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- by Cinquefoil Jun 6, '09Hi all. I'm US nursing student, set to become a Canadian nursing student as soon as I go through immigrations, because my Canadian husband recently moved back up to Canada because his health worsened quite a bit.
Unfortunately, his health condition has been a big mystery to every one of the six or seven docs who have tried to diagnose him over the past five years. And now he has free health care again since he's been in Canada over 3 months, but he's in a remote area that only has specialists rotate through once every three months (where his family is). He is considering moving elsewhere in Canada to get better medical attention, but where?
I was wondering if I could get a referral to a Canadian doc who, in your experience, is great at addressing ambiguous possibly autoimmune diagnoses and treatments as well as heart issues? My husband has had a high ANA test for years, as well as a host of problems with his joints, energy, and skin. However, all tests specific to lupus scleroderma etc. have been negative. Now in addition to all his other problems he has A-Fib, pain in his chest, and shortness of breath. He's only 32.
It would also be great if the doc also had a certain kind of personality. My husband is pretty charming and good at relating to all types of people normally, but when he's stressed out (and he's stressed out about his health), he does better being around people who have gentle, humorous, interested, listening bedside manners.
So, that's the situation in general. I'm willing to email more specific symptom information on request, outside the public thread. Any references you have would be wonderful!
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- Jun 6, '09 by janfrnCinquefoil, it seems you're seeking medical advice here. That's well beyond the scope of this forum and this website. I'm very sorry your husband is going through all this and would like to suggest that you/he contact the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons and the British Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons for their advice on how to obtain care for him. Just as a comment, I get the impression that you're a little uncertain about the sheer size of Canada because your question implies a small-town everybody-knows-everybody-else kind of approach. Sure there are lots of Canadian nurses who post here who live in either Alberta or BC, but just the province of Alberta is at least as big as Texas, and I'm pretty sure that Texan nurses couldn't give you that kind of specific information either. Anyway, the Alberta College's website Find-A-Physician link shows 16 rheumatologists in Edmonton and 22 in Calgary. That's where you might want to start.
- Sorry, wasn't aware that what I was asking was outside the scope of this site. Not looking for medical advice, but I guess nurse's impressions of doctors are out of bounds too, then. I can see why that might be the case, but wish it wasn't.
- Also, can you honestly say that contacting the college of doctors in any province would get me a reference to the best doc for my husband, or simply the one most in favor with the Colleges? I will continue to ask nurses in Canada for their impressions of the doctors they work with, just not on this forum, especially since as my husband is Aboriginal he ultimately needs someone skilled at cross-cultural care. I definitely don't know everything about Canada, but I know that excellent rheumatologists skilled at dealing with Aboriginal patients AND heart issues don't grow on trees. I was willing to network as part of my search.
I will use the references you gave me, but can you really say they're a solution, or another goose-chase?
I understand that nurses do not know everyone. Are you also familiar with the saying "Six degrees of separation?" Asking randomly is better than never asking at all. I was taking a chance, the chance didn't pay off, and I've only lost the time it took to type this.
As I said before, I'm sorry that I didn't know this forum wasn't an appropriate location. It's been a while since I signed the user's agreement. I won't make that mistake again.
What I wish is that you could have shown a little emotional sensitivity in your response to me, and perhaps avoided implying I was some sort of hick rube unaware of the scale of my question. This is my dearly beloved husband who is ill, after all, and what would it have hurt you to show an ounce of sympathy?
- Sorry, on rereading the post, I saw that your providing the references, plus saying "I'm sorry" DOES qualify as an ounce of sympathy. I guess in my emotional state I was looking more for a few more ounces, but that's not your fault....
- Jun 6, '09 by Fiona59I understand that you are stressed but I think you were unfair to Jan.
I read your post soon after you posted and my first though in all honesty was "does she have any idea of how far apart those four cities are?"
"A certain kind of personality" means many different things to different people. My GP is great to me and my family BUT I've heard from others that he is terrible. The same with surgeons that I work with. I've seen some of their patients who have nothing but bad things to say while others praise the ground they walk on.
If your husband has treaty status, the band health office is probably the best place to start.
- Jun 6, '09 by linzzJust wondering if you need a referral from a family Dr. to see a specialist in Alberta or British Columbia?. We do require a referral in Ontario to see any specialist and it is only good for one year. Is there a shortage of family Dr.'s out west?
The difficulty that we are having in many parts of Ontario is that there is a very severe family Dr. shortage. In my city of 300, 000, there are no GP's accepting any patients at all. I don't think there is as severe a shortage of specialists in some areas but the wait times can be up to a year for some specialties. I drive one hour and fifteen minutes to see a dermatologist for my teenager.
- Jun 6, '09 by Fiona59Yup, Linzz, you need a referral letter from your GP or NP to see a specialist. Most I've worked with refer you to the specialist of your choice if you can give them a reason why you want to go outside "their" circle of specialists.
From what I've seen if your condition is urgent enough, you go straight to the top of the appointment list.
I'm not sure how cross border referrals work. That's why I said if her husband has treaty status the band health agency would probably be the way to go. It's not like we still have dedicated "Indian" hospitals like the old Camsell in Edmonton.
- Jun 6, '09 by janfrnCinquefoil, if we allow the posting of individuals' names on this forum when the purposes are to praise them, it's hard to then NOT allow the posting of individuals' names when the purpose is to defame them. In the same way, because this forum is open to anyone with a computer and web access, the possibility of any sort of harm to people who are identified in such a manner can't be ignored. However, if there is someone with information they can provide to you about individual physicians who would be suitable to treat your husband, there's nothing stopping the private sharing of that info.
I totally understand your desire to find the best care for your husband; his illness is obviously causing a great deal of stress to all of you. As Fiona59 says, if he has treaty status, his band health office can and should be providing some guidance in this quest. They would have at least a little knowledge of which specialists others from that comunity have been referred to before and in small communities like most First Nations communities, there is a lot of comparing notes that goes on. If anyone has had a particularly good or bad experience, someone else in that community will know. Also, if the physician he is eventually referred to is practicing through a tertiary care facility anywhere in Alberta, for example, there will be an Aboriginal Services department there that will act as a support and resource to him and to you. And as a First Nations Canadian, he would have been covered for his health care the minute he crossed the border back into Canada, since First Nations' health care is a federal and not provincial programme. It's awful that that was overlooked, because he could be much farther down the road to recovery had he known that. It's a horrible thing to be so sick and not have any idea just why you are and to be untreated because of it. He's lucky to have someone like you who understands him so well. I hope he finds the help he needs so that he can at least have a diagnosis. Best wishes in your search.
- Sorry again. I think (read on for proof) that I have a good idea of how far apart these cities are. I chose them not for their geographical proximity but for the fact that they're large urban centers where my husband has family he can stay with. In the past, I've read posts from people from all of those cities in this forum, so I don't see why it's striking anyone as strange that I should expect to reach the nurses of all of these cities at the same time by posting on this forum. Why do the cities have to be close to each other for my strategy to be reasonable on an online forum? Is this due to a nuance of the Canadian health care system that I don't understand?
My husband and I are aware that he would have to live in any province for a while before he got health care there. He's willing to do that if it means he gets better care than he's currently getting.
It's great that your GP is great to you. I understand not all docs are the same way to everyone. In the end, the responsibility of finding the right fit lies with the patient. Still, someone who is at least great to a few people is at least a lead worth investigating further. And I was also asking about clinical experience with certain, very rare types of cases. I was simply casting my net widely, instead of narrowly, as at this point my husband could feasibly move to any one of those cities.
The band health office is in the same remote location he's in right now - what could they do?
Perhaps if he contacts other Nations' band offices in some of those cities, though....so thank you for the idea.