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!
- 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.
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.