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I don't have cancer

2011 was an interesting year. A year of firsts!

  • I worked on my first book, Clojure Programming (soon to be released, in fine bookstores near you).
  • I bought my first house.
  • The first of my maternal grandparents died.

Hmm, kind of took a turn for the worst there. Then, one fine sunny day in 2011, sitting at my favorite pub, enjoying my favorite beer, I started coughing up blood. Another first!

More firsts:

  • First Emergency Room visit.
  • First bronchoscopy.
  • First CT scan.

Coughing up blood1 is caused by a huge number of things, from nose bleeds to lung cancer to food going down the wrong pipe to cocaine use. It turns out that 30-year-old non-smokers with no other symptoms tend not to have lung cancer. That didn't stop me from fearing the worst.

Canadian Health Care

This was my first chance to experience the Canadian health care system first-hand after immigrating here. "Free health care" is not entirely accurate, but is very close. I pay some small amount of money monthly ($30-40 I think) to be included in the government-provided Medical Services Plan (MSP). Many employers pay this fee for their employees, but mine doesn't. No big deal.

Once in this system, every "essential" form of health care is paid for completely by the government. Emergency room visit, bronchoscopy, blood test, x-ray, visit with my family doctor, visit with my pulmonologist, all of it was 100% paid for. Show them a government "Care Card" and you're set.

Prescriptions are not covered. Things like eyeglasses, non-emergency dentistry, and elective procedures are not covered. I can get private health insurance to pay for some of those things, but I never bothered, because the cost of that stuff is so low.

I'd hesitantly call this a step up from the US system of huge numbers of people being uninsured, and of insurance not actually covering all of your medical expenses even if you have it.

The one bad thing about Canadian health care is the wait times. It's often a month or longer to get an appointment to see my pulmonologist. I'm currently scheduled for another medical test... in June. This was scheduled about 4 weeks ago. Thank God I didn't have cancer, or I'd probably have been dead before I got to see a doctor.

I never went through a similar experience in the US, so I'm not sure what the wait times are like in comparison. I do remember my father waiting for over a month (in severe pain) to have a surgery performed because his insurance company dragged their feet in approving it, or something like that. So yeah. I probably can't complain much.

Now what?

After months of waiting and months of not knowing, and then having a few cameras shoved into my lungs, it turns out I probably don't have cancer. So that's pretty good news. I still don't know what's causing me to sporadically cough up blood, but as more and more "serious" things are ruled out by tests, I find myself in much better spirits.

2011 will go down in my biography2 in as the Year of Lost Productivity. I didn't handle the stress very well, to put it very mildly. It's unfortunate that the act of worrying about dying and not having time to do things I want to do ended up hindering me from doing many things I wanted to do.

I sometimes hear about people who actually have terminal illness showing bravery in the face of their illness. By contrast, it didn't even take terminal illness to essentially blow me out of the water. Just the real threat of it. I feel a lot of shame and regret at how poorly I handled myself. I'm trying to use that regret as motivation. I have a lot of things I need to accomplish, and who knows, maybe not as much time to accomplish them as I'd like to imagine.

So I have a lot of plans for this year. Old projects need to be dusted off and brought up to speed. Step one is probably kicking some life back into this old blog.

  1. Hemoptysis. From Greek hemo (blood) + ptýsis (spitting). A word I'm now intimately familiar with.

  2. I'm not actually writing a biography.

April 04, 2012 @ 7:29 AM PDT
Cateogory: Rants
Tags: Rant


Quoth andreas on April 04, 2012 @ 4:21 PM PDT

Best wishes. I enjoyed many of your posts.

Quoth on April 04, 2012 @ 4:50 PM PDT

wait times are basically the same here too (hungary), but only if your are a patient without "emergency needs".
If you are, you basically get rushed through everything until you deescalate, and then they will take their time with you.
Makes some sense as you can basically wait, they know you'r not going to die, others with bigger need preempt you.

Matija "hook" Šuklje
Quoth Matija "hook" Šuklje on April 04, 2012 @ 9:14 PM PDT

I was wondering where you've disappeared to... but holly cow, that's a story and not a fun one!

I really hope it's nothing serious and they'll get you fixed. Just keep your spirits high, that's half of the healing process, whatever you've got.

As for the waiting lines, here in Slovenia it's pretty much the same — I suppose that's the down-side of most public health care systems.

Quoth dhalsiim on April 06, 2012 @ 10:27 AM PDT

Welcome back.

It's been quite some time indeed. I am glad you are not as ill as you were first informed. Definitely keep your spirits up.

I rather enjoyed your forays into gentoo (the purple icon set), the various window managers (fvwm2 being the foremost) and finally your choice of languages (Clojure more than ruby). I hope what you have accomplished so far encourages you to continue doing more ahead and not feel ashamed in how things were handled.

P.S lol @ "holly cow" in the post above (not sure if it was intentional)

Quoth dreis on April 11, 2012 @ 5:46 AM PDT

I'm glad your condition is not serious!

Your absence was noted, particularly because you said you wanted to blog more in 2011. And your posts are needed =)

I don't think it's that uncommon to be so upset by the possibility of being much closer to dead than expected. And it's not a reason to be ashamed for feeling like that. Maybe a reason to reflect on what you WOULD have done if you were terminally ill. Maybe do that now?

Hope you get well soon.

Quoth kevix on April 15, 2012 @ 5:04 PM PDT

I enjoy looks into Health Care in other countries but unfortunately its usually under not so nice circumstances. Hope you get whatever it is fixed soon. Moo!

Quoth Herb on June 22, 2012 @ 2:01 AM PDT

Sounds not so nice... - Having an illness, which is not really cared for. - Horrible! Have you been checked for tuberculosis? (TBC) - This is in fact one of the most common illnesses, which was thought to be routed out, but seems to have a strong comeback... - And it makes you cough blood.

In former times it was very common! It is also known as: 'consumption' or ... tada... 'pthisis'. (Does it sound familiar?)

As a matter of fact, it is rather easy to be cured.

What does your family doctor say to that?

Hope you are better now?

Yours, Herb