Fifty-four-year old Carol B and her family – husband Tony and their sons 20-year-old Jacob (Jake) and 24-year-old Luke – live at Airlie Beach, on the Whitsunday coast in north Queensland. It’s an ideal environment for someone as keen on healthy living as Carol.
Carol has never smoked, she’s always been a healthy weight and she stays active, but the last couple of years have presented a few challenges for her, as well as for Jake.
In 2016, Carol started experiencing episodes of atrial fibrillation. ‘It was strong enough to see my heart fluttering under my skin,’ she recalls. Carol saw a cardiologist and was told she’d be on medication for the rest of her life. ‘I hated taking it,’ she admits. Carol asked for a second opinion and, in consultation with a new specialist, gradually reduced the medication until she came off it completely. ‘I was told there’s a 95 percent chance it could come back, but I know what to do if it does,’ she says, pragmatically.
When twenty-year-old Jake started experiencing similar symptoms, Carol took immediate action. ‘You don’t wait when it’s something to do with your children.’
She arranged for Jake to see a cardiologist in Mackay, 150 kilometres away, but the appointment wasn’t a success.
‘The consultation cost well over $300 and we can’t have been there for more than seven or ten minutes,’ recalls Carol. They came away with a prescription for medication.
Carol rang CBHS to check how much she’d get back from the appointment, and during the call a consultant in Member Care mentioned Best Doctors.
‘It sounded too good to be true. I kept thinking where’s the catch? Someone has to lose out, surely.’
The operator reassured Carol that there was no additional charge – and no catch – so Carol made the call to Best Doctors. ‘Even then, I still kept asking what it was going to cost.’
Finally convinced there was genuinely no additional charge, Carol explained Jake’s situation and Best Doctors began the process of getting his case reviewed by a leading specialist. Not long after, Jake had a second appointment with his cardiologist in Mackay.
‘It couldn’t have been more different,’ laughs Carol. ‘We were there for well over an hour, and the cardiologist was so attentive. His whole demeanor had changed. He was very curious about Best Doctors, who they were, how they worked, and he suggested a second opinion with a colleague he knew in Brisbane.’
Carol and Jake attended an appointment with Dr Haqqani in Brisbane, where they learnt more about what the medical profession knows, and doesn’t know, about the causes of irregular heartbeats.
‘Dr Haqqani said Jake would probably grow out of it, and he gave us clear alternatives to medication. It was very reassuring.’
It was even more reassuring when Best Doctors came back with the same findings.
‘An independent cardiologist in America, with no vested interest and no need to agree or disagree, confirmed what the specialist in Brisbane had told us. We were so relieved.’
Carol has nothing but praise for the service she received from Best Doctors.
‘They always called when they said they would, they made sure Jake’s complete file was returned safely to us and their communication was always clear, polite and caring.’
As Carol points out, when you’re ill or worried about your family’s health, it’s easy to feel vulnerable.
‘Someone from CBHS rang one day, just to see how Jake was doing, and I so appreciated that call. When people sound like they genuinely care it makes such a difference.’
It’s been a tough couple of years, but Carol and her family have come through it, and they’ve learnt some valuable lessons along the way.
‘Medicine is a vastly complex field and I have nothing but respect for the people who spend years studying, but they’re just people at the end of the day. Jake has learnt that it’s okay to question a specialist. They often have different opinions, and if they’re adamant that they’re right, they shouldn’t be threatened by a second opinion.’
More about Best Doctors
Best Doctors is a service at no additional cost for members with Prestige (Gold) cover. It provides access to a team of internationally renowned medical specialists, who can offer second opinions and treatment options for any condition, illness or disease. The service also includes the Best Doctors’ Mental Health Navigator, a facilitated program of in-home care for members experiencing mental health issues.
If you already have Prestige (Gold) cover, you can call Best Doctors direct on 1800 830 082. If you’d like to find out more about the service, and how you can upgrade your cover to access it, please call our Member Care team on 1300 654 123.