Fingernail torture is a barbaric way of inflicting pain. Bamboo splints or needles are slid under the nail, or the nails are yanked out. This is not the stuff of legend, it was the scene in a Quebec medical clinic this past weekend and the patient/victim was my 11-year-old son.
He broke his finger playing football. He was a trooper throughout the two-hour wait in triage and did not cry when the doctor froze his hand using two very long needles and then realigned the bone. But because we were from away and not covered by provincial public health insurance, the paperwork further dragged out an already slow process. The baffled registration clerk did not know if Halifax was in Ontario or if Nova Scotia was part of Canada. My husband patiently completed the geography lesson and agreed to pay cash for our visit. By this time the doctor had determined our son's nail would have to come out – and the boy's anesthesia had all but worn off. Rather than top him up the doctor swiftly used pliers to pull his nail off. My son screamed and a river of blood (his) and tears (his and mine) flowed.
Virtually every Canadian has a story to tell about their health-care experiences. My family's recent adventure was nowhere near the worst.