Liz's colonic journey

Moving fast

As you know from my last post, things moved very fast in what was supposed to be a leisurely and centred day yesterday. I’d just popped into the webinar, when the surgeon’s rooms called to ‘remind me’ that I was going in for the port insertion at 1pm. I would need an authorisation number from the medical aid and these were the Procedure, ICD and Practice Codes that would be needed by the Medical Aid.  I’d just finished that call when Discovery called to tell me that the chemo treatment has been approved (I had thought it already was) and that it would cost R328 172 and that my plan would cover R192 722. (There was a little confusion with thousands and hundreds until I asked her to read out the numbers one at a time. As most of you know I get confused when there are more than three digits in a number.) My brain couldn’t process this lot. I did wonder whether such expense was justified and kicked myself that this is the reason I’ve been paying med aid contribs all these years.

I confess I panicked a bit, visualising extending the bond and selling all my worldly goods, then remembered the Dread Disease cover on a policy I’d forgotten taking out in the 90’s. When I called the agent – they’d lost track of my contact details (which tells you how long it’s been since I thought of these things). Luckily I had the policy number and she’s now working on updating ‘my portfolio’ and sending me the claim forms. Then I realised that of the balance of the costs not being fully covered, I only get to pay 20% (if I’ve read things right see previous post about the skill of reading T and Cs).

Whilst I was on that phone call the landline rang, with Busi from the Oncology Treatment Centre calling to tell me that the treatment had been approved, and that she was so pleased for me. (What a lovely lady.) Again there was confusion to clear up. The treatment that they were all talking about is the addition of Avastin (a biological) to the Oxaliplatin (the chemo). Getting approval for Avastin (which I see has also been used in macular degeneration) has been difficult.They got it for me. Apparently what it does is ‘bind’ to the tumour receptors cutting off the blood supply to the tumours preventing them from growing. Then the Oxaliplatin zaps the tumours. This seems like a very Good Thing to me. Busi also told me that it’s not usually approved or even applied for, if the oncologist and the scheme don’t think there is a good chance of resection. I felt very heartened by this. She asked when I could come in to start treatment and I told her about the port insertion. “Great,” she said, “that will give us a chance to order your drugs – so 9.00 am on Wednesday, then?” I said yes.

Then it was off to Westville for what I thought was a day clinic procedure.  The part that I don’t understand about the processing is why everyone asks the same questions and fills in a different form, even though there’s a file that goes with you. Moreover, all the details were the same since I went for the colonoscopy, three weeks ago, with the same surgeon. Think of the forests and the time that could be saved if they just had a decent, accessible database. Waitrons can handle mobile data units…?

There was a definite disconnect between Reception, the surgical ward and the theatre. I won’t go into detail here – just that most of my communication with the various, very caring folks I encountered was about what time Pat could fetch me. It was a day clinic procedure after all.  The lass in the bed next to me had been lying in the ward for nearly 2 full days waiting for her surgery. She was still there when I was wheeled down to theatre at 3, and only left for theatre just after I got back at 4. I thought she was rather calm about everything.

While I was waiting the Discovery liaison lady bounced in to welcome me to the oncology programme and to answer any questions I might have. I asked her about the costs of the diagnostic scans I’d had before getting onto the oncology programme and she assured me that I could claim my co-payments back and that she’d email the forms. That was a relief. Also I asked about upgrading my scheme and what the implications were. I thought that was a nice touch – to have pragmatic soothing before surgery. Apparently there’s another Discovery liaison person at the Oncology treatment centre. I’ll meet her tomorrow. That was the clearest communication I had all afternoon.

It became quite funny. I was afraid that the nurses would find me ‘bolshie’, when I got back to the ward, because  I asked for the anaesthetic thingie to be removed, because I was going home now. They were under the impression that I was staying the night and might need it again. I was a bit irritable because my boob was hurting, where the port cable lies just under the skin, so moving my right arm was difficult. (Ever tried capturing a chunk of ice with your left hand when your arm won’t bend because there’s an unconnected tube in it? Satirical, especially if you add the fact that I was lying flat!) I went to the loo – and suddenly things started happening. (Did you know  that that is the secret key?) 

A stern sister came in and said a) you can’t go home until you’ve eaten supper b) until the surgeon tells you that you can, and c)you can’t have a painkiller until you’ve eaten your supper. I had visions of looking at the ceiling for 18 hours. Pat arrived at 5 having been told, when she called at 4:30, that I was still in theatre. I’d heard the phone ring and the answer given and wanted to yell, “I’m here!” but didn’t because everyone else in the ward was asleep. She’d decided to come anyway and stuff the visiting hours rules. She thoughtfully had packed an overnight bag with all the necessities for my sleeping routine – including my goy.

Supper was chicken maccaroni cheese and quite tasty –  I was starving – though I did wonder how they knew I wasn’t a vegetarian. Chicken is a vegetable. right?  That wasn’t a question, of the many, that was asked. Pat tried to get me to eat the gem squash and the jelly and custard, but that was just too much – big meals cause blockages! I ate it and then got dressed – takkies and all. The surgeon came round and asked if I’d manage at home and Pat and  I said yes resoundingly. They took the anaesthetic thing out and the sticky lead connector on my side, did a final blood pressure test and I waved goodbye to all the nice people, still wearing my wrist tags and carrying a plastic bottle with spare parts in it. I figured it’s like when a mechanic changes the spark plugs and they give you the old ones back to prove they’ve done the job. Nothing to sign. It was clear that peeing and eating were the main criteria for passing the ‘go home’ test.

The couch in front of the TV has never looked so inviting or felt so comfortable. Definitely better for my headspace and Pat’s. We looked at the spare parts and decided to photograph them. Profound decision, but symbolic of a victory day I think.


Comments on: "Moving fast" (12)

  1. Now Wednesday morning (26th)….. thoughts and prayers with you Liz, and with Pat, and a comforting hug winging its way to you both. Hope all goes as planned today, and that Day 1 of Round 1 see’s you coming out the winner.
    Much Love

  2. You amaze me. I am so proud of how you have handled the day despite the bureaucracy. But what amazes me most is that you are able to laugh about it. I am glad that there are positive vibes form this treatment and that most importantly you feel positive about what it can do. The bit about the nurses “knowing” you are not a vegetarian too funny. Thank you for being so strong and for being who you are despite this huge change in your life. Sending you all the love and healing there is in the world. I would like to also thank Pat for being the one chosen to be by your side always, obviously the universe knew what it was doing when it put you two together. You two are like a solved complicated mathematical equation, much love to Pat. I am grateful for you and to you for being you. I know you will strongly be back on your feet again, splurging out those OLOGY words again. There is no way this cancer entity will survive with all the prayers and love we are all sending you. We all love you very much. . .

  3. Sjoe, the beaurocracy seems mindboggling.. I salute you for surviving today with grace and humour! I send you Reiki at night when I go to bed – I fall asleep that way. And sometimes again when I wake in the night, until I sleep again. So before you fall asleep, tune in for just a minute to the prayers and energy and healing thoughts we are all sending you – all this will not only help you sleep peacefully, it will also enter your subconscious and your being while you snooze. Marixxx

  4. @}>-‘-,– (a rose) for you and a @}>-‘-,– for Pat

  5. Thinking of you tomorrow x

  6. Liz, your Inimitable concern for others is amazing at any time, and unbelievable at a time like this. Good to know that Discovery are on hand to detail important information, and hope it all goes your way. Keep the Spare Parts as Symbols of Victory.

  7. Joan Conolly said:

    Dear Liz, I am bewildered just reading it all!!! And, like you, I am more than mildly indignant about the trees …. bless you for thinking of them at a time like this …

    I am so glad that you did manage to get home, to a comfy couch and TV and Pat.

    Today’s drizzly day is just right for a cuddly duvet and hot drinks. So i hope that you have both.

    You might like to know that we have a prayer circle going … 6am every morning, we are sending you the Best Vibrations in the World, so if you are awake, you can tune in and receive!

    I send love and blessings to You Both, the Four Footed Furries, and all the Feathered and Finny ones as well, Joan

  8. Bolshie and Liz in the same sentence – doesnt compute!! But oh the conversations sound very familiar – and all done with a smile – I agree with Sioux – a slap here and there would be a compulsion methinks! Sounds as though you were on the ball though – and a very necessary thing indeed. The couch seems like a very good place to recover though.

  9. Sounds like a hectic day. You seem to have managed the bureaucratic nonsense with enormous grace – I’d have wanted to slap a few people along the way. Love the pics of the spare parts!

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