About 16 years ago, a dentist friend of the family noticed a swelling under my left ear that I had ignored because it didn’t bother me. His advice was that I see a doctor without delay.
He knew what the swelling probably was, but didn’t want to tell me.
I will do my best to make this long story short:
It took a week or so for me to get an appointment with our family doctor. He sent me to an ENT specialist. It took a couple of weeks to get an appointment with him.
The specialist sent me to see an ENT surgeon at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital, which is a huge medical facility that can hold its own with just about any hospital on the planet. But it’s swamped with patients.
This appointment took about a month. In all, I was walking around with this swollen area under my ear for about two months before I was able to see the right person.
Once being examined by the ENT surgeon, I was told that I probably had a tumor in the Parodic-Gland, but not to worry, since these tumors are generally always benign.
But, to be sure that it was a tumor, I needed a CAT-SCAN. So, he gave me a prescription for the procedure to be done at the hospital radiology department.
When I handed in the prescription to his receptionist a few moments later, I was told that I would be scheduled for the procedure in about 6-8 weeks if I was lucky.
Whoa – 6-8 weeks with a probable tumor growing in my neck. NO WAY was I going to wait.
I asked the receptionist for the prescription back, as I was going to go to the USA to have the CAT-SCAN done there, to which she quietly said: I’m not allowed to be referring you to this, but there is a “PRIVATE” radiology service that is operating not far from here. She gave us the phone number.
Up till recently, it was AGAINST THE LAW for any private medical procedures to be done in most of Canada that were not elective, such as Plastic Surgery. So this clinic was relatively new.
My wife (Anne) called the private clinic from a hospital payphone, where Anne was told that they could take me right away if I was able to get there within 20 minutes. No problem Anne said. But, they also told her over the phone: We don’t take public healthcare. It was cash, check or credit card. No problem Anne said. And we were on our way.
The procedure cost $280.
When we called the private clinic it was a few minutes before noon. We got there in 15 minutes. They took me right away. The procedure was over in 20 minutes. The films were put in my hands within moments of me getting dressed. And we were back at the hospital just before 1:00 o’clock, where we saw the ENT surgeon walking down the hall.
As I approached him, he smiled and asked why I was still at the hospital. His smile turned to disbelief when I presented him with the CAT-SCAN films.
So, we went back to his office where he reviewed the films. He told me the tumor was in fact the size of a bagel. So big, that he didn’t want to be the one operating on it, as he preferred to leave it to the Chief of Surgery who is renowned for this type of procedure.
I WAS SCHEDULED FOR SURGERY IN JUST ONE WEEK.
But that’s not the end of the story.
After the surgery was done, it turned-out that the tumor was of a very rare mixed variety, where the outside tumor was benign, encapsulating a vicious malignant tumor that would have surely killed me had it entered my Lymphatic System.
And according to the Chief of Surgery, the benign wall separating the malignant tumor from my Lymphatic System was so thin, as to be nearly non existent.
The result was very aggressive radiation therapy that began a couple of months after the surgery, since the surgical wounds had to heal before they could start pummeling my neck and chest with massive doses of tissue destroying radiation.
I was nearly finished the radiation therapy when the hospital’s radiology department called to tell me that they had an opening for a CAT-SCAN, MORE THAN THREE MONTHS AFTER the original request was made (even though we had cancelled it).
Had it not been for the PRIVATE system and the $280 cost, it is very doubtful that I would be here today writing this editorial. BUT IT DOESN’T END HERE EITHER.
Because of the radiation therapy, my left ear doesn’t drain efficiently, which leads to a build-up of dead skin cells on my ear drum, which is uncomfortable, and makes it hard for me to hear.
It has to be cleared by way of minor surgery requiring the steady hand of an ENT doctor aided with a microscope. The entire procedure takes less than 5 minutes.
But, because of Canada’s healthcare policies, it takes anywhere from 3-6 months for me to get an appointment with an ENT doctor. And when I do, it take’s hours in the waiting room for a procedure that takes less time to do than it takes to describe.
Because the Canadian system is so overloaded, and the doctors are so poorly compensated, no one seems to care about the patients, making the medical system somewhat like a meat market.
Receptionists are generally curt, if not downright rude, since they don’t have to be nice to anyone. If you don’t like the service, what are you going to do? Take your so-called free business elsewhere? They don’t care.
If you don’t like waiting for an appointment, or waiting for hours in a crowded waiting room. Tough luck.
Again – what are you going to do, since there is nowhere else to take your business?
I went the so-called private route in Canada (Montreal), since there are more private clinics popping up to deal with people like me. But, I’m not the ONLY person to feel the way I do, so the private option is as nuts and as inundated as the government paid system.
So what’s my option?
I can’t plan on when I need the minor surgery, since it sort of sneaks up on me all of a sudden. So when it happens, I call for an appointment. But as I wrote in the preceding, that could take months before I get to see a doctor for a 5-minute procedure.
So, I decided to try a whole new different strategy. I went to the Internet and researched US hospitals close to where Anne and I live on our side off the US/Canada border, and found an ENT doctor with a great reputation. And I called.
The person who answered the phone was exceedingly polite and helpful. She asked the right questions and gave me the answers to questions I had. She gave me an appointment for 5 days from the time of my call, but told me that she would fit me in sooner if I was really uncomfortable.
But, what really floored me was when she said: Please be on time since we don’t like to keep any of our patients waiting.
Anne and I drove about an hour and a quarter to see the US doctor in his private home/clinic. True to their word, I didn’t wait a moment to be seen.
The doctor’s office was cheerful. He and his staff were cheerful. And he was really well equipped.
The procedure took about 5 minutes. But, in addition to clearing the debris from my eardrum, he also did a comprehensive check-up on both of my ears, my nose, and my throat, which is something NOT one of the Canadian doctors had done who I had seen over the last 16 years.
The total cost for all of this was $96 US.
When Anne and I left his office, I literally held back tears of joy, knowing that I no longer have to grovel, be treated like a piece of meat, and wait months for a procedure that takes 5 minutes to do, and relieves a great deal of discomfort.
If you’re an American, and want to know more about why you should be very worried about the LEFTIST Obama, Pelosi, Reed healthcare plan, listen to my attached Internet Radio Broadcast.
I don’t make things up. And I don’t embellish. I am telling you what is good and bad about the Canadian system from a patient’s perspective, and from someone (me) who sat on the Board of Directors of a significant Montreal area hospital (Lakeshore General Hospital – 1999).
If you want to destroy the good in your healthcare system, in search of the less than adequate, go with Obama, Pelosi and Reed. Otherwise, just fix what you have by doing two easy things:
1 – Allow Interstate Insurance Company Competition.
2 – Do what Shakespeare advocated in his play Henry VI: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
There is a 21-minute Internet Radio Broadcast associated with this editorial. To listen to it, simply click on the speaker ICON at the Top Right of this page that says PLAY.
Best Regards . . . Howard Galganov