I went for my 2nd colonoscopy on Thursday, a couple of years overdue from the recommended every-5-years-after-40 for people with family history. The first time, I did it in a standalone clinic with some loophole into the system where you pay for the services of a nutritionist and they give you the good drugs and a nice bathrobe. My current doc doesn’t really approve of these “mills” in case something goes awry (a bigger chance than I knew), so I went to Sunnybrook.

So I starved and purged and took a $38 expensive cab ride at 7 am to get there. And discovered that I wasn’t on the list. I’d had a sneaking suspicion that something like this might happen, because I’d changed it verbally on the phone with someone’s assistant who seemed distressingly diffident. And I hadn’t called to double check.

So there I was, a rogue patient, emptied and expectant, patiently waiting for the resourceful RN Mary Beth to help me out. She located someone to do the procedure — “my” doc turned out not even to BE there that day — and told me I’d have to wait a while, and in the meantime, could I please go see the receptionist to get my hospital card and a chart made.

So I ungowned myself, and found June the receptionist, and just as I was patiently trying to convince her that yes, she *did* need to include all of the letters in my apartment number, somehow, when she handed me back my healthcard, it contrived to slip out of both our hands and into this gap between her desk and the wall with the patient window in it.


I could see two other health card down there in the hole with mine.

It did not seem like a good system, this dropping healthcards in the hole thing. Any Ontarian knows that without your healthcard, you’re no one. And getting a replacement — oy. It’s lining up at Service Ontario in College Park for an hour and getting a photo taken that makes you look like you really NEED healthcare.

But like Mary Beth, June was resourceful, and with the help of Eduardo the cleaner, she fished it out and handed it to me as I languished waiting to be carted away. I have know this for a while from my work but it was brought home to me as a patient: front-line healthcare workers are effing resourceful, and damned good at their jobs. Even when the system is messy.

They did the procedure, and it was a good thing because I did have a polyp that needed excising. The drugs at the hospital were not half as good as the amnesiac drugs in the fancy place, but it was actually kind of interesting to watch the screen as they roamed around my squeaky clean colon, like a big pink slinky. And then I came home and slept for the rest of the day.


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