Confession time – last week, I visited the optometrist for the first time in 10-years. I know this because the glasses I’m wearing (as of writing) I got in 2007 before I went to Kenya, and I haven’t updated them since.
I was very lucky to be covered under my parent’s benefits plans for so long while I was still in school, but once I moved away, it was inconvenient to schedule medical appointments on the few weekends I took the bus back home. This is a terrible excuse, and I don’t pretend that I’m the victim of circumstance. The truth is I got lazy when I should have taken ownership of my health. My undergraduate tuition included partial health and dental benefits, so other than deductibles, there was no reason for me to let it slip for so long.
And it proved to be quite the stint. After my doctor retired from regular GP practice, I’ve been without a family doctor for 5 or so years, I hadn’t seen the dentist in a decade, and as mentioned at the outset, my eyes hadn’t been checked in as long. In principle, I believe in preventative maintenance, but the barriers of cost and navigating the system on my own were enough for me to choose to avoid confronting it head-on.
I only started going to the dentist regularly almost 2-years ago now because I thought I had a cavity. I was in emergency maintenance mode, where I only tended to medical problems and illness as they arose (through long waits in emerge or walk-in clinics).
I am very fortunate to have good benefits through my work. I may grumble when I see the aggregate amount of money that I pay on my side of the coin, but when I am able to get reimbursed on most of the costs for semi-annual visits to the dentist, and my recent eye exam and new pair of glasses I’m glad I pay into the system.
I know that I’m in the minority here – most people do not have this kind of access to preventative health support, let alone the high costs associated with health care not covered by our provincial health plan. It’s something that I’m very grateful for, and I should keep this in mind in my entitled moments.
Now… if only I could keep up with preventative maintenance and go to the gym more regularly…