a court summons from last year's doctor alleging non-payment of his bill!! So I had that to sort as well. Luckily a close friend in Johannesburg is an attorney.

The SA medical system has given me a new-found respect for the NHS. SA is completely privatised, so everyone has to have medical insurance. Every medical practice handles their accounts differently, and the practices sometimes claim directly from the medicial insurers and sometimes don't, depending. Neither speaks to the patient, and if you ring the insurers it is typical call-centre hell. Chaos!

Anyway, we gritted teeth and dug deep and discovered Dr M had in fact been overpaid by the medical aid - significantly so. And my mother, confused by the doctor's accounts department badgering, had paid the patient portion three times over. Taken together, the bill was paid literally twice over. And now Dr M is trying for a triple!

One doesn't know whether the good doctor is trying his luck with an elderly and confused patient, or whether his own accounts department is up to something - unfortunately, I gather neither scenario is unheard of. I have compiled all our evidence into a summary of payments and our lawyer is taking to their lawyers.

It's all just beyond belief.

Jo'burg was looking good - had a look at the inner city and felt it was very clean and spruce. The municipality's regeneration project is clearly taking effect. We still had heavy thunderstorms in the afternoons, a typical summer weather pattern for Jozi but very odd for autumn.

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