Monday, 25 August 2008

How To Get BC Medical Care

When I arrived in January, I was hoping that I would be able to get medical care and a doctor, since I was a Canadian citizen, without any major hassle. The fact that I am only now blogging about it now, in August, should be testament to how wrong I was.

Firstly, medical care varied in each province and since I hadn't been born in BC, I had to wait 6 months before I could apply for a "Carecard". Not wanting to have to slow down for 6 months, I continued as normal - working with burning oils and bladed machinery, snowboarding down steep mountains and riding my bike through Richmond traffic; even surviving a collision!

Rationalising the chance of getting seriously hurt as low (having only ever been hospitalised once - in France!) and having $700 as an emergency fund in my bank, I lived with no fear and toughed it out; even when I sprained my ankle - borrowing crutches and ice packs from friends and healing without assistance.

June passed and medical care didn't cross my mind. Nothing major had happened for months and I was too busy with other things to remember! In July, when my job changed from lawn-mowing to childcare, I had a First Responder co-worker on hand to help me the one time I did get hurt (by a bounced stone!) - only inspiring me to upgrade my own First Aid qualification.

Using this month to relax and travel, I decided to go on the Oregon trip straight after the Jack Johnson concert. Requiring insurance, I chose AIG, having had good experiences last summer in the USA - getting $10,000,000 coverage for $12!

In Calgary, mouth pains, aches and a slight fever caused me to think that I had flu and a wisdom tooth so I vowed to get medical when I returned to BC. After my return, the intense migraines and terrible fever stopped me from getting anything productive done and I tried to recover with hot baths and rest. Also preoccupied with sadness over Jill, I had lost my appetite on the day of the concert and after not eating all day, fainted on a friend whilst stood up waiting for Jack Johnson to come on stage!

Jack Johnson's fans, being as chilled and friendly as he is, were soon aiding me with food, drinks, assistance and advice. Even when I had to leave the crowded area at the front where we were stood, to get food, I walked through thousands of fans each way and only got one rude response when I asked to get by!

After the concert, I met up with the other 10 people and we began the overnight trip to Florence, Oregon. I curled up on the floor and tried to sleep. When we eventually arrived (after various delays), we headed for the campsites, pitched our tents and went to the lake. The weather was nice but the wind was strong and sand from the dunes swept across the beach.

We sunbathed for a while and a few guys dug holes, before we all headed back to the campsite for dinner cooked on a campfire. We kept the fire going for a while and I eventually went to bed after singing along to Jesse's guitar for a while, including his favourite "Ooh-de-lally" [From "Robin Hood"] which he had played at Kids Club Camp, before I knew the words!

The next morning I awoke with a sore throat but ate soft foods and still had a good time. We spent the day at a beach and I even learned to surf (briefly) before a bail scared me into calling it a day! After throat pains made me unable to finish my dinner (and having tried tylenol, ibuprofen, cough drops and throat ache pills already), I decided to sleep early and hoped that I'd get better.

With the extra few hours not helping, and in quite some pain, I decided to visit a herbs and remedies store in the outlet shopping centre we stopped at on our way home, and was recommended Oil of Oregano (which North Americans pronounce quite differently to Brits!) for what the clerk thought was tonsillitis - after freaking out in typical over-the-top American fashion; diving behind the counter, chewing some Vitamin C tablets and warning me to stay back!

By the end of the journey, I was in agony. The oil had not helped at all; only causing more pain as I struggled to swallow a foul-tasting shot every 2 hours! In Richmond, my Aunt took me to the hospital (which was quiet at 2am) and I received medical attention (the doctor gasping at the severity of my condition!) as well as an IV drip of morphine - once they'd finally got the needle in properly, after four failed attempts!

Now on medication for "Glandular Fever" (Mononucleosis) and feeling better, I have filled in the Carecard forms and will soon have medical coverage for the rest of my time here. Hopefully I won't need it but it is a good thing to have, just in case! Now I just have to fight through a few more weeks of slight fever, throat pain and fatigue and I will be back to 100% again!


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