Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Canadian Health Care and Pregnancy - Part I

Since I'm pregnant and in Canada I though I'd post a bit of an account of what it's like to navigate our health care system and what it costs me for any curious American readers. I hear lots of very weird stories from south of the border about what Canadian Health care is like but rarely do they seem to give an accurate picture of my experience. Keep in mind that health care is actually a provincial matter so my Nova Scotian experience may vary a bit from that of other Canadians.

March 18th I peed on a store bought stick. I hoped and hoped it would be positive although I absolutely knew it would be negative. Shock followed as the little blue cross appeared. A couple of hours later I called my doctor's office to schedule an appointment and was told I could get in Monday morning.

I've gone to the same clinic, although it's been through many different doctors and even a location change, since I was four years old. Only one of the receptionists has remained a constant. Contrary to what a lot of people think, we don't have socialized health care in Canada. We have a one insurer system with the one insurer being the provincial government (federal law mandates certain obligations and standards). When I visit my doctor's office I'm visiting an independent small business. Thankfully it's a very well run small business so there's generally a very short wait for appointments (often a few hours to a day or two) and very short waits in the actual office.

When I visited the doctor she talked about what I'd need to consider in terms of risk factors (my age), vitamins, future appointments and such. She sent off paperwork so that I could get an ultrasound to determine how far along I was and to get an appointment at the local maternity hospital because they apparently like to keep an eye on us older pregnant ladies. She also gave me a form so I could visit the local health services office for blood work and as I left we set up an appointment for my first official prenatal visit.

That afternoon I took the kids to music lessons and by the time I got back the local general hospital had called to let me know I had an ultrasound appointment on Wednesday of the next week. On that Wednesday the kids and I went in to the hospital and had about a 10 minute wait. The actual appointment was no longer then the wait, just enough time to check what they needed to check, find out that I was almost 10 weeks and that there was just one little fetus in there.

The blood work was actually done the Thursday before the ultrasound. We have local health clinics run by the province in more rural areas where people can come for that rather then having to make the drive into town. It's still 25 minutes away for me but that's not a big deal. The wait there was a little longer, maybe 15 minutes but the actual appointment was quick, friendly and efficient.

This week I had my actual prenatal exam. Back to my doctor's office where she gave me a complete going over for a good half an hour. I hadn't heard from the maternity hospital yet so she decided to follow up on that and see what was holding them up. She also sent me away with another form for blood work, this one for a maternal serum test which will apparently help detect Down's Syndrome and Spina Bifida. Again, because I'm so old.

There was no fee for any of this of course except for parking at the general hospital. At every appointment except for my doctor I did have to whip out my provincial health card but that was it.

Next up will be the maternal serum blood work and hopefully that appointment at the maternity hospital.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

On the Son Doing Laundry

Boys should learn to do laundry if for no other reason then they'll rack you up when you least expect it.

It was Harry's turn to do a load of laundry this afternoon. He went into the laundry room, starting working and about ten minutes latter tore into the living room with a glove on his hand. He held it up, yelled out, I have my anti-bra glove!" and raced back into the laundry room laughing like a maniac.

Apparently he was doing a load with some of my clothes in it. Boys.

Not Our Day of Rest

Sunday has lately become our family chore day. Of the three days a week my husband has off work (when not out on a call) Saturday is generally when we veg out and Monday is when all the family lessons and appointments get taken care of. So Sunday is the day we pick the bigger chores we need to get done, rope the kids into action and get down to work.

Today the husband cut firewood for next winter and I cleaned the cupboards and fridge. How quaint and traditional, eh? Much as my teenage self would have sneered at this it's just how it is. Since the kids really aren't a lot of help to someone wielding a tool that can hack off limbs they helped me and this is the result.

My kitchen pantry. Previously it was a mess, stuffed with multiple bags of half-used everything, all glued to the top shelf by a layer of molasses. The other shelves were mostly empty except for the odd bag of sprouting potatoes. Now it holds my cans, pastas, spices and overflow of baking supplies.

I was amazed to find I had quite a large stockpile of evaporated milk and cream of mushroom soup. Nowhere near what I want mind you but then again I have have visions of a near-prepper style room in the basement with cans and buckets full of extra food. Why? No, I don't think there's going to be any disaster in the near future. It's just that I'm getting to be a half-decent homemaker and this is something homemakers traditionally did. Heck, my mom used to do this, still does it. It makes sense when you're out in the boonies and can save a considerable amount of money.

Anyway, the other cupboards look equally nice. I've finally put the everyday baking supplies right by the counter area I use when I bake and found the chai tea bags I've been looking for forever.

And now the fridge.

Boy that's empty. Thankfully the husband and daughter are off right now getting groceries.

The kitchen itself looks better too (although it obviously needs a deeper cleaning).

You'll notice I don't actually have counter tops. It's just shelf paper with some leftover floor tiles but we might change that this summer. My blender is ancient because as with most of my smaller kitchen appliances, I bought it at a thrift store. Works perfectly. The eggshells on the sill are for seedings. The sink is full of jars ready to be cleaned and reused for storage. And yes, the "Country Kitchen" sign came with the house. I've grown to accept it. The chicken border will come off soon though.

This is the prime working area. I actually have a much ore spacious penninsula to the left of where I'm standing to take the picture but unless I'm rolling something out I prefer that corner. What's that baked good sitting on the counter you ask?

Hot cross buns sans the cross for the moment. I soaked the candied fruit in rum overnight so these are the secular/Anglican version which works for either me or the heathen husband. I'm quite impressed that I got all the cleaning done AND managed to bake something completely superfluous.

And for supper?


Friday, April 8, 2011

Ebert on Homeschooling

I think there's one thing people have got to understand about Roger Ebert's writing before they start getting upset about what he's written.

You have got to read a little bit of what he's written, understand his style a bit, get a feeling for it, before you start pulling your hair out over what you think he said.

The sense that I've always gotten from Ebert is that his sense of humour can be very dry and that he's perfectly content if you don't get the joke. He gives you all the information and context to find something he's written funny but if you haven't had your coffee yet or aren't in the mood or just aren't that bright he's not going to flip the switch to the flashing neon sign that says, "I was joking!"

Witness the great angst of many Ebert fans when he published his piece, Creationism: Your questions answered. A bit of a Google search will reveal people who were tying themselves in knots over whether Ebert had turned on good science. Never mind everything they might have known about Roger Ebert and anything he's said in the past - there was no punchline! He must be serious! When the consensus seemed to be that Ebert had indeed not meant it to represent his views but seemed to be writing it straight to expose the ridiculousness of creationism, well. Then folks whined about how he wasn't funny at all, didn't understand irony or sarcasm and most of all, though none admitted it, there was no punchline.

But to me, that's Roger Ebert. He assumes you're smart enough to figure out what's funny and if you aren't, he's not bothered.

And why all of this? Because today the first sentence of his review of the new movie Hanna was this,

Hanna is a first-rate thriller about the drawbacks of home schooling.

People are going to get their panties in a twist about this. I knew it when I read that sentence and I saw it when I checked out Ebert's Facebook page. I almost suspect it will be the Next Great Injustice on many homeschooling message boards and blogs but I hope, to all that's good, that it's not. Because for f%$%'s sake people, he's not serious.

Read the rest of the review. This is a movie about a father who teaches his daughter (in Ebert's words), "advanced and ruthless killing skills as a means of self-defense against her enemies, who are legion." The CIA are hunting this small family. Cate Blanchett is shooting at them. Does this sound like a scenario that an intelligent person would seriously suggest is a drawback of homeschooling? That all of us homeschoolers, by choosing to homeschool, have to deal with the drawback of being hunted by Cate Blanchett (my husband only wishes)?

No. That statement about the drawbacks of homeschooling deliberately stands in contrast to the completely fantastical nature of the movie. It's like saying Star Wars: A New Hope is about the drawbacks of moisture farming or that Child's Play explores the disadvantages boys face when they play with dolls. The humour is obvious.

Are we mature enough to laugh with Mr. Ebert?