Golden Girls and the Canadian Health Care System

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July 30th 2016
Published: July 31st 2016
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For those who don't know yet, I apparently broke a rib (or 2 or 3) the day before I left on this road trip. I have a good idea of how and when it happened, but until yesterday, it wasn't that big a deal. I've had broken ribs before, and usually they sting for a few days and after a week or 2, you barely notice the pain anymore (thanks to pain killers and becoming accustomed to the pain). Last night, however, things made me a bit more concerned. There were several points when I woke up during the night to excruciating pain, taking long periods of time before I could pass back into unconsciousness. Since sleep was not totally my friend (and hasn't really been since I started staying in hostels 4 days ago), I decided when I was completely awake this morning to skip the Parliament tour and just move along to Toronto, my next stop.

It was a 4-hour drive, and at various times I was able to make myself comfortable enough that the pain was nonexistent. But last night worried me, so I decided that my first stop after checking into my Toronto accommodations would be some kind of health clinic or hospital. It turns out that I got to the University of Toronto (another dorm stay) too early to check it, but I paid and got directions to the parking deck. I also asked about hospitals, and they were kind enough to give me a map with directions to University Ave, the site of 4 hospitals within a block or two. They even recommended a specific one - Mt Sinai - because they said the wait times were shorter. I thanked them, went and parked, and then hiked off to the hospital, about 15 minutes on foot.

The hospital staff were very courteous, took my vitals and asked why I was there before asking me to wait until called for patient registration. That took about 15 minutes, as the check-in people had told me. The first thing I was handed after being called over was a pair of forms, the first of which informed me that I would be paying $600 up front since I was not in the Canadian health system, just to be seen by a doctor. After that, I would also have to pay up front for any procedures required. After hesitating for a moment, I simply told her that wasn't in my ability to pay. She was very polite through my questioning - is this the standard at any hospital? What if I can't pay? Even if I have American insurance? Ultimately, she directed me to a couple of clinics about 4 blocks away. I thanked her and apologized for my ignorance of the system. And with that, I was off to my next stop in the health care chain.

This place, called MCI The Doctor's Office, was in a mall-type building off the food court. I'm not going to judge, since they were doing me a favor. A $160 favor, it turned out. Their process was much more streamlined, and the lady taking my information couldn't believe when I told her how much the hospital was going to charge. She told me she could give me a receipt when I was done, and maybe my home insurance would cover some of it. I'm doubtful, but I'll still be turning it in. Long story short, I waited for about 10 minutes before a doctor came in and checked me out. He listened to my chest and then prodded my left rib cage - I think the 2nd prod made me wince and inhale sharply. That was really all he needed. He said it was likely a broken rib (which I already figured), but that there wasn't anything internal going on (which was what I wasn't sure about). That was a relief. He ordered an x-ray, but of course the nearest place for that was closed by this time and would reopen on Tuesday, the day after I return to America. Apparently Monday is a civic holiday in Canada, or at least in Toronto. Lucky me. He said I should get some pain killers, and to take the x-rays to any doctor for further consultation. Well, I could've told him all this, but it was a load off to know that it's probably just the same old injury that keeps plaguing me now for over a decade.

The rest of my day involved the Golden Girls. Yes, from the TV show. One of the things I was most excited about while planning this trip was this show. A live puppet performance of an original script. And one of the best things about the venue was that it was less than 10 minutes from my dorm on foot! I exchanged my voucher at the box office for a decent seat and laughed for most of the next 2 hours. If you watched the show, you probably already knew about 40% of the dialogue. There was enough for fans to reminisce and for them to be entertained with new material. I think the writers kept the characters true to the originals and even updated a few things, though at times that seemed anachronistic. But it was almost like a giant episode, with built-in commercial breaks where they would play 3 or 4 commercials from the 80's. Even the 'going to commercial' and 'back from commercial' music was the same as from the show. And of course it began and ended with the theme song - at the start, most of us sang along with it; at the end, it served as the curtain call for the performers, and they encouraged us all to sing the song with them. What a hoot. Some of the best parts were the 4th-wall breaking moments, or what you might call self-referential phrases - talking about the plot from a previous episode, or a trend on the show, or even when Rose talked to the audience even though no one else could see us. There were all kinds of people there - young and old, men and women, native English speakers and non-native. I do know a German girl who said the show helped her to learn English. Anyway, it was called "Thank You for Being a Friend," and this was only the 2nd night of the performance. If you're in Toronto between now and September, it's a fun way to spend an evening.

There's not really much else to tell about today. I didn't take as many pictures, for obvious reasons. I'm happy to say that the wifi at my dorm is fast and reliable. I will say that I'm even more ecstatic that my room has a/c. I hope that will make my night more comfortable, along with the extra-strength Tylenol and the ace bandage around my rib cage. The bed itself feels pretty hard, but we'll see how that affects the sleeping. Tomorrow, I had planned on walking around a good bit, but I may curtail some of that due to the injury. I have a ticket to the Toronto Blue Jays baseball game, and I have every intention of making sure I attend that. It doesn't start until 1PM, so that means I can sleep in, if the pain will let me. And it's only a 30-minute walk from here, so I can meander to and from the game and call it a day. Or I can meander further afield and explore some of the art deco the city has to offer. I'm going to take it easy, though, for most of the rest of this trip. And maybe one of these days, I'll get a decent bed to sleep in.

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