canada day


Happy Canada Day to my Canadian readers. I hope y'all enjoy doing Canadian things today — having free healthcare, eating gravy and cheese curds on your French fries, and going to Tim Hortons for Timbits and coffee. It's a good thing you have free healthcare because all of the doughnuts and fries with gravy and cheese curds can't be good for you, but what do I know? I'm not a doctor, I just use the WebMD. Canada has free healthcare, but you have to put a quarter in your cart at the grocery store to use it. That's something I pondered each time I went to the grocery store when I lived in Alberta. If you go to the grocery store without a quarter — no cart for you. If you go to the hospital with an empty wallet you can get treated. Sure, the hospitals don't have soap in the showers, but you can get any sort of operation (provided they have enough beds and that you're sicker than other people).

It's an odd system. The middle child was born in Alberta. I was 10 days overdue and had to wait to be induced because there weren't enough hospital beds. I was finally induced after they ran a non-stress test and thought the baby might be in be in distress (luckily a new mom had just been discharged). She had breathed in meconium and had to have a tube placed down her throat numerous times throughout the day and night to have the junk sucked out of her lungs. It was scary. I can't say this wouldn't have happened in America, but I never had to wait for a hospital bed to be free in order to be admitted to have my two other children either.

The other thing that was not awesome about being sick in Canada was trying to get a doctor appointment. We lived in a small town. There were two gynecologists, one dermatologist who only visited the town a few days per month, a couple of pediatricians, and family doctors. Two dentists. Exactly zero of the doctors my family saw in Alberta were Canadians. They were from South Africa and other parts of Africa, educated in London. When I had bronchitis, there was no "we'll squeeze you in" when I called the family doctor's office. I had to go to the emergency room to be seen. This also happened when the oldest had an ear infection. I knew neither one of those cases were emergencies and I felt weird about being in the ER when a child was rushed in, having half of her face bitten off by a dog. That was an emergency. 

I think there must be a happy medium. There must be a way to have less expensive healthcare for the people and for doctors to be paid well for the jobs that they do. Every doctor I saw in Canada seemed to be just doing their duty for the length of time they had to do it. My doctors in America (save for one bastard in Macon, GA who handed me a pamphlet on recurrent miscarriage after my second miscarriage) have mostly seemed genuinely interested in my well being. I can only speak for my experience, but my Canadian doctors had patients on a conveyor belt and punched the clock.  It made being sick worse. I couldn't help but feel like I was a foreigner for expecting something different. I was a foreigner, but I didn't expect to feel that way in a medical professional's office. As an American, I expect the best. What I came to expect in Canada was the minimum. The thing is, Canadians don't have the luxury of expecting any different because that's their system. I was the weirdo for thinking it was bizarre to go to the ER for an ear infection. To everyone else it was just life.

Happy Canada Day!


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