Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratitude: Healthcare

My month-long hiatus from blogging was precipitated by a bad case of the Novembers.  Poor November, it suffers from being sandwiched between the crisp, colourful allure of early Fall, and the still, frosty sparkle of Winter coziness.  I've always much preferred the timing of Canadian Thanksgiving to that of the American Thanksgiving, but this year had me thinking that November could use a more cheerful holiday than Remembrance Day, and a reminder to be thankful.  Add to the deluge of November rains a never-ending root-canal saga, a rear-end collision and whiplash, and the realization that the cold and flu viruses of winter have come out to play, probably until mid-April, and I adopted a rather ungracious attitude as of late.  I've missed the creative outlet of blogging, and I need to choose an attitude of thankfulness to squelch the Novembers, and so I intend to embark on a blogging adventure of regular explorations of gratitude.

Les Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry novembre by Jean Colombe
He looks a mite happier about November than I do.  And he's even tending pigs.
First Exploration of Gratitude:
Our Canadian medical system is by no means perfect, but I am so thankful for our medical care.  I was reminded how deeply I appreciate and feel fiercely protective of our socialist medical system when somebody at a dinner party I recently attended suggested implementing a user fee for visiting a family doctor, perhaps a fee of $25.  When my son woke up crying and in pain with an earache a couple of nights ago, I didn't need to decide whether I could afford to take him to the doctor in the morning.  My decision was momentarily in question when I thought about catching something worse (i.e. stomach flu, which is exactly 8 times worse by my latest calculations), but I didn't have to decide whether I should spend money on food or medical care for my family this week.  He now has antibiotics for an ear infection.  We did pay for that ourselves, and there are numerous other items that we or our extended medical plan would pay for.  But, when true medical crisis strikes, we are all generally given good, fair medical care.   When my husband had cancer eight years ago, the medical system pumped tens of thousands of dollars into his body to make him well again, and we paid very little.  Our medical system isn't free, but in my humble opinion, it's pretty fair overall.  I do believe that if we had been living in a country without universal care and could not afford private insurance, such as the USA, we would either be in debt for the rest of our lives, or my husband might not have even been given treatment.  It is incomprehensible to me how a nation as prosperous as the USA does not provide adequate, fair medical care to its citizens.
As I've mentioned in previous posts, my family has opted to give gifts to charities at Christmas time instead of exchanging sweaters, gift cards, and scented candles that never get used.  We buy gifts and the exchange cards, explaining what the gift is, and how it will be used.  Sometimes, if we have our ducks in a row early enough, we make small gifts or tree ornaments to go along with the charity gift to remind the recipient of the real gift that has been purchased in their name.  For me, one of the most meaningful and memorable gifts was the supplying of a medical clinic in a developing nation the year that my husband went through cancer treatments.  It was so moving to think about the people who would benefit from me not getting another red sweater, and instead receiving life-saving medication or treatments that I had, until that year, taken largely for granted.  The years that I had my baby boys, I gave the gift of equipping midwives in developing nations with equipment and training to help bring healthy babies and mothers into the world.  I encourage, you to consider giving up your red sweater or itunes gift card this year and instead requesting a gift for someone else, in honor of the gift of medical care you've received.  Will such a small action make a difference?  I guarantee it makes a difference for the person on the receiving end of your generosity, and small acts have an inspiring effect on never know what the impact of your generosity will be!  

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