Patience of a Patient

Medical ordeals in Canadian clinics

Chapter 4

Nothing is more delightful than a stroll into a Canadian drug store after a long stint in South East Asia.

For one, you can read and comprehend all instructions on the medications. There is no danger of piling up on pills to save yourself only to be poisoned because of your inability to read the expiry date.

Second, the range of medication for a single ailment is impressive. Even common anti-histamine brands come in a variety of sparkling colours that could put poster paints to shame. There is a wide choice of flavours and strengths (mild, moderate, strong, extra strong etc.) for the most ordinary ailments.

Third, you are not caught between mysterious pills packed with the potency of tiger testicles, antelope horns or bird puke from endangered animals. You can identify the brands and make an informed choice after consulting helpful chemists…without resorting to sign language.

We decided it was imperative to choose the chemist with care. After all, this was the person who would save our lives till we got our health card and the family doctor with it. It made sense to go for the oldest, most experienced one.

We selected a sufficiently wrinkled lady with her eyesight intact (very important) who helped us select an assortment of medication that cured us all in a week’s time. All, except my dear husband who decided he needed something stronger, perhaps antibiotics. Indeed, he was more ill than any of us and the lucky one blessed with the health card. It was time to put it to the test.

All our lives, we’ve been brought up to expect instant medical attention and we enjoyed it no matter where we lived.

Here in Canada, matters were a bit different. It was the family doctor who sealed your fate. If you were lucky, your appointment could well be in a week or two (family doctors had an army of patients under them we were warned). If your case was not impressively severe, it could take you months! By then you would be cured or in coma, depending on the ailment I presume.

For impatient patients, walk-in clinic is the other option. These are clinics where you saunter in without an appointment and nibble on your nails for your turn. My advice: carry a novel or two. It took my husband four hours the first day for his turn. Much to his misery, after all that time, he returned empty handed. The doctor diagnosed it as a viral infection and advice rest.

This was a huge blow to my man. Here we were, swallowing an array of tonics for a limp larynx. And here he was, sicker than any of us, advised to count sheep for recovery!

He decided to go back for a second opinion. The second walk-in clinic made him wait for six endless hours. At the end of the day, after a host of tests and X-rays, he was prescribed orange juice. Orange juice? Good lord, was that the best they could do for his germ infested canals? Well, something was better than nothing. He came back deeply disappointed. He swore to get a check up in a hospital next time, better still through the emergency route, pumped himself with the prescribed vitamin C and bounced back in no time.

Yes, it’s worrying to know that the wait for a doctor is so long. However, it is also a consolation that in case of a real emergency, you get the best medical care, instantly. A friend of mine had to be hospitalized for a severe ailment recently. In emergencies, there is no time wasted. He was whisked away for an operation right then, was pumped with expensive medications and out of the hospital a week later. The bill must have amounted to thousands of dollars. He didn’t have to pay a penny.

That itself is enough to recover the sickest soul. We were assured it was the right decision to spend the rest of our rickety old age here.

Our viral attack made us come to a deep realization. A fruit a day indeed keeps the doctor away. If it doesn’t, rely on the chemist. If that too doesn’t work, just get operated.

You will be saved quicker than waiting for your turn at the clinic!

2 thoughts on “Patience of a Patient

  1. Hapless patient wants to add that the walk in clinic was part of the ER of a hospital, where I was stuck inside a ward for hours…until a very frentic and hassled doc came along (like in the TV shows) and dismissed me within 45 seconds recommending the orange juice!


  2. I salute your husband’s patience. I guess another way of looking at it is that if one has to wait for 10 hours (the two visits combined) for a simple diagnosis, one would get “cured” out of sheer frustration, if nothing else! Great post. Give us more 🙂


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