I’m one of the lucky ones. In 67 years on this planet, I’ve yet to charge Ontario taxpayers for an overnight hospital stay.
But for a while this year, it was a close call. First up was a trip to Emerg in St. Thomas, with pain straight up the middle from my abdomen to my chest. Dr. Hug (the perfect name for an Emerg physician with great bedside manner) did some tests, and said he didn’t think it was my heart. Over the next few months, several ticker tests ensued before the specialist agreed it was probably a severe case of acid reflux.
Then around Easter, I got abdominal attacks that felt like battery acid. Previously they had happened occasionally, but now they had the gall to show up every two weeks. By September, they were recurring every two to five days. Sometimes I had fever and hives. When they hit, I couldn’t eat, an easy way to lose 15 pounds. An effective diet, with drawbacks.
The taxpayers of Ontario paid for an ulcer test and a gall bladder ultrasound, which showed no problem. I went on heavy duty anti-acid pills and had another stomach test booked for late November when, on September 20, my lovely wife Nancy said she had been doing online research, and she thought I was gluten intolerant. We went shopping for gluten-free bread, and my symptoms cleared up right away.
I’ve become one of those gluten people. But I’m no hipster. I refuse to grow a man-bun or use words like “artisanal”.
If there’s one takeaway, it’s that doctors should continue to tear down the silos – the professional kind where they cement themselves off from each other. Docs are good at the dots but can be poor at connecting them. If the heart people had been checking in with the digestive people, they might have saved the province thousands of dollars. Take my experience, add others, and you soon get millions.
I appreciate the compassionate care I received, and I’m grateful that I didn’t have to pay for it. Thank you, taxpayers. But there was a simpler, cheaper way, if only we had asked different questions from the beginning.
Questions that perhaps the impatient patient should ask, like …
Could it be anything else?
Could two different things be going on at once?