Dr Nazeem Ismail, Undersecretary to the National Assembly in Parliament, has been wheelchair-bound for 20 years. He recently started using the Discovery Home Care benefit to treat an infection and says it has made a massive difference in his life.
Twenty years ago, Dr Nazeem Ismail survived a traumatic shooting, which left him wheelchair-bound.
Around midnight in December 1999, Nazeem and a friend went to investigate a disturbance at his friend’s family home.
“As we pulled up in the driveway, my friend saw a guy coming out of the house - but I didn’t. He was able to hide under one of the bakkies parked there. I remained in our vehicle but the next minute I saw this guy from the passenger side, wearing a balaclava and shooting at me. He shot at me 11 times; I’m told. I still have a bullet lodged in my spine … I’m very fortunate to still be around.”
Shooting changes Nazeem’s life in every way
Born in Strand in the Western Cape in February 1966, Nazeem’s family moved to District Six when he was three years old. In 1979, his family moved to Gatesville, Athlone, where he still lives with his mom, brother and two sisters. Nazeem has a PhD in Public Administration from the University of the Western Cape and was a senior lecturer at the time of the shooting.
Nazeem’s hospitalisation and rehabilitation took two and a half months. It was a long and painful process, but he ascribes his recovery to his family and friends, and to the wonderful team of doctors and nurses at the Southern Cross Hospital in Wynberg.
“You know, when I got the news from the doctor saying that I was permanently disabled, I just had to come to grips with it. It was tough,” he reflects. “The doctor who treated me was Dr Ed Baalbergen. I’m very grateful that he and his team were there assisting me with the recovery period. I’m still in contact with Dr Baalbergen. He’s still my doctor.”
In 2001, Nazeem returned to his lecturing duties and one year later, he took up the mantle of Undersecretary to the National Assembly. In the years that followed, Nazeem thrived in his post and even started driving again – after making the necessary modifications to his car.
“Home Care came as a great relief to me”
For many years, Nazeem has been battling with infections and pressure sores – frequent side effects of being in a wheelchair. In the beginning of 2019, he spent four nights in the Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital for a bladder infection. Nazeem was frustrated at having to spend so much time in hospital. In April, he visited a new urologist, Dr Prenevin Govender, at the Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont. “He said I had another bladder infection and it would require about five days of antibiotics to clear, but there was also good news – that Discovery Health has a Home Care benefit that would allow me to be treated at home, so I don’t have to go to hospital for care,” Nazeem says.
As a Discovery Health Medical Scheme member, Nazeem has access to Home Care through his scheme benefits – which meant he could get his antibiotics administered in the comfort of his home. “I was very excited about Home Care because it meant that I could have the drip I needed administered in the morning and then still go to work once we were done. This came as great relief to me.”
“Home Care has made a massive difference to my life”
Discovery Home Care’s professional nurse Sister Alexcia (Lexi) Johnson visited Nazeem five times to administer the antibiotic drip to alleviate his bladder infection. During this time, she learned about Nazeem’s pressure sores and explained to him that Home Care includes a wound care option.
“Sister Lexi has such a pleasant personality. I was comfortable to relate to her other ailments plaguing me, for example, my pressure sores on my buttocks. Without hesitation she inspected the pressure sores and advised me on possible treatment,” he says.
Now, Sister Lexi and her colleague Sister Drikie Robertson visit Nazeem twice a week to take care of his pressure sores. “One wound has now healed completely on the left buttock. The other sore used to be 14 cm in size, and now it’s down to 4 cm,” he says.
Nazeem commends his Home Care nurses
“You know, when a stranger comes into your house it feels like they’re invading your privacy. My wounds are located in a private area and my nurses are required to take photographs to report back to Discovery Health on my wound care progress,” he explains. “But the manner in which they do it all puts me at ease. We have fun about it, we laugh about it. They have great personalities, they’re great people, they interact with the family, which I appreciate, and everyone loves them, even our parrot. And that contributes to the healing process. They make it all pleasant.”
In addition to Home Care, Nazeem also uses his Chronic Illness benefit to cover the cost of his intermittent catheters. “That bill is about R5 000 a month and Discovery Health Medical Scheme covers it, no hassles,” he explains. “It’s just excellent.”
Nazeem wrote to Discovery:
“Thank you for sending wonderful nursing staff, Sister Lexi and Sister Drikie, into my life. Following almost two months of treatment on my pressure sores, I can now finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
DISCOVERY HEALTH MEDICAL SCHEME IS AN INDEPENDENT NON-PROFIT ENTITY GOVERNED BY THE MEDICAL SCHEMES ACT, AND REGULATED BY THE COUNCIL FOR MEDICAL SCHEMES. IT IS ADMINISTERED BY A SEPARATE COMPANY, DISCOVERY HEALTH (PTY) LTD, AN AUTHORISED FINANCIAL SERVICES PROVIDER.
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