Canada & “Free” Healthcare

Lets talk healthcare.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I completely understand that there are places in the world where they have no access to healthcare of any kind.  I know that some people in America will be in debt until the end of time, due to healthcare.  I am fully aware that were I to live in another country, I would be paralyzed by now, or have died from the flu or a common cold years ago.  I get it.  I really do.  So calm your tits.

However, from someone who is “working class”, “functionally disabled”, and possibly “mentally ill”, let me tell you what a fucking sham our healthcare system is.

Let’s start with my ‘functional’.  I work approximately 40 hours a week.  I have a dog that does not require long walks, she has arthritis and cannot handle temperature extremes so two 20-30 minute walks a day seem to be a good balance for her.  I live alone, making all of the chores mine to do.  These include: Cooking, cleaning the house, washing dishes, all of the shopping, dog care, laundry and other various tasks throughout the year.

Most days by the time I come home and walk the dog, I am sore and exhausted.  I have no energy and my back just wont continue.  I know that I can wash and dry my laundry, but cannot fold it in the same day.  I can vacuum my floors and clean my bathroom, but will have to save mopping for another day.  Dishes need to be kept to a minimum, something about the position over the sink is painful to be in for a long period of time, and if I’m already sore, forget it.  The dishes get saved for another time.

I can’t sit for too long, or lay down for too long, or stand for too long.  There is not comfortable position.  It just doesn’t exist.  I wake up in the morning so stiff it feels like I was beaten with a bat from the base of my skull to my ankles (the part that isn’t just numb, anyhow).  My hands tingle like chilblains all the time, and there are portions of my body from my hips down that feel like they were shot full of Novocain.  Then there are the days where my skin is so sensitive it feels like I got terribly sunburnt the day before and even my clothing hurts, or I have so much back pain it hurts to take a breath, to move, to be alive.

Moving on:

Let’s talk medications.  I have doctors whose every solution is a pill; a new pill, more of a pill, snorting a pill, whatever (okay, that last one is an exaggeration.. but really).  Pills I cannot afford.  Expensive pills.  $200/month in bloody pills.  Every four months or so, the pills stop working as well, the pain all comes back and what happens?  Up your dose, so you blow through these pills even faster, thus making my life even more expensive.  I have no coverage.  Thank you though, government of Canada for covering medications for children and people living off the system (I understand that some of these people actually NEED to be on the system, but I bet the percentage of people just sitting on their ass enjoying all of their free fucking pills is astonishing.)

Moving on.  Physiotherapy.  Honest to (insert deity here), I would be far from functional without it.  It is not covered under OHIP until I am wheelchair bound.  What?  Oh ya, that’s right.  I go to physio (at $65/session) to keep myself working, to remain a contributing member of society, and the government will only cover me when I get to the point where I am wheelchair bound.  Makes sense right?  Why help someone maintain functionality, so they may continue working and paying taxes and making a contribution to society?  Let’s cover them when they are not able to work and are living on government funding?

Mental health.  Life happens.  To some people it happens in loving families, babies, love and laughter.  To others it’s broken dreams, loneliness, tears and a loss of hope.  I have found a therapist.  I love her.  She is truly amazing.  She is also $90 a session.  Needless to say, I do not see her any longer (although I’m sure I need to).  I can give you a glimpse of my OHIP covered therapy experience.  Sitting in tears in an office affiliated with my GP, after telling a perfect stranger my feelings (which you hold back on, because they expect you to trust a woman you have never laid eyes on before with the very core of your little damaged, broken heart) and she says “but you don’t really feel that way”.  Pardon?  I don’t?  Um, ok.  You’re right I guess.  Because that would be messy, and I don’t want to create a mess for anyone.  I guess I lied; all the while I can feel that damaged little piece shrinking even smaller and curling up even further into the darkness to keep itself far from anyone who could ever see it, hurt it, touch it.   Or, after staring at the many massive bottles of pills in your house, through tears that have been falling for so long they hurt now, and you cannot breathe.  You call a number you have been given for a psychiatrist and leave a message asking how to get an appointment, how it’s paid for, asking for a call back “it’s really important”.  You make that call three times, on two different days and leave three messages.  And they never call you back.  “Free healthcare”.

“What does your occupational therapist say?”, “Have you gone to the pain clinic?”, “What about getting onto a drug study with the company?”, “What about Trillium Healthcare?”.  These are some of the dozens of questions I have been asked, to which my response is: “What is that?  I didn’t know it existed”.  But why?  Why did none of the doctors, therapists, or specialists that I see even mention these things?  Because our free healthcare services are so over stretched and under funded that they are tired, there mind is already on the next patient, they assume that someone else will offer help?  There are so many resources that I have never heard of, that I need, that could be so helpful for me, but how do I chase down something that I didn’t even know was out there?  I tell people all the time to advocate for themselves, because in this system the patient needs to be the one who takes their health in their own hands.  We need to request the referrals, we need to seek out the programs and resources, we need to write up the letters and just present them for a signature.  Is that worth it being free?  Is this system really working for the masses?  Or is it only viable for the few who have the time or the money to force it to work for them?


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