Modern Medicine Rocks!
Not long ago, my nephew needed a drug designed specifically to — get this — decrease the buildup of fluid behind his eyeball. Believe it or not, such a medicine exists and he got it. Not that anyone was really surprised. We’re starting to take miracle drugs like that for granted.
I’ve been known to make people run out of the room with my praise for health care in this country. It’s a known fact at our house that my kids would rather do math homework than hear me go on about it. But it’s true: Canada’s a great place to be sick.
I’m not alone. I have an ally, a physician who was quoted in the Toronto Star, saying the health-care system in this country … works darn well.” His name was Dr. Peter Carter. He was testifying at the Romanow Commission and I guess his comments were so unusual, they were news. As friends, colleagues and one spouse in particular added after they saw the story, “That is such a Peter Carter thing to say.”
So, naturally, I phoned him up. When I told him where I worked, Dr. Peter Carter responded cheerily: “I know who you are. We do have a waiting room, you know.” (Chatelaine is big in waiting rooms.)
Then Dr. Carter and I talked about how well things work. I told him about my good friend who, that very week, had an emergency repair job at a Sudbury, Ont., hospital. Doctors stuck a narrow tube with a tiny video camera inside him to get a picture of his heart and then, via the same pathway, installed a thing called a stent to shore up an injured vein. It was done under a local anesthetic. My pal was home the very next day.
Another newspaper story. Some man collapsed in an urban Canadian hotel. Paramedics tried to get him into the closest emergency room but were rerouted to the other end of the city, where he waited 25 hours or so for treatment. Which he got. Sure enough, he was home the next day. The story was about how long he waited for treatment. I had a different take. The way I read it, the guy was scraped off the floor and had his life saved by strangers. But that’s just me.
I know, I know, some day one of my children will be lying on an emergency ward gurney and I’ll be anxious and nagging and critical. You should have seen me when our twin daughters were born prematurely and I thought the nursery staff wasn’t giving them the TLC they deserved. Never stand between a father tiger and his sickly cubs. But you know what? We don’t do our clearest thinking when we’re in high dudgeon.
I’m definitely not saying the healthcare system’s perfect. And there’s no getting around the fact that being sick sucks. Still, the health-care system is a work-in-progress.
I am old enough to remember when we didn’t have a health-care system. And Dr. Carter thinks the one we have shouldn’t be tampered with too radically. “It’s adaptable, that’s the beauty of it,” he told me. “Look at the recent hepatitis C scare. The system didn’t collapse. It adapted.”
Since Dr. Carter moved to this country 30 years ago from England, he has lived in Newfoundland and B.C. He knows Canada. And he’s convinced it’s probably one of the best places in the world to raise kids.
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