(from Nigel Caswell at Woodman Point near Fremantle WA)
Stevie and I are currently travelling in Western Australia proving that having MS and needing a mobility scooter and crutches to get about need not prevent you from going caravanning. We have driven up the Stuart Highway via Alice Springs to Katherine and then across to Broome and finally down to Fremantle. We have seen many wonderful sights unique to Australia but we have also had a couple of problems which I will describe in more detail because there are a couple of things which everybody with MS should be aware of.
Fortunately, we are members of Ambulance Victoria as we had to call on this service while we were in Karratha (on the north coast of WA). We were both struck by severe gastro and got dehydrated and had to call an ambulance, luckily we were in town and the ambulance only had to come a short distance from and back to the hospital; probably no more than a kilometre each way.
Never-the-less the bill when we received it, from the WA ambulance service, was still a frightening $930! We rang Ambulance Victoria explained the situation and quoted our membership number and they handled it from there; we did not have to pay anything. Proving just how important it is to be a member and I hope you all are. If you’re a pensioner or a Centrelink card holder you receive a level of cover as a result of this status.
However, the cover you receive is limited. It will cover your transport to the nearest and most appropriate hospital, but it does not coverbeing transported from a private healthcare facility or being repatriated or relocated to/from Victoria for non-clinical reasons (e.g. for your own or your family’s convenience); repatriation back to Victoria must be authorised as clinically necessary and there must be a demonstrated clinical requirement for ambulance transport. The simplest way to avoid ambulance costs is to subscribe to Ambulance Victoria currently only $43.80 per person or $87.60 per family annually.
I also suffered some after effects from the “Gastro” incident which came to light when I had a regular blood test related to my MS. When my neurologist received the results he rang on my mobile at a remote wildflower park to tell me my blood sodium levels were low and I needed to see my GP. I managed to see a GP at a medical centre only 100km away and later got to speak to my regular GP in Melbourne.
It transpired that because of the combination of medication I am on my blood sodium level is normally a little low and when I drink extra water for rehydration purposes such as after exercise or after the gastro I need to make sure it contains electrolytes. This is easy to arrange as there are electrolyte supplements available or I can make my own. The important lesson from this incident is “make sure you ask your doctor what are the side effects of your medication and are there any situations you need to be aware of.
While on the subject of medical information;are you a person living with multiple sclerosis and do you have a qualification in a health related discipline? If so MSL would like to hear from you. MSL has a broad range of education programs but simply cannot include everything they would like to have on the calendar. They are aware that there are many people living with multiple sclerosis who also have skills and wisdom that could be of benefit to others.
So MSL plans to develop a Community Education Register that will capture all the information needed to give peer support groups access to well qualified speakers. The information in this register is designed to give MSL and the group facilitators some background to presenters including fees and charges, contact details and indemnity details.
So if you have relevant health related qualifications and would like more information or to obtain the MS Community Education Register Form, please contact the MSL Education team;