Colin’s doctor said he was well enough to go back to the rehab centre on Tuesday, and perhaps allowing for red tape, it was supposed to be Wednesday at the very latest. Colin was just unwilling to stay another night of not being able to do anything other than be kept awake by terrible sounds of ICU and people fighting for their lives, and he seemed to sink more and more into his sadness, and expressed HUGE frustration and anger at not being able to do anything to help himself, to expedite the process, and not even be able to do anything at all. He had reached his limit and the time had come for a change.
I arrived to see Colin just after 2:20pm (after waiting no less than 48 minutes trying to turn the corner of Witkoppen and Cedar because of selfish driving compounded by the most ridiculous, both sides at once, road works you have ever seen) and Colin asked me to help sort the process out. After MUCH phoning and phoning again, and phoning again, again, with no one answering at the rehab centre, on ANY of the numbers, I finally got hold of the medical aid person to help me expedite the bureaucratic process that seemed to stall at the rehab centre with no one willing to talk to me, call me back, or even try to help. After some investigation at Fourways, I set about calling the rehab centre. No one answered the phone. Again, and again and again. It took me an hour calling the number to finally get to speak to a human being. I left no less than 7 voice messages with different people. I had also left 3 messages on Tuesday (the day before, and still have not had the courtesy of a reply. Eventually I got through to the case manager who said to me (at 3:40pm) that it was too late in the day and that everyone who could help was already gone and we would just have to wait. After all logic had failed with her, I called my case manager at the medical aid and told her that we were concerned that Colin was going to spend another night in the ICU when the doc had said he should be gone early on Tuesday, which meant at least another day and a half in the ICU which was an unnecessary expense as well as an unnecessary risk of infection; not to mention taking up a bed for someone who really needed it. She immediately was on the job and trying to help me and see where the bottle neck was.
After me still trying to get hold of the rehab to say that I had the medical aid authorisation number and that the medical aid wanted him out of the ICU and back at rehab, and left another series of messages even at the switchboard where no one seems to answer the bloody phone. By this time, I had long lost my cherub-like demeanour and was starting to be very prickly and snappy and loudy-shouty. Needless to say this didn’t really go down well, but they had heard the words “medical aid unwilling to pay for an necessary night, and it seemed like something started to click. I spoke to the case manager again and told her I had the auth number and that the transfer had to happen today. That was at about 4:10pm. After using the line – “but I have the auth number, here it is”, like a broken record, she gave in and said she would speak to the matron and see if they could make an exception and have him arrive after 4. She then took the auth number and said we could go ahead.
The ICU manager then helped me by doing whatever it is they need to do to arrange an ambulance and it all seemed like it was going to happen within an hour or two.
After another hour and a half, the ambulance people called back and said they were unable to come fetch him because they had called the rehab and they said they would not accept him as there was no auth. After breathing slowly and counting to 100, I firmly (probably really loudly and rudely) said I had the auth number, their own case manager had the auth number, and even the matron had said it was ok. They said they were unable to help, as they were not willing to go there and be turned away. Fair enough, but by now I had had enough. I broke down into sobbing all over Colin who is already not in a good place because he has not been able to do his exercises, has been unable to do anything other than lie there and watch the world go past him, ignoring him, and not even chatting to him; so we cried together a bit, and when my sobs subsided I redoubled my efforts. Now, it was on.
I called the rehab centre, and luckily (for me, or for the man at the other end) he answered immediately. I carefully explained the whole story again, but he said there was nothing he could do. I had to speak to another person, and he tried to put me through to her. Her phone went to voice mail so I left a very stern message asking her to call me back urgently and explaining the situation). I called the man back, and after trying several times, I managed to get him. I explaind that the lady was not available, but the medical aid had authorised it, etc, and he said he was leaving at 7pm (an hour and three quarters away) but that he would wait. I then called the ambulance people back and told them. They tried to call him to get confirmation, but he didn’t answer the phone. Again, and again, and again. I asked the ambulance dispatcher to let me try call and see what I could do. I eventually got hold of the man again, and asked him if he could please call the dispatcher so they would send the ambulance. He said he was willing to do that, and he would wait for us. He also apologised and i thanked him. I don’t think it was his fault, but I appreciated the apology. He then called me back and said that he had spoken to the dispatcher and that it was all go.
After another hour, the ICU manager followed up to see if the ambulance was still coming – apparently it was. Around 7pm or so, I called again and the dispatcher said they were not coming as the rehab man didn’t call back. I started crying again. Great big snot tears. I carefully explained the situation to him and he said “oh yes, I can see it on the notes here. I will dispatch it now.”
BY now, I just don’t know what to do, but there is nothing to do but wait. Eventually, the ambulance arrived just after 8pm. But then, for some reason, although it had been signed off by the ICU manager, the handover had not been done so the ambulance drivers had to wait an hour and a half while the nurse who had nothing to do with it ran around trying to sort it all out. I really wanted to go with Colin and make sure he was settled in, but by the time the ambulance left – 9:45pm – I just wanted to come home and sleep.
I continue to be baffled at how “not my job” people can be, while others will go the extra mile. The only thing that is keeping me going tonight is that Colin really wants to go back to rehab so he can start working on his recovery again.
It is also so surprising that when the medical aid is paying people just don’t rush. Even though the money is not physically coming out of my pocket, or theirs, doesn’t mean that they don’t have to so things correctly.
After a completely disheartening day and evening, Colin and I have decided that we will have a braai at the rehab in the gardens on Sunday.
I am grateful for kind people, generosity, and my loving and supportive hubby. He is the one going through this terrible time, but today he was there for me. <3