Managing One’s Illness

1 Jan

The gust of wind that was my initial diagnosis swept all of my immediate family into a whirlwind of medical activity.  Even before the dust had settled we realized that we were traveling through a medical maze that was so foreign. But to administer the quagmire there was no time to mess about.

When all’s well, it’s amazing how we can bash the Government and its institutions. Looking back over the year, I’m in awe of how help is available. It’s a pity I had to learn the hard way. May be this blog can help others that have to go down the same road.

Pancreatic cancer is classified in Israel as a “serious” illness. My natural skepticism took its toll until I realized that this classification isn’t discretionary – but you need a myriad of forms for various offices. Many over-lap because of financial implications.

I’ll split the task into two – starting with administration (in alphabetic order); managing the medical aspect will come later. Who said “Divide and conquer”?  

– Employment Doctor

      A key player. In a world of fraudulent insurance claims, he’s the man who decides whether you’re fit to work or not. A decision-maker with a medical committee – a busy man. Long lead times to get an appointment. His list of documentation may seem unreasonable but his authorization is needed almost everywhere. So don’t disappoint him. Come well prepared.

– Enforced Retirement

      My retirement had instant financial impact; my monthly salary being replaced by a small pension. But there were hand-outs. Money was due to me for holidays and sick-leave not taken. My wife had also stopped working so as to be at my side – the temptation was to take the money as soon as possible. Read on to see why this was not in my best interest.

– Family Doctor

      Another key player who must be kept in the picture. He’s less hands-on medically because of specialists and me being treated in hospital – but he’s vital for form-filling and obtaining the omnipotent “Form 17” – the form that means your Health Fund will pick up the tab. You have to build the right relationship with the doctor himself and his secretary in particular. Getting forms by fax is a real time-saver.

– Health Fund

      My Health Fund provides for home-help. Unbeknown to me was the fact that a monthly sum is payable to a spouse, if they provide the home-help – all contingent on the degree of incapacity. We just had to wait patiently for a home visit and inevitable form-filling. But the financial gap showed its first sign of closing.

– Medical Insurance

     I mentioned the importance of insurance in my blog on BRCA 2 [11]. If you’re fortunate to have cover – then you’ve got to keep abreast of the claims. Keep receipts, submit them on time, ensure that they’re paid in full. Not everyone’s cup of tea.

– Ministry of Transport

      This was a surprise. The Ministry of Transport can provide an invalid badge for your car. Another long procedure but the benefits of easy parking are invaluable. And learning where you can park legally is full of pleasant surprises.

– Pension Fund

      I’m sitting at home one day last March, and I receive an annual statement from my pension fund. One of those multi-page documents with too many numbers – even for an accountant. But boredom had to be killed before something happened to me. Then I came across a clause which said “Payment in cases of incapacity”. The financial gap showed signs of closing even further. Pension funds have their medical committees – I’ll leave the detail for a different blog. The end result turned out in my favour – which is why taking my retirement hand-outs would not have been financially beneficial.  

– Social Security

      Social Security is actually there to help. And it does. It may be bureaucratic and means-tested but, they certainly come through with benefits – notwithstanding their medical committee.

– Tax Authority

      Another surprise in our bureaucracy. The tax man recognizes pancreatic cancer as a serious illness and, as a result, gives tax breaks.

Hopefully, you’ve got a better feel of what’s available. I’d be deluding you by giving the impression it’s straightforward. Ask Pam. If it wasn’t for her tenacity, how much would I have accomplished? Perhaps the best I can do – in the context of this blog – is to grant her the stage of another “Pam’s Perspective”[12].

A  happy and healthy New Year to all of you out there.    


[11] See my blog from 14th December: “The BRCA 2 Gene – and other things you may not know”.

[12] Pam’s first perspective was published on this blog on 24th November, 2011

One Response to “Managing One’s Illness”

  1. June & Jos Joffe February 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm #

    So glad and happy that the flight was O.K. and that you have had a safe landing. Just wishing that the trip will prove to be everything and more that you & Pam are expecting from it.

    With very much love to you all, including of course Sheila, Keith and Natalya.

    June & Jos.

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