Working to Live but Then That’s Not Even Enough

A friend from long ago recently shared their struggles with an injury from an accident they suffered earlier this year. The basic story is that some bones were broke, there have been multiple visits to get medical treatment as they have recovered, and they haven’t been able to work for the past two months because of all of it.

This is what they shared on Twitter the other day:

Well, the bills are rolling in for the medical care I’ve had to pursue after this accident and that “covered by insurance” amount is… lower than I thought

And this is supposed to be “good” insurance.

Lol the per-month payment that’s suggested by my medical portal is well above a car payment amount for my wrist surgery.
And we haven’t even fixed my knee yet.


This is probably also a great time to mention that with all this I haven’t been able to work the last two months

<looks toward GoFundMe, America’s actual funding of medical fees>
I might just have to do it.

– twitter thread

This is hard.

I’ve been a Canadian citizen for one year now. I just passed that milestone shortly preceded by getting my gallbladder removed after dealing with increasing issues with it for just over a year prior, maybe longer in hindsight.

It took a while for it to all culminate in getting the surgery, and my situation didn’t make it an urgent thing to get taken care of. I shifted my diet to basically eliminate fatty and fried foods, stopped drinking alcohol, worked out when it allowed me to, and started doing more yoga than I ever had before. Also discovered the bliss of a good heat pad as a consolation bonus to it being necessary for the pain that the stones and polyps caused inside this angry organ on increasing occasions.

Prior to surgery, I also had a colonoscopy just so I could have some personal assurance that it was just a gallbladder that we had to deal with. Once everything checked out there, it was still another couple months until my surgery date.

Each time I went to a medical facility for an appointment, I presented my B.C. Services Card each time, saw who I was supposed to see, and walked right out the door when done. Ultrasound, blood tests, surgeon consultations, and the hospital where I left a piece of me behind at.

So many Americans don’t know what this feels like. What it is like to pay taxes for something that benefits you so directly that is so completely not obvious to so many people in the fifty states. What it feels like to walk straight passed the front desk and not worry about any additional charges needing to be dealt with.

That’s it. Without getting into the how and why, this is more about that this should be a reality.

Because I think about this every time someone I work with loses their job, which happens a lot in broadcasting. It’s a brutal profession with an even more brutal reality where being good at your job does not equal job security.

And I also think about this when someone I know leaves their job or career. Quitting your job in B.C. means you can do so without the enormous fear of not having that job meaning you lose all of your medical coverage. Even if you get a part-time job somewhere, you’re still covered if you break a toe or get cancer.

This is how taxes should work. Health is the one thing that everyone has in common. In a civilized society, we shouldn’t be bound to a job just because the benefits are too good compared to the dream job we’d rather be doing.

It’s not a perfect system here in B.C., and there is much more to that statement, especially today. The system that we have is something to be cherished and improved upon each and every day.

But in America, this story of so many having to ask others for monetary help is so uncomfortably common, especially for someone who was gainfully employed prior to this accident, now has a broken ankle, busted up knee, and a family to take care of that I’ve watched grow from the day they got engaged.

I don’t know how a dream like this becomes a reality, but it really should be better than this for a nation that is so great, prosperous, and wealthy.

What is gym etiquette anyway?

My first experience at working out in a gym environment was at the University of Iowa Fieldhouse[wiki]. In the midst of my awakening of understanding how to correct long standing health problems, this was my first, real experience at working out for personal health versus my short stint in my high school football program. To be honest, I think I’ve workout harder for my personal health than I ever did in the days when it meant being competitive, but that could just be a difference of time and mentality.

Regardless, there is one thing that you’ll find at any workout facility, and that is etiquette.

This shouldn’t prevent you from going to a gym or workout facility, but there are just some things that I’ve noticed over the past few months that consistently confound me.
Continue reading “What is gym etiquette anyway?”

The reason I workout and living with Gilbert’s Syndrome

Rebecca did something pretty spectacular about a month ago. We’ve been working pretty hard on some projects with sixty4media in the last few months, so she asked what she could do to make it up to me. Working a full time day job, the only time I can get to these projects is in between work and sleep. So, I said that a gym membership would be nice, but she one upped me.

We now have one year memberships to Fitness World in exchange for reports on her progress with getting back into shape and an ad on her sidebar for the duration of the membership. That isn’t bad at all, so I figure I might as well add a bit to the one year deal and provide some feedback on my experience with their facilities and services.

To begin, I thought I would explain more of where my inspiration to workout comes from and why I go to the gym or run in the morning.
Continue reading “The reason I workout and living with Gilbert’s Syndrome”

This time, I’m covered

Examination Table

When I moved to B.C. in 2005, I got strep throat. Within a few weeks of settling in on Vancouver being my home, a soreness in my throat grew to proportions that I never knew could exist. It hurt so much that I finally bit the bullet and went to a clinic. It cost me $100 just to see a doc, and the meds cost just a little bit more. At that point, I didn’t care. Just give me something to help make this go away.

Unemployed and unable to work in Canada at that point in my life, it was a relief to have the access to care like that. The cost would have probably been twice as much in the states, and the USD was still a tad stronger than the loony. That didn’t stop the doc I saw from giving me a lecture on the importance of having a B.C. CareCard if this happened again in the future. Kind of a “no shit, Sherlock” moment if you ask me.

After an intense few weeks at work, all of the going-ons of Northern Voice last week, and an excursion with The Crazy Canucks to the Canucks Open Practice, a tickle in the back of my throat grew to the point where gargling with salt water and a variety of over the counter remedies weren’t going to cut it. I was in full blown strep throat yet again, but this time I had that damn medical card, plus benefits.

Medical things

I still made Rebecca go with me because I had no idea what to expect. Every medical place you go to in the U.S., there is paperwork to fill out. Medical history, etc. At the clinic, however, I gave them my card, they asked me to verify my name, address, phone number, and got my allergy to penicillin in their records.

That was it. No paperwork. Just have a seat and wait for my name to be called. The doc was brief and to the point of giving him the story of what was wrong with me, took one look at my “severely inflamed, very red” throat, and cut me a prescription for antibiotics which cost me $29 that my extended medical coverage will take care of.

20 minutes and I was back home to settle in with some tea, forcing everything down through the pain. So much pain, all on the day of our two year wedding anniversary. Oh happy day…

So there wasn’t anything great and grand about the experience other than it being quick, efficient, and made me better, even though I had to take the slow working meds because the faster way, the penicillian way, could potentially kill me.

Thanks for making me feel better, B.C. That was pretty awesome.

Nalgene water bottles and possible health risks

Water bottles that cause cancer

What a cruddy feeling it was to hear and read about this morning. I took a Nalgene water bottle up and down Mt. Fuji, not to mention all over the Kanto Plain while in Japan, and it was my best friend through my remainder days in college.

As with everything else in this world, they might cause cancer.

Mountain Equipment Co-op pulls Nalgene water bottles from shelves

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – Whether you drink it murky and straight from the tap or you take it filtered, there are new concerns today about water containers. One of the most popular refillable bottles has now been pulled from one store’s shelves.

Mountain Equipment Co-op will no longer sell the popular Nalgene bottle. That was supposed to be the healthy choice but now we learn it’s a product made with bisphenol A, which is a component studies have linked with higher cancer and disease risks. […]

Health Canada is examining the risks but the findings won’t be available until at least late Spring. [news1130]

I bought the bottle in the picture above at Deakin Equipment during their fall clearance sale just a few months ago. I think we have a few other Nalgene bottles in the apartment, if not close look-a-likes.

Maybe it will turn out to be nothing, but it’s certainly something that you don’t want to hear about when you drink at least two or three, full refills of water out of this bottle nearly everyday. I’m really inclined to wait for more word on the situation before I think about using my lovely, beloved Nalgene bottle again.

Thanks for making the 2007 Run For The Cure a success

Last Sunday was the CIBC Run For The Cure, and I wanted to make a quick follow-up post to say thanks to all of your who donated towards my or Rebecca’s goal.

The standard goal for all runners to participate without having to pay an entry fee was $150, and I ended up with a final tally of $175. Not only is that pretty awesome, but the one day total from the Canada wide, one day event was $26.5 million. That’s mind blowing, but seeing all the people who showed up on Sunday morning in downtown Vancouver would prove that not so hard to believe.

And speaking of the run, the weather was miserable. A little cool, but raining like it can be expected for Vancouver at this time of year. By the end of the few hours that we braved the elements, we were sopping wet. I’ve often said that there is nothing like running in the rain, and that statement still rings true. However, being forced to wait outside for nearly an hour for the run to start? That’s not so cool.

Rebecca and I ran the whole route together, without stopping or walking, and finished the 5k in just over 31 minutes. She did awesome, but it was even better to get home and hop into a hot shower, followed by a heaping breakfast at Hamburger Mary’s to reward ourselves.

Sponsor me in the CIBC Run For The Cure 2007

The time has come again for the CIBC Run For The Cure 2007, and I will be participating again this year. I’m also asking for your donations so that I can partake in the event, and all money will go directly to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation to help those dealing with breast cancer and hopefully find a cure.

CIBC Run For The Cure Make your online sponsorships here, and the run takes place on September 30, 2007 in downtown Vancouver, starting and ending at BC Place. I have until then to raise $150 to participate in the event.


The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC Run for the Cure is an extraordinary single-day experience that unites more than 170,000 Canadians in 53 communities across the country. Together, we’re raising millions of dollars to fund innovative and relevant breast cancer research, education, and awareness programs in the communities where you live. [cibcrunforthecure]

I have just recently gotten myself back into the running routine, pretty much healed from my shin splint that was bothering me a lot. My hope is to run this 5k at or under 25 minutes.

SiCKO and the American health care debate

sicko.jpg Since I watched SiCKO[imdb] the other night, I figured I would loft some thoughts out about it. It’s not easy because I certainly have an appreciation as much as a total annoyance with Michael Moore[wiki]. It’s nothing politically related, just a matter of preference. He’s good at what he does, but there is a certain point where you just want stop watching or listening to the guy for the sake of enjoying the silence.

Overall, a pretty good movie. Even being a documentary, it entertains as well as educates people on the reality of the health care system in the states. Being in Canada, there are people here that are surprised by it. It’s rare, but some folks, even this close to the border, have no frame of reference as to the state of the system in the U.S.

“But you guys are supposed to be one of the richest nations in the world.”

I’m not going to get too deeply into that statement, but the reality of it should give any American a reason to say, “Yeah, you know, you’re right. But why don’t I have any health care coverage unless I have a sweet job with sweet benefits?”

I had a job with the University of Iowa, a state owned and funded institution, for nearly a year before I started to display my lack of satisfaction with the position I had. Being a broadcast engineer, I was working with high voltage equipment on a regular basis. I even crunched my hand under a 200-pound power supply to a FM transmitter, covered by workman’s compensation but no broken bones or bleeding.

It was that instance that freaked me out. You’re told how vital you are to an operation like that, but working in the most hazardous position in the whole place, they never gave me medical coverage at the start. I mentioned that I was going to have to find something else with benefits, meaning leaving the stations. I had medical within a week or so after that, dental came a little while later.


My story pales in comparison to some, but it’s tough for nearly anyone. You can get any job anywhere, but the first question out of anyone’s mouth is, “Benefits?” Sometimes that American dream gets limited by what job you can or can’t do simply by working the job you hate because it has more benefits than the job you want or love. It’s an awful catch.

The one point that I constantly point out to people about this subject is that the main reason we don’t have anything protecting the health of the U.S., such as a universal or socially controlled medical program, is taxes. That American dream is the ability to have whatever you want, as much as you want, and the opportunities are, supposedly, limitless to achieve it.

But don’t you dare make Americans pay taxes. No one wants to pay extra money to the government for anything, even if that means that universal health care coverage would mean anyone working a white collar job to the three part-time jobs, single mom of two kids would have the same amount of medical coverage in the event that either of them contracted a life threatening illness like cancer or TB. The only difference between those two people being socio-economic status, and there is a good chance, rich or lower class, neither would budge on the thought of giving more of their money to the government in exchange for free health care or reduced cost of medication.

That’s when the title of SiCKO starts to make sense to me. It’s a sick circle that the U.S. has gotten itself into. I would love for it to change, but that would really take a revolution of a magnitude that I can’t fathom. That’s not to say that the system here in Canada is the perfect example of what to do, but there isn’t far to look for the positive effects this could have for an entire nation. After all, wouldn’t it be nice if the government cared more to spend money on its own people?

My mom has cooler shoes than me

Mom’s cool shoes I’m jealous. She got these for bike riding. With my shin splint, I’m reduced to walking for a few weeks. The pain is just too much, but these are completely the type of shoes I’d want for working everyday. Can’t wear the flip flops when hauling stuff around, not to mention with all the rain we get in Vancouver.

Got a case of the shin splints

Runner Shoes (250+ miles overdue for change) Actually, it’s more like I have a shin splint[wiki], just in my left calf. It’s been with me for about a week, but the ache won’t go away. You tend to do the stupid thing and just consider it a tired muscle, but I’ve taken the last few days off from my routes.

Rebecca set to the Google this morning and found that you should replace your running shoes every four hundred miles. I’ve often considered the every six months rule, so we did a little math.

I’ve had these current pair of shoes since my birthday, last September, but started using them in November. That makes it about eight months, so there’s strike one. Taking an average of running 10k for each day that I run, which is about three times a week, the roundabout total number of miles in this pair of runners is 600. Strike two.

Working the Google some more, I found this really good page about shin splints and running.

What Are They

Shin splints is a common term used for a half a dozen lower leg problems ranging from nerve irritations to tendonitis to stress fractures. The most common type that is experienced involves the tearing away of the muscle tissue that attaches to the front of the lower leg. The beginner runner and the runner that resumes training after a long lay off are most susceptible to this injury. The connective sheath attached to the muscles and bone of the lower leg become irritated, resulting in a razor-sharp pain in the lower leg along the inside of the tibia or shin bone. Shin splints can be felt anywhere from just below the knee down to the ankle. The pain may diminish after warming up but then returns a few minutes after the completion of a workout.

How Are They Caused

There can be several causes for shin splints. Only when possible causes are identified can shin splints be eliminated.

Possible causes include:

– Tight Achilles and calf muscles.
– An inexperienced runner just beginning to run.
– Running on uneven terrain.
– A sudden increase in faster running (speed work).
– A sudden change from soft to hard running surfaces.
– Running in worn down shoes.
– Excessive uphill running.
– Poor running mechanics which include excessive forward lean, excessive weight on the ball of the foot, running with toes pointed outward, landing too far back on the heels causing the foot to flap down, and overpronation. There is a drill that I do with my runners at Selah High School called silent running. I have them run on the track as quiet as possible. With the feet landing properly very little noise should be heard. Of all of the possible causes, pronation is the most likely to be overlooked, as it was for me in high school.

Strike three. I’ve got the worn down shoes combined with uphill running. I tend to pay a lot of attention to my mechanics, making sure that I take care of my knees in the long run. I’ve got the “silent running” thing down pretty well because I know that I’ve scared my share of people when I run up behind them and pass.

Getting new shoes is on the list of things to do very soon, but I’ll have to let this heal a little bit before getting back on the routes in full capacity. It’s not horrible as much as it’s just an annoying pain to have. Stretching and massage only does so much. Time is the only, real cure, but there are some other things I’ll try in the meantime.