The Imperfections of Canadian Healthcare

My Canadian readers are clamoring for clarifications on my posts that extol the free universal healthcare system in Canada. To ensure that my relatives who are in Canada don’t stop talking to me, I will clarify: the Canadian healthcare system is absolutely amazing if you have a serious health issue. You will get an operation, the most sophisticated tests, the best care for free. You will be kept at the hospital for as long as you need. Doctors and nurses will dance around you, making sure that you are healing properly. Nobody is pinching pennies to get rid of you as soon as you are marginally OK. Post-surgery or post-treatment outpatient care is also absolutely brilliant.

If a person suffers a heart attack or a stroke, God forbid, they will receive the kind of care that will allow them to restore their faculties as much as possible and as soon as possible. And it is, indeed, a huge relief not to worry about the cost while you are on a hospital bed.

However, when your ailment is not as major as the ones I just named, you’ll run into problems. Even in big cities, getting help for less serious issues is very hard. To give an example, I had my first spike in blood pressure when I was 24. I had no idea what it was that I was experiencing and I was terrified. My sister took me to the emergency room (this was in Montreal.) For over six hours, I waited in line (this was during the  night time), suffering horribly. If your BP ever spiked to 200 (which I really hope it never does), you’ll know what that feels like. (For those who are worried for me, I will clarify that I learned to manage my BP non-medicinally and haven’t had a spike in a long time.)

Finally, I was seen by a nurse who took me to make tests. For some incomprehensible reason, nobody took my blood pressure. Now I know what it was after experiencing the same spike in BP many times after that. Then, I had no idea. And neither did the medical stuff. Everything occurred extremely slowly. I kept being left sitting in cold rooms alone. Eventually, a doctor saw me.

“This is something weird that you have,” he said. “I suggest you go home and take a Tylenol.”

This, of course, is just my own story. However, I hear many other people say that urgent care is slow and very difficult to access unless you are on the death’s door. Then, it becomes miraculous and fantastic.

As for the specialists (gynecologists, otolaringologists, etc.), there is a shortage of them in Montreal. Finding a gynecologist who is taking on new patients is very hard. You have to wait for appointments forever. Many specialists prefer to move to the US, which is what results in the shortage.

P. S. People seem to get huffy when I narrate my experiences, which is surprising to me. This is a personal diary where I record what happens to me and what interests me. If I filled posts with copy-pasted statistics from the official governmental releases, would anybody even read them? I thought that people came here with the goal of reading my opinions and stories and sharing theirs. If anybody is here to be told the one objective truth about everything, you’ll be disappointed. I don’t even think such truth exists.

I’m sure there are people who have the opposite experiences with Canadian urgent care. They are welcome to share their stories. I, however, will continue sharing mine because they are part of my life and they matter to me.