Hopefully you’ll find space for a Christmas shout-out to an all-too-frequently maligned segment of our society in communities across Canada. I refer to those who work in the health care sector, about whom I have often seen horror stories in the media, and many vociferous complaints on letters pages. Bad news stories abound of patients suffering because of inadequacies of health care systems and providers. Thankfully, my present experience is so completely different from what I’ve repeatedly read about for so many years.
My wife Susan is currently hospitalized and gravely ill; halfway through a six-week course of heavy-duty antibiotics, fighting massive bladder and blood infections that are wreaking havoc on her 81-year-old body and mind. The infections and other factors have caused delirium and have intensified her pre-existing dementia, that was previously a short-term memory issue, but now a completely different degree of confusion. She has undergone a multitude of different tests, with no stone left unturned trying to take care of all of Susan’s needs. There are dire complications that have been discovered, and will be dealt with after this uphill battle, which is the biggest we have faced in nearly a half-century together.
Having spent about eight hours every day in her isolated room for the past three weeks, it has been a bumpy trip on a storm-tossed sea of emotions, but there is no other place in the world I would sooner be. We have been buoyed by the wonderful staff at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH), where Susan’s every need is taken care of in such a dedicated and loving way by fantastic teams of doctors, nurses, aids, technicians, therapists, cleaners, cooks, administrators, ambulance crews and many more behind the scenes who we never meet. Susan’s GP has been a tower of strength, too.
Around this time of the year there’s always a lot of talk about angels, some are perched atop Christmas trees, but the ones we’ve encountered during the last three weeks at NRGH come in all shapes and sizes, every creed and race, all generations and genders. Suddenly, all those extra-loud and mealy-mouthed premiers, parliamentarians, prime ministers, presidents, potentates and pontificating professional pundits whom I used to find so interesting with their politics of phoney fear and false hopes, have become entirely insignificant and seem to vanish in the haze. We stand in awe of the love and care and highly professional devotion of the band of angels at NRGH.