Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Waiting

One of the downsides of Canadian health care, and Ontario health care in particular, is that unless you are really sick, or injured, or dying, you can wait a long time to see a specialist.

I'm waiting for lots of things.

Because I changed doctors in December, my new GP has addressed all that has been ailing this 51-year-old body. And for the more-serious issues, I have been seen right away. My gastro problems from early this year seemed to sort themselves out, but I did have a series of CT scans, ultrasounds, and an MRI. Through those tests, a mass was found on my liver, but that has now been diagnosed as benign.

I've had my sleep study but I have to wait until September to meet with the specialist, who will explain the results. And so, I wait.

Also, in September, I will be seeing a specialist who will try to determine the root cause of my tinnitus, and will hopefully put an end to the constant ringing, hissing, and cicada-like buzz in my ears. This appointment was set up in March. More waiting.

I had a colonoscopy a couple of months ago, but my original appointment was for late August. I didn't want to wait that long so I had my doctor try several clinics and was able to fast-track me.

I liked that fast-track route, and recently got my GP to do another one for my foot condition. Two months ago, she found a specialist to whom she wanted to refer me, but we learned that it is an eight to eighteen-month wait to see him. A few more calls and I was able to see someone else, and the wait was only two weeks.

That was last week.

Unfortunately, after waiting in the office for more than an hour after my scheduled time, I had to leave, to get back to my job. Ironically, I walked out on a foot appointment.

I hate waiting.

My GP, upon hearing that I didn't stay for the appointment, urged me to reschedule. This surgeon was well-respected, well-connected, and would most likely be able to fast-track my surgery. I called and saw him again on Tuesday.

He was fascinated by my case and determined that I do not have Mueller-Weiss Syndrome, as my GP suspected. This surgeon diagnosed the condition to be an advanced stage of Köhler's disease, which is what I had in my youth and what was treated in my mid 20s, on my right foot. Both feet were diagnosed, but because I started physiotherapy on both feet after my surgery and the treatment eased the discomfort in my left foot, I opted to forego a second surgery to fix that foot.

Time and Köhler's has caught up to me.

The result is the same: I need surgery. But while this specialist is qualified, he has retired from surgery. He will not be fixing my foot.

He does, however, have a good network and knows a couple of surgeons who are qualified to do this procedure. The one that he highly recommends has a waiting list of 18 months, which is no better than my original referral (thankfully, I'm still on his waiting list). But the doctor who met with me this week thinks that he might able to fast-track his recommended specialist. A favour is owed.

"Let me see if I can shorten the wait to six months," he said. My condition is rare. My foot is a mess, with the bones deteriorating at a quick rate. This doctor loves a challenge.

Again, I wait.

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