The level of confusion, for want of a better word is amazing. On the one hand, it is good news. Let the chemicals run through their routine and exit the system.

Take a couple of months off to reassess the situation.

Ponder the meaning of life.

Start working on all my projects.

Keep away from the routine of the hospital.

Janet was talking the other day about this situation. You start on this adventure in a bit of a daze. You ask a bunch of questions. According to Janet I was asking my fair share of questions. Except that I was repeating my questions. I was getting answers and repeating the same questions. As I said, in a bit of a daze.

You acquiesce to the advice given by the doctors. Specially if you like them. They seem to know what they are doing. Dr. Heldey has a huge collection of articles to his credit. Surely, he knows a lot of stuff about colon cancer and its metastasized state. He is very reassuring. All we can do is follow his advice.

There is a lot of talk of alternatives to the traditional medicines. There are no proofs, just a lot of information. It is very hard to sift through all the information. We have discovered that you tend to make sense of the information as time goes by, as the need arises to make sense of things. So much of the information is anecdotal. We have no idea if people are responding to the medication, the alternative choices, or not.

I have always maintained that I will not live just for the sake of living. I will not go through a regime that seems to be more work than it is worth. What price is life worth living for? All this work and you live an extra two years. Is it worth it? Probably to the people around you, but not for the person going through the chronic condition. At least not to this one. I keep reading about people going through all sorts of programs to live longer. Why the compulsion to live at any cost?

The health network has looked after me for the past year. Diagnosis, operation, Chemo. Everyone looking after the chronic. With a smile, a laugh and a hug. You, the chronic are being looked after by all these people. The chronic is not doing anything, while things are done to him. We are a bit powerless. Go to the hospital, give blood, get Chemo. Make sure you have taken your drugs before the Chemo. Go home, sleep, rest, make the best of the situation.

We have to move now from having things done to us to deciding what we need to do for ourselves. We have to follow through with some of the stuff we have been reading about. Make sense of all the messages we are getting. Again, sift through everything and make decisions.

I find the situation very confusing. Again not sure if that is the right word. I have a lot of projects to work through, a lot of time to figure things out.

What is it about second opinions that reassures people? I can see circumstances where you may want reassurance for something traumatic. In most cases, I doubt a secon opinion is very helpful.

I am not talking about construction projects, or the installation of a furnace. We moved into our house 11 years ago. Our furnace seemed to have trouble keeping the house warm. The air conditioner that was highly praised by the previous owner was barely useful. Nothing more than an air circulator. I talked with the representatives of about 6 different furnace manufacturers. Like most industries. there are very few actual manufacturers. What looks like a diverse field is dominated by a few companies that market several brands. All claimed to have the best unit on the market and cited one item that distinguished them from the others.

One had an electronic ignition which they claimed was useful in that it was more efficient. Do not need a pilot light. Just saved myself $10 a year. Another had an anti-static drum that would prevent the accumulation of dust on the air intakes. Fantastic feature guaranteed to work for three years at least. Another had a 12volt fan which could stay on for ever circulating the air around the house. Highly useful. I guess. I came away from the exercise more confused than when I went in.

We finally replaced our furnace about three years ago. We hired the same contractor this year to install our central air without going fro a second opinion. We trust the contractor. He did a stellar job the first time, and again now.

One of my cousins visited me recently. One of the first things she asked is whether I was having liver surgery. No, I said, no such plans. She suggested I might want to go to Germany for said operation. It would only cost about $2,000. I should not rely on the opinion of my one doctor here. She understands that we are living with the constraints of universal health care. They often will not perform operations or provide other services to save money. I should not let that hold me back. Germany has wonderful services.

I accused her of having Health Care prejudices. This opened a whole other set of issues which I will not go into, a waste of time.

This advice was given without having any idea about how our system works, or at least the system in this hospital. There is a panel of doctors who look after us. Major decisions are made by the panel, not the individual doctor. This is a truly amazing system. Not only do you get a second opinion, but you get five of them. By the time I was set for surgery, I had four separate opinions. Why go after another?

The situation gets more complicated. We do not appear to understand the why’s and wherefores of cancer. We do know that I do not have liver cancer, but colon cancer in the liver. Same situation in the lungs. I finally understand the meaning of metastasized cancer.

An operation of the liver is a waste of time. The cancer cells are busy in both halves of the liver. Taking one half out, letting the liver regenerate, means that the cancer will just travel from the other half back to the first.

Why in the world would I want to second guess my doctor anyways? What makes me think for a second that I know better than my doctor. Should I go to Germany for the operation, who will look after me post operation? I have an appointment to see my surgeon tomorrow morning. This is 9 months after the operation. We talk and make sure all is right. It is not a long meeting. Am I supposed to after another local surgeon look after my needs following an operation in another country? Does not make sense to me on any level.

We were told that we have the right to a second opinion at any time prior to the operation. We were told to feel free to go to the Mayo Clinic or anywhere else we thought might provide some additional information or help. No one here would hold that against us. After being in this system for a year, researching, reading and contemplating alternatives, I can say that the doctors appreciate it when you know more, when you take the time to educate yourself and take charge of your destiny. At least my doctors do.

I think a second opinion is required because we do not like or trust the first opinion. We are hoping that the bad news is not as bad as it appears to be and want to hear a second voice.

I generally deal with people I trust. I trust my family doctor. We have been together for fifteen years and understand each other. She is a modern medicine woman, dispensing drugs to heal all. Anyone not comfortable with that should seek the advice of a traditional medicine person.

I trust my oncologist and his entourage. I trust my surgeon and her entourage. I am happy with the decisions taken. I will add resources as I see fit, as I can accept them, understand their significance.

This post started innocently enough and morphed into quite something else.

Our country lacks vision. Our politicians lack gumption. They are elected for four year terms and cannot see their way past that constrained time-line.

Vision is what created universal health care, and old age pension and a host of other programs. Lack of vision is what is driving our cities into the poor house. Lack of vision is what prompts our politicians to stall transportation programs. Lack of vision is what stops our politicians from allowing Canada Post to create a national high speed internet service.

I have time to read a lot of newspapers. I also tend to read the inane comments people make. The health care issues are, of necessity closer to my heart than other articles.  Every article on any issue related to health care, invariably is greeted by someone (or more than one someone) saying that our health care system is broken. Broken. Crazy glue anyone? Broken. My experience would indicate that our health care system is not broken. It need constant attention and surveillance. It need tweaking once in while. It is far from broken.

Bahai’s believe in a concept called progressive revelation. Religions come about a thousand years apart. The main purpose of religion is to unify mankind. In spite of current issues, it has been working. Progressive revelation entails that religions follow one another building on the success of the previous religion. Religions are founded by Messengers of God, as opposed to philosophers, or Prophets. There have been 9 Messengers of God, starting with Adam, Moses, Buddha, Krishna, Zoroaster, Christ, Muhammad, The Bab, and Baha’u'llah. The latter two being the founders of the Babi and Baha’i Faiths. The Bab ended the Adamic cycle of religions. Baha’u'llah has started the Baha cycle which is supposed to last for 500,000 years. The next Manifestation of God is coming in about 1000 years.

One might look at Progressive Revelation as God tweaking his religions. Making changes to a system to perpetuate its success. One religion forbids the drinking of alcohols, another pork. Another allows the eating of pork. No shell fish for those of the Jewish persuasion. Hard to keep the things fresh and not die from them. But refrigeration and new food storage inventions have allowed us to eat shell fish. Baha’is are allowed to eat just about anything. No alcohol though.

If God needs to tweak his religions to keep up with the times, surely we can forgive our man made systems for requiring constant monitoring and tweaking.

I had my Chemo session this past week. The oncologist’s assistant is the one who sets up the appointments. She tends to get a bit confused with dates. We have become an old hand at this, after only 12 Chemo sessions. Imagine that. The assistant enters the dates into the computer, and these are confirmed at some point by the Chemo Daycare people. We get a print out of the new schedule. On this particular occasion, the confirmation was not coming fast enough. She sent us home asking me to call a number to confirm the dates. The confirmation was a bit weird. They had me scheduled for Chemo on both Tuesday and Thursday of last week. My blood work was scheduled for Thursday. The person confirming the schedule made it very clear that she could not change the schedule,as absurd as it appeared to be.

I skipped the Tuesday appointment. Got a phone call from the oncologist making sure I was OK. I pointed out the duplication, and all was well. I showed up as usual on Thursday, only to be told that I was supposed to have been there on Tuesday. There was no appointment for me on Thursday. I started to become a bit angry. That is a topic for a different day. Anger appears to well up and go out of control at some bizarre times. The nurse at the desk is familiar to me. We have dealt with each other before. She is a very nice person. Very calm and considerate.  I stood there, ready to boil over. She looked at me and smiled, and said ever so calmly, don’t worry, we will look after you. And they did. Three hours later. The system broke, and was fixed.

There was a situation about a month ago, when it was pointed out that the Avastin treatments were not being fully paid for by our health care system. Turns out that they would pay for all but the last nine sessions. Hue and cries abounded and the government decided to fork over the extra $9 million to pay for a full regiment of Avastin. Broken. Fixed. I am not sure what sort of discussion would have gone on resulting in the last nine sessions being cut off. But there you have it.

There was another case of a woman who was suffering from some rare form of something. Only 75 cases similar to hers in the whole country. The solution was a combination of two drugs that appeared to work, but did not appear to have any connection. One drug was covered, the other not. The government relented and is now covering both. Too few cases to worry about the funding.

The Ontario government is on a quest to lower the cost of generic drugs. They seem to think that the kick backs or whatever you want to call what the pharmaceuticals give to the pharmacies, increases the price of our drugs. The government negotiates the price of each drug and they seriously believe that this will reduce their costs by about $1.25billion. The lack of vision is astounding.

These kick backs are prominent in all kinds of businesses. Grocery stores receive money from manufacturers to include their items on their shelves. There is a lot of money at stake. The government should intervene there as well to lower the price of our foods. On the other and, these kick backs help bolster the bottom line of all the companies involved. The pharmaceuticals are protected by various patent laws. If they can afford to provide the kickbacks, then I suggest there is a lot more wrong with our systems than just kickbacks.

The government wants to take the high moral ground. Instead, they are going to bruise a system that is working reasonably well. No vision.

My father always said there is always money for education and health. I would like to add two more, communication and transportation.

Communication and transportation have been the backbone of economies from time immemorial. Waterways creating transportation systems. Various forms of communication tools including messengers on foot, pigeons, the telegraph, the telephone, and now, of course the Internet. Any country with an extensive network has prospered. Any country lacking these amenities has fallen behind.

We can blame government corruption for the lack of progress in Third World countries. Ultimately, they will not prosper until their communication and transportation systems are improved.

First World countries are facing their own set of problems. The most prominent one is that our infrastructure is failing under its own weight and we do not seem to have the resources to fix these. We can find billions to save the banks, but not to fix our infrastructure. We think in short term bursts, and ignore long term solutions.

Our roads were created by the Romans about 2,500 years ago. We are using Asphalt on a concrete base, instead of cobblestones on a sand base. We have added a sewer system and a bunch of conduits to allow for the passage of various utilities. All of these additions are causing problems that can be solved with a little bit of vision.

The dome road, that we all take for granted is flawed. We place sewer grates on each side of the road to take away the rain waters. These same grates break up the pavement around them. The breakup of the pavement causes water to enter into the asphalt and further deteriorate the road necessitating costly repairs. The deteriorating pavement also makes it dangerous for bicycles.

The domed structure forces water to the edges of the road where pedestrians get soaked by passing motorists. Water also collects at intersection where the sidewalk is lowered, ostensibly to make it accessible to handicapped people. The side effect of this lowering is that water gathers at these intersections making it inaccessible. These issues are particularly exacerbated by winter countries.

The solution is simple but requires a bit of long term vision from our politicians. I heard a report recently that talked about the number of times our pavements are cut open for various reasons. In Toronto, our pavements are opened 40,000 times a year. Various companies are involved in this tear up, from the gas companies, to all the telcos. Every tear up requires the city to go and inspect the work. They have to invariably send in a crew to fix what was supposed to have been done properly in the first place.  This all comes at great cost to everyone.

The joke in a lot of our cities is that there are two seasons, winter and construction. We can get rid of the latter.

We can reduce the number of tear ups by changing the structure of our roads. The Romans designed three types of roads, the dome, the road that is angled to one side, and the road that curves to the middle.

The last one is the one we should be using. Imagine a road that slopes to the middle with the sewer grates in the middle of the road instead of the edges. We would need one sewer instead of two, a larger one, albeit, but one only. The sewer grates could also be used instead of paint to mark the center of the road.

We would build a tunnel underneath the road that would include conduits for all the utility companies including the electricity providers. The tunnel would be accessible through the grates. In fact, there would be a line of grates that gave access to the tunnel. All changes that are required such as the installation of new cables, or water pipes would be done through the grates.

This is not a cheap solution. In most major cities, it would take 40 years to implement fully. It requires vision and thought and planning. It requires our politicians to think far into the future. The effects of this will go beyond the 40 years it will take to build.

There are numerous such examples that would greatly improve life in our cities. The costs of building these system is offset slightly by the jobs that are created, generating taxes at many points, additional spending since people have jobs.

Our communications systems are controlled by private enterprise. They are supposed to be more efficient. They are driven by profits and will not invest in the future until forced to do so. Canada has a number of telecommunication companies. One of the largest is Bell Canada. They recently upgraded their systems to include a 3G network. Just when others are investing in 4G. No vision.

We should provide the tel-cos with a little bit of competition. Canada Post, our venerable government owned post should be in charge of providing us with a high speed Internet service. There are about 30 billion pieces of eMail traveling through the Internet. Since Canada Post is in charge of delivering mail, it makes absolute sense for them to be also in charge of setting up the infrastructure to deliver eMail.

We need vision. We need leaders with guts.

© 2010 I Have Cancer Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha