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Healthcare Hacks in the Time of Cholera

by Staff Writer

July 15, 2020

That’s Random

Healthcare Hacks in the Time of Cholera

So, would I like some help with this skin tag on my inner thigh? Yes, please. But am I entitled enough to even bring it up right now? That would be a hard no.

By Alyssa Saturley

Tommy Douglas, the Father of Medicare, and more recently voted The Greatest Canadian by a televised Canadian Broadcasting Corporation poll, once said: “My dream is for people around the world to see Canada like a little jewel sitting at the top of the continent.” 

When it comes to Healthcare, most do. 

There’s a video that’s been circulating forever,  in which a high level female Canadian doctor schools an American politician on Healthcare. I share it every time it makes the rounds. Not only is she the most erudite person in the room, (in every room?) but she gives us a chance to puff our chests out in rare superiority: We got this. 

 Or rather, we had this. 

 At the moment, and rightly so, our medical professionals are kinda busy. Covid-19 is what everyone’s having for dinner. As a result, Emergency wait times are down here in Calgary.

This is a good thing, not only for obvious reasons. How many times have you been waiting patiently as a group of young people rally around some dude with a frisbee injury (taking up an entire row of seats) and been tempted to ask them the obvious: Have you never heard of Urgent Care? Do you not have a family doctor? It’s a familiar scene. 

So, would I like some help with this skin tag on my inner thigh? Yes, please. But am I entitled enough to even bring it up right now? That would be a hard no. Despite my Nurse Practitioner leading the way with BrightSquid, phone consultations and prescription renewal subscription programs, I still wouldn’t mention it at this time.  

Not only because my little annoyance is nothing more than that, but also because I find myself equipped to at least investigate actively (rather than the passive way I used to) thanks in some part to our resourceful friends south of the border. 

Let me explain. 

What started as an effort to inform myself about critical toddler milestones has turned into a full-blown anthropological experiment: I pretend to be from faraway places.  

It’s true. I join private online Mommy Groups from other cities in order to infiltrate their culture and learn from both their victories and mishaps. 

Do I feel bad about it? No. My eyes have been slammed open as to how it is when worry for a health concern and the associated financial fallout deke it out for first place on the anxiety scale. 

The most surprising thing I observed in the pre-Covid world, (and even more so now) is that American moms use their online communities as not only a referral service, but more importantly, a diagnostic pit stop. 

When it comes to Americans and Healthcare, their can-do attitude manifests itself into rolling up your sleeves and getting down to it. 

Moms post pictures of their child’s rashes, injuries and (video) meltdowns, soliciting comments and opinions, at an alarming rate. 

I can now spot my fellow imposters from countries who have socialized medicine (and therefore fibbed about living locally when joining the group). 

“OMG get to Emerg!” one woman broke into ALL CAPS when a Mom posted a pic of an egg sized bump on her toddler’s forehead and mentioned he was growing lethargic. 

“Whoa whoa whoa. Let him sleep it off first,” was one immediate response. Not jumping the (permitted and concealed) gun is an important part of their process in prioritizing. 

At this point people flood the OP (original poster) with links to WebMD or an obscure study out of New Zealand. Then the Apple Cider Vinegar and Charcoal gang come forward with their thoughts. It’s at around this time that someone mentions Trump and the whole thing goes to hell. 

The range of topics and photos and stories runs the gamut from a paper cut to blood in the stool. And God help you if you’re asking about a possible ear infection because yuck.  

In a place where a trip to Critical Care for a stiff back can land you two Tylenol 3’s and a bill for $850 (as I once experienced in Los Angeles) it makes sense. Why pay that kind of money when, for the cost of your monthly Internet, you have millions of (self) qualified contacts at your fingertips? 

It’s like being back in the schoolyard, when the question “Oh yah? How do you know?” was most often met with an indignant response akin to “Because my Aunt’s new husband is a <insert profession here>!” (Doctor, Lawyer... all the jobs featured in YMCA, really). 

This is where I sheepishly admit that I once took my baby to Emerg when a blister, which turned out to be diaper rash, appeared and my exhausted self was unable to cope with his pain.

(P.S. They could not have been kinder to us both). 

Beyond motherly concerns, a search on bothersome skin tags lead me to > removal procedure > scarring > Dr. Pimple Popper! 

I’m going to go grab a beverage while you wrestle with your instinct to click or not click. 

It’s impossible to embark on a Health quest without bringing in the Wellness side. And no one explores this more openly than the people of Goop

Much has been opined about Gwyneth Paltrow’s motivation, knowledge and social responsibility. I had only ever dipped into the pot of Goop for skincare and shopping. So, when I recently binged episodes of her Goop Lab on Netflix, I was surprised at what a critical part her attitude plays in her quest for wellness. 

Neither endorsing nor lauding (for the most part) the gurus, Gwyneth provides the platform for them to share their philosophies while her staff of willing guinea pigs comments both during and after. 

Never claiming to be the teacher, she instead keeps reaffirming her position as the lifelong student. I admire this. PLUS, her disciples can (and DO) pay $106 CDN for the privilege of learning what her vagina smells like. Mad props for knowing the reach of your brand! 

No matter which side of the 49th Parallel you find yourself, things always look different from here. 

While some Americans moms organized Measles Parties last year to infect their kids on purpose and “get ahead of this thing...” 

... closer to home, advocates are speaking up against the cost of parking at hospitals. (Parking during medically necessary procedures is covered, but otherwise it’s not).  

The geographic border between our two countries remains closed (thankfully, for now), but our communication pipelines are wide open. 

This unique opportunity to gain perspective, and experience gratitude, is something I’m going to be clinging to for awhile.




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