Virtually real- Virtuellement vraie

Micheline Harvey: Virtual Assistant, real person/Adjointe Virtuelle, mais tout à fait vraie

The patient’s point of view or – Hey doctor, could you look at me? March 18, 2014

DoctorIt’s good to have accessible healthcare and to be able to get treatment and not worry about paying for expensive tests, therapies, surgeries. And yet, it’s sometimes difficult to be a patient in our current system.

I had a non-urgent ultrasound done in the public healthcare system recently. I must admit, I have very little memory of the ultrasounds I had when I was pregnant, many, many moons ago. I did remember that it could be quite uncomfortable, but that the outcome usually trumped the discomfort.

This time was very different as I am not pregnant and therefore not anticipating any exciting news. When I called to schedule the test, I asked if they were usually on time or if they had an average delay. I was told that they were “pretty much on time.”
Smart girl that I am, I did not believe this and factored in that they were probably anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes late with their appointment times, perhaps more.

When I read the prescription sheet that instructed I should drink 1 liter of water, 1 hour before my appointment time, I thought that this was a bit insane, as they prescribe the same amount and time to everyone, regardless of sex, age, size, etc. and yet we all know that men have larger bladders than women, and how do you know when your appointment time is, if they are not on time? So, I decided I’d drink ¾ liter about 45 minutes before my appointment time. I did the math, it made sense to me.

When I got there, I asked again if they were on time and was told that yes, they were right on time.
And yet I was called in 40 minutes AFTER my scheduled appointment time. Liars. I was uncomfortable, but it was tolerable.

The technician did the ultrasound and claimed that my bladder was not quite full enough to see everything clearly. He called in a doctor that looked like he was about 100 years old (…) and they decided that they’d have me wait for 10-15 minutes tops, which is usually long enough for the rest of the water to make its way to the bladder, and they’d call me in again.

I asked them if they could assure me that it would be no longer than 10-15 minutes and they said of course, we would not want to make you wait longer, it would be very uncomfortable.

And yet, 30 minutes later, I had still not been called and I was in agony. I knocked on the exam room door and asked them if they had forgotten me as it had been more than twice the maximum time. The technician said “two minutes”. Ten minutes later, I wanted to kill the entire hospital staff, including the cafeteria lady who was not even looking at me at the time (poor cafeteria lady, I’m sorry …).

I stood in front of the exam room door and when the tech came out I said “It’s now or never”.

He showed me into a second exam room and started the examination. It was excruciating. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I am pretty tough when it comes to pain, and quite patient usually, but this was just horrible. I told him to hurry up because this was no longer simply uncomfortable, it was painful. A bladder can burst, you know!

He finally finished with his images and said that the (100-year old) doctor would be in in 10 minutes or so to take more images.

I told him he was nuts if he thought I’d wait any longer.

He said I could go relieve my bladder a little. A little? Is he kidding me?

Long story short, this experience was extremely uncomfortable, painful and embarrassing to me. The doctor did not answer my questions, did not look at me and I didn’t even feel human. He simply stated that the report would be sent to my family doctor and I’d hear back if necessary.

I am angry that they were not upfront with me about delays and I am bothered by the impersonal quality of the experience.

I will never agree to an ultrasound again. They can check out my insides some other way.

And I fully understand why people who can afford it have their medical tests done in private clinics.


Courage, or my cousin Cindy. December 8, 2013

Filed under: Family — matamich @ 2:26 pm
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I hardly ever get to see my family in Nova Scotia. I am very thankful for Facebook and social media that keep most of us up to speed about our lives and give us the opportunity to communicate a little more often.

Last July, hubby and I took an impromptu road trip to P.E.I. to visit the island and have a little vacation. As we drove around and ended up standing at the ferry dock in Wood Island, I could see Nova Scotia on the other side. I knew that there was no way I couldn’t hop over for a visit, even just for a few hours!

So we took the ferry early the next morning and surprised my Nana, spent some time with my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Danny, visited Grampa’s grave and had a nice lunch in Pictou. As I was leaving Joyce and Danny’s, my cousin Cindy pulled up behind us. I was so happy to see her, give her a big hug and chat for a few minutes about our shared love of “creepy” things, movies, and stories, and so on.

Cindy and Mich

Little did I know, a mere few weeks later, I would receive the news that Cindy was fighting for her life and in need of an emergency liver transplant!

All the cousins and family lived through this crisis, hour by hour, day by day, asking for news, keeping informed, messaging each other, sending our energy, love and healing vibes. We were so afraid for her, but we all felt strongly that she would pull through. My cousin Cindy is a fighter. She recently decided to check a few things off her “bucket list” and jumped out of a plane (wearing a parachute, of course)! She rocks!

The waiting, the uncertainty, the need for an emergency liver transplant and all the time she was unconscious, semi-conscious, fighting complications, infections, going in and out of surgery was nerve-wracking for us all. I can only imagine how her mom, dad, siblings and kids felt through all this! I hope that they felt our love and support and that it helped keep them strong.

Now, several weeks later, we’ve had the joy of hearing news of important milestones: that Cindy was conscious, that she sat on the edge of her bed for a few minutes, that her brother made her a Halloween costume of the board game “Operation” out of a sheet, and she wore it on Halloween in her hospital bed, that she was feeding herself and complaining about all the fuss. That she took a few steps with a walker, went outside for a few minutes, laughed at our silly voice messages, talked via Facetime or just smiled for a picture or short video that was posted online just for us.

In a short few weeks, that may have seemed much longer for those who are very close to Cindy, we went from fearing that we’d lose her, to cheering her on as she overcame the odds and showed us all what she’s really made of. A roller coaster ride, for sure!

Through this, I realized once again how fragile life is, how everything can change very fast and how important good health is. Nothing should be taken for granted and no opportunity should be missed.

Everyone should start crossing things off the bucket list, like Cindy. She is an example. She is brave.


In between June 18, 2013


As far back as I can remember, I’ve always felt like I was in between. Not fat, not skinny, not even thin, just something in between. Chubby from some angles, athletic or muscular from other angles, or just a little too soft to be considered thin. You see, I’m only 5 feet 2, and believe me, you don’t have to eat much at all to fill this up.

This in between state has never been comfortable for me.

When I was a little girl, I remember standing on the playground with the sun at my back, casting a slightly elongated shadow in front of me. I’d twist my legs together to make it look like my tall, thin shadow was wearing a mermaid gown and I’d toss my hair behind my shoulders so that my shadow would look like she had straight, thick, long hair like Cher. In reality, even my hair was very so-so. It was thin, poker straight, baby fine and ended up full of split ends when it hit my shoulders.

In the mirror, the image I saw has always been okay, but not quite beautiful. Not interestingly ugly either. Just in between. Why couldn’t I at least be interestingly ugly?

Oh how I longed to look like Brooke Shields when I was a teenager, with those gorgeous eyes, tall thin build and those fabulous eyebrows. I tried to mimic her “nothing comes between me and my Calvins”, but I ended up looking like a sausage stuffed into the jeans, that were always just a bit too long and that I had to roll up. Rolled up jeans are not sexy.

Sometimes I wished for a prominent nose, skin that would tan deep and dark, because my skin tans, but only very gradually and you can’t tell unless you see the actual tan lines, so that too is sort of so-so and in between. Besides, I don’t go out in the sun much anymore.

It was as if someone tried their best to erase me, to make me nondescript, but didn’t quite succeed, condemning me to the in between, forever.

Two years ago, I tried a fad diet and lost 17 pounds. I felt fantastic. My collarbones stuck out, my clothes were loose, I actually felt confident in skinny jeans. I even kept the weight off for over a year. But then I started eating real food again, the pounds crept back on, and now I’m back to… in between.
In my defense, I work out, I do cardio, I eat well, I have pretty good muscle tone. I think the goal is being healthy.

You’d think that being exquisitely beautiful or very large would be exhausting. To tell you the truth, I think being in between is worse.