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David Sovka: Why the health-care system needs more Georges (please never, ever retire)

My doctor — let’s call him “George” because that is his real name — provides professional services and expert opinions, such as: “Have you gained weight?” and refers me to specialists who keep me alive
Unfortunately, some homegrown health-care workers move to the United States or Dubai or ­wherever because the pay is ­better, even though everything else is worse, and others are retiring because looking after sick people is demanding and, frankly, gross — for example, when people’s inside bits come outside for a looky-loo, writes David Sovka. BONGKARNTHANYAKIJ, GETTY IMAGES PLUS

How do you feel, today? And how do you feel about how you feel today?

We are fearfully and wonderfully made, but with so many moving pieces (78 organs, 206 bones, ­160,000­ ­kilometres of blood vessels, one trillion cells each ­carrying 30,000 genes, and at least 67 different types of bellybutton bacteria), over time things can go wrong.

Eventually, these meat bags we all walk around in go, in radio telecommunications parlance, “tango uniform.”

Today, when something goes wrong, through the modern medical miracle of medicine, we have doctors and X-ray technicians and gastric bypass surgery and so much more!

Only, if you live in British Columbia there’s a chance you might be thinking: “Do we?”

Some people describe British Columbia’s ­health-care system as being “in crisis,” although in the interests of fair and objective journalism, let me make the ­important point that it is only those people who actually experience the health-care system who feel this way.

Everybody else is happily watching television or going fishing or writing letters to the editor objecting to whatever city council last did, and not thinking about the health-care system at all.

If that sounds like you, congratulations on being in your thirties, you strong, handsome devil with ­functioning knees and all your teeth! For you, let me quickly outline the main reasons why our health-care system may be in crisis:

1. Not enough doctors, nurses, nuclear magnetic ­resonance imaging machines, tongue depressors, etc.

2. Too many sick people.

While I am not a doctor, nurse or tongue depressor, I am one of the too-many-sick-people. This means I am doubly part of the problem: not helping; hindering.

Since January of this year, I have had — and I swear I am not making any of this up — the following ­experiences with British Columbia’s health-care ­system:

• five bee venom desensitization injections

• two cancer biopsies on my “torso,” one of the body parts that can go wrong

• a painful and (later) disgusting “chemical skin peel” of my head and face to treat pre-cancerous skin lesions

• a treadmill “cardiac stress test,” which I should tell you involves a young woman having to shave and then sandpaper parts of my torso

• a rare-as-sighting-the-Loch-Ness-monster consultation with my life-saving Scottish cardiologist

• one full, fasting-required, blood test

• one home poo-testing kit

• the surgical removal of a three-inch-long spike of wood from my thigh after a shop accident

• twenty sutures stitched in, then removed after two weeks’ uncomfortable sleep

• an annual dental checkup and teeth cleaning via awful scraping and stern scolding

• a 12-week-long respiratory and sinus infection, ­courtesy of my germ factory grandchildren

• several hundred handfuls of prescription heart ­medicine

Whew, right?

Except for the apathetic/crabby staff in the ­privately run blood and poo clinic, every single one of the above interactions with B.C.’s health-care system was ­professional, efficient, sympathetic and … I’m looking for the right word here … successful?

I mean, I didn’t die or experience anything worse than whatever was already falling apart on me. ­Everybody worked hard and did a good job on me and for me.

Yes, I want your sympathy. But more than that, I want to gratefully acknowledge that I am one of the lucky ones: I have a doctor. More than 900,000 British Columbians don’t.

If you don’t have a doctor, you are … hmmm, what’s the word I’m looking for, it rhymes with “seriously ­disadvantaged?”

My doctor — let’s call him “George,” because that is his real name — sees me whenever I need help. He ­provides professional services and expert opinions, such as: “Have you gained weight?” and he refers me to all the specialists who help keep me alive and kicking.

Which brings us to what I most want to say: George, I love you, please never, ever retire. We need more ­doctors and nurses and etc. given our growing ­population, longer life-spans, and silly expectations from reading too many science-fiction stories.

Unfortunately, some of our homegrown ­health-care workers move to the United States or Dubai or ­wherever because the pay is better, even though ­everything else is worse.

Many are retiring because looking after sick people is demanding and, frankly, gross, for example when people’s inside bits come outside for a looky-loo.

Many others are retiring because health-care work in our litigious, entitled society enslaves doctors to a kind of bureaucratic hell. What I mean is, ass-covering procedural paperwork is not doctoring, it’s accounting.

Another ring of that bureaucratic hell creates ­roadblocks to certifying expertly trained foreign ­graduates we need in our clinics, not our taxis, ­especially now that Uber is sort of legal in B.C.

Here we are, a nation of immigrants who fear more immigrants, especially immigrants with training in scalpels and knockout gas.

Our health system is a little bit like the human body: complicated. We have a provincial health authority, five regional health authorities, a First Nations health authority, hospitals, clinics, labs, universities and much more. Many people are involved, and there are many moving pieces.

Here’s what I believe: These people work hard to deliver the best-quality health care possible. They are not idiots. They are not fools. They are not corrupt.

They do work in a system, though, and systems are pretty good at perpetuating the system above all else. Nobody is to blame — it’s just the way the world works.

Let me conclude with the most obvious solution to making sure our health-care system is never in crisis: ZINC, the best-kept secret in rust prevention!

I’m kidding — that was just a headline in the ­automotive section that made me laugh.

But it is a ­useful nonsense answer because, in truth, I have no idea what the solution is. You don’t either.

The important thing to focus on right now is George, I love you, please never, ever retire.

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