Oh Canada

I love being a Canadian.

To be born Canadian was to be born fortunate.

Canada is a great place to live. As Canadians we:

Are a democratic country

Have freedom of speech and religion

Value diversity

Love to say “eh?”

Apologize for everything

Have a passion for all things hockey

Prefer to use British English over American English (i.e. it is colour, not color)

Have decent gun control policies to help reduce violent crimes

Can be annoying polite

Are blessed with some of the most beautiful untouched natural landscape in the world

No matter where I travel in the world, I am grateful that I can return home to a beautiful and safe country.

Today is Canada day (the celebration of the birth of our country on July 1, 1867), so what better day then to celebrate being an unexplained recurrent pregnancy loss (RPL) patient. Yes, I did just say celebrate being an unexplained recurrent pregnancy loss patient – I did not realize I would ever think to celebrate this, but I guess like everything there are always positive things to focus on. And the positive side of me being diagnosed with RPL is that I am a Canadian.

Being a Canadian I have government funded public medical care. For the most part, I do not have to worry about the cost of my medical treatments – according to Wikipedia “about 91% of hospital expenditures and 99% of total physician services are financed by the public sector”. From my personal experience, things like almost all doctor visits, hospital stays, blood tests, surgeries are covered. This of course means we do not need to worry about paying out of pocket for these procedures or for private insurance and there are no co-payments. And, when we do have to pay for doctor appointment in my experience it is for more extravagant reasons – i.e. traveling out of country and want to ensure I have the necessary shots and medications for the trip, or if a full medical is required for one’s life insurance policy. Otherwise, what all Canadians do have to pay for is the cost of medication, so most of us have private medical insurance for this type of circumstance. Usually this is provided by your employer through some sort of employee/employer benefit paid plan – in my experience as a professional, this is usually incredibly cheap to the point of not being a concern. Sometimes, for those who are self-employed or unemployed (my husband and I) you purchase this type of coverage on your own. And at least in our province, this is pretty straight forward and doesn’t seem overly expensive.

I should point out that in Canada a lot of medical coverage changes between provinces. Ultimately, throughout the entire County, everyone is entitled to the publicly funded system for nearly all major and necessary procedures. So, from an infertility perspective, this means that I believe only 1 or 2 provinces provide funding for IVF, whereas the rest do not (as I’m not experienced in IVF, I’m not positive which ones cover and which ones do not). So, there are still differences, but at the end of the day in Canada, no-one should die due to being unable to afford a procedure.

Yes, the Canadian system is not perfect, and I’m sure a quick Google search would indicate there are problems. Problems, like long wait times for elective, non-emergent conditions or screening tests. But, ultimately, in our experience, once you need help, you get help in this country. So, I’ll take wait times for elective non-emergent conditions any day over bankruptcy due to an unforeseen medical emergency. And, I also acknowledge that no system is perfect, so we will experience problems or annoyances from time to time.

So, how has the public system affected my husband and I as we are experiencing Recurrent Pregnancy Loss? Simple, every single thing has been paid for except our medications. A brief list of what we has been paid for:

  • Sonohysterogram
  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG)
  • Countless blood tests – 5 pregnancies = lots of beta testing!
  • Genetic testing
  • 1 Emergency D&C with over 11 medical professionals in the operating room
  • 1 hospital stay as a result of the emergency D&C
  • 1 medically required abortion (see post here)
  • 1 appointment at the Early Pregnancy Loss clinic (worst medical experience of our entire RPL process, more on that another day)
  • At least 5 Emergency Room visits
  • All medications provided to me in the hospital and at the early pregnancy loss clinic (misoprostol/cytotec, morphine, anaesthetics, etc.)
  • Countless family doctor medical visits
  • Countless RE appointments
  • Countless ultrasounds (I’d venture the guess that we are averaging 10 per miscarriage as we wait to confirm fetal demise)
  • Psychologist appointments (this is usually privately paid in Canada, but I have coverage for it so I do not pay)

So, what exactly am I thankful for? I am thankful I am experiencing this horrible experience and all the above medical procedures as a Canadian. I imagine if I were in a different country with a private medical system (i.e. USA), I would have to factor in the cost of all of these procedures to determine if we can continue trying to have a family. And we would likely be bankrupt quite some time ago. Instead, I figure I have just “earned back” every tax dollar my husband and I have ever spent and probably more! So, I guess this means we never get to complain about paying taxes again!

And, since I love being a Canadian, I thought I’d also share a classic beer commercial from a few years back that does a great job of showing off all the other non-medical reasons why I love being Canadian:

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I think today is a good day to talk about mental illness. Specifically the stigma of mental illness.

First I’ll tell you about me – I for one, am no longer working. I have left my job. Before quitting I attempted to go on short term disability but was turned down because I’m just not that sick (see my post about my mental health diagnosis). Now, I do not believe that I am that sick and that I am battling mental illness. But, I think I could be at risk, given the lat 2 years of my life.  And, I have had some pretty low times right after a miscarriage, which I’m sure would be classified as some sort of depression, but, I always pull myself out of it. And, knowing I’m at risk as I’m dealing with each miscarriage, I have sought help. I asked my doctor for help when I realized how stressed out I was and he set me up with an amazing counselor. I trust her and I know I can call her tomorrow if I need to.   I am utilizing all the medical resources available to me to ensure my adjustment disorder doesn’t turn into something else.

But, I believe that others are suffering and are not getting the help they need. I blame society. I blame all of us.  We are all guilty. We all suck.

We are not doing enough to help people who are suffering with their own internal demons.

Here are a few examples:

My first example is someone in my husband’s family. He is in his 60s. From my husband’s childhood memories and more recent tidbits we hear from family members, we have pieced together that at some points this individual lived with his parents as a grown adult for years at a time because he “wasn’t feeling well”; he has never been able to hold down a job due to his problems; he is a hoarder; he has seen psychologists; we think he’s been medicated at times, etc. Again, we have no idea what the real problem and we have no details on any diagnosis. For his entire life, his family has enabled him to carry these demons and not address them – his parents bought and paid for his home, his parents paid for and now their estate is paying all his bills, the siblings are cleaning out his home for the second time in about 5 years.  Now, there are plenty of highly qualified mental health experts out there, why isn’t he seeing anyone regularly? Why doesn’t he have a team of doctors working with him to help him? Imagine what his life could have been and still could be, if he received proper treatment? Instead the family is so scared to admit the truth about the situation. They are too embarrassed to seek help and admit that someone in the family suffers from mental health issues. And so the people he needed the most, who should have known better, have let him down. And continue to let him down.

Another example is my step-brother. I have no idea what all he has been diagnosed with. I’ve been told, or rather have over-heard and put pieces together multiple conversations to determine that he has OCD and depression. He also has addiction issues – I’m not sure which feeds which, nor does it really matter. And, I’m not sure if this is the complete list of ailments. The big difference between my first example and him, is that my parents have worked to provide him medical support, and likely will continue to.  I suspect they work hard not to enable him, but have in the past and likely will in the future got him into addictions treatments and treatment with various mental health experts.  But, I don’t really know.  I do not know details about his diagnosis or his prognosis.  So, my point is that I, one of his immediate family members doesn’t know what is actually wrong with him.  Why don’t we talk about this stuff??

Why won’t we address mental health problems and work to assist the people who are dealing with them? Why do we let this category of horrible diseases silently affect people? If we won’t even talk about it openly, then how are we supposed to help the person suffering? How can we expect them to seek treatment when they must lurk in dark corners and hid their issues from society?

My question today is why are we doing this? We are we, in a modern society (Canada) allowing mental health issues to destroy lives? We have the ability to help these individuals, why aren’t we taking the responsible steps to help? I understand the need for privacy, but if either of the individuals had an “acceptable” disease like diabetes or cancer or colitis, we would both discuss the problem and medical prognosis and we would help them! We would do anything to help them! Heck, I’m living proof that our medical system even provide mental health support to people going through miscarriages, so why can’t we provide support to others in need (note that I sought out help because I recognized that I might need some help to develop effective coping strategies)? Modern medicine can help!  So why are we, as in our society, living behind a vale of silence? Why are we accepting this? When are we doing to change? How many more lives need to be lost to the stigma of mental illness before we start to provide adequate care to those in need.

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