© Photo Melissa Suma.

Images like this helps settle my anxiety and fear.

Not Writer's Block, Exactly...

I haven't written anything new since the new year except for a few short flash pieces, although I have managed to complete some edits of past longer works. My muse hasn't left because of writer's block or lack of inspiration (my “Ideas and Concepts” folder is brimming with life). My lack of productivity is more straightforward: I’ve been battling a mystery illness. As a result, I’ve experienced firsthand the state of our Canadian Healthcare system post the damage COVID has wrought. As a past healthcare provider and owner of a rehabilitation services company, I’m familiar with how the public healthcare system should function, and I know how to advocate for myself when needed. Yet still, it’s been a struggle.

Different aspects of my health have brought me close to life-threatening conditions twice along the way (1. blood loss/hemoglobin of 64 = risk of organ failure due to lack of oxygen, and 2. a potassium level of 2.7 = risk of heart attack). I’ve been tortured with a chronic cough, extreme fatigue, and horrible shortness of breath to the point that speaking remains difficult—all with negative covid tests, in case you’re thinking, come on! One of the biggest challenges to a proper diagnosis was the “it’s probably Covid” assumption.

I am still awaiting a final diagnosis and treatment for the causes behind my ill health rather than just treatment of my symptoms. I’ve had X-rays, CT scans, an ECG, a pulmonary function test, a stress test, a cardiac echo, ultrasounds (heart and pelvic). I’ve seen a Respirologist, an Allergist, a general surgeon, emergency room doctors, internal medicine doctors, and had so many blood tests I feel like I’m in a personal relationship with the lab technicians that draw my blood. I’ve been in the emergency department of two hospitals, received two back-to-back blood transfusions, had medications added/changed/taken away, all without a confirmed diagnosis, although we are getting closer. I have several pending procedures (searching for cancer, etc.) and appointments with more specialists in the coming weeks. Finally, my continuity of care has been challenged, as I’ve had two family doctors close their practices along the way, so I’m about to try to bring a third new family doctor up to speed. Yet I remain thankful, as I live in Canada where my doctors have ordered whatever tests they deem necessary, and all this has been paid for—I can’t imagine tackling this diagnosis journey under the system and personal financial costs my friends across the border still face.

Right now, my health is my focus, but I still wish to write again. In the meantime, I’m grateful for the few publications I’ve had, and the opportunities I’ve found to submit my existing work. I’m thankful for the support I’ve experienced from my loving family, dear friends, and compassionate nurses, doctors, and other healthcare providers along the way. Sadly, I’ve also encountered “checked-out/burned-out/uncompassionate” practitioners, which was not only frightening but also disheartening, as I’ve always believed that listening and compassion are the greatest skills any medical practitioner can have.

When all this is done and I make it to the other side, I’m hoping to have my strength return, along with my muse. While my first instinct might be to put it all behind me once I’m well, perhaps, instead, there’s a nonfiction essay that will come out of this experience. If I’ve learned anything from running my own healthcare business, it was that it is the type of person providing the care that makes the difference. I think the heroes in my story deserve to be acknowledged, as they’ve outweighed those who failed to do their job to the best of their ability.

Take care of yourself, listen to those around you, and hold on to your compassion. Write when you can. We all have stories still waiting to be told.


*UPDATE- Nov 2021 - investigations ongoing, awaiting several biopsy results, more tests. Will write a new blog once final diagnosis confirmed and the other side of this ordeal is clear.