Tag Archives: health care

A Survey For Canada…

I’d like to ask Canadians of all shapes and sizes the following questions.  You see, I’m having trouble reconciling the country I live in at the moment, and perhaps the answers will provide insight.  You’ll help, won’t you?  You know, because Canadians are known world-wide as friendly and helpful?

1.  If your son or daughter cheated in a scholarship contest for school – to the point of breaking the law – would you still be proud of his achievement?  Or would you chastise him for his lack of honesty?

2.  If your spouse said, “All of our combined money will be kept in one account, and only I can dictate how it’s spent – and you have no right to see the statements ever again,” would you be okay with this?  Would you be okay if he bought houses, cars and boats on your dime, mostly, completely disregarding things you need like clothing, medications and improvements to the house you actually reside in?

3.  Ladies only: If your father, husband and brother decided that, regardless of your wishes, you did not need access to birth control or abortion services, because marriage should, after all, be about procreation, would you be nonchalant about this?

4.  If your boss decided that he would cut funding to every department except his son’s, then rewarded his son for having the ability to make strong presentations, would you find this fair?  Or would you be pissed off?

5. If you noticed flagrant violations of policy at work, but every time you approached your superiors, you were suspended from work for attempting to speak up while the transgressors were given promotions, would you find this fair?

6.  If hospitals began triaging cases not on need, but on gross annual income, how would you feel, sitting in an ER with your impoverished father who’s living on a pension, after being told this?

7.  You receive a past due notice from the university your child is attending, indicating none of his tuition has been paid and he has been kicked out of his program.  When you ask him what happened to the $14K you gave him for school this year (because you have saved hard for years for this child to have an education), he says, “I went to Cuba, bought a car, saw the UFC – $800 seats, Mom and Dad! – and then, you know, I had to help out my buddies,” do you shrug and say, “Oh well, it was your money”?  Or do you lose your temper, especially because you’re legally on the hook, since he’s 17?

8.  If your sister was facing 67 criminal charges for which you knew she was guilty, would you be proud?  Would you encourage her to hang out with other criminals?

These seem like pretty crazy scenarios, I grant you, but I’m truly curious.  Most people I know, parents and non-parents of all political persuasions, would be unimpressed with all of these situations.  It’s logical to assume that none of these situations would seem fair or pleasant, nor would most parents (I should hope!) reward the behaviour of the children described above.

So why did you elect a Conservative majority last night?

The Harper Conservatives are guilty of all of the above, or have indicated they will do all of the above, if given half a chance – a ‘mandate’, as they like to call it, although, as with Rob Ford, 40% does not a majority of support make.  But 40% of you elected a party with these principles at its core.

I’m flabbergasted.  I’m embarrassed.  I’m fearful for the rights I currently enjoy as a citizen, let alone a bisexual, childfree female.

Harper’s MPs are encouraging the religious right to continue to push for control of MY uterus.  Harper himself thinks I should have no right to fund the party I care about.  Of course he thinks this: only his party is backed by the rich; he doesn’t need public subsidies, like the Greens do.  Harper thinks the Canada Health Act – the very thing Obama has been pointing to as he’s worked for a more universal health care system across the border – should be scrapped.  Health care shouldn’t be a Federal bother, you see; he also thinks we should pay for it privately.  Have none of you seen what’s been going on for decades in the States?

Harper is a criminal, and his government was the first to be found in contempt of Parliament – a first among the DOZENS of Commonwealth nations and their collective political history – for hiding what he wants to do with the tax money YOU have paid into running this country.  He wants to take away your rights to see the proverbial bank statement; now that he isn’t castrated by holding a minority, he can do just that.

The saddest thing is, I’d say 25% of Harper voters last night did so just because they are ‘sick of elections’.  Meanwhile, people are dying for a chance to have a right to vote in the first place, a vote that is actually counted.  These countries are shaking their heads at you, today, as am I. Harper’s refusal to cooperate with other parties has finally paid off for him; he’s manipulated you into no longer giving a damn who runs things, as long as no one troubles you with the details.

25% of the remaining voters are ‘punishing’ Dalton McGuinty in Ontario or are afraid of the NDP 20 years later.  Ontario, do you not remember Mike Harris?  Why do you think McGuinty has raised the taxes he has?  He’s been cleaning up the disaster Harris left us, between the megacity merge, downloaded items onto the municipal budget that forced David Miller into difficult decisions, and never mind dramatic rises in tuition and a disregard for health care and the poor.  Harper wants to download even more items onto the provincial dwindling coffers; if you think he will somehow save you taxes and money, think again, because the provinces will simply increase their share of the invoice.  That $400 health tax – which, by the way, many Canadians only pay a partial amount of, as it’s scaled to income – is going to seem like pennies four years from now. All because you fear a man who was always Liberal at heart (hell, look at the riding he’s holding right now in Toronto, Ontario!).

Selfish, foolish fallacy has befallen our once great country.  When the piper comes calling in four years, remember this:  rebuilding rubble carries a far greater price than simple renovations, and either way, we pay the bill.

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The Elusive Unicorn

As I stumble through the blustery winter winds, it occurs to me tonight, while nursing yet another sickness (throat infection) that my immune system is anything but immune.  It’s never reliable, never resilient, and part of me wonder why I even bother attributing one to my body.

From my birth, when I emerged so ill that I nearly died and needed an incubator, I have been a sickly child.  Nothing in my body has ever quite worked properly, so much so that, to spare any dire errors if incapacitated, I have a full page of typed medical conditions and allergies wrapped around my health card.  For me, an immune system that works has been as elusive and mythical as a unicorn – although I sometimes believe the unicorn more likely to turn up in my apartment than good health.

I often wish I wasn’t utterly hopeless at advanced Physics and Chemistry, because I have quite a knack for diagnosing myself and others around me.  Having read a multi-volume medical health encyclopedia for fun at the age of 10, I’ve always been fascinated by the human body’s many potential failings.  I’ve self-diagnosed a few key ailments, correctly diagnosed a few close friends as well.  I’m usually everyone’s go-to girl for medical questions now, and I’m always happy to offer my knowledge and intuition up.

Maybe if I were a doctor, I wouldn’t be in the situation I find myself in now.

This isn’t the first time in my life where I have knocked on door after door, confident of something being wrong with my body and having my personal observations dismissed or disregarded, to my own detriment.  In 2006, I suddenly became extremely ill, having frightening episodes of shortness of breath and dizzy spells.  I could no longer handle short flights of stairs.  My heart would pound and I would feel as if I were dying.  I also had episodes of my face going numb, but that is a whole other matter.  At the same time, my long-existing stomach disorder (IBS) went nuts and stopped responding entirely to my daily medications, drugs that had worked for four years admirably well.  Over and over, I pointed out the stomach angle, only to have it chalked up to stress and get told to double my dose (for the record, it didn’t help).  They checked my lungs, my heart, and found nothing.  I wore a tedious heart monitor strapped to my waist even, and it made me homicidal.  A few months after giving up on the ‘anxiety attack’ touting doctors, I was stricken with the worst heartburn any human has suffered, for 7 straight days.  After initial exams and tests, I was diagnosed with GERD – chronic acid reflux.

I had a two year period of reflux at the age of 16.  My symptoms were consistent, and the excess acid fully explained my stomach’s poor reaction.  In fact, the doctor that finally solved my issues with another handy pill agreed that someone should have clued in from the start.  Thanks, medicine.  I was told I had ‘marked scarring’ of my esophagus, but ‘luckily, no sign of cancer’.  It was that dire.

Almost four years ago, I injured my right ankle severely and, like every other joint injury I sustain, it refused to fully heal.  Again, numerous specialists and physiotherapists prodded and poked at me, with wonderful theories and no real answers.  I have a family riddled with arthrtis, so they tested me for a marker known as antinuclear antibody.  It’s basically a generic red flag for autoimmune disorders, ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to lupus.  I came up as a weak positive, and was sent to a rheumatologist, completely unsurprised by this prospect.  A retest and more in-depth blood work came up negative, and in spite of my symptoms, family history and the rate of false results, I was shooed out the door for taking up said specialist’s precious time and continued to live in pain.

For the last year, I have insisted that my body just isn’t right.  Being unlucky and clumsy as hell, I have injured and now suffer chronic pain in my left knee, right ankle, right hip, lower back, left shoulder and arm and my neck.  Each ailment flares up and down at random, no rhyme or reason.  Physiotherapy doesn’t do shit beyond a certain ‘almost okay’ level.  I can’t take daily anti-inflammatories because of my stomach, leaving me with a developed tolerance for aching.

Puts a serious damper on my love for general admission concerts, lemme tell ya.

I found a new family doctor this summer, a rarity in my city due to its population and the lack of available physicians.  In my first interview, she takes a look at my plethora of symptoms and promptly asks if anyone has ever mentioned ‘Crest’.  Confused about the relevance of toothpaste, I ask her to explain.  Seems there’s an autoimmune disorder out there called Limited Scleroderma, or CREST syndrome (the acronym doles out the five core symptoms).  We review them and I go home, shaking and realizing I have four of five.  My respiratory health has taken a sharp decline without explanation; CREST can create blockages in the lungsm reducing capacity.  Reflux?  CREST causes that too, due to abnormalities in the body tissues.  Spider veins?  Check.  Raynaud’s Phenomenon, an affliction of the hands and fingers where cold sends all circulation running away and leaves them white and icy, is a problem I’ve had since my teens. But it’s the joint issues, where CREST creates pressure due to abnormal collagen, that should have screamed out to someone I saw:  multiple GPs, two rheumatologists, three physiotherapists, and a gastroentologist.  New doctor retests me for that pesky antinuclear antibody:  it comes up positive.

I shake my head and sigh.  Three years ago, someone could have kept asking questions, could have tried to help me as I insisted something was wrong.  Instead, I was shoved out and ignored.  And now, if further tests prove it is indeed CREST that causes my issues, I have lung damage that might have been prevented, if my symptoms are an indication.

Fitting, it seems, that for a woman who’s never been able to develop a strong immune system against anything, even the flu, that an autoimmune disorder would crop up.

The moral of this blog, dear friends, is while armchair diagnosis often veers for the worst possible scenario (and the unlikeliest), knowing all of the possibilities and demanding answers for your questions can often keep doctors working for you, as opposed to working to get rid of you.  Never be passive about your health.  My grandparents were aggressive and still ignored, until the cancer they instinctively knew my grandfather had was terminal.

As for me, I’ll be fine, no matter what the next round of pokes and stabs and scans brings.  After spending so many years dealing with one problem after another, I can only do my best to stay comfortable and healthy.  This isn’t to say that an incurable and, at times, fatal disorder (or one that leads to emergency amputations of digits) isn’t a horrifying prospect; it is, and once in a while, I cry it out for a minute or two.  But until I know what is and isn’t wrong, all I can do is push for more information, now, immediately, yesterday.

And look for that damn unicorn.  Because I know it’s out there.

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