Erin's Journals

Monday, June 15, 2020

Just a thought… One person caring about another represents life’s greatest value. [Jim Rohn]

Well, how was your weekend? Mine was overflowing with bliss. I’ll fill you in on the details one day soon – not my story to tell – but let me switch lanes on you and take you back to last Thursday.

First of all, it was so kind of a number of people to send good wishes; really, it wasn’t as big a deal as I thought. As I went in for my procedure, I wasn’t the least bit nervous and was approaching it from two standpoints: participant/observer and someone to bring a laugh or two to whomever I happened to encounter.

So I got to our little Saanich Peninsula hospital right on time at 11 am. After answering the usual COVID questions, I was given a fresh mask and placed on a sensibly-distanced stool against the wall to wait. There I sat for about 45 minutes, scrolling my iPhone, watching the battery percentage start to drop a lot more quickly than I would have liked, and being a “patient patient.” (Which word/meaning came first, do you think?)

A very friendly nurse named Laurie came to get me. As we walked, we chatted. She seemed like someone I’d like to have a coffee with, but honestly, these days, that could be nearly anyone. I probably came off as just a bit goofy, out on a day pass and just happy to chat with someone to whom I’m not married, you know? I think you do.

She walked with me to a large room divided into curtained-off cubicles in which a few people were lying on gurneys, recovering or preparing for whatever brought them there that day.

We discussed what I was to leave on (socks were okay, which was too bad, because I’d worn sandals) and I bundled up my clothing, put it in a nice clean plastic bag which will be handy for dirty clothes if we ever travel again. Once I was comfy on my gurney, gown on the right way and ready to roll, I was offered a nice warm flannel sheet/blanket. There’s 5 stars on YELP right there. But when they ask if I’d like to accompany my imaginary review with a picture, should I use this one?

Oh, goodness. When Colin was shown it by his mommy he said, “Does Grama have COVID?” Thankfully, the answer is no. But how interesting that the question popped into his head. These are the times in which we live: seeing what I figured was just a fun shot, a five-year-old’s first thought was of a pandemic. Wow.

The wait was long – probably the better part of another hour – as lunch shifts changed and they tried to find the anesthesiologist. (Cat napping, perhaps?) Once my time in the OR came, I was wheeled by a nice fellow named Brad (Gary? Grad?) to my destination, but not before I passed by four health care givers standing chatting in the hall. “Boob job – coming through!” I called out, and they laughed. (I don’t think that’s a thing at this hospital, by the way.) It’s a good sound to hear, that laughter; I’m sure there are so many patients and staff who are just so stressed (and rightfully so) within those walls, day in and day out.

So I got to the OR and shimmied from the gurney to the table. Then we waited for Doctor Sleep (not his real name, although I did have a procedure once at North York General where the anesthesiologist was named Dr. Knapp).

They couldn’t find him in the usual places (I asked if one was the bar) and then I suggested someone just hit me a few times on the head and we’d get this done ourselves. When he finally arrived he was cheery and friendly; once he’d inserted the IV needle he said, “That’s where you say it was the best one you’ve ever had…” and I retorted, “Oh, I gave up using that line years ago.” I’m not sure he meant the double entendre, but if you think I’m letting someone throw a big ol’ softball like that across the plate and I’m not swinging at it, you don’t know me!

Oxygen mask on, magic juices flowing, out I went. I thought I’d be gone for hours and was surprised to wake up on my gurney again in the recovery room just an hour or so after I left it. Darn. What kind of a deep sleep was that? I do recall my first words after coming to: “I was fighting with someone on Twitter.” (Whoa. The person who dragged me on Instagram for not mentioning Black Lives Matter on that particular platform really got in my head, I guess.)

Rob picked me up at 2:30 and, once home, my only pain came from a sore throat that I believe had to do with the oxygen mask that I was wearing. I caught up on some TV, ate chips (so, obviously, my throat wasn’t that painful, was it?) and just relaxed for the day. And that is the whole story of my trip to the hospital. Oh yes, and I did hear the word “benign” when I was still waking up, so while I wasn’t concerned, that’s something that is always good to hear.

I’ll never stop being grateful for our health care system. Are there problems with it? Of course. Long waits, an imperfect system. But just reading about a Seattle man who fought to come out of the other side of COVID, only to face a $1.1 million medical bill, makes me practically want to kiss the Canadian soil I was born on. Staying healthy and not taxing the system for which I am taxed will always be my aim, but oh, I’m grateful to have this level of care at my fingertips, or whatever body part may be in need of it.

Finally, a big thank you to the women and men who take such good care of us – from the volunteers to every single person whose lives have been even more challenging these past several months. May they always know our gratitude and be compensated accordingly, if that’s even possible.

Please do your best to stay healthy and I’ll be back with you here on Thursday. I’m returning to a pace in journals that will mean a little better mental health for yours truly, but I will post daily messages at my Facebook page, and you’re always welcome to drop me a line there or here. Thank you for understanding, as always, and we’ll talk again soon.

Rob WhiteheadMonday, June 15, 2020