The grueling ten-month journey into Ontario’s healthcare bureaucracy to get a melanoma removed from a woman’s neck.
Collateral damage from the Coronavirus
You can review the Timeline of Events here
You can read Part 1: The Bump here
The continued lockdown forced Maria’s May 11 annual check-up to be rescheduled to July 27, approximately four months after she first noticed the bump. Fortunately, Maria (and her husband) had not noticed any visible changes, which was perhaps the only comforting thought as these constant delays kept her from a diagnosis.
Again, the pandemic threw a monkey wrench into her affairs. One week leading to her appointment, Maria received a call from her doctor’s office saying they would prefer conducting her annual check-up via a virtual conference. Since Maria also wanted her doctor to have a closer look at the bump, it seemed like an in-person consultation was warranted, if for no other reason than to ease her mind. Her doctor’s office accommodated the request and rescheduled her appointment, yet again, this time to August 4.
It is important to note that Maria’s family physician had recently retired and Maria was developing a relationship with a new doctor. This may seem like a trivial detail, but the bond formed between a patient and doctor goes well beyond what can be found on a chart and can take a long time to form. And sometimes, through no fault of anyone, things can be missed during this process.
Continuing with the story…
Maria’s new doctor did not seem overly concerned, but still prescribed anti-inflammatory medication and referred her to a dermatologist. The earliest available appointment was on November 26, approximately another 4 months later.
Yes. That is a long time. And that is the situation with healthcare in Ontario, pandemic or not. Unless it is an emergency with a clear and present danger to life, seeing a specialist can take a while.
“That is how it works, right?” Maria says. “In Ontario, those in need of medical care are triaged based on priority, and the fact [that] I was not a priority provided some comfort.”
But that all changed in early November.
In Part 3 Maria experiences the helplessness of cancer.
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