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Finally on Vacation!


This post is written from day one of my vacation and I have some quick updates for you!

Vacation Pushed

I was in tears Friday when I learned I wouldn’t be able to go on vacation Monday. The world of software and the nature of my role means that at certain times, my time is not my own. Most of the year, I can make my own schedule, and I’m grateful for that. However, when we have a big software release, everything is suspended until all the code passes the tests. I am not a programmer, but I led a project starting in May that had to do with migrating old code to a new standard, and every week or two, I’d push that code to the client’s instance of our platform. These are some of the biggest banks and industry-leading companies in the world, and the stakes were really high.

The new software release couldn’t go out until all the clients were migrated to this new standard, and we had last minute issues. I finished Wednesday night and declared myself on vacation! I’m off until the 24th. I worked 41 hours Monday to Wednesday and I can’t wait to get out of the city and relax!

Surgery Booked

My hand surgery is next Friday the 20th. As I mentioned, my surgeon this time around is the head of the hand clinic at a prestigious hospital, and he’s also the head professor of the hand surgery program at the best university around here. I’m pretty nervous, as this is the second surgery on my index finger nerve tumor. The pain is unbearable for about an hour a day, and I’m over the moon to think this is almost over. I’m looking in to accessibility options for my Macs – anyone have cool tips for dictation apps or tricks for configuring my Mac to be more accessible while my hand is healing?

Surgery 2017

A collage of the last time I had this procedure done in 2017. They didn’t get the whole tumor then.

Quick Note on the Cost of Medical Care

My time off doesn’t count towards vacation or sick time, thankfully (my company is generous), and I won’t have a cent to pay towards any appointments or medication. I want to take a moment to address that, because it’s the biggest difference between being in Canada and being in the US. Did I tell you that I worked in North Carolina in 2012? I worked in Winston-Salem and lived in Greensboro, and I loved it so much. Southern hospitality is a beautiful thing! The mountains and scenery were stunning, the weather was downright nice all year, and the cost of living BLEW MY MIND.

I was paid my Canadian salary at the time and I lived like a king on $48k USD. The one thing that was difficult was understanding which doctors were in my network, and learning that I had to specify brands or generic meds with the doctor, lest I be faced with a huge bill at the pharmacy. Even when I saw in-network doctors, I still had co-pays and complicated bills to verify.

The Politics

I have respect for Hope bringing up the minimum wage discussion in July. It’s tricky to talk about money without sometimes stumbling into something political. Here are the facts: I feel lucky, because I will make about 90k this year, and I will be taxed 20.5% on that. Here’s an article that compares taxes across some western nations. That isn’t a lot of tax in my mind (mind you, I spent some formative years in Norway, so I’m bit biased towards effective social programs). To never have to worry about paying for my healthcare, I’d happily pay more in taxes. The federal election is coming up and some parties are discussing national pharmacare and dental programs. I’m all for that (currently, most people are covered for pharmaceuticals and dental through their work health insurance or through a social program if they don’t work).

I’ve had four surgeries and never waited more than a few weeks for the surgery, except in this case in which I elected to wait for the best surgeon. I could have had this surgery done a few months ago at the hospital down the road. It irks me when I see US politicians saying Canadians pay such high taxes and wait years for surgeries. It just isn’t true unless you’re in the middle of nowhere without access to big hospitals (in many cases, our healthcare programs will pay to fly you to a major city).

I have a lot of respect for Americans and I understand your healthcare issues are complicated and difficult to solve. I’m not judging anyone for feeling one way or another.

What’s next?

Today is the first day of vacation, and I had three appointments. I’m about to head to a concert (my best friend won tickets to see Of Monsters and Men on the radio). Tomorrow I have a ton of chores to do before I head out of the city. I’m planning on making a post schedule for the rest of the month and taking another crack at a long-term budget tracking system.

Quick updates: 

  • I’ll share my budget for Sept 13 pay period on Monday. Thanks to readers for recommending pen and paper. I’m overwhelmed at the moment and need to get back to basics
  • I applied for the TD line of credit. Fingers crossed – this will pay off my credit cards!
  • The boarder is moving out this weekend. The $450 he paid me will go to credit card debt.
  • I’ve been going to the gym and I feel a bit stronger. I’m sleeping better, too.

I am still not great with spending. I had three restaurant meals in the past two weeks, cheap but unplanned. Could I be doing better? Of course.


    • Reply Kili |

      Elizabeth, don’t let the haters discourage you.
      I thought your post was well written and opinion well stated.
      Universal healthcare is definitely a great thing.

      Looking forward to reading more about your journey. Thanks for the honesty about the struggles.

      Good luck with your surgery.

      • Reply Kili |

        Of course my comment wasn’t about what Honey Smith suggested – sorry it ended up at the wrong place

  • Reply Cwaltz |

    Have you considered something like once a month meals which uses batch cooking and freezer meals to help you with the eating out conundrum? Most of us have been where you are, after a ten hour day the last thing you want to do is think about planning and executing a meal. It’s just easier to grab something someone else has prepared, having a meal ready may be able to hekp. Heck, you can even turn batch cooking into an opportunity to socialize if you invite a friend.

    • Reply Elizabeth S. |

      I actually meal prep every single week! Problem is, if I prep every meal, I inevitably don’t feel like eating at least one of those meals. I typically meal prep 3 batches of meals every Sunday and I do already invite friends! I leave myself two days of meals to figure out and three planned. I throw out a ton of food if I prep more. I am thinking about this a lot… I think I need more grab and go foods. Maybe wraps/salads. I tend to make stuff for the freezer when I prep.

      • Reply Shewearsfunnyha |

        Have you tried making your own frozen meals? It takes time to build up a verity of meals, but it works great for me. I keep a list of what I have in the freezer and when they will go bad (6 months after they are made).

  • Reply Andrea Pollock |

    As a fellow Canadian I just wanted to say that I really appreciate seeing this blog from a Canadian perspective. There are quite a few differences between us and our neighbors to the south. Keep up the good work and good luck with your surgery.

  • Reply Kathryn Long |

    I imagine I would be equally baffled trying to navigate another countries healthcare system. My experience with the US system has been varied, but I would not change it. As it is I have the choice of employer and with that comes different healthcare options. When I had my children (23 and 25 years ago) we had Kaiser and each birth/hospital stay cost $5.00. I have a friend and co-workers now with the same insurance and the costs are still inexpensive. The trade-off is that you do need to work through their system. Most recently, I have had a number of health issues when I had a severe case of shingles my insurer would not cover a prescription my doctor prescribed after other options had offered little or no relief. And they terminated the option for a compounding pharmacy to fill a prescription for a pain cream. With that same health insurance i suffered a broken ankle and was able to choose my surgeon. Within 7 days of the break, I had surgery and quality care. 9 months later, one job change and new insurance later, I broke my ankle again. Again I was able to choose my surgeon, and when I had a “wiggly screw” was able to have it removed by the surgeon of my choice without extra expense since I had met the deductible. No waiting time or other hassles. Most recently I broke a finger (more accurately my puppy broke it), again I was able to choose my care provider. I broke my finger Tuesday evening, Friday afternoon i saw, “the hand guy”, a highly skilled and revered surgeon and had surgery the following week. I would not choose to pay a single penny more in taxes if it meant I had a wait or could not choose the healthcare plan or physicians who are the best for me or my family.

  • Reply Rrr |

    How nice that you volunteer your political commentary. Please stay in Canada then and butt out of our business. You have your hands full overspending on ridiculousness.

    • Reply Amy |

      If you can’t appreciate a well written piece about something so important to many people, you should butt out of this blog yourself. No need for this.

      Nice post Elizabeth!! Keep up the good work!

      • Reply Rrr |

        Elizabeth was clearly stating that the Canadian healthcare is superior to the American one. If she can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen. This is a blog about getting out of debt, not politics. Not sorry for calling her on it.

        • Reply Drmaddog |

          She is ‘out of the kitchen’. She’s in Canada.

          Medical debt is the most commune reason for bankruptcy. I would argue, therefore, that the cost of healthcare is a very valid topic for a debt blog. Furthermore, having worked as a physician in both the private sector and the military, which is about a socialized as it gets in the US, I always appreciated that when a young couple was told their child had cancer that they did not have to wonder how to pay for care. I also have a physician friend in the private sector whose child had leukemia and needed three years of maintenance chemotherapy. Their family threw fundraisers because a single dose of the drugs he needed were $2000-4000. A dose. And he had to have infusions every six weeks for three years.

          Both systems have flaws. But just because one is American doesn’t automatically make it better.

        • Reply Elizabeth S. |

          Hi Rrr!

          It is definitely my business, as I have worked in the US in the past and turned down the opportunity to move there twice in the last couple of years. As I mentioned, I don’t think it’s about right and wrong. For me, it’s a preference. I am very privileged to be able to choose where to live and work and I don’t take that for granted. Both of my current employers are in the US. American politics affects my livelihood every day!

    • Reply jj |

      Debt and politics are very much intertwined. And Canadian healthcare while not perfect, is better so yes, you do need to butt out 🙂

  • Reply SMS |

    Catching up here ….Elizabeth, please ignore the hateful comments. I think the Canadian health care system sounds wonderful. Above all, it sounds like everyone receives the same level of care.
    And good luck with the surgery!

So, what do you think ?