June was a rough month. The parasite I picked up in India really did a number on my body. It took 10 days of strong antibiotics to get rid of it, and the drugs left my digestive system a mess. I also suffered a rash of other health problems, likely related to the weakened state of my body.
- Anemia – very slow to recover, even with iron pills.
- Weight Loss – lost 10 lbs and it’s not easy to gain back on a vegan diet.
- Grade 3 Ankle Sprain – foolishly blew out my ankle playing ultimate frisbee.
- Leg Cramps – often at night. Still happening infrequently and unexplained.
- Hemorrhoids – and other problems with veins.
All in all, I visited a doctor 6 times, went to the hospital emergency room once, had 3 lab visits for blood tests and stool samples, and saw a physiotherapist for my ankle sprain. I’ve gained a new appreciation for our medical system’s strengths and weaknesses, and a realization that I’m getting old and my body isn’t as quick to recover as it once was.
Thankfully, I’m feeling better now. I’m taking extra-strength iron pills and probiotics daily, and I can feel myself getting stronger every day. My ankle is almost healed, and I’m itching to start running again.
My revelations about our medical system:
Free Medicare is Amazing
Although it was frustrating dealing with sickness and multiple health problems, I was treated well by our medical system. Amazingly, every visit to see a doctor was free. The only out of pocket expenses I had were for drugs and the physiotherapist, and most of that was covered by my insurance plan at work. It was stressful enough dealing with illness that I’m glad I didn’t have to worry about the financial cost as well.
Doctors Treat Symptoms
The most noticeable flaw in our healthcare system I saw was that the doctors were too busy to really consider my holistic health. I had a number of symptoms that I felt were linked, but the doctors just wanted to diagnose a single problem, run some tests, and prescribe medication.
Give me More Data
I love data. At work we collect thousands of statistics every minute on the health of our servers and applications. It’s all available real-time with historical charts for comparison. I want that for my body. If I had been tracking my own vitamin levels, I would have detected the low iron before the parasite wrecked havoc on my body. Doctors order tests when they’re looking for a problem, but not when you’re healthy so there is no baseline to compare to or early detection of problems. BC has a great system for getting lab results quickly to patients (myehealth.ca) but you still need a doctor to order the tests. Cellphone apps are starting to collect health data, but what’s available now is trivial – heart rate, step counters, and the ability to manually enter data like your weight. What I’m looking for is an at-home blood test that can track blood cell counts, hormones, and vitamin levels. Once that data is available at the touch of a button, it will revolutionize our health care system.