For three years, Eugene van Dyk had to stay in hospital overnight every four weeks to receive life-saving medicine. He found these unavoidable admissions stressful and depressing. Then, Discovery Home Care offered him the same care, but at home.
Eugene van Dyk is father to a three-year-old son and 18-month-old daughter. Along with his wife and mother, he owns and runs a Pretoria-based home-schooling facility for 20 students from Grade R to Grade 12.
Now 35, Eugene oozes positivity and love for life. This despite having gone from being a fit and healthy rugby player to wheelchair-bound for a year and a half a few years ago. That was the result of an infection that spread from an abscess in his elbow to his right leg. He needed 10 operations and treatment for over two and a half months in hospital. In fact, recurring abscesses had plagued Eugene over time, and it was only in 2013 that doctors diagnosed the underlying cause.
Eugene explains in his own words:
“I played rugby well into my 20s and remained fit and active into my early 30s, but that ended when I had two hip replacements in 2005. I had two bouts of septicaemia from recurring abscesses and the infection attacked my hip joints. The first abscess started in my psoas muscle and I felt it as pain in my legs that lingered for a year. I thought I had picked up a rugby injury. At the time, we didn’t know that I had a serious underlying condition contributing to it all.
“Finally, about six years ago, I was diagnosed with an immune system deficiency. We realised that my body doesn’t produce enough white blood cells, which are needed to fight infection. No one knows why I have this condition or why it only flared up in my thirties, as it usually affects people from birth, and I have never really been a sick person. I need a regular Polygam intravenous infusion to supplement the lack of white blood cells and antibodies in my system and, basically, to boost my immune system to healthy levels.”
Polygam is a medicine used to strengthen the body's immune system and to lower the risk of infection in people with a weakened immune system. The medicine is made from healthy human blood that has a high level of naturally occurring defensive substances known as antibodies, which help fight infections.
Eugene continues, “I need Polygam every four weeks. At first, the only way to receive this treatment was through regular overnight admission to hospital. I found missing a whole day of work every four weeks very stressful, and it was far from ideal that I was regularly exposed to a facility filled with sick people. I once contracted a superbug in hospital and had to be in isolation in hospital for three days for treatment. At the time, my medicine left me heavy-headed and tired, so the whole experience was exhausting, stressful and depressing. You work your whole life out around these admissions. You learn to live with it all – you have to.
“The monthly hospital admissions continued for three years, until 2016. Then my doctor suggested that I register on Discovery’s Home Care programme.”
Eugene adds, “Discovery Home Care has changed my life. Infusion day starts with a professional nurse arriving at my house at 06:00. The nurse is part of a small team of excellent Home Care professional nurses who see me. She mixes up the Polygam medicine, which need to stand for a little while. The nurse assembles the drip and inserts the cannula into one of my veins, allowing the meds to run for about nine hours. She checks my vitals every hour and by 16:00, we’re done – and that’s that. It’s a very smooth process and far superior to the delays I experienced in hospital, in a foreign environment where I had to stay overnight due to the time needed for the infusion there. Also, having a nurse dedicated entirely to my care brings me much comfort during my infusion.
“Receiving my infusions at home allows me to go on with my work remotely, and I don’t need to spend time away from my family. My son comes in to see me before he goes off to preschool. He says “Papa, eina?” (Dad, sore?) when he sees the needle of the drip inserted into my skin. I get to say goodbye to him before his school day and he sees that I’m relaxed and well when he leaves. I receive my treatment while seated on the couch in my living room. I can move around, go and get something to eat or drink, and I’m free to do what I need to.”
“I will need this sort of infusion all my life and having it through Discovery Home Care really is the best way to go. I would recommend Home Care to anyone who qualifies for it. It brings back quality of life.”
“Receiving treatment in the comfort of my own home has allowed me to rebuild a positive outlook on life after going through so much, medically, over the past ten years. I go to gym and walk on the treadmill or do light weights, to work on my Silver Vitality status and earn my Vitality Active Rewards points each week. Despite the odds, I am proud to say that I am in good shape!”
“My infusions cost around R12 500. I am very fortunate that my treatment is fully funded through my Discovery Health Medical Scheme membership, which also covers the professional nursing costs for Discovery Home Care.”
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.
Discovery recently received a heartfelt letter from Edith Canhola, a 60-year-old project coordinator from Table View in the Cape. In it, she thanks Discovery Home Care for sending professional nurses Sister Lexi Johnson and Sister Drikie Robertson into her life.
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.
Discovery Home Care has ended years of highly stressful, disruptive, regular hospital admissions for Manie Kleynhans. Now, he receives the intravenous medicine he needs, every six weeks for the foreseeable future, while he relaxes in his lounge