Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Response to Freestar Media

My recent letter to this guy who is making a movie about the horrors of the Canadian health care system. He requested true Canadian health much do you want to bet that mine won't make the cut?


I recently received an email about the movie you are making (Sick and Sicker) and wanted to write in with my true Canadian health care story. I am an otherwise healthy 29-year-old woman and was recently found to have Type 1 diabetes. It was a real shock and I was scared for my health and of course, for the quality of my life in the future. Within weeks of my diagnosis I was seen by an endocrinologist. When I mentioned to her that my husband and I were interested in starting a family I was moved to the Diabetes in Pregnancy clinic here in Calgary. I had an appointment within a week and was given my own nutritionist to help teach me about food choices, carbohydrate counting and prenatal nutrition. I had a diabetes education nurse who helped to get me on insulin and supplied me, free of charge, with my insulin pens. She calls me every week to go over my blood sugar numbers. I also see an endocrinologist who has been absolutely phenomenal and who is very up to date on what is going on around the world in diabetes research. When we struggled to get pregnant we were referred to a fertility specialist and I had an appointment in less than a week. They provided me with hormone supplements and free ultrasounds to monitor my pregnancy.

I am now over 5 months pregnant, educated about diabetes and healthy. My sugars have been well controlled - through my efforts and through the efforts of my "team". Aside from prescriptions I haven't paid for a thing...I have spoken with friends in America who have paid thousands of dollars for the kind of care I received. I did not wait and I have received world-class care.

The only other experience I've had was when I had a miscarriage two years ago. I went to the Emergency room and did have to wait a few hours, although I was not bleeding heavily. When I did get in I was treated with compassion and kindness and felt very much taken care of. Again I saw a doctor and had an ultrasound and only paid for the parking stall at the hospital.

While I recognize that some people have had an entirely different experience with the Canadian health care system, I do not thinking it is fair to demonize the system as a whole. My husband and I have lived in Africa, Asia, Europe, America and Canada and as someone with a chronic health care concern such as diabetes there is nowhere I would rather be than Canada. Working on the system to improve and fix its flaws is one thing but misrepresenting it as a failure on all counts is not only unfair it is inaccurate.

I am not a leftist Michael Moore fan, nor do I believe that the Canadian health care system is perfect...but it has certainly been good to me...and to my bank account.

Caroline Knox
Calgary, Alberta

Sometimes I just get so mad about this issue...our system is not perfect but just last week I had a flu shot, a blood test, a visit to my ob/gyn, a visit to the endocrinologist and an electrocardiogram of my baby's heart - all for free. And you know the best part? Anyone living in this country would have access to the same thing - and that just feels right.

Monday, October 29, 2007

First Words: Radio Canada

On Friday when I came home there was a package in our mailbox. I saw that it had come for Brian and that it was from CBC. Nothing bad ever comes from CBC so I was excited to see what he had bought...I was not dissapointed:

And the indoctrination begins.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I Support Responsible Ribbon Use

There has been a lot of controversy in the city lately about ribbons in support of Canadian troops. A city alderman has proposed that all City of Calgary vehicles display the ribbon sticker as a sign of support. The city council voted down the motion saying that there were political connotations to the ribbon that went beyond merely supporting the troop and while they would allow individuals working for the city to sport the stickers if they wished they would not mandate it. I have seen a lot of those ribbons lately, some in yellow, some in camouflage and although I personally have never understood how putting a sticker on your car would support anyone, let alone a soldier on the other side of the world, I can understand why someone might want to feel like they are doing something.

Now here is where it gets weird. Among all the ribbons I have seen I have also seen a lot of these:

Some with baseball, some saying "I love Ringette" and others with different types of dog breeds written on them. When did this happen? When did a universally accepted sign of something very serious (whether it be wars or breast cancer) become just another sticker? Do these people not think that using the ribbon to support baseball, which is clearly not threatened or in need of financial help or support, is a little bit ..well, stupid?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Making Lemonade

It snowed today. Which in itself, being the ominous first day of snow and everything, is a sad thing. It is a foreshadowing of the cold, wet and grey days to come and the complete lack of flip-flops in my life. But...and there is a but. The first day of snow is also the day I go out and buy brand new pyjamas (aside: do you know that Americans spell this word "pajama"!? How grotesquely phonetic of them.)...usually flannel ones. So, as the snow falls, I can sit at my window, with a cup of tea and know that despite all the white harshness Mother Nature throws my way I will be protected in my warm, flannel force field.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

Gender Identity

So...our little boy? The one we have struggled to name (only to emerge from our house successful on Sunday afternoon) and bought clothes for and nicknamed Kanye? He's a girl.

We went for an ultrasound this morning for an echo cardiogram, part of the being pregnant with diabetes protocol. We knew the main reason for this appointment was not to ogle over our baby and count his fingers and toes but still, we were excited to "see" him. The technician asked, like they always do, whether we knew the sex or whether we wanted her to keep it a secret. "Oh yeah, we know" we said, "It's a boy." There was this awkward pause as the young girl looked at us, back at the image in front of us and then said, "Ummm, no, it's a girl." Honestly, I didn't really know what to say. we both said "What!?" a few times and insisted that she point it out and basically convince us of the anatomical evidence in front of us. She was absolutely positive it was girl and assumed that the last ultrasound was a bit too early to tell. "But you did tell us!" I said, "You said with 80 to 90% accuracy that it was a boy. You showed us his penis!" "I was wrong, it's definitely a girl."

I looked at Brian and he had this stunned expression on his face like he had just sat in something either very cold or very sticky. I started to laugh maniacally...clearly a crazy woman on the ultrasound table. Neither one of us could really snap our brains into place long enough for any of it to make immediate sense.

When I first found out that the baby was a boy I was upset (so you like I used that nice mild word to describe a totally insane reaction?) but I managed to get my head around it pretty quickly. It helped when I started buying little boy's clothes and thinking of little boy's names. I started to think of all the good things that come with a boy and I know that Brian started to do the same. Now, we're sort of back to square one. I am excited either way and really, a healthy baby is our first priority. It's funny how the human mind works though - even though it's completely silly, at some level I was sad because I felt like I'd lost my little boy.

So, there we have it. A girl. Maybe despite all of Brian's recent (and admittedly sexist) protests I will have a little Irish dancer after all.

Any suggestions for nicknames? No need to keep with the rapper theme but feel free.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Le Chateau Old and Delicious

Last night we went to La Chaumiere - it was sort of a surprise date for Brian who knew enough to know we were going somewhere and that he needed to wear a suit. I had never been there before but I knew it would be an authentic French experience when I called to make reservations and the man on the phone was quite rude.

The meal was fantastic. I had lobster bisque (cooked just behind me by a man with a French accent who obviously knew what he was doing) was divine. Brian had an avacado salad and then we had beef tenderloin (him) and duck (me - always with the duck) and Bri has chocolate mousse for dessert. I had the most perfect creme brulee I have ever cracked open. Creme Brulee is a finicky dessert but it's pure heaven when it's done right, and this one was.

The restaurant itself was unlike any restaurant Brian and I had ever been in. Mostly because we were the youngest people there by 30 years easily. It was like a very fancy French old folks home with killer food.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

You know what sucks?

I have been reading Ian McEwan's Atonement for several months now. I haven't taken that long with it because I wasn't enjoying it but because it's been my bath book. I only read it in the bath. As of late I have really started getting into it and it managed to find itself transported from the tub and next to the bed. Then Brian and I went to a movie and they showed the preview for the new Atonement movie. And ruined the entire damn story. The two young people that I was just starting to think might hook up? They fall in love and there is betrayal and lies and a war and family tragedy. End of story. I now have absolutely no desire whatsoever to finish the book. Out of the bath and into the toilet.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Minor Considerations

I promised myself I would not complain about any aspect of this pregnancy. Not after I wanted it so bad and tried for so long. So, please do not consider the following as complaints, merely detached observations made for the purpose of posterity:

1. I am so tired of feeling so tired. Every night I have to get up and pee at least once and the hours I do spend asleep are riddled with lucid, strange, tipsy dreams that invade my waking hours with a feeling of strangeness.

2. I am starting to feel a little bit like a hippo. Or maybe just like a warthog. When I bend over there is this impermeable lump between me and whatever it is I'm reaching for. I feel ungainly, fat and self-conscious.

3. I feel like my wardrobe is very limited and although I have been lucky enough to be the recipient of a maternity donation, I still feel like I'm wearing the same clothes everyday. Despite my earnest decree that I would stay cool while expecting, I still catch a glimpse of myself every once and awhile and I do not see cool - I see pregnant.

4. Every time I sneeze, I pee a little bit. And my underwear doesn't fit properly.

On the upside, my hair is freaking awesome lately. I don't have to do anything but wash it, go to sleep and in the morning, maybe run a comb through it.

And the world is in balance once again.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Thoughts in pairs...

I've been thinking about relationships a lot lately. About boyfriends and girlfriends, newly married couples and couples of who have been together so long that they have merged into a singularity of sorts. I've always sort of taken them for granted and never given the relationships of the people around me all that much thought. It sounds selfish but I guess a lot of people are mostly concerned about their own relationship and how they feel about it. If it's bad you worry about it and if it's good you lose yourself in it.

A few of the relationships in my life have become a little rocky as of late and I guess it has forced me to sit up and pay more attention to what is going on. I have friends who are working through an affair and have only been married a couple of years, I have a friend who has found a new love and is negotiating what their life together will look like, I know a couple with a brand new baby who are now trying to establish a new rhythm in their life, and I know people in marriages that do not fulfill them or nourish them and who have been pretending for most of their marriage that they are still in love. I know people who are most definitely in love and are fighting like hell to make sure it stays that way.

Relationships, no matter how perfect at first, have rough spots and are not always easy. There are also days where you feel like you could just hold that person and stay that way for the rest of your life...without food, or work, or money, surviving on that overwhelming feeling of oneness that can make you feel so full you could explode. And there are days where you are tired and you take the person for granted or even worse, are mean to them. It's a complicated dance and ideally, it lasts for a very long time. A conversation that you can't necessarily remember starting and hopefully will never really finish.

Love is not something that should exist on a back burner. It needs to be fed and recognized and fostered. I feel really lucky in my life that I have found someone who I love so much and who truly is my best friend. I also know, from watching the people around me, that things can change quickly and that if you leave it too long and things get cold it is not easy to warm them back up. I feel a sense of re-commitment as of late - a commitment to make sure my marriage and life is as good as I can make it, a determination to never let life take over living and a promise to myself and to my husband that I will never underestimate how important it is to be kind and good to the person you love.