Skin Game

Last week, I had to renew my health card. For those of you who don’t know what a health card is, it’s the card you show at the doctor’s or the hospital or whatnot, and then you don’t have to pay for anything. Everyone in the province gets one at birth and it’s funded through income tax paid by residents and businesses. And for some reason, it’s one of the few things that can’t be renewed online anymore, which meant I had to go into a Service Ontario office (similar to the DMV) and stand in line. I went in the afternoon, and when I walked in, there were only 5 people ahead of me, and the three at the counter were finished quickly. But the next guy in line didn’t know what his exact mailing address was and insisted on looking at Google maps and stood at the second counter calling three other people to figure out the best place to mail him something, and then the woman at the third counter just WALKED AWAY. Which left one poor woman available for the rest of us. But still, she was very efficient, and about twenty minutes later it was my turn. She looked at my health card and said, “No problem. Your driver’s license is coming due at the same time—do you want to renew it now as well?”

And that seemed like the smart thing to do since I was there anyway, so I said “Sure.”

She filled in some information on the computer and then looked me straight in the eye and said, “Do you want to be an organ donor?” And I was really taken aback, having an actual person ask me this, instead of just ticking off the box on the back of my license, and I froze.

Me: …No?
Woman: Really? Are you sure? OK.

And then I felt terribly judged and also remembered that I’d had laser eye surgery and now my eyes were pretty good and might help someone else, and also that my kidneys and liver had passed their last tests with flying colours, so I said, “Wait! I changed my mind. Yes, I’ll be an organ donor.”

She kind of sighed, and said, “It’ll take me a minute to get back to that screen. Hang on.” Then, after a few minutes, she asked this bizarre follow-up question, and my blood froze. “Do you want to donate only for life-saving procedures or also for medical research?”

MEDICAL RESEARCH?! Like I’d be one of those cadavers that medical students experiment on? Would they give me a terrible nickname like Gangrene Greta or take selfies with me? No thank you, ma’am and I told that woman the same in no uncertain terms, but while in my head I sounded determined, it came out a very whispery “Just the first one.”

Woman: OK, no medical research. Now, are you good with everything, or do you have any exceptions, for example, would you like to exempt your eyes, your lungs, your kidneys, blood plasma, your bones, or YOUR SKIN?
Woman: Great. Now I need to get a picture so stand over there and don’t smile.

Don’t SMILE? You just told me that when I die, someone is going to flay me and then steal my skin and bones. The license hasn’t come in the mail yet so I haven’t seen the picture, but I’m sure I look absolutely horrified in it. Like, imagine this scenario:

Cop: Do you know how fast you were going? Can I see your license and registration please?
Me (gives him my new license): Sorry, Officer, I—
Cop: (returns my license and backs away): I didn’t mean to add to your trauma. Have a nice day. (whispers to himself) Poor woman.

When I got home, I was really disturbed and told Ken what had happened. “I didn’t know what to say! She asked me in front of everyone and I didn’t have any time to think about it. But I don’t want them to take my skin! Don’t let them take it!”

And I know I sounded like a big baby but Ken laughed and reminded me that as my survivor, he had right of first refusal over all my body parts.

Ken: Besides, there’s no need to worry about it. You’ll be dead.
Me: YOU DON’T KNOW THAT, KEN!! And don’t forget, if you let them have my skin, you can’t have me stuffed and put me in the living room.
Ken: I wasn’t going to do that anyway.
Me: You’re so mean.
Ken: It’ll just be one small empty urn on the fireplace mantle…
Me: You better hope I die first.

In other news, 3 weeks ago, we switched from our long-term internet provider to a cheaper, faster company. And three days ago, that company’s nation-wide network went down, leaving us with no internet. I’m posting this using my phone as a personal hotspot and hoping I don’t run out of data before it goes live. Stupid Rogers. So if I don’t engage too much today, you know why…

66 thoughts on “Skin Game

  1. Good heavens I would have died of shock if I had to answer those questions …. I didn’t know that they took skin 🫣😱 that’s a bit creepy if someone’s very old with wrinkles 🤔 do they iron out???

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I always follow my answer to the organ donor question with “Just make sure I’m really dead first.” I can sleep pretty soundly sometimes and don’t want to wake up and find out I’ve become a living version of that muscular system poster on the doctor’s office wall….

    Liked by 3 people

  3. As a former Paramedic, I can assure you that if someone is an organ donor, they will receive extra supportive care to keep their organs alive if organ transplantation is a possibility. Why does this matter? Unless someone has a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate order), medical personnel will do everything they possibly can to assure the viability of organs and tissues. I have seen (rare) cases where someone was declared dead, but because they were registered as an organ donor, they actually made a full recovery simply because doctors did everything they could to keep their organs functioning long enough to allow for transplants. It’s definitely something to think about.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Wow….health card so you don’t pay for health care, nice! As a former medical school staff member the body donation programs do not allow students to take selfies with the cadavers. And the medical research is usually done on donors that had an illness. The healthy donors are usually used for anatomy classes and the are given “ Jane/John Doe” names. But I completely understand how mortified you were being asked those questions. In Texas you are able to answer a questionnaire about those choices.
    But, I love how you explained your experience with renewing your medical card, as always Suzanne you made my Sunday morning. I hope you all have a wonderful week ahead!

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Of course the first thing that comes to my mind is Monty Python’s “Medical Love Song” and the line “I’ve left my body to science but I’m afraid they turned it down.” And also some amusing pranks that medical students have supposedly played with cadaver parts.
    The latter is all the reason I need to leave everything I’ve got to medical research. I’d give an arm and a leg to make someone laugh. But seriously it’s also why I don’t judge people who want to take it all with them, so to speak, because it’s one of the most personal things you can decide and it’s something everyone should have an opportunity to think about carefully. They should put it in the renewal notice so you can be prepared. And also a warning “We’re going to tell you not to smile.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I think that was part of the problem—I had no time to think and they’re very personal questions! I always figured no one would want my wrinkly old carcass, but apparently my recent run of healthy test results has made me super-desirable 🤣🤣


  6. My organs? The ones I’m poisoning daily with whiskey, opiates and weed? Nobody wants those. Besides, I’ve already made arrangements to have my corpse eaten by wild animals, finishing of with those meat beetles that leave a bleached white skeleton fit for classroom scare pranks.

    This Rogers outage is a test — to see what the next big CME will feel like. (

    Liked by 2 people

  7. My husband always says “don’t do – it they take your organs before you are even dead. Not sure that I believe him, but it does make me think. He also tells me make sure that he is dead for several hours before they start an autopsy.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. My parents both want to be organ donors, but they are afraid a doctor might harvest their organs for a friend, so they have marked NO on their licenses but told me to donate them when the time comes. For me…donating my corpse to science… develop a cure for Multiple Sclerosis…or insanity…or they can take their pick

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Free health care cards! OMG. Mention “Free Health Care” here…oh never mind. I think that might be verboten here.
    A woman friend of mine took an anatomy class with a cadaver. The one story I remember from then was a male student with a male body had opened his corpse. He said, “There’s something wrong with the lungs. They are pink.”
    It turned out that the corpse was a farmer. The corpses usually had black lungs. His lungs were clean and not blackened by city air. (This was a long time ago.)
    •Not having internet 🙁 that would cause withdrawal.
    •Being intimidated publicly, while renewing your license to give up your organs! Now that’s just wrong. 🧐
    My last drivers license picture was taken by a hostile worker who had me stand way back. It barely printed. Ghostly visage.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Why on earth would people get upset about free healthcare?! Lol. Here we get upset if we have to pay for it! As far as I know, my lungs are pink—I quit smoking over 30 years ago so I’m sure that helped😊

      Liked by 1 person

      • The politicos here do not want people to have free health care. Having lived, at one time, in a country where there is universal health care…I cannot express my dismay at the raggedy asinine attitude of denying people health care. It’s an ongoing political struggle for universal health care, and preventing homelessness and food insecurity in the gov’ment. Insurance companies are laughing all the way to the bank.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It’s so funny–I binge watch this show called Dr. Pimple Popper where she helps people with extreme–and I mean EXTREME–dermatological conditions and I was amazed that anyone would let themselves get that way until I realized most of them can’t afford to get help. And that’s why there isn’t a Canadian version of the show with a guy whose nose is over a foot long and weighs ten pounds because he didn’t have “insurance”. It’s just bizarre to me that anyone would stand for that stand of system!

          Liked by 1 person

          • Medicine was grabbed by the bean counters in the ‘80s and they started consolidating Drs Offices across the country and dictating how many people they must see in a day. ( I’ve heard 40 in the last years!) And profit was/ is for the company. It sucks.

            Liked by 1 person

  10. Health card?
    That’s so great compared to where I came from which have no regard for proper health.

    But if I may ask, why is your own turn for the card renewal so different and critical like this?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. beingchronicallyill says:

    In the UK, we now have an “opt-out” system so it is presumed that everyone wants to donate their organs and you have to “opt-out” if you don’t want it. Pretty cool idea as it means more people who haven’t got an issue will do it, and it’s easy to “opt out” if wanted 🙂

    You’re story sounds like questions were quite personal, sure makes a good story though!😂 loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Yikes! In our province, they ask if you want to be an organ donor, yes/no, then please step over here for your photo. I would feel SO uncomfortable about all those specific questions.

    As for the Rogers outage, that was Something, wasn’t it? The memes on Twitter, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’m reminded of this quote from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: “Do you ever think of yourself as actually dead, lying in a box with the lid on it? Nor do I really. Silly to be depressed by it. I mean, one thinks of it like being alive in a box. One keeps forgetting to take into account that one is dead. Which should make all the difference.”

    Liked by 1 person

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