Description 52 - Covered By OHIP

Breasts! Refrigerator noise! Gowns with three sleeves! Baskets of knitting! And me actually talking to people! It's all to celebrate our fine health-care system just slightly less than Michael Moore has. Also with great music by Colleen Brown...and by the pesky neighbours downstairs.

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Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
"The Birth of Medicare" @ CBC Digital Archives
Health Care in Canada @ wikipedia
St. Michael's Hospital
CIBC Breast Clinic
Rethink Breast Cancer
Colleen Brown: official site, myspace, New Music Canada, CD Baby and... publicbroadcasting.ca!
Second Cup
CP24 (They don't have it on a stream anymore? Crap!)
Stand Up Tragedy X, totally explaining the TTC Strike (Thanks, Todd!)

Until this experience, I'd never been in a waiting room where so many people were talking with each other. To me, waiting rooms have always been places where you come in, (present your health card if you live here), sit down and read something, or in my case listen to an iPod. But when I donned the three-sleeved pink gown and entered, about four other women in similar gowns were chatting. Three of them had finished and were waiting for the okay to go, and they were trying to comfort the other woman, who was waiting to get her mammogram and was very nervous about it, having had a bad experience last time. My rationale was 1) my mom said it's never been too bad, and 2) compared to other exams we have to endure, how bad can it be? Another said it was nothing compared to being in a full MRI machine closed in around you like a smooth white coffin for a half hour. Totally soothing, weren't we? But if nothing else, we emphasized that however bad it would be, stressing about it would make it much worse. True enough. So that nervous woman is the one I'm talking to in the episode after we'd both done our thing; she'd survived, and was a bit calmer.

The waiting room chat was an odd thing for me not just because of the waiting room, but in being some sort of female bonding experience. As you might have figured, I've never been part of many dishy, soul-baring little coffee klatches you might find on any number of tv shows; or identified myself with a kind of sisterhood. But there we were - people with the same pink gowns and the same body parts being tested for cancer. No avoiding that. So somehow talking happened, and it was okay.

Now that I think of it, that idea of strangers connected by a medical procedure reminds me of a more trivial but stranger circumstance. I briefly mention in the episode that I had (and still do to an extent) scoliosis, or curvature of the spine. I put it down to slumping and always cocking the same hip when I stood. I was diagnosed when most kids are, at about 12 or 13 years old, and it mainly involved skipping school once every couple months to get x-rays (for which I waited all day at my local hospital) and then an examination by some doctor who'd come in from Cleveland to check a bunch of us to see if we were getting worse. When he found I was, I was assigned exercises and later a brace (not for the neck, but more like a big thick corset) for a lovely couple years in 8th and 9th grade. Eventually, things solidified, they didn't have to run a steel bar up my back, and I went on with my life with the odd back complaint. Hardly a rare story...and by the way, Dad had excellent health insurance from his work up until a few years after his retirement.

Shortly after Kurt Cobain died, I read a report of his myriad ailments both natural and man-made. Among his natural ones: scoliosis. Suddenly, I could picture the poor kid going through those screenings, the x-rays, the exams, one of the few boys. Still, I concluded that for all the suffering Kurt Cobain endured, I was very thankful scoliosis was the only one to which I could truly relate.

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