Along the themes of my other Canada Day posts, I’d like to reiterate how lucky I am, as someone who’s needed a lot of medical treatment, to live in Canada. Cost wasn’t a factor in my decision (and ultimately, as I had next to no money when I discovered that I’d need brain surgery, my family’s decision) to have my AVM treated.
Heck, I could barely have afforded the first ambulance ride to the first ER visit, let alone the ER visit itself, if I’d lived in a country without universal health care. Even with my family helping as much as they could, how could we have afforded the 14-hour brain surgery with one of the best AVM surgeons in North America, let alone the rehabilitation that came afterward?
My new friend Cheryl Green wrote a great essay about brain injury for the “Criptique” anthology (which I highly recommend, by the way) in which she talks about many things that I could ramble about for hours…but today, as a Canadian, I’m struck by her observation that significant recovery after a brain injury (I use “recovery” even though I’m trying to avoid it…it’s not sitting well with me today) is often due to being in a privileged position. Well, if my story is any indication, that’s certainly true.
My Canada, My Privileged Recovery
Stories vary from region to region, as some provinces as definitely wealthier than others right now. The late Elizabeth McClung had a terrible time getting health services when she was really struggling, that would have been easier for her to get if she’d lived in my province, as British Columbia was struggling to pull itself out of debt after the Olympics after at the time. She experienced a much different health care system than I did. That wasn’t right. It was heart-breaking and infuriating to read her writings about what she was going through.
I didn’t live her experience:
I didn’t have to fight with insurance to stay in rehabilitation (in-patient or out-patient). In fact, staff fought for more inpatient rehabilitation for me once my allotted stay at the first hospital ended.
Nursing support was available for when I wanted to come home on weekends from the first rehabilitation hospital.
I didn’t have trouble getting onto the Ontario Disability Support Program. If I hadn’t, my family would have supported me, but the huge financial burden of paying for my medications was lifted because access to a drug plan came with ODSP.
When I was concerned that I’d had another small stroke, after being discharged from the AVM clinic, a phone call was all it took to get me back in for some diagnostic tests. A person I know who lives in the US never got diagnostic tests done after his stroke. He couldn’t afford insurance at the time.
Canadians DO pay for Health Care
As I’ve explained to the intellectually disabled people that I’ve worked with around tax time each year, Canadians do pay for health care with their taxes. That many people do not have the positive experience with the health care system that I have makes me sad – not just because it proves that there are parts of it that are most definitely not working well, but because it gives ammunition to those that would say that because some people have had a bad experience, the whole thing should be scrapped, especially to friends Stateside that seem to think that Canada’s system looks like what Obamacare presently looks like.
Just some notes on Obamacare:
Yes, the roll-out was problematic, and there were some responses by the Democrats (including Obama himself) that made me want to :headdesk:.
I still think it’s a step in the right direction.
For anyone not clear on my position on this: Canada’s system is not perfect. But the fact that money (or lack of it) doesn’t have to be a consideration when Canadians are evaluating healthcare options *is* one of the things that makes me proud to be Canadian.
It does make us privileged, but that’s not something about which we should feel badly. It’s just something to keep in mind.
May I always be mindful. Elizabeth helped to teach me that. I miss her.
Happy Canada Day!
“Criptiques” is available here, and is a must-read.