27 July 2011

The unexpected wolf at the door

Very often the "future" you should be planning for comes a lot sooner than you expect.


Very often the "future" you should be planning for comes a lot sooner than you expect. 

Natashia Morrison was 25 years old and preparing to write her final accounting exam when one morning her world came crashing down. She had contracted the Lupus virus, and was rushed to hospital, completely paralysed. 

It took more than two weeks before the paralysis lifted slightly, and some more weeks before Natashia regained the use of her hands and could begin the long journey of rehabilitation. 

Life goes on

Lupus is not such a rare story: 

  • Frequency: 30-50 new cases every year per 100,000 people.
  • More people have lupus than cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, and MS combined
  • Mortality: ten-year survival rate 76-90%; 90% live a normal life span
  • Sex bias: women are nine times more likely to develop lupus then men. 

Natashia knew she was probably looking at a long life but, almost certainly, one blighted by some degree of disability. Her career prospects had been shattered, along with her ability to make a good living for herself. Natashia also knew that her current employer did not offer any group or pension benefits, and would pay out only a single month’s salary. 

However, with an extraordinary bit of good timing, and showing a great deal more long-term thinking than most of her peers, Natashia had been thinking about her financial security. And so just the month before, she had spent time with a financial adviser setting up cover. It became effective just three days before the Lupus virus hit. 

More than a year later, her insurer, Liberty, continues to pay Natashia a temporary disability income. This month, she will be re-evaluated and should it happen that her disability is defined as permanent, Liberty will continue to pay her monthly income until the age of 65. 

So though she may miss out on all that a career can offer, the rest of Natashia’s life continues.

Her broker, Anton Rogers, says employees should be aware of what benefits they get from their employers. “In other words, if something happens to you, you need to know if your family and loved ones will be looked after or your medical bills paid. If they won’t be, then you need to ensure that you speak to a financial adviser who can help you to secure your future yourself.” 

About Lupus

What are the symptoms of lupus? 

Lupus can affect many parts of the body, including the joints, skin, kidneys, heart, lungs, blood vessels, and brain. Although people with the disease may have many different symptoms, some of the most common ones include extreme fatigue, painful or swollen joints (arthritis), unexplained fever, skin rashes, and kidney problems

Lupus varies greatly in severity, from mild cases requiring minimal intervention to those in which significant and potentially fatal damage occurs to vital organs such as the lungs, heart, kidneys, and brain. For some patients, the disease can be characterized by “flares” of activity interspersed with periods of improvement or remission. 

A flare, or exacerbation, is increased activity of the disease process with an increase in physical manifestations and/or abnormal laboratory test values. Periods of improvement may last weeks, months, or even years. Other patients have continuous, or chronic, activity. Although remissions are unusual, some patients never develop severe manifestations, and the outlook is improving for patients who do develop them. 

Source: Liberty Group 

(Health24, March 2011)

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