Feeling Helpless

My father is sick feel there is nothing I can do being 12,600 km away. He has been unwell for a while but there hasn’t been any rush until this past weekend and today.

I called on Saturday morning and talked to him. He sounded fine but talking about the pain he is in but still able to talk and keep things light. He cut the grass that day and went to work for most of the week except for Friday. Him taking a day off is weird – he never does that. It sounded like he was fine until I talked to my mother. His legs and eyes are swollen. He hasn’t peed in a long time but drinks a lot of water, juice and still a lot of beer. My mom fears his kidneys are shutting down but doesn’t know.

Their doctor retired a few weeks ago. In Ontario, according to my mom, they can’t do anything without a doctor. There has been a doctor shortage for a long time but never knew the meaning or extent of it. The doctor is the pathway into the health system without one there is no way to access the services, be put on wait lists and get the basic care needed.

Here in Hong Kong, I can walk into any clinic and get medical attention for a few hundred (HKD) and walk out with the basic medication or a referral to see someone – either private right away or public in a few months. The costs for seeing someone privately are high but worth it in getting in and getting the right treatment in the amount of time. The public system is overworked and there are long delays but the costs for medication and treatment are relatively cheap. There is no waiting if you have money

In Ontario, my father went to the Emergency room where he waited for 4 hours. They didn’t run any tests, didn’t do an in-depth investigation but gave him cream for a severe rash and said he should see his doctor – which he doesn’t have. He goes to a walk-in clinic but they can only give him medication for a short amount of time since they are not his doctor. It continues and there is nothing that can be done.

It is so frustrating since being in Ontario, there may be more I could do by reaching out to people or being more connected with how things work in the health care system back home. My morning was talking to mom and reaching out to whom I know back home. It has become less and less over the years. There are no longer the connections I once had and it feels both frustrating and worrying.

It is the first time I wished I hadn’t come to Asia – it scares me.

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