Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Persistence Pays

At 2 weeks of age Piper was seen by the Neurology Department at the Hospital for Sick Children (Sick Kids) here in Toronto. She had an MRI and an EEG performed and needed to be assessed. Luckily the doctor who would be assessing her was Dr. Brenda Banwell. She is a leader in her field of pediatric neurological science and specializes in neuromuscular disorders. She studied at the Mayo clinic for a few years and is a professor here at the University of Toronto.

When Dr. Banwell looked at Piper and her test results she said it was all normal and Piper needed some time to recover from her birth and jaundice. She didn’t think that we would be back to see her. Unfortunately that wasn’t true. Since Piper did not “recover” after 3 months like she thought our pediatrician thought it was best to go back and see her.

This may seem like an easy task, going back to see a specialist that we’ve already seen. That didn’t turn out to be the case. Because we were seen as an in-patient before we were now considered a new patient. In our Canadian Healthcare system this means that the patients who are currently seen by Dr. Banwell would be given slightly more proiority. In January we were given an appointment for the end of September! To me that was ridiculous, Piper would be almost a year old by then!

As Dr. Banwell only runs clinics once a month and is very busy I was told that we would have to wait. I complained to my pediatrician who called Dr. Banwell (with no luck) and I set my sights on calling the neurology clinic every couple of weeks to find out if there were any cancellations. I got to know the nurse and she would tell me, “No, nothing yet.” I think she started to feel bad for me.

So imagine my surprise when just last month I was sent a letter telling me that my appointment was moved to the end of October due to Dr. Banwell being away. The appointment was just a few days before Pipers first birthday. I was livid.

Again I complained to my Pediatrician and decided to call the clinic every week. I put the appointment in my BlackBerry and never missed a week. Yesterday I called and left a message and the nurse called me today. She said that she has an appointment for August 2nd for Piper! Yippee! It’s not tomorrow but it’s better than the end of October!

I really feel that we are blessed to be living in a country that provides health care free of charge and that we live in Toronto where the best pediatric hospital in the country is. I can’t imagine the trek that some families have to make from across Canada just to visit Sick Kids. Or worse yet the amount of money that some Americans have to shell out to get the best care for their child.

Now the drawbacks are few with our medical system here in Canada but I’ve discovered that you need to be persistent and manage your child's medical care closely. If not you can get pushed to the end of the line or muddled in the bureaucracy. So continue to challenge your kids healthcare and do your own research regarding doctors and therapies. It’s us moms who fight for our child’s life that make the real difference!

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