It’s been a while since I posted. Last month was awful, and it was capped off with a trip through Canada’s socialized medical system. After my friend got a referral from an outside Expert, I arrived with him at the Emergency Room of one our nation’s Fine Hospitals. 9 hours later he was finally admitted, and they began a rigorous course of testing for Heart Disease and Swine Flu – neither of which were the reasons he’d come there in the first place.
At first I kept myself amused by playing with any of the equipment I could get my hands on, and then by casing the security systems and examining the door locks, but the security guards – complete with tazers, handcuffs, and multitools (they were far better equipped than the old men you see guarding our military bases; the closest thing they have to a weapon is a radar gun) were quick to notice a Free Man standing in their midst, and ordered me to head across the street to the bar, where my drinks were served by a young Asian girl in a bikini.
The whole experience was jarring, particularly in a place called an ‘Emergency Room’. Several other customers – I mean, members of the proletariat – decided they’d waited long enough and left, one whose progressive alcoholism had resulted in a seizure, and another who was complaining about a swollen appendix – presumably of the opinion that either A) once their case worsened the ambulance would give them prompt attention, or B) dying at home in the loving glow of their televisions would be preferable to waiting in this stale, halogen-lit environment with nothing for entertainment but a single cathode ray tube playing a CBC report about how the Premier of one of our East Coast Provinces made it a habit to visit New York for his medical needs.
I chatted with one of the nurses, and she told me that they’d recently converted one of the storage closets into a patient room. They now stack their equipment along the walls.
But ranting about make-do solutions like that, the ratty-looking desks and tables, the Windows 95 Operating Systems, and the general 3rd World vibe to the place misses the point. Having brand new mahogany desks and MacBook Pros (that’s what House uses to read his spreadsheets, isn’t it?) aren’t going to make a lick of difference with the treatment you get. The reason I mention them however is because of the mindset they imply – Fuck You if you have a problem with it, it’s not like you have anywhere else to go. Veterinarians may be expensive, but at least they know which side of their bread is buttered; that’s why you get things like comfortable seats, decent magazines, and prompt service when your ferret catches the flu.
Long story short, my friend got better despite the medical service he received. I spent a week helping him out, jumping through pointless bureaucratic hoops, and raging impotently at his Kafka-esque system which retains the right to judge me Psychologically Unsound without any sort of Due Process.
I hear something similar’s been happening in the US. I’ll get to that next time.