Dr Clive Kaiser, my adorable nephew, is now a professor at Oregon State University. He travels widely, part of his job; has written and published many academic papers and is devoted to his mother, Daphne, who still lives in South Africa. She is my much loved sister-in-law.
I am so proud of Clive for generously sharing this story with all my readers.
My Bangalore Experience
This year though, things turned out very differently. When she arrived I could see right away she was not well. She was complaining of pain that seemed like severe indigestion. I knew she'd had her gallbladder removed two years ago, so it couldn't be that.
My own doctor agreed to see her, and promptly suggested she go to Emergency at the nearest hospital. We immediately went there, and a CT scan determined that she had a bile duct blockage.
Her travel insurance refused to allow her to be treated in the USA as they said it was not life threatening and instead told her to fly back to South Africa for treatment at her own expense… I flew her back to South Africa immediately and she was rushed to the hospital in Pretoria, where they inserted a stent into her bile duct to allow drainage and biopsied the blockage. It turned out to be the dreaded “C”-word – Cancer and a very aggressive type at that – cholangiocarcinoma or cancer of the common bile duct.
An oncologist consulted with her South African medical aid (insurance) and given her age, existing heart condition, diabetes and high blood pressure, they decided it would be too risky to operate and do a rescission – the operation takes 4-6 hours under general anaesthetic.
When I spoke to the doctor in SA, he was convinced she would not wake up from the operation… They also said that given all the conditions above that they would not be able to dose her with the full rate for either chemotherapy or radiation but would go with a 70% rate, which might add a few months to her life. The prognosis was not good and he was not expecting her to last more than a year.
I flew back to SA in June, arriving there the day of her first chemo treatment. This was good, because I could help her as she suffered through a rare side effect, called arthralgia. This causes every bone in the body to ache so much she couldn't even stand on her own.
Later, he also informed me that in South Africa, the medical aid plans would not pay for treatments to try to reverse the cancer using any means other than chemo or radiation and that treatment plans were palliative, using morphine for pain.
Still reeling from this news I contacted my brother in the UK, and we arranged a surprise visit for Daphne with him arriving on the following Tuesday.
An alternate path
Clive Rice went to Bangalore in India for some really high tech treatment with cyber knife surgery. He had gone there to Health Care Global three months earlier.
He was given a clean bill of health after his check up later. and this was documented by Carte Blanche, who accompanied him on the trip. Sadly, while we were in Bangalore, he passed away in South Africa from septicemia.
While the show was stilI screening I jumped online, contacted the HCG hospital in Bangalore and asked if they could treat Daphne. There was an online chat box and they answered at 9 pm South Africa time, which meant it was 12.30 am India time.
That in itself amazed me as they appeared to be working in the middle of the night in India; on a Sunday too. They asked for her case history, blood tests, treatment plan that she was on and all other details.
The information was scanned and sent off next day. By the end of the week a full-out scramble was starting, to get her to India. Medical visas, one for her, one for a close family member were obtained. Only problem was, no family member would go! Said they were too afraid, even though I was offering a free trip!
By this time I had been away for two months in SA. As host of a conference in USA I had to return there for a week, cancelled my presentation at another New Orleans conference, then immediately flew back to SA.
I picked up Daphne, and we flew to Bangalore the next day.
To be continued...
Meantime, your comments are always appreciated!