The unexpected

Could this be your story?

Thu 13:00            Routine check-up with GP.  Suspected angina.  Cardiologist to investigate
Fri 10:30              Cardiologist appointment.  Treadmill, ECG, bloods.  Schedule angiogram
Mon 08:30           First business meeting of the year.  Presentation to prospective new client
Tue 14:00             Angiogram with possible stenting.  Multiple blockages.  Book by-pass op
Wed 09:00           Reschedule rest of week’s business appts.  Cancel Fri bank loan application
Wed 13:00           Ambulance to cardiac-specialist hospital.  Xrays.  Moved to pre-surgery
Wed 17:00           Briefed by cardio-thoracic surgeon.  Implications explained. Consent forms
Thu 06:00            Prep’d for CABG op.  7 hrs in theatre, multiple by-pass. Transfer to SICU
Thu 13:30            Client emails RfQ for extension to contract.  Lead returns call (no reply)
Fri 04:00              BP, bloods…  Pain-killers into drip.  Moved to observation ward.  Disorientated
Sat 09:00              Physiotherapy.  Cardio-thoracic surgeon visits: no driving for 5-6 weeks
And so your recovery slowly starts.  Chest pain: wired-up sternum.  Forty staples in lower leg
Thu 16:00             Discharged with buckets of meds and piles of scripts.  Start to re-arrange life
Fri 07:00               Physio and exercises.  Catch-up and reply to emails.  Pay most urgent accounts

Two weeks after that fateful check-up, you (and your family) are grateful that you are alive and you are determined to make up lost time but the doc says: take it easy and keep your leg up.  You tire easily and need a mid-day nap.  It’s difficult to keep focused on your work.  Doc says it’s all normal.

Medical aid

Your medical aid starts emailing you the claims that they will pay, and those that are for your account.  “Some of your practitioners are not network specialists, costs above scheme rate will be for your account.”  Well, excuse me, at the time, I wasn’t exactly in a position to find out who was or was not a network specialist.

Two surgeons, an anaesthetist, pulmonologist, theatre sister, theatre, SICU, ward fees, Xrays, path lab, blood, drips, meds…   Somewhere around R 360k for the job.

Business is suffering

Your business clients have been patient but they need answers now:  When can we have the quotations?  Are you well enough to manage the project, maybe we should get someone else just for this phase?  Will your guys know what to do while you were in hospital?  We urgently need confirmation of delivery dates.

You have missed a lot of valuable information from meetings that you couldn’t attend.  Emails to clients: Sorry I couldn’t be there, I’m back now, please fill in the blanks, what did I miss?

Bank balance

Your business bank account balance is down because you haven’t been sending out invoices.  Month-end is coming up, staff and suppliers want to be paid.  Urgent call to your business banker about that loan application.

Heart op

Your chest ten days post-op

A courtesy call from your attorney: this might be a good time to update your will – just in case.  Your insurance advisor reminds you that she suggested getting loss-of-income cover, and medical gap cover.  Maybe you should have listened to her.  As soon as your bank balance looks healthy again, you will definitely do so.


first published in SME South Africa


Heart operations are (generally) unplanned.  So is emergency surgery after a motor accident.  How prepared are you for a medical bill of between R 100 thousand and half a million?  Can your business survive if you can’t be there to run it day-to-day for several weeks?  What contingency plans are you going to put in place?

It’s now five weeks since my own by-pass op and up till now, I’ve been recovering at home.  This has been very disruptive to my business.  Fortunately, I did provide for it though I never expected to need it.  It will never happen to you until it does happen to you.

2016/02/23

CC BY-SA

Click here if you want to discuss planning for the unexpected – whether good or bad.

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