I’ve been meaning to write a post about Canada’s healthcare system, at least from my limited experience, but I don’t quite know where to begin. And I’m not sure my experience is even reflective of the system as a whole or just here in Québec/Montréal. Or due to the fact that I arrived here very late in the game.
One of the first things we had to do after arriving in Montréal was apply for Medicare, which is the public health insurance. Even without being approved (which can take up to 3 months), Hubby and I were each given a letter stating that we had started the application process and that certain things were covered automatically, including my pregnancy. With this letter, I could get all the prenatal care I needed for free. Score 1 for Québec.
Getting coverage was the easy part, it turns out. I’ve already written a bit about my experience with the process of getting in to see an OB. My first appointment moved relatively quickly, compared to subsequent appointments. My doctor schedules pregnant women on Tuesdays and Fridays, and each of those days is booked solid. She told me at my second appointment (which was one of the last of the day) that she’d seen 50 women that day. It seemed to me that half of them were still there when I showed up for my 1:30 appointment. This week, I waited over 3 hours to see the doctor.
What I was not told at that initial appointment is that I am responsible for transporting my own urine. A week later, when asked if I had brought it, I’m sure I looked completely dumbfounded. At which point, I was instructed that, for all future appointments, I was to pee in a cup (which I was to obtain from a pharmacy) at home and bring it with me. I would then open the container, the receptionist would stick a test strip into it, and the cup, with my urine still in it, would remain in my possession. My sister was horrified when I shared this little detail with her.
Then there’s all the testing and re-testing I’ve had to undergo. Part of it was perhaps due to the fact that my medical records from my previous practitioner seemed to be incomplete, and part of it was my doctor being extra-thorough. Even though I passed the 1-hour glucose screening with flying colors back at the end of December, my new doctor sent me back to have it done again. And this time, apparently my numbers came back high. Not that I would know because they use a totally different scale here. Stupid metric system.
So I had to go back this morning for the glucose tolerance test. Since I never had to do it in the US, I’m not sure if it’s really different here, but I was expecting the testing to take three hours. It only took two. So that was a plus, I guess, but other than that, it sucked. When I arrived at the hospital lab at 7:20 this morning, it was already packed. My number was 69. There were hardly any seats available in the crowded waiting room, including the overflow row of chairs in the hallway outside. I did manage to snag one, and even if I hadn’t, I probably would have asked someone else to move, what with being nine months pregnant and starving, since I wasn’t allowed to eat anything before the test.
And I was already thinking, what’s the point, really? Even if I do have GD, what good does it do me to learn this fact a week before my due date?
But I was already there, and I wasn’t about to get on my doctor’s bad side by disobeying her instructions after she was kind enough to take me on as a patient at the last minute.
So I waited. I waited for an hour after I first arrived before I was able to have my initial blood draw and down yet another bottle of that nasty drink. Then I waited some more. I had remembered to bring books, and there were a couple of places outside the craziness of the lab’s waiting room where I could sit in relative peace, so the time passed fairly quickly. I had my second blood draw, at which point the numbers being called were nearing 200, then another hour later, the third. Then I scarfed down two cheese sticks before hoofing it back to the metro station and home.
The other thing my doctor had asked me to do at yesterday’s appointment was schedule a non-stress test (NST). Because, according to her, my pregnancy is “high risk.” Because it’s the result of IVF.
Now, maybe she’s just old-fashioned. Maybe she’s uneducated about IVF (which is odd, considering Québec is the only province that actually covers fertility treatment). Or maybe I now understand where her receptionist got the nerve to ask if I didn’t have “five or six in there.” But this statement pissed me off. My pregnancy has been blessedly uneventful thus far. I’ve passed every scheduled test (up until two weeks ago) with ease. I’ve had no complications. No bleeding. No indication of any kind that this pregnancy is anything other than “normal.” And now she’s labeling me “high risk.” Why? Just because this baby wasn’t conceived the easy (and cheap!) way?
Not that it matters for the time being. I tried calling to schedule the NST (twice), left a voicemail, and haven’t received a call back. Maybe I’ll hear back and maybe I won’t. Maybe they’ll squeeze me in before I go into labor.
I still have no idea about when that might happen. Dr. K finally checked my cervix yesterday and proclaimed that it’s “starting to open up.” But I have no idea what that means.
All I know is I don’t have any appointments scheduled for tomorrow. No labs. No tests. And for that, I am grateful.