Tuesday, August 18, 2009

an american girl in canada

I got pregnant four months after I moved to Canada.
http://svmomblog.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83451bae269e20120a50126c8970b-piSomehow, through all the rigamarole of applying for permanent residency and applying for a work permit and tearful phone calls from relatives who were convinced I'd lost my mind and gone to the North Pole (Students in the United States are NOT taught as much geography as Canadian children are - the entirety of Canada is left as 'our friendly neighbor to the north' ) and trying to fit into an area with a much smaller-town feel, the stars aligned and the heavens sang (or, come to think of it, could have been all that newlywed sex) and I started feeling....off.
I held off going to the doctor until I was convinced I was dying. We were fumbling with bills and finding our way as a new couple - why would I put the added stress of co-pays and office fees onto our plate? Surely this would go away. Conditioned from years of having to drop thirty dollars every time I even set foot into a doctor's office, I was panicked by the idea of having a chronic illness far from home. The tests that would have to be run would bury us. And what would happen if whatever-this-was was classified as an existing condition?  I knew my husband loved me - but what if this was something ....big?
And how in hell were we going to pay for this? It was enough to make an American girl heave.
When I finally confessed that I was scared out of my mind that I was going to bankrupt us and force us to live in the streets, Jamie was less than comforting. He was completely uncomprehending.
You see, in Canada, that doesn't happen. People don't lose their houses trying to pay for their health care or take out second mortgages for unexpected illnesses. People don't get turned away from emergency rooms because they don't have insurance. There are no horror stories of people with ruptured disks (a horrible, debilitating injury) being sent home without getting help. That doesn't happen here.
Canada's health care system is based upon a single-payer system. (This differs from the 'socialist medicine' label often slapped on it.) The government doesn't decide what treatment you're getting or have any say in what tests or medications you need - your doctor does. The provincial government pays for it .
That's their only role in your health care. They don't choose who gets what, they don't say yay or nay.  Your doctor (or hospital) bills one single payer, so there isn't any waiting to find out if you have insurance approval, no waiting for reimbursement. There just isn't. This means that the Canadian health system costs much less than the States model - running one company to pay out is much more cost-effective than dozens of companies, all with their own checks, balances, and wait times for reimbursement.(And executive salaries, but that's another post...)
I'm not saying Canada's health care system is perfect. It's not. But it's a damn sight better than worrying that having an illness or injury - or bringing a baby into the world, which is what I did, a few months later -  is going to bankrupt your family or mean years of bills and worry.
Some very good articles: Denver Post  Diemer.ca  Campaign For America's Future

Jessica moved from the United States in 2000. She blogs at daysgoby and is grateful every day to live in Canada, where she can get medical treatment whenever she needs it without having to choose between having food in the house and seeing a doctor.
Photo by vtgard

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Like most peCheesedople who read blogs, I have a sizable blogroll. Certain themes have trended in through time - I had a lot of baby blogs when my daughter was a little, and when I went to work at the local hospital, blogs written by doctors, nurses and paramedics stacked up in number.
There are always blogs to follow about almost any profession, hobby, craft, whim. Even things you never thought you'd be interested in. But we're eating at home a LOT more these days, and in between the 100 mile diet and trying to show my children that with a little ingenuity, we can do almost anything, I've found myself reading all sorts of new and incredible stuff - and then trying it out.
For example, I adore cheese. Even the stinky stuff most people won't touch. Did you know you can make a lot of cheeses in your kitchen? Seriously. Like ricotta. Known around here as the glurp-glunch-YUMMY lasagna cheese. Or paneer, an incredibly basic but delicious Indian cheese that squeaks between your teeth if fried lightly in ghee. Even semi-hard and hard cheeses can be made at home.

Cheese curds - the main ingredient in poutine - is even possible (and delicious!) in your kitchen. (Imagine! Making your own poutine!)
Mozzerella! The pizza and string cheese champion!
Now, armed with a few recipes, some milk and a little time in the kitchen, I can make cheese. My kids think I'm a superstar and I'm saving money. It's a win all around. Besides, I like appearing out of nowhere lke Houdini...with pizza! Pizza topped with fresh home-made cheese!
Now if I could just manage to beat the deer back from eating all my fresh tomatoes and basil....
(sigh) Back to the blogs, I guess....
Hmm. How to get the deer to leave your garden alone. Must bookmark that....
This is an original Canadian Moms Blog post. Jessica blogs at daysgoby and tries not to drool on her keyboard while reading recipes.
photo by PirateAlice