A Love Letter To Canadian Health Care

I’ve probably had more experience with the Canadian health care system in the last year than I would ever have liked  but as I’m sitting here this morning, one coffee in and only 4 hours of sleep behind me, I can’t help but feel an enormous amount of gratitude for where I live at this point in my life.

I had 2 babies, both in hospital, one with an obstetrician and one with a midwife. I got home visits afterwards and all the best possible care. It cost me $0.

My mum had massive cancer surgery, an ICU hospital stay, home care, an oxygen tank, a wheelchair, countless doctors appointments, an at-home palliative team… and it cost us $0.

My father-in-law had 2 trips to the emergency room and was in the hospital 4 weeks before being transferred to a beautiful palliative care hospital. Unfortunately he also fell and broke his hip, needing surgery and recovery. He paid $0.

I know we all like to complain about our health care system and I do know that access to services is so very different depending on where you live. I am lucky to live in Toronto where the world’s best hospitals and specialists are at my finger tips. I am well aware that people in more remote areas just can’t get the same level of care.

So when I started having vision problems that led to an eventual MRI appointment, I joked that 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon was the perfect time to lay still and relax for a while. And when I got there and found out the machine was out of service, I took a deep breath and did what anybody should do on a Sunday afternoon in downtown Toronto – I went shopping.

And when the appointment got booked for 1am? Okay, I did bitch a little bit but laying there in this tremendously expensive machine being run by this guy who was being so very nice even at 2am? I was incredibly grateful.

As I’m getting older and my need for our health care system will no doubt increase I hope that I can keep this kind of perspective. Getting home at 3am and being tired today is a small price to pay for the kind of testing that would set an American back thousands of dollars. So, I am just going to make myself another coffee and drink it gratefully.


How Vi Got Her Groove Back

Well, hello there. What a strange feeling to be staring at a blank page for the first time in a couple of months. Turns out this winter really did a number on me. No, I wasn’t really sick per se. I wasn’t snowed in either. I was just really, really down. And, the thing is, I didn’t even really realize it until we took a much-needed family vacation and suddenly I was feeling so much more like myself. I didn’t even realize I had lost my groove until I started to feel it coming back. That’ll teach me to keep taking my vitamin D all winter long and not put off going to the gym, won’t it?

Here is right about when my groove started coming back…

Mexico 039

When we got back, I couldn’t believe how energized I felt. Once I got over the sheer exhaustion of all the travelling and the quite astounding tummy bug that I picked up, I was suddenly feeling like doing things again. I wanted to spend a day in the kitchen cooking. I wanted to go to the gym. I wanted to get back to my dance class.  Was it the Vitamin D? The adventures? The time away from our normal routine? I’m still not sure but I have to say that I am very happy that something seemed to snap me back to reality.

It’s going to be a fantastic spring.

I’ve Created A Couch Potato

It has been a rather frustrating week here with Mini Me and I’m sure Muppet and  I only have ourselves to blame. I heard on Monday that the track and field club had started up and suggested to him that he may want to join. He did training for a 5k run back in the spring and was really good at it. The whole thing culminated with a huge run involving kids from the whole school board and there were sponsors and goody bags. Really fun. So, he seemed game to join track and field although he had missed the initial sign up and the first day.

But here’s the thing about Mini Me and it’s the very reason he has this nickname. That kid can freak himself out over nothing and put up obstacles in his brain that are truly astounding. To the outside world he seems social and outgoing but if you know him well (which I do), he can be his own worst enemy. Can you say anxiety? I’m pretty sure it’s a genetic trait and one that I would have happily kept to myself but there you have it. My mother used to keep paper bags in the glove compartment of our Chevy Nova in case she had a panic attack. I was afraid of my own shadow as a kid and still deal with anxiety regularly. Looks like the Mini apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

His dad took him to the running club Tuesday morning while I had to wrestle Monkey out the door later amidst tantrums and tears. He wanted to bring a toy to school and I told him big kids in Grade 2 didn’t do that. I finally got him tearfully out the door and said that if he specifically asked his teacher and she said yes, then it was okay with me (FYI she said no –  I think I love that woman). We get to the school late and find Muppet and Mini Me sitting outside looking like somebody had peed in their Cheerios. Uh oh.

I guess Mini Me got there and all of the anxieties in his little brain just came crashing together to cause a total breakdown. There were too many kids on the course. He wanted to run 5k, not 2.5 (seriously?). He didn’t know what he was supposed to do (ummm, RUN?). It went on and on. As an added bonus, he didn’t want to go to class until he could see me and air his concerns, so now he was late as well as Monkey, who was still in a funk and dragging his heels the whole way to school. And poor Muppet, who thought he was going to drop off his kid and get to work early for a change ended up being especially late due to all the dramatics. Sigh.

After school that day Mini Me and his dad had a talk and they agreed that he would try again on Thursday. Which is today. Which is why I am writing this post. I could tell from the minute I saw his face this morning that it was a no-go. The complaints of fatigue only confirmed my suspicions. Then Muppet got out of the shower and the poop hit the fan. The end result? I think we have given up on cross-country but Mini Me has also lost his computer privileges. If he’s refusing to be active then we are taking away his main temptation to be inactive.

I want to blame myself for letting things get so far out of hand but I don’t know how much of Mini Me’s couch potato tendencies come because of a lack of rules or because he is naturally apathetic. The kids were home this summer for at least a few weeks where they were left to their own devices while I worked. The hours I had been working in the spring were easy enough to maintain when the kids were out of the house from 8:30 to 3:30 but come summer, they were nearly impossible. Monkey is 7 and, left to his own devices, flits between the odd video game or YouTube video, then outside to play, then downstairs for some Lego, then time for some crafts. Mini Me will play Minecraft. Period. The summer before, he would play outside and ride his bike, but that all seemed to be a thing of the past.

So now here we are in September, trying to right our wrongs. In a lot of ways, it’s just like having a toddler in the house again. Remember when you would put a new rule in place or say ‘no’ to them and they would tantrum, and all you could do was wait it out? Then, the next time the tantrum would get a little shorter, and so on. Yep. That’s gonna be my house this fall. I am imposing rules on a 10-year-old toddler who is going to tantrum. But I need to do it. He needs to be more active and I don’t want him to have to struggle with his weight because I can already see the tiny first beginnings of a bulge around his middle. No way. Not on my watch.

Which means I have to get my act together, make the rules and enforce them. There is going to be some tough love around here this fall and that couch potato is gonna get mashed (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

Fat Is Not The Enemy

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately putting pressure on myself to be something I’m not. I’m lucky enough to work from home and part of my daily tasks is to follow a bunch of health and wellness bloggers. These are amazing women (and yes, they’re almost all women. Seriously, don’t guys blog?) who are striving to live fulfilled, lhealthy lives. Some have kids. Some don’t. Some have overcome tremendous physical hurdles to become fit and happy and I love to hear about their journeys.

I think I’m the kind of gal who focusses on what I should be rather than what I am, so these blogs have been doing a bit of a number on me lately. Raw food. Vegan food. Daily workouts. Yoga. Meditation. Smoothies that are an alarming shade of green. Quitting an office job to be a fitness coach, zumba instructor, yogi, life counsellor. I wonder why I can’t do that too. Why can’t I find the passion for health and fulfillment that these women have. They are so awesome and I am so obviously lacking.

Then it kind of hit me while I’m sitting here at Timmies having my medium coffee (double cream, one sweetener) that I am passionate. I am passionate about being me but I somehow don’t seem to think that’s enough.

I am more fit now than I have been since I was 20. I exercise pretty much every day even if it’s only the 35 minutes or so it takes me to walk the kids to and from school. I eat pretty healthy most of the time. I cook lovely homemade meals and bake cookies so my kids get a least a few less preservatives in their bodies. And if this keeps the scale over the number I idealize in my head, then maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.

I’m not saying there are things I wouldn’t improve. I’m an emotional eater and stress always finds me munching on something. I love wine and a night chatting with the girls while splitting a bottle or two.

I guess my realization is that I need to be good enough for myself and figure out what that means. I can be my own worst enemy or my own best friend and maybe if I’m kinder to myself, I will find it easier to make more little changes. Yes, I take cream in my coffee today, but hey, at least I didn’t order a donut. One small step for woman…