Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Surgical Update !!!

Hi everyone, its been awhile since our last post..but we haven't been travelling, so have had no news to post..and our days have been fairly humdrum so the daily churn isn't worth sharing...actually its been quite boring...the autumn weather is upon us..and it is too chilly now to travel in this area. The only travelling we now want to do is 'south bound'...but  it is not looking like that is going to happen in the near future if at all :(..

We just returned from our consultation with the surgeon. As most of you know Rick has a hernia..not a major health issue but major enough to not permit us to cross the border from Canada. If we do and if it strangulates it will require immediate emergency surgery, then our blue cross and travel insurance will 'not' cover us because it is now considered a pre existing condition. He went in as the patient and I went in as the begger. "We have a new motorhome, just retired and want to go south for 6 months". The surgeon did recognize us (he had previously performed my 2 surgeries)...but should we chance it, he cannot lie concerning the pre-existing status-nor would we ever expect him to. He did agree that it is now considered pre existing.

Anyone from Canada knows how our health care system 'sucks'....we may have government funded medical coverage but we do 'pay' thru the nose for it. We pay 15% taxes on everything we purchase-everything!! And we still have to carry Blue Cross insurance with monthly premiums. Is it worth the risk to still go? Definitely not..the risk outweighs the benefits. For instance-before retirement we traveled to Florida a couple of years ago for client meetings. I tripped in the hotel on our 3 or 4th day there and broke my foot..after a visit to the emergency room, xrays and a 1/2 slab cast we were taken care of and on our way. Upon our return back to Canada they inadvertently sent us the bill for our 3.5 hour visit, and treatment. They had our medical ID #s incorrect and Blue Cross of course refused to pay the bill. The cost of the invoice was almost $6,000.00. So I can only imagine, what the cost of emergency surgery would be! As a foot note Blue Cross did pay the bill once we got the ID#s straightened out.

Are we heart sick? Yes to say the least..they have put us on the cancellation list~but I find it hard to pray for that to happen fast. Because around here someone would have to pass away to get their appointment-and I sure won't pray for that. People just do not cancel surgery here in Canada because they have waited so long on the waiting list to have it performed.

Rick's medical problem is not life threatening, like cancer etc. and we are willing to travel to Sackville NB to have the surgery...this is another hospital where our surgeon can attain OR time at. Its only about an hour from here and Rick is a candidate to go there, where he is not over weight, is healthy and active, and it would be just a day surgery barring no complications. If he was to have it performed here locally the wait time would be over 2 years.

He will go off of his aspirin now just in case-because the nurse stated that sometimes if there is a cancellation you will only receive maybe a days notice. We stated we would take an hours notice and provided her with all of our contact numbers. I will pray hard for a cancellation but not due to the death of someone- but if they had a minor cold or low grade temperature and couldn't go to the OR that day I could live with that.

So onward and upward. We will empty and winterize the motorhome for storage, but we will store it right here on our property so that we will have easy access to it. I can soon load it up quick enough to pull out. There is a 4-6 week recovery period he told us..but he also said as long as we hang around for a week to 10 days to ensure there are no complications or infection he would be happy with that. I do know how to hook the car to the blue ox system and unhook and gas the coach..and dump all the tanks..and I can definitely do whatever lifting and lugging is required. I do drive the coach but I'm not sure if I would want to be the soul driver responsible for getting us all the way.

We will do what we have to do and that is take 'one day at a time' often throws you a curve and you have to put one foot in front of the other and walk through it. Its just disappointing that we retired, traded our other coach for this one, completed all our renos all in anticipation of heading out for six months, for the first big retirement voyage.

Until we can leave, we will live and travel vicariously through all of you and your blogs. I will update when we have more news.

Take care all, stay safe

"Home is Where you Park it"


  1. Sorry to hear about Rick's hernia throwing a curve into your winter migration. Lets hope you can get a cancellation and have the surgery done real soon and head south. Its good that you do know how to handle the coach and car hookups, driving will be a breeze once you hit the road.

  2. That is a good deal of news to have to cope with. If it is meant to be Rick will get his surgery sooner than later. You are destined to hit that highway but just not quite yet. I am amazed that you are so proficient with you motorhome. Good for you.

  3. As a Canadian, I don't believe our Health Care system 'sucks' at all. As a matter of fact, neither do the great majority of Canadians who think it works very well.

    A Harris-Decima poll published last month found that 82 percent of Canadians believe their system outdoes America's, and 70 percent felt it was working very well or well. The telephone poll of 1,000 Canadians was conducted from June 4 to 8 with a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

    As for taxes, we pay no more in income taxes than Americans with the difference being our taxes go to fund different priorities.

    A hernia operation is an 'elective' surgery but I do hope that Rick is able to get his done quickly so you can head south.

    Obviously, having the operation performed in the U.S. is a non-starter as you'd probably have to sell your MH and house to pay for it.

  4. I'm going to show John your post from today. He may be in a bit of a fantasy about Canadian health care. He hasn't lived there for over 20 years. And at the same time, since neither of us has a "permanent" job with benefits right now here in the U.S., we don't have insurance. What was available to us here would have cost us $30,000 per year to secure. We decided to take our chances and gamble that we won't need medical care other than a few doctor's visits and medication (which ain't cheap either). We have never been uninsured before so this is a bit of worrisome time but we decided we were not going to spend the $30,000 on insurance which is a gamble. I hear your frustration though and I can't wait to hear what John has to say about your situation. I don't want to ever get trapped in not visiting the U.S. from Canada either because of medical reasons. That frightens me. Take care then! I am sure it will all work out but it is worrisome and frustrating, isn't it?

  5. Good to read your comment Rick. You add perspective to the issue.

  6. One can hope that Rick gets the needed surgery quickly and that your RV plans come to fruition.

    Health Care in Canada is controlled by each Province. You could be living in British Columbia or Alberta and be in the cue much faster. We also have private surgical clinics that could do the surgery but I don't know what the costs would be.

    My father in law needed hernia surgery and he was in the cue in Alberta very quickly. I guess it depends on the Province, its size, its resources, its doctors, its politicians and their politics, etc.

    It's not right to tar every Province with the same brush.

    I have traveled to many corners of the world in my professional life and I would not trade our health care in this country for any other country - other than Norway, Sweden and Denmark. We have it pretty good here. It's not perfect - nothing is - but it's pretty darned good.

    Wishing you a quick resolution though!

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  8. Yes you are all correct!! Consider me is not fair to tar all provinces with the same brush for sure...the larger provinces do very well with the wait lists..
    Yes it definitely depends on the 'province' you live in...we have a major shortage of doctors in this area...the government controls how many doctors we is heart wrenching to know that there are thousands of residents in our province who do NOT have a family doctor and have to rely on emergency room visits for all their illnesses....

    Rick a poll of 1,000 is sparse to say the least...having performed in the 'poll' industry I always advised my clients that a minimum of 5x that number is required to provide a dependable opinion. Plus my question would be what percentage of those 1,000 polled were from the east coast where the smallish communities do not have enough doctors. Maybe I should rephrase my statement-health care in 'New Brunswick' sucks. Our Family doctor told us a couple of years ago-they only receive $28.00 / per office visit...controlled govt fees...and that he had to stand by and 'watch' his some patients die because they could not get the care they required in time.
    Trust me I've seen and experienced the good and the bad. The medical industry 'lost' me in their system for almost 5 months at one point-and if I hadn't threatened media exposure-I wonder what would have happened. Who wants to wait five months for a biopsy-that could be the loss of significant treatment time.

    I also forgot to mention the minimum wait for this surgery for Rick on the cancellation list is 1-11/2 years. Elective or not thats a long time to put your life on hold.

  9. The poll I quoted is just one of many with mostly the same results. Here is another one taken in 2010 that reflects the views of Atlantic Canadians re Health Care for they year 2009 (the most current available). This poll shows that 85% of New Brunswick residents have the highest level of satisfaction with the quality of health care they have received in the past 12 months(that's up from 78% the previous year).

    HALIFAX: The majority of Atlantic Canadians are satisfied with the quality of health care services they have received over the past 12 months, according to the most recent poll by Corporate Research Associates, Inc. Across the region, residents in New Brunswick (85%, compared with 78% in May 2008) and Nova Scotia (84%, up from 76% in May 2008) have the highest level of satisfaction with the quality of health care they have received in the past 12 months. Newfoundland and Labrador residents are also satisfied with the quality of health care they receive (80%, compared with 81% in February 2008), followed by Prince Edward Islanders (78%, compared with 77% in May 2008).
    “Despite the widespread perception of problems in health care services, the vast majority of Atlantic Canadians continue to be satisfied with the health care system based on their personal experience,” according to Don Mills, CRA’s president and CEO.

    I'm not trying in any way to diminish the very real problems and concerns you have regarding Rick's issue as I too feel that is too much of a wait. I don't feel that would happen here in B.C. though.

    Atlantic Canada Health Care Poll

  10. So sorry, Elaine.

    "Woody Allen is credited with saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” And we certainly aren’t in control of as much as we’d like to think. We make our plans, but it is God who controls the outcome. We make our plans, but we understand that, if the Lord wills, we shall live let alone do this or that (James 4:13-15)."
    We can plan all we want, but nobody really knows what tomorrow holds.
    It must be for the best, something really bad might have happened.

    I hope you will be comfy during the winter months.

    Happy Trails, Penny, TX

  11. Penny you and I do think the same way....and it is what it is...and it could be a lot worse I'm sure..

    Rick, loving the debate banter..I see another health care blog in my not too distant future...stay tuned...:)

  12. Oh no!!!!!!!!!! I give up, I promise!!!!!!!

  13. Rick, I read your Atlantic Canada Health Care Poll-thanks for providing the link! It also states:

    The survey was conducted from February 9 to March 2, 2009. Results in NB, NS and NL are based on a sample of 400 in each province.

    For Instance:
    How can anyone survey 400 people in New Brunswick out of the approximate 751,000 residents and even contemplate offering us those percentages.

    Especially when they are only asking one very 'broad' question. "How satisfied have you been personally with the quality of health care services you have received over the past 12 months"..

    When in all probability, and with no statistics to back it lets say 50% of those 400 surveyed made a visit to their primary care physician to have prescriptions refilled in the last 12 months.

    Just saying!

  14. All is not rosy here in the States either. Donna & I had planned that she retire at age 62 (Aug 2011) and we be on our way either fulltime or at least wintering south until the house sold. The the harsh realization hit us that if she retired we would lose all of our medical coverage, it is all on Donna's job.Mine lapsed when I retired from the PD.In order to cover the three years from age 62 to age 65 when medicare kicks in we need coverage.. if her policy is terminated we both have a pre existing illness,Hers is her heart, and mine is type 2 diabetes. No company will insure you at 62 and 63 years of age with this history.. The cost to cobra her existing medical coverage would be more than what she will draw when she files for Social Security.So here we are with no other option than for her to continue until we are both eligible for Medicare 2 years for me 3 for her.All of our plans are on hold and we can just be satisfied with trips for whatever vacation and time off Donna has accrued until her retirement.OH well it least we still have the short trips and the dream, now if we can hold on until then.Be safe out there. Sam & Donna.

  15. We have a provincial election tomorrow. The Liberals have been in power for 8 yrs and have done the raising of taxes, raising of taxes, raising of taxes. Now, of course, he says that Ontario has the best wait times for health care in all of Canada when 8 yrs ago it was the worst. Do I believe him? Probably not but then I haven't had to wait for elective surgery.

    Good luck you guys. Wish you could head south for the winter. It will be you and I, Elaine, complaining about the snow this winter!

  16. I sure hope you are able to get out of there before it gets too cold. But.....I think you are right to pursue the surgery prior to your exit. Good luck....

  17. I won't enter the health care debate other than to say there are issues on both sides of the border. Medical care is far from perfect anywhere.

    It does seem a little unreasonable to have to wait 18 months or longer for this surgery. Let's hope it turns out to be much shorter and that you can get your life back in gear. Praying that all will go well for you and Rick.

  18. Dear Elaine and Rick.
    We are truly sorry to hear about this delay in your plans. Unfortunately we are currently in the same boat. Bea has been diagnosed with an enlarged Tyroid gland. And guess what... we are waiting for things to happen. We cannot go either until that issue is settled.

    But it was good to hear from you again. Hope we will meet one day!

  19. I think I will stay out of ins discussion, but hope you can travel south soon :)

  20. I had to return to read the additional comments since I was here earlier in the day. I hear that BC Medical is good for the most part. I guess that is like the rural and city here. More doctors in the cities and fewer medical resources in the rural areas. But at least all Canadians have reasonable access to health care. Think what it would be like to be without it here in U.S.

  21. seems to be alot of talk about the medical system both in Canada and the US...we wish Rick a speedy surgery..hope he gets in under a cancellation...I am sure in BC..the system is not much better..patients wait for up to two years for knee and hip replacements..
    hang in there...

  22. Best to stay away from the debate and (Oh, I almost wrote "debait", now there's a Freudian Slip) and acknowledge your frustration and wish you the best.
    There's that one teeny tiny line in the legislation that says that the way in which the system operates is up to the individual provinces.
    There's the rub.
    When it was first pointed out to me by our Canadian doc that I indeed had the beginnings of a hernia, I was too chicken to get it sorted out at the time, but as the years rolled by, I became more and more annoyed with the stupid thing and decided to go under the knife.
    I don't recall exactly, but I don't think I waited more than a couple or three months for the "wonderful" event to occur. I've always naively thought that was normal.
    Mind you, there was only one operating room being used at Joseph Brant hospital at the time, and just as I was about to be wheeled into surgery, there was a mishap out on the highway somewhere, and I got bumped by about three or four hours. (no food. no drink. Bob not happy.)
    Got to patch up those crazy careless drivers!
    But that was only a delay of four hours. We're not talking months.
    Let's hope there's a chance of getting this sorted out.
    Try to be calm and just enjoy your time together.
    Hey! Maybe you "need" to start shopping for a couple snow machines?
    Just a suggestion.

  23. Levonne we are in a fairly large city...two big hospitals..ORs shut down due to lack of staffing..but they keep raising $ for build ons...go figure..another beautiful hosp on the outskirts (40 mins from here) built with state of the art operating room and labor and delivery..there has never been even one operation performed in that OR..that hosp is now used for seniors waiting for a nursing home...what is wrong with this picture..Peter and Bea sorry to hear that you are in the same boat as we are..

    I did call our primary care Dr today to see if it is just that particular surgeons waiting list..but alas it is not it is the system...

  24. Clearly the wait list for this surgery is outrageous. I am willing to bet that if one of your provincial politicians needed a hernia operation, it would happen without delay. There would be cue jumping!

    Keep applying pressure on the medical system though. The squeaky wheel gets the grease!

    Still hoping Rick will get the surgery sooner rather than later.

  25. Here in Kelowna I had to wait 11 months to see a surgeon and then 3 months for surgery. In Alberta my 82 year old father had to wait 1 year to see a surgeon and then almost 2 years to have hip surgery. Meanwhile they got him addicted to morphine to help with the pain!!!

  26. Canada's health care may not "suck", but there is huge room for improvement. The problem is that most Canadians are very complacent and not willing to complain about something in order to get it done better.

    How about waiting for an MRI...?

    The waiting list for an MRI at the Ottawa Hospital stretches for six months.

    Ministry of Health statistics show the average wait time at the Ottawa Hospital in the June, July and August period was 166 days. The wait for an MRI averaged 139 days at the Ottawa Hospital in the April, May and June period.

    The provincial target for an MRI is 28 days, while the average over the summer in Ontario was 94 days.

    Patients waited an average of 93 days at the Queensway-Carleton Hospital, and 51 days at the Montfort Hospital.

    Wait times for a CT Scan ranged from 71 days at the Ottawa Hospital to 44 days at the Montfort Hospital and 22 days at the Queensway-Carleton Hospital.

    Our resources are stretched because costs are out of control. I can't figure out why "western" societies put health care employees on such a financial pedestal.

  27. Hey, why not come to Mexico and get your hernia fixed. You could probably get the whole job done, including before and after care for under $5,000!

  28. we probably could Kevin but if it was to strangulate before we got there we'd be in big trouble...

    wow Contessa I sure feel your pain..with the wait periods..Rene and Jeanette you can bet your boots if someone in 'power' needed the operation it would be done post haste..for sure...

  29. Elaine, just to go back on Rene and Jeanette's comment, didn't the Premier of Newfoundland go to the States for his operation a year or so ago. What was wrong with his province's healthcare! - sure says a lot about it, doesn't it!

    Kevin and Ruth