Thursday, June 25, 2009
I just read this article comparing Canadian and American health care systems and found it to be enlightening and wanted to share it with others. A blog seemed to be the simplest way.
U.S. citizens have likely seen by now television commercials denouncing health care reform as a plot to create a Canadian-style totalitarian nightmare. Some feel a wee bit scared.
Back in the election campaign, some people spread rumours that Barack Obama might be a secret Muslim conspiring to impose Sharia law on us. That seems unlikely now, but what if he's a covert Canadian plotting to impose ... health care?
Rick Scott, a former hospital company chief executive, leads a group called Conservatives for Patients' Rights. He was forced to resign as CEO after his company defrauded the government through overbilling, and is now trying to block meaningful health care reform by terrifying us with commercials of "real-life stories of the victims of government-run health care."
So here's a far more representative "real-life story."
Diane Tucker, 59, is an American lawyer who moved to Vancouver, B.C., in 2006. Like everyone else there, she now pays the equivalent of just $49 a month for health care.
Then one day two years ago, Tucker was working on her office computer when she noticed that she was having trouble typing with her right hand.
"I realized my hand was numb, so I tried to stand up to shake it out," she remembered. "But I had trouble standing."
A colleague called 911, and an ambulance rushed her to the nearest hospital.
"An emergency room doctor met me at the door, and they took me straight upstairs to the CT scan," she recalled. A neurologist explained that she had suffered a stroke.
Tucker spent a week at the hospital. "The doctors were great, although there were also a couple of jerks," she said. "The nursing staff was wonderful."
Still, there were two patients to a room, and conditions weren't as opulent as at some American hospitals. "The food was horrible," she said.
Then again, the price was right. "They never spoke to me about money," she said. "Not when I checked in, and not when I left."
Scaremongers emphasize the waits for specialists in Canada, and there's some truth to the stories. After the stroke, Tucker needed to make a routine appointment with a neurologist and an ophthalmologist to see if she should drive again. Initially, those appointments would have meant a two- or three-month wait, although in the end she managed to arrange them more quickly.
Tucker underwent three months of rehabilitation, including physical therapy several times a week. Again there was no charge, no co-payment.
Then, last year, Tucker fainted while on a visit to San Francisco, and an ambulance rushed her to the nearest hospital. But this was in the United States, so the person meeting her at the emergency room door wasn't a doctor.
"The first person I saw was a lady with a computer," she said, "asking me how I intended to pay the bill." Tucker did, in fact, have insurance, but she was told she would have to pay herself and seek reimbursement.
Nothing was seriously wrong, and the hospital discharged her after five hours. The bill came to $8,789.29.
Tucker has since lost her job in the recession, but she says she's stuck in Canada -- because if she goes back to the United States, she will pay a fortune for private health insurance because of her history of a stroke. "I'm trying to find another job here," she said. "I want to stay here because of medical insurance."
Another advantage of the Canadian system, she says, is that it emphasizes preventive care. When a friend was diagnosed as being pre-diabetic, he was put in a free two-year program emphasizing an improved diet and lifestyle -- and he emerged as no longer being prone to diabetes.
If Tucker's story surprises you, you should know that Scott's public relations initiative against health reform is led by the same firm that orchestrated the "Swift boat campaign" against Senator John Kerry in 2004. These commercials are just as false, for Obama is not proposing government-run health care -- just a public insurance element in the mix.
No doubt there are some genuine horror stories in Canada, as there are here in the United States.
But the bottom line is that America's health care system spends nearly twice as much per person as Canada's (building the wealth of hospital tycoons such as Scott).
Yet our infant mortality rate is 40 per cent higher than Canada's, and American mothers are 57 per cent more likely to die in childbirth than Canadians.
In 1993, the Harry and Louise commercials frightened Americans into abandoning health reform. Let's ensure those scare tactics don't work this time.
Nicholas D. Kristof is a columnist with the New York Times.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Well, my planned food for the day hasn't gone the way I expected it to. I was going to have soup for lunch after I walked with my friends at work but both of them bailed on me and it's not a great neighbourhood to walk in by oneself so I didn't walk. But, for the first time in forever, I didn't have anything with me to read either and that's really unusual. I ALWAYS have something to read with me.
So, at lunch, I went looking for something to read so that I could eat my lunch and read at the same time. Well, the convenience stores in the neighbourhood were pathetic as far as magazines go. Other than porn, men's magazines and crossword puzzle books, there wasn't much. Finally after about 20 minutes, I ended up at a Shoppers Drug Mart and bought 3 magazines (Self, People and US Weekly) of which I've left the Self magazine in my truck for future needs.
And, then since I was out and about, I obviously didn't have my soup with me (not that it would be easy to eat in a truck anyway) so the next step was to find something to eat and I decided a slice of pizza sounded appealing but finding a pizza place that looked okay in the neighbourhood took me another 20 minutes to find and the one I ended up at only had pepperoni or Hawaiian so I went with the Hawaiian (I normally get veggie) and then I went and found a nice shady street to eat my pizza and read a magazine on but I ended up using my whole hour lunch when I usually only use half an hour so that I can bank the other half for all my doctors' appointments!
And, then after work, I had to go grocery shopping and I was planning on getting a mammoth roasted chicken for dinner plus potato wedges plus two salads plus a 2 L bottle of Coke for $13.99 but they didn't have the regular mammoth chicken that I know and love. All they had was chipotle so I had to get that and when I got home and DH and I tried it, we both hated it. I said it tasted like hot dogs and I hate hot dogs and although DH likes hot dogs, he expects chicken when he has chicken not hot dogs so it was kind of a bust meat-wise.
So, that's how my food plan today went awry.
Friday, June 19, 2009
I didn't feel like myself at all. Wednesday was an extremely busy day and I was sore all day. I had to be at the hospital by 9:30 a.m. to be injected with isotopes for a later bone scan and then I had to be at my niece and nephews' school for their end of year ceremonies by 10:30 and then I had to be back at the hospital for 12:30 for the bone scan.
The end of school ceremonies were good as usual but this year, they were held inside because it was calling for thunderstorms. Usually, it's outside.
I have one niece (8) and 3 nephews (8, 11 and 12) at the school and since I don't have my own kids, I tend to go to all of their plays and celebrations instead.
And, the school thing was one of the best parts of my day!
Anyways, when I left the hospital around 9:45 to go to the school, it took me 20 minutes so when I left the school to go back to the hospital, I left at 11:55 thinking that would give me plenty of time and maybe, I'd even have time to eat something except I didn't get to the hospital until 12:30 but I was hungry so I grabbed a tuna sandwich from their cafť and by the time I ate it and got back for my 12:30 appointment, it was 12:40!
The technician was very rude. She said that I was late and when I tried to explain what happened, she said she didn't want to hear it. She said that I actually should have been back for 11:30 but they had accommodated me for 12:30 because of my other engagement. I told her that I had explained all this on the phone when I had made the appointment and the woman on the phone had said it wouldn't be a problem.
So, the bone scan took about an hour with about 45 minutes of it lying down on my back with my legs and arms strapped down so that I couldn't move them. I don't know about other people with RA but I found it extremely uncomfortable not being able to move for 45 minutes while I was being scanned! And, it was kind of claustrophobic, too! The scanner was about an inch or two from my face for most of it (I had my glasses off) so I kept my eyes shut so that it didn't freak me out too much.
After the full body scan, I had to stand with my right arm and hand flat against a vertical scanner for 5 whole minutes in order to scan them and then I had to do the left arm and hand. Again, this was agonising for me; it really made my shoulders ache.
After the scan was finally done, I was totally wiped! All I wanted to do was go home and go to bed but I had plans to go out to dinner with my dad so instead, I went home and put warm socks and sweatpants on (I had been wearing a skirt and sandals because of the school thing and my feet were freezing because it was a rainy, cool day) and read a little and dosed a little until it was almost time to go.
I picked my dad up at 5:15 and I took him to my favourite Italian restaurant (La Spaghett). I was really looking forward to it.
I ordered my usual Pesto Pollo, which I normally love but this time, it was too spicy for me, which was weird because it's not normally spicy so I ended up not eating much of it and brought it home to DH. On the plus side, my dad loved the restaurant and said the pasta he had was among the best he'd ever had. I can't remember the name of the dish he had; it might have been Shrimp Sienna but I'm not sure but it was linguine with shrimp, onions, and tomatoes in an olive oil sauce. I tasted it and it was yummy. He even gave me a shrimp! And, of course it was nice spending time with him and discussing our lives.
So that was Wednesday.
But, yesterday was so weird. Once again it was rainy and cool and I felt totally blah all day.
I didn't feel like socialising at all and all I wanted to do was stay home and read but of course, I couldn't since I had to go to work, which I did.
I didn't feel like eating my usual foods. I didn't really know what I wanted. I wanted sweet but not chocolate. I definitely didn't want or enjoy salty yesterday, which is weird for me because that's far more normal than wanting sweets so I ended up having cinnamon toast for breakfast and dinner and although it tasted good, I didn't find it very filling so I was left unsatisfied.
And, when I got home from work, I didn't even turn on my computer. I just wanted to read, which I did (and I watched Little House on the Prairie). I finished the latest Jodi Picoult book (Handle with Care). It was very thought-provoking like her books usually are and it was in my dreams throughout the night.
And, now today, I feel bagged again (I think I might be fighting a cold) but I feel much more cheerful and sociable, which is good because I'm meeting a friend for lunch.
Friday, June 12, 2009
The one that was supposed to leave at 6:25 a.m. on the Saturday of the long weekend but they changed the schedule and didn't tell me and I got there at 6:10 a.m. only to be told the train had already left...
Well, I finally got around to emailing VIA Rail and guess what? They're issuing me a 50 percent credit for my next trip to be taken sometime before next June. I'm thinking maybe I'll go first class next year to my sister's if I only have to pay 50 percent!
Monday, June 08, 2009
So, I went to my doctor's today because Iíve been home from work since last Tuesday because of ribcage pain. Wednesday, I tried a massage, which only helped while I was having it and Thursday, I tried acupuncture which helped better than the massage in that the effects lasted until the next afternoon and today I went to see my GP.
He says I have to go for a bone scan which will take about 4 hours at one of the local hospitals. Yuck! And, all this will do will rule out any major problems (like cancer, I suppose) which will leave the diagnosis as costochondritis, which is what we suspect I have.
For those of you who don't know, costochondritis is an inflammation of the cartilage that connects a rib to the breastbone (sternum). It causes sharp pain in the costosternal joint ó where your ribs and breastbone are joined by rubbery cartilage and there is no real cure for it; it should go away on its own. Treatment is cold compresses, heating pads, and ibuprofen or acetaminophen and rest, which Iíve been doing.
The problem is that the pain is keeping me awake at night and then Iím so tired in the morning, I havenít been up to going into work. So tonight, Iím going to try a new way of coping and thatís by taking one ibuprofen every time I get up to go to the bathroom, which is about once every 2 hours and maybe that will keep the pain at bay and I'll get my needed sleep so that I can go to work tomorrow.
Wish me luck.
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