2 ̶ The Hospital
By 6:00 that Friday evening I was sprawled in a hospital bed, fully clothed, in the emergency ward, hooked up to monitors for pulse and blood pressure. The attending doctor, Dr. L., had to determine if my condition was serious enough to ship me to the Regional Health Sciences Centre in Thunder Bay. Our son and the doctor amused themselves by watching my fluttering heart rate. The doctor reached a decision: he called in the air ambulance helicopter.
Nothing else was happening. After several hours, I suggest Rob go home to supper. Periodically, someone, either a nurse or the doctor, checked my progress. Foul weather was delaying the ambulance. About four in the morning on Saturday, someone announced its arrival. Two paramedics bundled me up in a stretcher, ensured the parka did not leave exposed flesh. Dr. L., still available, escorted me to the helicopter. It was a comfort to know Dr. L. had stuck around. He’s been attending members of our family at various times for close to fifty years.
It took about a quarter hour for the pilot to rev the engine to prepare for lift off. One paramedic accompanied me, the other sat with the pilot in the cockpit (if that’s what you call the enclosed cabin with all the controls and instruments). The sound and vibration increased in intensity
We left the lights of Geraldton behind us. I was awakened by the lights of Thunder Bay as we cleared for landing on the pad beside the regional hospital. I was whisked through subterranean passages to a room on Level 3. I had a semi-private room all for myself. I checked the time ̶ 6:00 a.m. I still wore my original clothes. I slept and dozed. Was not offered breakfast. Was not offered lunch. Finally someone offered me a glass of juice and a biscuit. I thought this was my new prescribed diet. I took my usual meds although I skipped my daily 81 mg aspirin. (I suspected the aspirin had something to do with my condition.) Nurses checked my pulse and blood pressure regularly.
I had my phone with me, so I was able to advise Olga and Rob and daughter Laura and sister Susanne that I was actually in the city. That was news to them.
I lived in that hospital room from Saturday to Wedneday. Memory does not permit me to detail my exact schedule. Somewhere around Monday or Tuesday I decided I needed a shower. A nurse pointed out the facility, built into the washroom next door. I stripped, spent ages trying to turn the water on, then gave up. I dressed in my dirty clothes and waited for someone to instruct me. I got my shower and clean clothes.
At some point a nurse suggested I switch my apparel to the open-backed nightshirt supplied to patients. Naw. I wore regular clothes night and day. Day and night.
After long periods of nothing happening, I was whisked away by wheelchair or by gurney to take tests. God bless the porters, the volunteers who do the whisking. A porter would wheel me through mysterious passages and abandoned me in some subterranean chamber. Eventually somebody claimed my body and put me through an esoteric procedure. And eventually the porter reappeared and replanted me in my bed.
I saw doctors on different occasions for a few minutes. A Dr. B. (supposedly overseeing my recovery) saw me and in a matter of minutes confirmed that I had suffered a stroke and he ordered sundry tests. A Dr. S. waved a sheaf of documents at me and ordered me to sign or suffer dire, unspecified consequences. That’s when I lost my driver’s licence. Another doctor, who does not appear in my medical chart, checked that I was following some vague regimen and was responding to instructions. He was a garrulous, friendly old chap who answered any questions I posed. A different nurse was assigned to me during every twelve-hour shift; I regret not recording their names so that I can now thank them. They became friends. Dr. B. showed up one more time for a few seconds and gave me a simple test: Hold up your right arm. I responded with alacrity and he chortled. Apparently I had held up my left arm. I don’t think doctors should be allowed to chortle. On the last day, Wednesday, I was allowed to choose which blood thinner pill I preferred.
Meanwhile, Laura and Rob and Susanne paid visits at least once a day, along with a few other friends who had heard of my misfortune and came to commiserate. I made daily reports to Olga by phone. Overhearing their chatter, I settled on the blood thinner I wanted ̶ Xarelto ̶ and also chose a supplementary pill to control my blood pressure ̶ Coversil ̶ that I need take only once a day. It’s nice to have choices. Several medical personnel assured me that, having had a mild stroke from which I was making a rapid recovery, I would be back driving within a month. They had not yet heard the bad news from Dr. E. In fact, I didn’t even know there was a Dr. E.
Speaking of doctors, I never did get the straight goods from any doctor until I finally got an appointment with my family doctor, Dr. Z., in the first week of July.
Yes, two-and-a-half-months after the incident, I finally saw my chart. I asked for a print-out. It was an eye-opener.