Aviation In Canada

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Aviation Medicals

Ah, the old "turn your head and cough" trick is loved by all men. There is only one other test men hate more, at least 90% of us anyway, and fortunately that's not included as part of the Cat 2 or 3 medical category. But getting a medical is often easier than keeping it, since many of us get into aviation licenses when we're younger.

Yes, keeping a medical can be harder than getting one. As we age, we tend to wear our bodies out. And many of us endure things that aren't planned by any stretch. Broken bones, kidney stones, minor surgeries. All those wonderful things. In the past few years I've dealt with a few of these issues myself. The minor surgeries are often no more than a few days off work (perhaps more for those who fly, depending on the nature of the surgery), and sometimes require letters from attending physicians. After a kidney stone episode, my doctor was willing to declare me fit for duty. Civil Aviation Medicine wanted one of three tests to prove it. And I can understand the need for it, too. The problem was this: They sent me a letter, asking me to forward the results of one of these tests with a letter from my attending physician stating there were no risidual stones and that I was fit for duty. Sounds easy, since my doctor was willing. I had to call back. I said to him, "I'm not sure what the health care system is like in Ontario, but with my doctor telling me I'm OK, I'm not a priority for treatment. The shortest waiting list of the 3 tests that would be acceptable was 3-4 months!" They wanted a reply to that letter in 30 days. They ended up sending me a restricted medical, which basically made my pilot license useless and had me in the office at work.

Eventually, the tests were done, the letters forwarded, and my LVC was returned to normal. But it gave me a whole new outlook on the medical. I'm eating better, exercising more (have I mentioned how much I'm loving mountain biking?) and watching my health better than ever. Strange, since that's all stuff I should be doing anyway. But now I realize just how much my job (ATC) and on of my favorite pass times (flying) depend on my health (which I apparently had been taking for granted). So lift a weight for me as you keep yourself fit for duty. It seems a whole lot easier than trying to get tests done and get doctors to write letters to prove that you're good to go.