Narcolepsy: teacher still struggling

2013-04-08 00:00

NARCOLEPSY patient Callie Claasen has still received no solution to the chronic illness that has seen him lose his 25-year-teaching  job.

Claasen’s condition causes him to fall into a sleep-like state at any time. Sufferers have no control over their muscles and brain functions.

His medical coverage on the government employee medical aid heme, GEMS, was inadequate and barely covered the cost of his medicine for one month.

GEMS has apparently launched an inquiry into the case and a source told The Witness that Claasen was no longer a GEMS member. The source said that when he had been advised to appeal his case.

He was required to give information to the GEMS board for it to decide whether to cover his condition as a chronic disease.

Patrick Steyn, Claasen’s brother-in-law disputed this and said that while Claasen was a member of the medical aid cheme he followed every avenue possible to get the medication approved and his condition recognised as chronic.

Steyn said: “The monthly cost of his specialised medication is R3 000  … which is a lot, but if you consider the cost of ARVs or cancer drugs it’s no different.”

Since The Witness article on March 18, Claasen has been referred to the Steve Biko Hospital in Pretoria for treatment. He has been medicated for depression and for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.

Steyn said that while Claasen was being examined in Pretoria a huge benign tumour on his shoulder was diagnosed.

“They were more worried about the tumour than his narcolepsy which is the underlying problem,” said Steyn.

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