Life in the Slow Lane

Life in the Slow Lane

Thursday, March 03, 2005


Here is the thing! I am feeling rather conflicted. Why? I feel really fortunate that I live in Canada where all my health care is covered. I often wonder what would be going on right now in my life if I lived in a third world country. One thing for sure is I would have never been diagnosed properly. In fact, I'd probably be dead from something long in my past. Now if I lived in the states I probably wouldn't have decent health insurance or any coverage at all for that matter. With my history of depression my premiums could be higher than the G.N.P. of that aforementioned third world country. I have no idea what happens to somebody without health insurance diagnosed with cancer or some similar hell in the US of A. Somebody enlighten me! But I can't imagine it would be good. Either you bankrupt yourself or your family. Or you go without. Not pretty. Not much incentive to get better either. So you can only imagine how THANKFUL I was that I live in a polite/hippy/socialist/pinko country like Canada when I heard that word cancer - that word well in the Top 10 List of Words That Suck. While by no means is our health care system in great shape at least I know that even rich Canadians are on the same waitlists as I am. It breaks my heart to think that there are people in the world, without good healthcare or any at all, going through some major crisis KNOWING that if they only had a little more money or a job that offered a great plan that their overall care and future outlook would be much better. Knowing that the guy next door is getting better care than you (or your CHILD!!!) for such stoopid reasons. It would make me NUTS! And I am being polite/hippy/pinko here. There is nothing fair or right about this.

At my pre-admissions appointment yesterday I was interviewed by two very lovely nurses who took down all my pertinents so nobody would have to do it the day of my surgery. Now everything will be streamlined and every contingency covered on the big day. How cool is that? They gave me info for my after-care so I wouldn't get overwhelmed when I was groggy and sore after my operation. They provided access for FREE, I repeat FREE, physiotherapy designed specifically for partial mastectomy patients. They actually apologized that I wouldn't get home care to deal with my nasty post-op drain as I happen to live only a couple blocks from a clinic that will change my dressings for me. For FREE! Apparently the FREE home nurses are over-booked so they are primarily assigned to elderly people who are not so mobile. How can I complain about that? Without sounding like an asshole, that is? I can walk! I can get to the clinic! It's cool! Let the older folks get the home care! And to make me practically WEEP they are arranging for a woman who has had the same surgery as I am going to get to call me and tell me what I can expect afterwards. AND they are looking for somebody close to my age so I can identify with them better. These women are volunteers. They also try to come to the hospital as well to see how you are. I live in the coolest province in the coolest country. I just can't believe how nice everybody has been.

What I am conflicted about is that with the healthcare we are offered it will have been a whole MONTH from my diagnosis to my surgery. I have had the whole month to think about this cancer growing inside of me. Knowing that this cancer has been growing for at least 4 months prior to my diagnosis because NOBODY thought that it was cancer. No doctor I saw even mentioned cancer. (Soon I will post the whole tale of my diagnosis that shouldn't have even happened if it wasn't for me and my lazy ass.) I hate to think what this delay might mean for me. In fact I avoid thinking about anything to do with my cancer all together. And I am wondering why I am having such bad panic attacks. DER! So I am here thinking that if I had money and I lived in the states I would have had all this dealt with the very next day at the fricking MAYO CLINIC ALREADY and be cancer free as I sit here today. While I am thankful I have healthcare I wish it was a bit better and faster. That sounds pretty greedy knowing that most people don't have what I have, but when a person hears the word cancer in relation to their body or the body of somebody they love they start to really want the medical ball rolling - FAST! My doc said she sure wished she had a MRI of both my breasts but since the waitlist for a MRI in Vancouver is about 15 months that is not practical. I was offered the option of going to a private clinic (those sneaky few in this town or across the border) for a scan at the measly price of $2000. Mr. Visa says Noooooooo! And it may not even show anything. I've heard a rumour that there are such things as PET scans which are better for imaging cancer. But they are but a fairytale in this country. I don't know if they even are available here. And if they are I don't have the 5 year wait to spare.

So that is my conflict - being so thankful I am being taken care of so well and being angry that it could be much better and that there are other human beings who get the best available healthcare possible or get absolutely nothing at all.

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