Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Just the Same

A good, little day, just the same. That's how my dearly departed dad would have described it.

One of the traumas of moving, at least in this part of Canada, is the doctor shortage. There is one, you know — in just about all parts of the province. At least partly, it stems from a conservative government's unfortunate doctrine — skimping on public health capital to give tax breaks to the rich. We now pay the price; it will take years to rectify the damage caused by such short-sightedness.

In this town, as in many, there are no doctors who are open to take new patients, but we gambled that this would work out for us. It's a reasonably big gamble at this stage of life. For me and mine, at least, things start to go wrong in the sixth decade. Not terribly wrong, but wrong enough that we get it; we begin to understand where we're headed. We begin to get it loud and clear as a matter of fact.

If all else were to have failed, the town does have a hospital whose walk-in clinic enjoys a stellar reputation. Of course, everyone would still prefer to have their own, presumably dedicated, doctor. It was in this clinic that Butterfly was recently invited to join a certain doctor's patient roster. Even more recently, Butterfly asked this same doctor if she would take us on too. Yes, she would.

Both Cuppa and I could see this doctor, or I could opt to register with her male partner. The choice was mine. My first preference was for everybody in the family to be attended to by the same doctor. Secondly, in my unusual way of looking at life, I deduced that if all other things were equal, as a male I should consciously choose to be attended by a female practitioner. After all, women have been attended to by men for lo these many years, so what statement would I be making if I were to wimp out over a bit of role reversal. It might seem silly, and doubtless it is, but such are the peculiar workings of what passes for my mind.

Today was the day for our introductory meeting. We were nervous. Would we like this person, or would we now be stuck with someone with whom we we felt uncomfortable or even incompatible? In she walked, very tall, and very fit. Because of the casual nature of this initial consultation, Cuppa and I were both in the two-seat examining room. I jumped up to offer this thirty-something lady my chair. Nothing doing. She shooed me back into the chair and perched herself contentedly on the examining table. I was impressed already.

I kept on being impressed. She was great: calm, thorough, and unhurried. She listened too, without interrupting or cutting us off after five words. What strange behaviour for a doctor! As a result of her gentle thoroughness, Cuppa and I have both walked out with our tetanus shots updated, and I clung to referral slips for both physio and massage therapy. You see, after real improvement last week, my back has regressed and is plaguing me afresh this week.

What a relief! We both feel comfortable with and confident in this lady doctor.

It was a beautiful day, so we when we exited the medical offices, we opted to go for our first leisurely and exploratory drive in this new area. We followed the Mississippi river north to Alton and on to Pakenham. Both are quaint little towns; the drive was wonderfully pleasant and, sometimes, refreshingly scenic.

We stopped at a park by the Mississippi in Alton and took some pictures. This was one of them.

Nice place we've come to. Eh?



Norma said...

What a lovely photo. Could you provide the link, or refresh our memories, on why or where you moved? I noticed in the summer you were moving, and remembered you had a little farm house somewhere and wondered if you had moved there.

PBS said...

That's a beautiful place! It's very difficult to find a new doctor or especially, a dentist here too.

swamp4me said...

I look forward to seeing more pictures of your new stomping grounds.
Glad you found someone to help you care for that pesky back problem!

Lynn said...

I checked out Pakenham on Google Earth. It looks pretty nice up that way. I didn't know there was a Mississippi there.

defiant goddess said...

Wow! That is beautiful!

I'm glad you found a nice lady doctor and that you were open to having one.

-epm said...

Ah, the challenges of finding a new doc.

Here in the States, it's a pretty safe bet that if you're under 65 the only way to see a doctor -- outside of the ER -- is to have health insurance. And the only way to have health insurance is to be employeed.

At the end of each year most businesses present a new selection of health care options and the employee must choose a new health plan for the upcoming year. Even if the employee wishes to stay with the same insurance provider that may not be possible since, in all likelihood, the offerings will have changed and the plan the employee was so happy with may no longer be available. With plan selected, it's now a matter of not only finding a doctor, but a doctor who will accept the insurance provider you've selected.

It's important to note that, with few exceptions, the roll of health insurance companies in America is not to cover your health care costs, it's to work as hard as they can to find loopholes in the policy through which they can keep your money and NOT cover your health care costs. Let's just say this is a road I'm very familiar with.

BTW, nice photo.

Bonita said...

It is always soothing to go for a walk out in the country after you've tackled medical issues...tells me the real healer of lots of life's ills is just a gentle stroll with someone we love.

Linda said...

You're right. Finding a good doctor is mighty tough in this wonderful country. I found a great one, 2 blocks away from my home. She's young and up on the latest. Only, if I have a sore throat, the earliest appointment I can get is weeks away. So, I faithfully see her once a year, try to stay healthy and if necessary, visit a walk-in. Thankfully I haven't had to visit a walk-in for years.

Lisa said...

I'm glad you found a doctor that you like. It's an important choice, wherever you happen to be, to have a medical professional you can trust and feel confident in and comfortable with.

EPM - not so sure you speak for the "standard" situation in the US. I have to say that I run into very few issues regarding coverage of my families' health care services. Of course, I spent too many years writing group health insurance verbiage, so I guess I know a bit about what an insurance policy normally covers and what it does not. Sounds like you need a more trustworthy provider than the one you have. Whatever happened to Medicare for those over 65? I'm paying for that for you, you know.. if you are, in fact, of that age. :)

-epm said...

RE: Lisa

You may be right. I've found little problem, with general medical needs: annual physical exam, the occasional pediatric visit, the odd sprained ankle or broken arm, etc. However -- again in my experience -- when a health issue becomes chronic, or is only managed through medications, orthopedic appliances, or when extended care or therapy is needed, the HMO/PPO systems I've had over the past twenty-odd years have, by and large, fallen short. Not to mention the problem of coverage when you are "out of area" and an emergency arises.

My experience is still that the US system of health-care-through-employment is very good for people who generally don't need health care, but very, very expensive for those who actually need, well, health care.

Simply Coll said...

Working in the health care field, I am very familiar with the doctor shortage that plaques this country. It is not only in Ontario, it is a problem in Manitoba as well. The rural communities are the hardest hit but even in Winnipeg it is impossible to find a family doctor if you do not all ready have one. The consequences are many.. but I should probably stop here.

I too am fortunate to be under the care of a gentle thorough doctor. She also is a women. I do not know if the two just naturally go together.. I somehow doubt it.. but I feel very fortunate none the less.

Your photo is lovely.