A trip to Canberra

On Saturday, I received a call from my stepmother, who told me my father had been admitted to hospital on Friday.  She told me I need not be alarmed.  Nevertheless, both my sisters, who live further away than I do, were concerned.  I was in court on Monday and also had to fix something on my car.  So on Tuesday morning early I drove down to Canberra to see him.

I had arranged to stay with my step-brother. I asked him not to tell anyone that I was on my way,  so I was a bit miffed when it emerged that my cover had been blown.  I found my father recovering well, quite alert, and not particularly surprised to see me.

He was in the coronary care unit, but due to be transferred to a general ward.  When I was there a call came from the private ward which he was to be transferred to.  They asked to speak to a “family member.”  First I put my father on to take the call, but at their insistence I eventually took it.

It turned out the hospital had checked with his health fund, who told them that his insurance was only paid up until 23 June.  Of course, my father’s insurance is his own concern, but it is obviously in his interest to know what the position is before vouching his own credit for the not inconsiderable fees which the hospital charges (if also in the hospital’s as to whether they would accept it): if you go into a private ward, it is not just a question of the hospital fees – the whole structure of medical charges to which you are exposed takes a healthy hike upwards.

Under the guise of ducking out for a cigarette, I went outside and rang my stepmother.  My father’s health insurance premium is paid fortnightly by his superannuation fund.  My stepmother went straight to my father’s “superannuation” file and found that, some years ago there had been some mishap in payment.  It was entirely possible that something similar had happened again.  I suggested that she ring the superannuation fund first (because they might close down for lunch) and then ring the health fund (who have an army of call-centre staff) once she was armed with the information from the paying end.  At the worst, my father could have gone into a public ward, so it was nothing too dire.

Everything was straightened out, though not without a call back to the ward whilst I was still outside waiting to call my stepmother back, which probably made my father just a little more trepidatious.

I wasn’t going to trouble my father with the details, but he is not so sick as to have failed to pick up on the detail. He asked me what was the conversation that the hospital had wanted to have with the “family member.”  Obviously, he was worried it was something health-related that they didn’t want to tell him.  I told him the full story.

On reflection, I probably should have told him the full story straight away or at least as soon as everything was cleared up.  It wasn’t going to throw him into palpitations.  It’s just that sort of over-protectiveness which can madden the elderly.  Apart from secrets about myself (which I kept from him as much for my own protection as for his), this is probably the first time I have ever seen fit to shield my father from anything, which is a strange and slightly ominously portentous turning of the tables.

I stayed the night at my father’s house.  It is a very well-regulated household.  Organization has never been my strong point; I have never managed to reproduce in my own living such good order.  As I sat at my father’s desk, I glanced at the drawer of his filing cabinet which was still open from when my stepmother had gone to it to find the necessary information from the suspended file neatly labelled “Superannuation.”

If I were in a similar position, it would certainly not be so easy for anybody to put their finger on that sort of information for me.

I saw my father again today and drove back up to Sydney this afternoon.

One Response to “A trip to Canberra”

  1. Legal Eagle Says:

    I’m glad your father is okay again.

    I am a demon filer, but everything else in my life is a mess…

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