1. I live in Toronto, I have an OHIP card (a health card), and I can walk into any emergency room or walk-in clinic any time and receive care for free.
2. I bought a bike about two months ago, and two weeks ago, decided that I would be one of those people who bikes distances. Two weekends ago, therefore, I went from casually biking around the city to trying to go on one 70+ km bike ride per weekend.
This is the route of the ride I did two weekends ago:
There and back, so about 90 click. It’s a good route. Lots of cool breezes off the lake. Seagulls. Preposterous, decadent houses.
This is the route of the ride I took last weekend:
Nice at first — the Don Valley trail’s pleasant — but then it gets all suburby, so you’re either driving down thoroughfares heavily trafficked by Rob Ford-voting cyclist-haters going 70-100 kilometers per hour, or you’re getting turned around in windy suburban developments. I chose the route because my grandparents live in Markham, and I hadn’t seen them in a while, and thought it might be nice to drop in.
I took the first ride with a couple friends. I did the second ride on my own. What I discovered is that when I ride on my own, I tend to lose all perspective and push maybe a little bit harder than I ought to. At one point I was blasting down 14th in my highest gear, trying to go fast enough so it wasn’t so scary when some asshole suburban driver in an 8 million ton Escalade blew past me at 90 kph, its right mirror clearing my left handlebar by inches, and my left foot got all clawed up in a brutal cramp and the only thing that occurred to me to do was power through it.
I’m pretty sure that was the moment my left foot/ankle decided to fuck me over and become, for the next four days, about one-and-a-half to two times as big as my right. Probably wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d iced it right away, but I made the bad decision to ignore it and then stand around for four hours in thirty degree heat watching the Pride parade the next day.
Point is: My left foot/ankle is fucked up right now. In addition to being swollen, it feels weird and clicky when I move it. The larger point, though, is: I should probably go to a fucking clinic and get it looked at.
3. I don’t want to go to the clinic to get it looked at. And I’m going to put going to a clinic to get it looked at off for one more day. Why? Because I don’t like going to the doctor when I’m not sure that they’re not just going to say something like “it’s fine, you just need to stay off it for a couple days,” which is what you would’ve done anyway and which makes you feel like a big whiner. Especially after you’ve just spent however long you’ve had to spend sharing a waiting room with people with real problems.
4. The whole argument that if you make healthcare freely accessible it’ll collapse because everyone will go in to get the doctor to check out their hangnails (I’m pretty sure I heard that argument being made a lot last year during the whole health care debate) is bullshit. Some people (hypochondriacs), I’m sure, do live in the emergency room up here in Canada and elsewhere where there’s free access, but there’s not a lot of them. And most of us don’t like undergoing medical examinations. We don’t need financial disincentives to keep us away.
If I seriously thought there was something wrong that was likely to get worse, I’d go in in a second. Wouldn’t even have to think about it. But that’s as it should be. In the States, because seeking treatment has been so over-disincentivized, people will put off going to see a doctor even when they know that things are getting worse. Why? Because the prospect of a $45,000 bill fucks with people who may not even make that much money in a year’s ability to be rational. They start to question whether debt slavery is really less painful than living with an exploded appendix (which is actually dying). Or they just work really really hard not to think about it, because both options suck, and can you really blame them?
Basically: Americans, your system is barbaric, and my ankle hurts.