• Mack James


Three days ago, on March 4th, I got out of Jubilee Hospital in Victoria. 70 years ago to the day, I was born there. Wrinkly both times, I reckon.

This time I was there to get my cancerous thyroid cut out. I was supposed to be there three days, but I was only there for one.

We’ve all heard grumblings about health care: wait times, hospital food, cranky nurses, and so on. Even if people don’t complain, they’re mostly happy to get out of there. As was I this time, but not because it was bad.

Au contraire. It was pretty darned good. Let me count the ways, starting with my GP who discovered the cancer. I had no clue, nor do I remember her saying anything during a routine checkup, but I guess she did. A few emails and phone calls later, I was processed and headed in for the cut, all by the grace of BC Health. So good on you Hana. You’re a life saver.

And then there’s the surgeon, Dr Pathak. I saw him once in his office and once in the OR before I went under. Both times he looked like something from NASA, literally. Full hazmat suit and breathing apparatus, gazing intently through his Covid mask. Let me just say, this fella knows what’s he’s doing, which I guess you have to if you cut people’s throats for a living. He was friendly, brisk, attentive, and he also saved my life. So good on you Irvin. Thanks for paying such good attention in school.

When they wheel you into the OR for the cut, they introduce you. This is Jim, they say, and this is Sally and Joe and Martha, and everybody waves at you. Nice touch. Then they strap you onto the table and put a warm blanket on you. “I’m going to start you on a sedative,” says the anesthesiologist, and then, just before he gasses you into oblivion, he says, “we’ll take good care of you.”

And they did. So thanks to all you people in that OR on that day. Can’t remember your names, but I can remember the cheerful vibe in there as I went under. You’ll never know, but I do appreciate you taking good care of me and all the rest of us, especially during Covid.

When you wake up in the recovery room, people are there, asking how you’re doing and checking your signs. Two of the nurses were discussing motorcycles, I remember that. When you’re awake enough, a guy comes and wheels you up to the ward. This guy, I have to say, was very polite. Good on him. Doing his job, treating people well. I should have tipped him.

Same story on the ward. Nurses coming and going, every one of them a pleasant soul. No cranky nurses here. One was a second year student by the name of Ruth, so I hastened to point out that my mom was named Ruth and my sister’s middle name is Ruth and she is a nurse too and blah blah blah. Those nurses must listen to old guys blather every day. She was kind. Thanks Ruth.

At one point during the night, I woke up to the sounds of nurses chattering at their station. In another life, I might have whined about how you can’t sleep in hospitals, but I didn’t this time. These nurses were genuinely enjoying life. You could tell by how they laughed. They were talking about camping and other fun stuff. So thanks to all you nurses for your laughter and chatter. And for knowing what you’re doing. Seriously, I enjoyed being there. For one night anyway.

Maybe when they’ve got that IV in your arm they shoot some Pollyanna drug into you. Maybe I’m just getting too old to complain.

But maybe not. From start to finish, it was a good experience, and I am still alive. Yay Hana. Yay Irvin. Yay Ruth. Yay everybody else whose names I can’t remember. And while we’re at it, yay Tommy Douglas.

O Canada.

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