I am feeling slightly better today. Over the weekend I figured out that my new ADD meds are not quite there, I think because of my "bad gut" as my Dr. calls it. All of the stuff I take depends on digestion, and between the lactose intolerance and the bouts of food poisoning I've suffered, I have some problems with that. Now I'm thinking that's another reason why the stuff doesn't always work well, or lasts too long, or not long enough.
Like estrogen & progesterone? Orally, I get a much different response than with creams or patches, like a measurable difference by blood tests. So I'm sure it isn't that different with other things. Anyway, onward and upward, off to phone the Dr. again....
Sooo, news that has made me wonder today. This story is heartbreaking, because it was so preventable. The kid had neuroblastoma, and there are a whole bunch of studies showing a dramatic drop in incidence after folic acid was introduced to the food supply in North America ten years ago. Perfect link? No...but still pretty damn compelling. I still remember going to a lecture at U of T with an embryologist from the UK who talked about the damage from Vitamin A and the benefits from folic acid and other B vitamins. He had made it his lifes work to tell the world and convince governments & industry to fix it. He was so inspiring that I have never forgotten him; his anguish, his tears of frustration at bureaucrats who refused to listen to the evidence he presented. Health Canada committees are STILL debating adding it to more flour based foods, even as the evidence grows and the UK has just decided to do it. Apparently all these governments are worried that the elderly will have B12 deficiencies as a result, even though simple annual blood tests could take care of that issue. Our miscarried babies don't have those options, and half of all pregnancies are unplanned, and even among the planned ones, many of us are deficient in vitamins.
But hey, we all know that governments don't give a damn about the morality of saving lives, even adult ones, right? It's all about the money. And lest you all think I'm damning only the UK here, I'm not, governments all around the world use actuarial equations, and HMOs and US health insurance companies do everything on this basis.
How much is your life worth to you? To your husband? You parents? Your kids? To your workplace?
The NY Times has a story about the Missing Angels campaign here. (Thanks Maggie!) The YouTube video they made is right here, makes me cry every time. The US is pretty far ahead of us. Right now in Ontario I can't get a stillbirth certificate at all, totally illegal under the Vital Statistics Act, never mind a separate birth and death certificate. More work to do I guess...
And the new Michael Moore movie Sicko? There's an article here that mentions the flack he gets from Canadian reporters about how he dared to say our system was better than the US. Yep, leave to a Canadian to get pissed over a compliment. Sometimes I think we aren't just self-effacing, we really are our worst critics!
For a quick and dirty explanation of why we have waitlists for some procedures, we are geographically the second largest nation on earth, but have 1/10th the US population. (This one fact is a huge study area in Canadian political science btw. Affects everything...) Our largest cities are smaller than small US ones, so travel costs, and increased provider costs are some of the biggest barriers. For example, a neighbour of ours came down with an incredibly dangerous mystery infection a few years back. We live within a 20 minute ambulance ride of several large hospitals that can handle this type of thing. He came into the ER, was seen right away, had weeks in intensive care, MRIs and various scans, and an entire team of Doctors assigned to his care until he recovered, home care included. All free, no waits, no issues.
I personally have not had to wait for procedures or tests because again, I'm in an area with high density, lots of experienced Docs, and I'm pretty proactive about my health. (I still run into problems, as I have discussed many times, but I am not a "classic" case, so I'm unwilling to blame public health care for that part...complicated patients like me aren't easy anywhere!)
But for people who live outside the core? In the suburbs, or in far rural areas? Yes, they have waits...sometimes due to the system, sometimes due to not getting regular screening checks (note my fear of the c-word in a previous post), sometimes due to their own lack of advocacy. There is a small city-suburb east of me, that does not have even one neurologist at their hospital. Horrifying, eh? Except that what they call a city, would be termed a very small town in the US and no neurologist wants to bother going there because there will never be enough patients. Even if they wanted to practice part-time, their skills would suffer due to lack of use. And the people of the suburb? They are appalled that they have to drive an hour to the big city to see a neurologist, unwilling to go on cancellation lists because they would have to miss work, and if they have a serious medical problem that means regular visits to stay alive? Totally unwilling to move nearer to the hospital or doctor that could save them.
Instead it's all the system's fault...
I've met patients who live in tiny little northern towns, (like pop. < 5,000) and have children with life-threatening chronic illnesses, who insist that a pediatrician and a team of physiotherapists and health care providers should exist in their tiny little town and scream that they are being discriminated against because these services only exist in the big city, and I'm sorry but I just can't believe it would be so different in the US. I hear about US bloggers who have to go to bigger cities for treatment all the time, about people who change jobs or move to get better health care and I can't help but wonder if we Canadians have just not heard enough about that?
I hear about older people who don't have answering machines, and are shocked when when their home care plans fall apart, about people who don't plan ahead to get their prescription meds renewed and fume because they run out. Or my fave, the ones who refuse to follow Doctors advice about taking their meds or lifestyle changes and don't magically get better. How is that public health care's fault?
I don't love Docs, I know I personally screw up my own health sometimes, and health care systems are not so good at it either, many things are totally out of our hands like genes, or our health as children and before birth, but holy mackeral, can I just say that publicly funded systems are pretty damn good, considering what they have to work with here?
Ranting over, I'm glad I've got that off my chest. Thanks!