Memories and Global Events
I am doing a memoir and personal essay specialization through Coursera to expand my professional knowledge, and I was challenged to relate an old childhood memory to a “Global Event” or any sort of newspaper headline from the time. Not only was it good practice in research, it was fun to play with one of my older memories, as I am often writing down recent memories or other people’s memories!
We were a bunch of teenagers stuck on a bus together for 24 hours. Some of us had decided to stay up all night, while others opted to attempt to sleep in their cramped seats. Kailey and I probably pulled a few too many pranks on our coach than necessary, but he managed to prank us back, so I felt like we were even. It was the spring of 2005, I was sixteen years old and I was so excited to go to Florida for the track and field meet. At the time Florida seemed so distant and exotic. I watched out the bus window as the snow became less and less, until the sun went down, and I remember waking up to green grass and bushy trees full of leaves. Once I was up, I returned vigilance to the window, watching the changing landscape and completely amazed by my first glimpses of palm trees! Kailey tried to climb one at our rest stop, but it had a spiky trunk and she did not make it very far.
I got to go on the trip because I was part of the team, but I was not able to compete. At the beginning of that semester I had gotten really sick and needed surgery to take my appendix out. I missed a lot of school and a lot of training, and I had to stay on the sideline to cheer. I wasn’t allowed to do any kind of intensive exercise yet. At the time every practice that I couldn’t participate in made me feel like I was lagging farther and farther behind the competition. Distance running felt like it was the center of the universe, and I was more focused on when I could get back into shape then my recent brush with death.
It was even more frustrating too, because even before the surgery I had missed a lot of training and become dangerously thin. While most teenagers are proud of their tight tummies and skinny limbs, I was proud of my muscle. I never worried about having thick thighs; my thighs were the power house of my running stride! I was painfully aware of the muscle being eaten away while I was sick. I had been misdiagnosed with the stomach flu, and sent back home from the doctors! It was only my mother’s keen awareness of symptoms from her work as a veterinarian that pushed her to have me seen again. Even in emerge in the hospital the intern who had been assigned to me said it could not be my appendix because I was able to jump. Appendicitis would make it too painful to jump. It turned out that my appendix was ruptured, and my insides were all infected. The surgery took a lot longer than expected and I was in the hospital a week recovering.
The funny thing is, at the same time as our trip to Florida the Canadian health care system was under scrutiny. CBS released an article titled “Canadian Health Care in Crisis” that talked about the downfalls of the Canadian health care system. The article discussed the long wait times associated with Canadian health care, and the lack of other options. For instance the waiting lists for organs, and for surgeries that were not categorized as an emergency, were so long that they are often ineffective. In fact, a letter that a heart patient received about an electrocardiogram even included in the letter apologies if the patient was already dead! (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/canadian-health-care-in-crisis/)
When I had my appendix rupture, I had fantastic care from the moment they saw the ruptured appendix on the ultrasound until the moment I was cleared to go home from the hospital. Clearly, however, not enough funds were going into preventative care. A proper examination from a Dr should be able to differentiate between a patient with the flu and a patient with appendicitis. When appointments are often only 15-20 minutes long, it is no wonder that mistakes are made. Yet without the health care provided by our country I would not be alive at all.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I would end up returning to Florida again after high school on a running scholarship! This time I was naïve, having been to Nicaragua and Dominican Republic, Florida no longer seemed so exotic. I expected it to be a lot like Ontario culturally, but just warmer weather. I was wrong, and one of the biggest shocks came when talking to some of my friends from my residence building. I was astounded at how many of them had no health care coverage at all! I remember asking a guy I knew what he would do if he ever broke his leg. He replied that he would just have to let it heal on its own. I have never stopped appreciating Canadian health care, and yet the heavy criticism is warranted.