Small Victories

Nicole is still mulling over her wedding blog post, which will contain more pictures of the glowing bride, so I won’t steal her thunder. Instead I’ll write a quick update on the Wise boys.

Benjamin is putting the “terrible” in terrible twos lately. He recently developed a vomit-on-demand trick that he would employ against food he objected to eating — eg: potato-based foods that weren’t fried and, preferably, smothered in ketchup.
In the past couple days, however, he’s taken to using the trick against food that he actually likes. I read up on it, and its strictly a control thing. He wants to assert his will on his environment, and food seems like a good way to do it. And let me tell you, I haven’t seen such a strong will since… well, since I last looked in a mirror.
Spanks, time-outs, go-to-your-rooms, and unpleasant baths where we wash the vomit off him and don’t let him play with any bath toys, all do nothing against a red-faced toddler screaming about the injustice of being asked to eat yogurt (which both yesterday and tomorrow, he will love to eat.)

Honestly it was both confusing an extremely frustrating until I read that its not that unusual. If we try to make him eat, he’ll gag and cough until he pukes, or jam his hand in his mouth, pull the food out, and then jam it back in until he pukes. If we try to negotiate with him, he’ll wail and scream bloody murder. And he’d rather be punished by being in his room than eat something he doesn’t want to.
Turns out the only solution, at this point where he’s too young for much more than action/reaction type conditioning, is to let him have a choice. If he can choose between two things, he’s usually pretty happy.

We won’t raise a kid who only eats peanut butter and toast sandwiches three meals a day, but there’s only so much screaming and fighting a parent can take. So we’ll let him have some little victories, and rejoice in the little victories he lets us have…

Speaking of little victories, this Wise boy had one yesterday. My back pain this year is definitely chronic. Its always been bad, but this year its been escalating.
I tried a chiropractor for two months, and didn’t have a pleasant experience. I don’t necessarily think that what he was doing was wrong — it was just wrong for me right now. My muscles were terrified by the adjustments and changes in my back, and over the past month they’d contracted into a permanent defensive posture, freaking out every time I’d bend, or stand, or sneeze. Sneezing has been really scary — sometimes dropping me to my knees. My range of motion was shot, and the pain has been constant, changing to spasms rocking my back at the slightest sign of unusual movement.

So at the advice of a friend from church, I tried IMS acupuncture. I don’t normally go in for the pseudo-medical stuff like acupuncture, but this is a bit different. They don’t just stick a bunch of needles in you and hope your body heals itself. No, instead they jam needles strategically into the coiled up muscles, and wiggle them around. It hurts like heck.

The effect is amazing though. The muscle clenches ferociously around the needle, but then as soon as its pulled out, it relaxes. The tiny hole in the muscle triggers a healing reaction in your body, and the whole area kind of just… chills.
I’ve only had one treatment. Its done with a physiotherapist, as part of a recovery routine, along with exercises and identifying weak muscles that might cause other muscles to over-work. On the whole it seems a lot more scientific than the witch doctor chiropractor approach. Today is the day-after, and its the most pain-free day I’ve had in months.

There may be other stuff going on in there. Disk problems are a likelihood. But at this point, we’re looking at 3 months yet before we get off the waiting list for a local family doctor, so if I can get some relief for the summer, I’m willing to try… almost anything.

But its warm out, grandma and grandpa are coming tomorrow to visit with the kids, and summer is stretching out over the horizon, past the sunset and on into morning. Life is good.

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5 thoughts on “Small Victories

  1. …and it’s exactly statements like your next-to-last paragraph which makes me worry, as our own U.S. government seems to be forcing a health care system similar to Canada’s down our throats…

  2. Canada’s health care system is great if you have an established relationship with a doctor, and aren’t rich/don’t work for a company with a really good insurance plan.
    The US health care system is better — as long as someone’s going to pay for it for you. God help you if you happen to be out of a job and get in an accident though…

  3. So enlighten me…how is it that you have a family with 2 small children and still don’t have a doctor? It seems to me that by now you should almost be on a first-name basis with one. It takes that long to GET a doctor? As to those here in the U.S. who (supposedly) don’t have insurance, almost 1/3rd are illegal aliens, another good chunk are children from low income families who are eligible (already) for government (either Fed or state) insurance and another bunch are people who can get Medicaid because of their income levels. True, they may not be the top-of-the-line policies, but they will cover you if you are in an accident (etc) and cover a lot of regular stuff also. Also, in the latter instance, almost all hospitals are required to treat someone NO MATTER IF THEY CAN PAY OR NOT. They will also negotiate for what you CAN pay and set up payment plans etc. Right now there are so many regulations on what insurance companies must do (or provide, or where/what they can offer) that every private insurance HAS to be the top of the line. No insurance company is allowed to sell across state lines (a lizard can sell auto insurance anywhere, why isn’t medical insurance allowed to), and they MUST cover a whole bunch of stuff, even if the people purchasing the policies don’t need/want it. Sorry, I want a choice and if I read Canada’s system right (and here I need more info from you first-hand as I only hear what’s reported in the media), I will have even LESS choice than I have now. Sure they say we can keep what we have now (even though the gov wants to tax it), but no for-profit company can compete against one which is non-profit and doesn’t have to compete (the gov. system). And I look at how well the Fed is operating medicare, Social Security, etc. and it makes me even less likely to want them to run my medical choices. I just want the gov to let the free-market work. Lessen all the regulations and allow insurance companies to offer a variety of different types of policies and offer them anywhere. Then stand back and see the competition drive down the prices. Right now everyone has to offer very similar policies so there CAN’T be competition. Sure, there are some who may need some help, but don’t punish the rest of us who don’t want the gov’s medicine. Sorry for the rant, but I needed to get another side of the story out. So teach me, Jon on how (else) the Canadian system is better.

  4. Well it will be interesting to see how the U.S. system evolves. I wouldn’t say that the Canadian system is the one to model after, but there are certainly pros and cons to both set-ups.

    To clarify a few things, we don’t have a family doctor yet (what US insurance companies would call a primary care practitioner) but we don’t NEED one for most of what we need. Our children have had a pediatrician since we got here — even though neither of them yet have their Canadian paperwork, I’ve been to a chiropractor, Nicole’s been to a doctor for her post-child birth appointments, I’ve even gone to a walk-in clinic a couple of times. My visits to specialists, including my feet and back problems are covered by private insurance, and save for highly elective stuff, do not need referrals from a Primary Care doctor.
    Better yet, no matter where we are when we need medical care, throughout Ontario, we’re completely covered, and never ever need to check back with our family doctor or get approval for a procedure.

    In contrast, in the U.S., despite having the best health insurance of anyone we knew (CDPHP) we had a number of issues:

    – No one told us we needed a Primary Care Practitioner for everything. So after my second or third visit to a walk-in clinic, I was shocked when they informed me that CDPHP was no longer paying for my visits to any walk-in clinic ever again because I hadn’t got them approved by our family doctor.

    – When Nicole was reaching the end of her pregnancy with Abigail, we wanted to go on a road trip out of town. We were again shocked to learn that should the baby be born at a hospital outside of CDPHP’s range of coverage we would be liable for the ENTIRE bill.

    – Those bills, incidentally, because they’re typically managed by an HMO are outrageous. A simple, problem-free child birth had a bottom line of $2500 — a number un-heard of for medical service in Canada, even if you somehow escape coverage and had to pay yourself.

    – When I fell in a church parking lot in Clifton Park and blew out my elbow, I got treatment… and a few weeks later CDPHP called to insist that I sue the church. I was horrified to find that despite the huge amount of money I (and my employer) paid for health coverage, a church was still considered liable by this system for me tripping over my own feet. I was informed that CDPHP had to recover their costs somehow, and would I please contact a lawyer. I told them to shove it.

    To add to all that is a story of two friends we met shortly after we arrived in New York. When we first got together with them, he had both legs. Soon afterward, he quit his job to start his own business. Then he went skiing.
    He slammed into a tree and a branch went through his knee. He had to be airlifted out to the nearest hospital, where they tried for days to save his leg, before finally amputating. Now, and for the rest of his life (or until they default on the debt) he will be paying off the $250,000 cost of saving his life — but not his leg.

    None of these things would make me trade the Canadian system for the American one.
    However, our system is far from perfect. One of our biggest problems is that there’s no competition. All doctor’s are all paid by the same system, all hospitals are funded proportionately by the government. That means you can’t PAY for better treatment. And sometimes that sucks.

    Our hospitals and clinics are clean and fairly efficient. But everyone is treated the same. It doesn’t matter how good a job you have, or how much money you have, you can’t speed the system along or get a better doctor than anyone else. It also means that if you’re dying waiting for an expensive treatment, you can’t take out a second mortgage and pay your way to better health faster. You are limited by the constraints of what the system will prioritize.

    In the States when you arrive at a hospital, you’re treated like a customer. This is AMAZING. Its a huge difference to Ontario where you’re just a health card number. When I ripped a hole in my arm at a youth retreat, I was whisked away on a wheel chair, given as much pain killer as I wanted, and generally made to feel like the most important person there. I don’t remember if that was before or after they saw my insurance card.

    In Canada, you’re triaged on arrival. The highest priority cases are handled first. Waits can be LONG if you’re not high priority.

    But the biggest problem with Canadian health care, aside from the fact that you physically can’t pay for better care than someone else with less resources (which is really only bad if you genuinely think that a bigger bank account or better employer actually makes you a better or more worthwhile person than someone else) is the doctor-drain.
    Doctor’s in Canada have “capped” salaries. They all make well over six figures, but depending on where they set-up shop, their maximum yearly salary is set by what the system can afford. For lots of doctors, living with a top-ten % salary is great incentive to stay. Unfortunately, lots of other doctors see the huge salaries being pulled by their colleagues in a “free market” system, and they decide to leave for greener pastures. You can call this greed, or just human nature, but it remains a problem.

    The biggest problem with the U.S. system is not the free market — its HMOs. In many (not all ways) competition makes for better results. Its what HMOs do to individuals that is truly horrible. A government won’t fold if its health care budget is in the red — an HMO will. They are motivated (by the free market) to reduce costs and improve revenue. There are too many horror stories to count where this bottom-line motivator has had genuinely evil and terrifying consequences on the lives of families and individuals.
    That’s not to say there aren’t sad stories here, but those are the result of human incompetence, not human greed.

    I would like to see, in Canada, a hybrid of the two systems. Some set-up that allows hospitals and doctors to compete against each other — free market principles applied to the care-givers, but not to the purse-strings. Maybe if hospitals were funded based on customer satisfaction, not regional population, they’d perform better. And maybe if doctor’s caps were variable based on their success rate, they’d have more reason to stay.
    But I’d rather see my health care funding in the hands of a plodding government, than in the hands of an insurance company only in it to make a buck…

  5. Sigh…why can’t you and I design a system? We seem to have a lot of the same concerns overall. Love debating with you Jon. You make me think and aren’t afraid to admit problems…something I have trouble with on occasion. Thanks!

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