Monday, January 15, 2007

The Miracle of Modern Medicine


Over the Christmas holidays it seemed as though every second person I ran into was coming down with one heck of a cold. My grandfather was a doctor, and for years a close family friend was our family doctor, so as a family, we've always been blessed with access to good medical care. However, one of the side effects of having access to this inside track has been a propensity to self prescribe, especially now that supplements and other "more natural" remedies are so readily available. It seems to me that the proliferation of vitamins and over the counter concoctions has exploded in recent years. Armed with this approach, I bulked up on Cold-FX and Shark Liver Oil - two immune boosting products that I've read about, been taking and promoting to anyone who would listen. I also get the flu shot every year. Despite spending more money than I care to admit on all this prevention, I came down with the same cold that everyone else had. Of course, looking back, I blame it on letting myself get worn down, but really, who knows for sure. I tried using Buckley's cold remedy, which seemed to help for a while, but this cold just kept coming back, and getting worse. Well, as luck would have it, my little cold progressed into a full blown sinus infection. I had no energy, a constant supply of multicoloured mucous and increasingly painful sinus congestion. Giving up on myself as a health care provider, I broke down and called my doctor's office and asked if I could get an appointment. "Sorry, he has nothing available until January 23rd", I was told, by someone who really didn't seem to care about anything other than getting off the phone. I thought about visiting our local walk-in clinic at the hospital, but just couldn't bear the thought of trying to convince an intake nurse that my sinus infection required any kind of serious attention within the confines of a "trauma centre". So, I called my doctor, my friend really, on his cell phone. I just hate doing this, but he was so good about it. I love him. Turns out I had this exact same cold last January, so he asked me a series of very thoughtful questions, and then offered to call in a prescription to the local pharmacy for an antibiotic. An hour later GNP Pharmacy (a great pharmacy by the way, if like me you've grown tired of the dismal service being offered by the mega red & white pharmacy/grocery/gift shop/post office outfit that seems to be taking over every Canadian town and giving poor service a whole new meaning) called me to tell me that my prescription was ready. I rushed in, picked it up, popped a pill (10 tablets for $75!) and today, three days later, I'm finally feeling human again. So, what have I learned? As Canadians, we do have a good health care system, but like anything, it's only as good as all the people who make it work, the receptionist, the doctor, the nurse, the pharmacist, and the patient. Oh, one other thing, I'm not offering any more suggestions on how to avoid a cold, other than sage advice from mom "don't let yourself get run down, and avoid stressful situations". (and of course, a visit to Ste. Anne's Spa once every few months for some quality R&R can't do any harm)

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