August 18, 2005
Private vs. Public
So the doctors have backed a plan for private health care in Canada.

Supporters of the motion said too-long waiting lists are an urgent problem, the system is faltering and it needs help from the private sector.

"Governments have had 40 years to get the monopoly system right and the casualties are piling up - one of them has been my wife," said Dr. John Slater of Comox, B.C.

Now that I'm also officially in the queue for non-life threatening medical care, it takes a very personal turn.

It has been 8 weeks, nearly 9 since my initial injury. Last week, I was told surgery was inevitable and my GP's words were 'I will elevate you to emergency priority right away'. Which she did. She called the surgeon. She sent over my x-rays and medical records over that day. As I posted that night, I was very shaken and nervous, but resolute that this needed to occur.

Yet, I've heard nothing since.

I called yesterday and was told it is now in the orthopaedic surgeon's hands. His office will call....eventually.

Do I blame him? Not really. He is only one person and likely has dozens, if not hundreds of patients in the same boat as me. People who are also on crutches, pain meds and unable to lead a basic quality of life. But they aren't dying. They may be uncomfortable, and even downright bitchy, but they're not in mortal danger.

I looked into private care today. The consultation is $450 and the surgery is approximately $5,000. Although the airmiles I'd collect on my credit card are tempting, I will take my chances for now. I still want to believe it's my impatience and that I will be dealt with soon.

However, I've heard from many people do wait upwards of 6 months. 6 months of crutches and narcotics? 6 months brings me right up to my best friend's wedding. As far as my job goes, I don't even know if I'll be working then. It makes me nervous...and I just wish the damned thing would heal on it's own. Of course, that's likely not going to happen.

Our medical system is crumbling, that's for sure. The answer is not an easy one and certainly not something I'd know much about. I would have no problem with an alternative, but of course, the cost would need to be a little more reasonable than what it is today. The waiting lists are crazy. I thought they were bad before, but it seems these days every day brings a new story.

Just take these two examples:

My niece has been waiting to see a surgeon now for 14 months. She has a ganglion on her wrist, that when first noted was the size of a small grape. It is now roughly the size of a golf ball. Imagine a golf ball on your wrist. Not insignificant. She often loses feeling and use of her fingers. There have been days when she can't even hold her baby to feed him properly as the pain is so intense. Had this been taken care of even right after Lex's birth 8 months ago, it would have been a short surgery. Now she's looking at repair of the nerve and likely months of physiotherapy.

A friend's brother was set to go in for a pacemaker today. He was prepping for surgery and hadn't eaten since midnight. The phone rang at 8am this morning (he was to be at the hospital at 9) to be told that there was a staff shortage and he was being cancelled. Of course, no new date but they will let him know. A pacemaker isn't exactly a cosmetic improvement, and definitely crosses into the life threatening side o' things.

I don't blame the doctors. I don't blame the nurses. I do, however, blame the government and truly wonder if those who make these decisions have ever had to deal with health care from a consumer perspective. When our taxes continue to increase time and time again, and the revenue from the gas tax alone (with 40% of the current 1.14 a litre) is in the upwards of several hundred million dollars, is it too much to ask for the promise a basic quality of life?

I think not.

Vancouver, British Columbia
A patriotic Canadian full of visions of a better Canada, random thoughts and a lot of hot air. Who am I? A struggling writer and photographer, who looks forward to a better Canada. I read. A lot. I learn. A lot. I push myself. A lot. The world is a small place, and getting smaller every day. I'm proud to have friends in every corner of the earth, and abide by the old adage that there are no strangers, only friends we haven't met yet.
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