Yesterday morning my daughter woke up, a red scratch outside her eye. I noted it but chalked it up to some minor mid-sleep self-inflicted injury. By mid morning though, her eye had swollen and we thought it must have been a bug bite.
By this morning though, as I checked her before I headed to work early, her eye was almost swollen shut. I dropped my work bag, grabbed the sleepy Bug out of bed and headed to the Children’s Hospital.
The whole way I was consumed by that vague, all encompassing worry that, as a parent, eats at you whenever even the smallest thing isn’t right with your baby. But still, I couldn’t help but realize how fortunate we were that I didn’t have to think twice about the cost or option of taking her immediately to the hospital. That I was certain we’d have the right care within hours.
The next couple of hours were the usual hospital slog but with a 5 year old it goes by relatively quickly because you’re constantly thinking of games to play or equipment to explain or fears to distract them from.
The doctors confirmed that it did indeed look like the beginnings of an infection and that it was good we caught it early because of how close it was to her eye. Prescription written, discharge notes given.
3 hours later we were on our way. But not before I watched other parents with other kids come in and out of Children’s. Not before I feel the full range of my gratitude for my otherwise healthy family and the gratitude that I am able to access and afford this type of care for my kids.
At most this was an inconvenience to my day. Not once did I have to worry about if I’d be able to access the right kind of medical care or think about if we could afford it.
What a complete and utter privilege that is. For so many hundreds of millions – across the country and across the world, neither of these are such certainties.
That’s a travesty and injustice on the highest level. Forget about me or my husband. But if I as a mother have to for a second worry about whether I can afford to get my kid checked out or if I’ll have access to top doctors 8 minutes away, I am being failed.
Perhaps that my “socialist” Canadian upbringing, or my “karma” Indian roots. All I could think about on the drive home was how my baby was going to be just fine, but for so many others, they’d have to choose to “wait it out”. And because early, preventative care wouldn’t be administered, for many it would become so much worse and so much more expensive.
That’s not okay.
Tonight I am thankful for a wonderful medical system that worked for my family. But it only put into stark relief how very lopsided that which I’m grateful for, really is.
We need to do better for all of our kids.