AN ACCIDENTAL CHRISTMAS GIFT
It started with a fun visit from our two-and-a-half year old, great-grandson Riley, while his mom saw the dentist and enjoyed lunch with a friend. Just after she returned to take Riley home, I tripped on a pull-toy. My left eyebrow and cheek hit the hardwood floor first. The picture above tells the story. Love and hugs from my husband, Tom, Riley and his Mommy brought me back to my feet. By nine p.m. even with carefully applied ice packs, my eye had swelled shut. Black and blue bruising highlighted one side of my face in the latest of high fashion.
My daughter arrived and added her entreaties to Tom’s. “Let’s go to the hospital.”
I refused. I didn’t want to add to the work of worn-out caregivers busy with really sick people. “Let’s call the Ontario Health Line,” I pleaded. Tom called. The nurse recommended hospital for head injuries. My daughter took a picture. “That couldn’t be me.” She drove me to Peterborough Regional Health Care Centre, leaving Tom home to rest so he could care for me tomorrow while she was at work.
As expected PRHCC Emergency was very busy. Triage nurse, Joanne checked me in with great care. With the line up of sick and suffering, adults and children, this nurse showed me so much respect and caring. Joanne’s calmness and sense of humour brought some peace to my heart. We settled down to wait. After all I wasn’t at death’s door.
About two a.m., when I was on my fourth trip past Joanne to the washroom, she called out, “Let me check your blood pressure again, please. I’m sorry you’re having such a long wait. We’ve had five ambulances arrive along with more and more sick people.”
We smiled and thanked her as my daughter wheeled me into her triage office. My blood pressure had risen. Once again, her practical knowledge reassured us. We resolved to thank her before we left the hospital.
About 3 a.m. they called my name. We moved through the big double doors and into the blue waiting room, and the care of Nurse Taylor. Another blood pressure check showed my blood pressure even higher. Taylor’s ready smile, calmness and assurance allayed my fears. “It will still be awhile, I’m afraid,” she said, “but the doctor will see you.”
My daughter brought me a treat from the coffee shop upstairs. “She made her phone a mirror. My eyelid had become a huge, fat, black caterpillar. With effort I could lift it a crack. At least I could still see out of that eye. Nurse Taylor kept checking on us. When Dr. Selby appeared around four a.m., he couldn’t have been nicer.
“Well,” he said, “you’ve had a big bang.” He checked me over. “I think you’re probably OK. You aren’t seeing double, which is a good sign. I’d like you to have an MRI, just to make sure there’s no bleeding within the skull and no cracks in the bones around your eye.”
Sweet Nurse Taylor ferried me to MRI. My blood pressure topped 200 over 104. I shook. I told Taylor of my fear of confined spaces. She explained the whole process, the machine, the noise level and the space around my head and face. It was not like a CT scan. The MRI technologist was friendly, caring and thorough. It was over as fast as Taylor had promised.
“Soon the report will come up to Dr.Selby.” she said, as she parked me back in my curtained cubicle. Eventually, Dr. Selby appeared.
He assured me that my eye would be fine, no sign of a concussion, no broken or cracked bones, the lens in my eye seemed to be in place. The soft tissue would heal. We left the hospital at 6:30AM, feeling God had surrounded us with the front-line angels of our health care system.
In Canada, we are blessed. Universal health care is one of the precious jewels of our country. Irrespective of who we are, we can go to hospital when we are sick or have an accident. In many countries, my journey last night would have cost thousands of dollars. We are so blessed. Yes, it was a long night. If there were more doctors and nurses, if there were fewer sick, no Covid, Flu, RSV, the wait would have been shorter. On the way out, I thanked Taylor once again for her care.
She responded. “Tonight, some have complained, a few have yelled with some very colourful words because of the long wait. I realize people are frustrated. There’s just not enough of us. We are doing our best. Thank you for your kind words. I needed them.”
When we’re in pain, worried, afraid we get angry, frustrated. It’s easy to see ourselves as the only ones who matter. A long night in emergency does push our patience to the limit. This is the time we need to remember that our health care system is a true blessing. We need it. We want it, not just for ourselves but for everyone. Ontario can provide love, care and expertise to protect the health of everyone, not just a privileged few. Our health care workers are doing their best, and doing a great job even though they are short staffed.
My accidental gift for this Christmas is the vivid reminder that “Thank you” are magic works. They give energy as they give encouragement and appreciation. Try praying and giving “Thank you” messages to all who care for you and yours. Gratitude, it costs only patience and desire. Gratitude is the gift we can bring to the Christ child this year .