Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Touched By Angels, 6 Days At Burnaby General Hospital

(originally posted December 2014)

Written By Grant G

Thursday November 27th 2014......Wanting to travel ahead of the cold snap, Thursday afternoon headed to Garden Bay to check water pipes, the boat, lines and dock, just missed the 1:30 pm ferry out of Horseshoe Bay, leaving a 2 hour wait til the next scheduled sailing, then suddenly something didn`t feel right...

Never left the car deck,  arrived in Langdale, drove off the ferry and headed up coast, Langdale to Garden Bay, a trip of approximately 90 minutes, throughout that non-stop drive this queasy feeling persisted and once I arrived in Garden Bay my worst fears were confirmed, parked my vehicle and walked 10 feet to the front door, there I keeled over, breathless and spewing blood, oh no, this is one rodeo ride best avoided by all, and now facing it for a third time...

Time and my dreaded enemy the clock,  continually flaunting a pendulum that never stops, waits for no one and time for me was of the essence,

After a sleepless night filled with blood spit accompanied with a migraine headache that never relented even once Friday morning finally appeared, cold, snowy and dark, my mind was aflutter, couldn`t stay in Garden Bay, didn`t bring my CPAP machine and health facilities in this neck of the woods are non-existent ..

Friday afternoon arrived back in Burnaby, still hadn`t told mom anything, gone less than a day and she already had pending chores awaiting, a light-filled Christmas reindeer I assembled before my trip had blown down in the wind, and three loads of accumulated laundry were requested done, ok...Winded, tired and scared all chores were quickly attended to...Then collapsed on the couch, filled my mouth with lozenges, slapped on my CPAP mask and hoped my breath would return....

A couple of hours passed and yes, I do feel better, perhaps paranoia had gotten the better of me, maybe it was just the flu or some infection, soon Saturday morning was upon us, snow looks nice, little did I know my mouth was stained blood-red, quite the contrast blood spittled onto fresh-white snow....Well at least the migraine was gone, very foolish of me, all day Saturday talked myself into believing I was getting better, still hadn`t told mom anything about my distress, yet she knew something was terribly amiss, she made me honey-lemon tea, tasted good but helped none, this rodeo ride was about to get rough, hopefully that clock and pendulum don`t buck me off...

Saturday evening, still delusional in thinking relief was just around the corner, Monday morning I`ll go to the clinic and....

Gurgling, a sound no one should hear coming from your lungs, couldn`t breathe again and blood was flowing, got up, walked into Mom`s room and told her I was off to the hospital(3'00am)..Walked up the crisp frozen path, nearly passed out after 5 minutes gasping for air, maybe should of called an ambulance, with temporary breath returned, opened truck door and started my Dodge Ram...Windows were frozen, no strength to scrape ice, time, 10 minutes of parked running eventually thawed the windshield..

Had real reservations about going to Burnaby hospital, last time I was at Burnaby General Hospital was to see my dad`s still body, he died there, serious medical issues complicated after contracting C Diff within the hospital, bad timing had Dad there during a major C Diff outbreak...

However at this time of night with gurgling lungs filled with blood my choices were limited..

The hospital pay parking was near empty, a frozen iced covered parking lot, $20 dollars for 4 hours parking, had no energy to scout adjacent streets for free spots, time was clutching my throat..

Walked into Emergency section, there was several groups of people already waiting...Triage desk was open and the lady nurse waved me over, maybe she could sense my distress, told her I couldn`t breathe and blood was gurgling and I have a history, she instantly sent me to admitting, pulled out ID, care card, then back to triage and within 4 minutes was in a hospital gown in emergency operating theatre number 8....

Stripped down to underwear and one of those notorious rear-drafty blue gowns, vitals checked, wires and probes stuck, jabbed and attached everywhere, including the finger oxygen level monitor, the oxygen reading was very poor to say the least and....

Theatre number 8....Right smack in the middle of 18 emergency room theatres, a square room, curtained beds to my left, right and across....Directly in front of me were the monitors for all the beds, call it the control center, head nurses, go-to it nurses, doctors, phone lines, everything was right in front of me and I can`t explain why but my curtain was left wide open, for 40 hours in emergency my view of near everything was uninterrupted, possibly they wanted to keep an eye on me or perhaps they knew a story needed to be written and narrated by The Powell River Persuader...

Touched By Angels, 6 Days In Burnaby General Hospital

Can`t explain it, even though my breath was sporadic, gurgling ongoing and blood spittle disturbing a calmness filled my soul, this group of nurses and doctors, 18 emergency room theatres although a mere 10 were in play at this time of night, I became fixated on the performance, a front row seat with a clear view of the apparent A-team emergency nursing staff in action, Saturday night, the only thing missing was popcorn and my breath...

Tasha, my first nurse, after introducing herself she inquired as to my medical history, 10 minutes later and barely halfway through my background she rushed away to tend to a bleeping monitor alarm,  she returned to finish off my history, told her none of that mattered because I know what ails me, and what caused it..

Pulmonary embolism, or in my case pulmonary emboli, tinzaparin, heperon and warfarin need to be injected to bring me back to life, how do I know that Tasha asked....Said I rode this horse before and over the last few months I got lax with my drug maintenance, got cocky, forgot how rough this stallion be,.....Tasha called me a big dummy, funny, not often I`ve been called a big dummy when the words spoken were meant to soothe...Tasha also said everything will have to be confirmed by a specialist and CT scan...Within minutes a portable chest Xray machine was wheeled over and snapped a photo...Xray won`t tell you nothing either I muttered, you`ll need a CT scan..

The CT scan was going to have to wait meanwhile a Heperon drip was set up, a modern automated IV drip machine attached to a lean metal rolling stand, this thin metal dripping, beeping strings attached lady never left my side for 6 days, after a couple of days Lady IV was now known as my silent dance partner..

Time, no CT scan available until 8;30 am.....

My senses came alive, my curtain wide open, the smells, visuals and most acute and active were the sounds, those with curtains drawn couldn`t hold back the sounds, an old-man was in the curtained off space to my right, he was complaining of inedible hospital food and the need to go home, he had fallen down, brought in by ambulance and several times he tried to get up and leave, however his legs weren`t working, these professional nurses worked so hard to calm the man, not wanting to tie him down, they kept assuring him that ambulance services were coming soon to return him home, food complaints and escape attempts continued, .....I had to chime in ..... 

I guess bad food is better than no food at all...

I heard a chuckle from my neighbour`s nurse, she popped out from the curtained room, walked a few steps and peered into my open domain and smiled, said that`s right, better than nothing, guess she noticed that my table was barren of food, wasn`t my intent, wasn`t thinking of food, 5 minutes later she brought me a plate, and indeed it was not very good, forced down every bite, seemed like the principled thing to do..

Number 7, directly to my left was empty,...Let me be clear, these theatres are merely spaces on a floor with wrap-around curtains, nothing is contained within these spaces, only the visual is secluded, that is...If, the curtains are closed, most were, 40 hours in emergency and my curtain was wide open for 39 hours..Directly to my left a woman was wheeled in, she couldn`t breathe either, she was French Canadian, middle-aged, in her 40`s, she had last year a double mastectomy, both breasts removed and a 4 full-rounds of chemo therapy, the whole-meal deal and after going through all of that a year later fate brings her next door to me, hacking, coughing, flemcity agony, no breathe, this woman didn`t cry, scream and bellyache, all she wanted was a little help in breathing....

Mr hospital food-hating needing to leave beyond anything else senior to my right was carted out by ambulance services, .That was kinda funny too, maybe it was just me seeing something normal but it appeared everyone of Burnaby`s paramedics/ambulance workers looked like George Clooney, 3 days of facial growth and Clooney`s haircut....or maybe I was just jealous..

Out the complainer went only to be quickly replaced by another delivered patient courtesy of BC Paramedics, an old man, frail, in convulsions and so yellow, jaundiced, it appeared he was dipped in a giant bottle of French`s mustard, scary, clearly this frail old-man was going to die beside me...

Sunday Morning, an entire nursing/doctor shift change, ....Grey Cup Sunday, when shift change comes the replacement group of doctors and nurses arrive early, each nurse goes over completely the issues related to each patient, who to watch out for, who needs what care, the roll-over takes at least 30 minutes and it boggled my mind, all these sickly, elderly, snarky people and the nurses seemed so reluctant to leave, Asian nurses, Indo nurses, white nurses, from shift to shift the mix between senior and youth nurses was brilliant, never heard a raised voice, every situation no matter how tense was handled with skill, dexterity and comfort...

The head nurses at Burnaby General Hospital pre-shift rally the troops together, like pep talks in pro sports, only different, with emergency care in hot battle zones it`s the little people that pave the way for starring doctors, Burnaby General`s head nurses made that abundantly clear, whoever is in charge of hiring and staffing at Burnaby General has found magic..  

My new nurse was named MacKenzie(first name)....Introduced herself, she too wanted medical background, short or long version I said, she wanted the long version, she listened intently, told her about fixing mom`s home, cooking, cleaning and driving her to doctor appointments, mentioned getting lax with my daily warfarin medication and not going for blood tests(INRs)..Sweet soothing smile never once left her face, she squeezed my arm with both hands and to be honest I haven`t felt that much compassion since being a baby in mom`s arms(and yes, I do remember)...

If I was a young man I would have fallen in love 20 times in that first 24 hours, but I`m not a young man..

Told MacKenzie exactly what was wrong with me, she said your CT scan is very soon, within minutes they wheeled my bed into the CT scanner room, injected me with contrasting dye, yikes, a warm flush feeling zooms through your body, from head to toe... onto another bed and head first you`re slid into this sideways whirling glorified dryer, and it talks to you, breathe in, hold, breathe out, ..Maybe it was the disgusting heat-flush dye but I swear that the CT scanner called me a big dummy too....

Meanwhile my mom was burning up my cell-phone, wanting information, had none to give, she also wanted to get my car moved, always the penny-pincher even under the harshest of circumstances,, 

Then wheeled back to theatre number 8 to await the results, actually I wasn`t awaiting any results, I already knew what was to be found...

As mentioned, all the nurse`s computers were directly in front of me, ...A doctor Kwan, a sweet Asian doctor handled my case, or should I say was the bearer of bad news, I saw my pictures on the computer screen before anyone said anything, not sure if they knew I could see...The pictures were bad, not Pulmonary embolism but Pulmonary emboli, ..possibly dozens of blood clots, it`s apparent the big dummy has been gathering up lung blood clots for months, finally several got positioned in places that stopped my breath near dead..

Dr. Kwan came over first and told me the horrible news, Heperon drip was increased, some other clot dissolving fluid was added, blood work started, INR and high warfarin doses started now...She reiterated that I`m in big trouble, not going anywhere soon, ...

Not sure why but the news calmed me, my third lung blood clot rodeo, riding the meanest black stallion of them all, now I only need to live a while longer, there`s a story here needing to be told and it has nothing to do with me, curtain number 8 is still wide open..

Nurse Mackenzie was in with my French Canadian neighbour, asking her to spit, to hack, they had some lung sucking device hooked up to her, a minute later Mackenzie was in another curtained room, telling this person to pea, to push, ..not to worry about soiling themselves, ...MacKenzie reminded me of a smart cowgirl, one moment delivering a baby sheep, the next milking cows followed by shoveling cow patties and the entire time her sweet youthful smile never leaves, MacKenzie`s traits and qualities can`t be taught.....MacKenzie was a rock-star among nurses, in fact all the emergency nurses at Burnaby General were rock-stars....Clearly this grey Cup Sunday team was the A-team....or were they?

Smells, noises and visuals had all my senses in over-drive, there wasn`t a dull moment, there were of course sad, disgusting and anger inciting episodes at every turn...

Sunday afternoon Vancouver police officers brought in a woman for treatment, never saw her face but heard her voice from behind a curtain, screams of look what you people did to me, you fucking bitches, ...the Vancouver cops were standing nearby in the ER department talking to a black hospital security officer, ..Hospital security officer was looking in my general direction, not at the girl in the cubicle, however the foul-mouthed girl in the cubicle let her mouth rip....What are you doing in here you ugly fucking nigger, you caused my pain nigger, what the fuck is a nigger doing in here...

It angered me, I wanted to get up and interject, I know the black security officer heard every word because he was twice as close to that theatre as was I, ..He never flinched, didn`t turn his head, not a single stir yet I know he heard every bile word...This professional team of nurses and doctors still had to treat the woman, you can`t deny medical treatment to the unruly, a real testament to the high-quality team assembled there.....30 minutes later her curtain opened and yes I could see, it was a street-walking working girl, a crack cocaine oxycodene addicted, crystal meth addicted, should of known, if I could have asked the unruly woman one question, why the blackman was her target, the ER had Asian, Indo, Sikh, Filipino and other ethnics..

Next a young mother and father rushed in with a beet red baby, the toddler was trying so hard to scream yet only the most disturbing sounds came out, the contrast was stark, beet red baby and pale as ghosts parents, wanting nothing but life for their child, you could tell either parent would gladly trade their life for the baby`s life, nothing so tortuous than the sound of a dying baby, ER staff eventually asked the parents to leave, perhaps not wanting them to witness the treatment.

No pain, no urgency, wires, probes and IV hooked up to me, I don`t need to be here , these 18 theatres are now almost full, I looked at MacKenzie, never said a word but indicated I wanted to talk, she came over and I expressed my concern about using up one of these highly valued emergency operating theatres, she looked at me and said..

"You need to shut up and be selfish, you`ve been caring for your mom, working on her home, driving her to doctors appointments, cooking, cleaning while tending to and maintaining everything, you have neglected your warfarin, your INRs and nearly killed yourself, you need to be selfish for a change, for the collective good, if you get sick or die what good can you do for anyone"..

This mere babe in terms of physical years spoke such wise words, I hung my head, MacKenzie was right....And I can use this, "be selfish for the collective good"....I can work that angle..

These nurses, youthful ER nurses pushing the veterans to care, a beautiful mix of the old, the wise meshed with babe nurses who care, no perfume, no jewelery, just scrubs and shoes...MacKenzie had these blue Nike running shoes, they matched her scrubs, they had a splash of pink and adorned with flowers, they matched her personality to a tee, feminine, and proud of it, strong, persuasive and in control splashed with a dash of country innocence..

Tic toc tic toc, my dreaded enemy the clock, the pendulum that never stops, Dr. Kwan came over after hearing my concerns about using up valuable ER space, she told me in no uncertain terms that I was lucky to still be alive, one of the most severe cases of pulmonary emboli she has ever seen and that I need to be right where everyone can see me, kinda made feel better, I think.

Meanwhile my French Canadian double Mastectomy full Chemo treatment troubled breathing neighbour was still fleming, hacking and dying away, she seemed to be getting worse while I was seemingly getting better, blood chunks were getting smaller and the gurgling was easing, MacKenzie was working her butt-off trying to get my neighbour to breathe, ...Tic Toc Tic Toc..

Monday Morning...Shift Change, same routine, head nurse rallies the troops, her talk was inspirational, it was never about the doctors or management heads, it was about the worker nurses, the beautiful mix of the old and young, fresh, wise and experienced, ....I mentioned the sounds, horrifying distressed baby sounds, and no sounds are so pleasing than those made by the same baby the next morning, crying for food, crying for momma, a normal happy baby crying, pale white parents arriving with mile wide smiles now glowing warm pink, happy tears rolled down from my eyes...French`s mustard man who I was sure was a dead man left that morning too by ambulance back home, stable, walking and smiling, miracles abound and still I sit, curtain open, getting antsy, not to leave but to write..

Me and my French Canadian neighbour now the longest serving in this department, her lungs sounded better, voice stronger...The Monday morning crew made introductions, my new nurse was Tom...A big strapping man who reminded of the Walrus(Craig Stadler, the golfer), "Walrus" referring to their mustaches, ....Tom P, my Monday nurse looked big and strong enough to carry you by one arm out of a burning building, firm but gentle, with a sense of humor, when Tom introduced himself to my French Canadian neighbour he said....

"Hi, I`ll be your nurse today, my name is Tom, or as they say in French.. `Tom"

You did notice the accent above the T in the second `Tom..

Made me laugh, and hack up more blood..

Another curtained theatre received a middle-aged woman, not sure what her complaint was but the "cure" the doctor was going to be using was said loud and clear....heard him say it three times...You madame are getting an enema, ...Did you say an enema...Indeed I did, must be feeling better because the thought of this cure made me smile, not that I`ve had an enema, or at least one I would admit too...

20 minutes later from behind this curtain came enema screams, now I might be wrong, sleep deprived, surrounded with drunks, old, mustard man, cranky hurt babies, choking and blood gurgling patients, however these enema screams came across as wails of pleasure, I`ll leave it to your imagination...

Tom P..My nurse just informed me I`m stable enough to move to another department, 3 c..room 374...I`ll be going in 15 minutes..

Great!!!!....I roll out of bed, gather up my clothes, bag them and tie my possession bag to the IV pole, My dance partner Lady drip, put my shoes on, `Tom unhooks all the electrodes, ahh....I need to go to the bathroom, yes Tom, I can walk, Lady drip can come with me..

Back at number 8...tic toc, tic toc....A head nurse comes over and tells me my room has been delayed, I chime back at her...Well, how about I get a real coffee at the restaurant, I`ll walk there, I`m fine...One day I may be an indolent but today is not that day...

The nurse said....we have rules, codes, we can`t let you go by yourself, ok....Yea yea yea, what about stopping on route for that coffee(in Burnaby General they have an in-house Tim Hortons)....We`ll see she said...

Tic toc, tic toc....Big Tom comes over and says to me your are going in 2 minutes...How about we check your vitals before you go...I said no, why bother, my heart rate is perfect and my breathing feels about 92%....

Meanwhile the head nurse has decided to porter me to my new abode, she stood by waiting as Tom P checked my vitals and air....She also heard what I had said to Tom...

My heart-rate vitals were perfect and my breathing was 92%(way above the levels from when I came in).....Head nurse just smiled at me, said...How did you know..

Pepper and Spirits of the Night

Off we go, down the hallway at speed, Nurse pushing the chair me holding my IV dancing partner, Lady Drip....We take a left turn at Tim Hortons......When Nurse says.....Oh OH...Don`t look, there`s pepper(name), our union rep, rules fanatic, a stickler for codes and regulations....Too late, this little Nubian woman who looked and sounded like a wound up Whoppi Goldberg set upon us...My bag of belonging`s, Pepper informed me and the nurse that having patient belonging`s dangling from IV poles is a no no....This nurse was clearly intimidated by Pepper, she was looking for an out, she tried to change subjects...She blurted out...Mr G is a writer, he`s going to do a story....I don`t think Pepper bought the excuse, she did however back off, a little...I got wheeled to the coffee line-up, ordered a double double dark roast....with a sleeve, as it was hot...Me and the nurse were going to carry on except...

Except Pepper informed the nurse that Mr. G(the patient) can`t be allowed to carry a hot coffee, it could spill, burn, etc etc....The nurse had to carry the coffee and push the chair..

Well, ...We got out in the hallway,Pepper still inside the food area, we quickly shifted, I was handed the hot coffee and off we went, this nurse proceeded to tell me how Pepper is a rules fanatic, ..Nurse said she`s all for rules but some can be bent or broken....Meanwhile this nurse had our hallway speed way up, zooming along....When all of a sudden a door opened, an older Indo Canadian janitor entered the hallway walking backwards, never looked and we ran into him, my clothes bag went flying, almost flew out of the wheelchair and the hot coffee, by the grace of god it was saved..

I said not another word to this chair-pushing nurse or her to me, all I could think of was Pepper and her warning, or was that  Pepper`s voodoo curse..

Room 374 and Spirits of the Night

3;00 pm...Room 374 with beds A..B...C...3 beds per room....Bed A was an older Italian woman named Angela, very quiet, very friendly with daughters aplenty, they all looked and sounded alike, a close knit family, didn`t ask much of Angela in the way of medical questions but from the little Italian I know she has kidney issues, possibly cancer in the kidneys and she and her family blame her family doctor for prescribing so many medications, medications that clashed and led to her kidneys failing...Like I said, she was very nice, her discharge time was set for Wednesday evening(December 3rd), I over heard the hospital doctor talking to Angela, she was free to go, could leave as soon as family members picked her up.....But Angela was nervous, she talked back trying to convince the doctor that she should stay, found that very odd, until I learned that Angela had chemo therapy scheduled to start this Friday,.....

Her family showed up Wednesday evening, listening in(without trying) Angela was convincing her family that she should stay, leave on Thursday, her excuse was....Angela and family wanted to confer with this hospital doctor that her prescriptions he prescribed were compatible with other medications she was taking....Angela was very firm and her daughters bought in to the message, however, there was a problem, her bed was already spoken for, the man, who was dying was waiting for the bed, Angela begged the hospital nursing staff to let her stay in her room and move the man to another room, ...The nurses weren`t falling this strange gambit, the one eldest daughter got quite aggressive, and again reiterating concerns over medication mixing...Seeing the situation escalating I had to chime in...Me and my dance partner Lady IV sauntered over and in a calm tone told Angela to talk to the pharmacist, bring a list of all your medications, the pharmacist will know how they interact...The three nurses trying to get Angela to leave jumped all over my advice, as in agreeing with it, although they did shoo me away....20 minutes later Angela was dressed, she came over and thanked me for being a quiet trouble free room-mate, ....Before she left I told her to never trust doctors, get second and third opinions, also told her that depending on your cancer ....Chemo, sometimes the cure is deadlier than the disease.....And with that, she was gone...

My other room-mate was James, ...Which soon turned to Jim..and finally to Jimbo Bones.....Jimbo Bones was my name for him, an older man, 86 years old, he suffered a couple of recent falls and was all beat up, under his chart was mobility strengthening, meaning they had to take the wobbles out of his legs and arms, he was quite frail, his wife at home was too senior herself to care for a non-walking husband...

Jimbo was waiting for a transfer to a seniors rehab place in New Westminster, a place that has all the equipment and time to rehab him, Burnaby hospital mobility staff had barely 1/2 hour per day for his walking rehab treatment, from what I saw his arms shook when trying to get up in a walker, as well as his right leg, ....Mr. Bones`s bed was right next to mine, Jimbo Bones had no choice but to hear me talk, not sure he was listening, we talked lots, he cried every time he mentioned his wife, they met when they were 14 years old, married by 17 and been together ever since, met his sons and his wife, one son sounded like he wanted Bones in a seniors home, put away, the other son wanted him in rehab and walking, his wife sounded to me like she didn`t want James home if he couldn`t walk....

As for Jimbo Bones and what he wanted....He wanted to be home for Christmas, never one to beat around the bush, when his family wasn`t around, which was most of the days, I talked to Bones, don`t know that he liked what I had to say..Told him that if you expect to walk again you`re going to have to bear down, it will be the hardest thing you`ll have faced, men, older men just get stubborn, give up, if you want to be home for Christmas, or ever you will have to fight, and even with that effort you may not succeed, damn dreaded clock waits for no one.....Jimbo Bones was shipped out Thursday evening to the seniors rehab joint in New Westminster...I told Bones I would be visiting him next week and wanted to see him walking..!

Pent up, prisoners versus the screws, patients versus nurses, every morning  walked with Lady IV in tow to the other end of the hospital to buy real coffee and muffins, not doughnuts because apparently, according to the nurses the doughnuts were empty calories...Mr. Bones was a recipient of fresh muffins every morning, courtesy the Persuader...Nurses would not accept gifts, one morning did manage to leave a box of fresh muffins on the nurses front desk in our ward....They got eaten and the nurses thanked me, ...It was me who owed thanks, they left me alone, we had an understanding, they look the other way and I don`t ring the nurses button, 6 days and never pushed it once.

My nurses in room 374...were Kim..Emma...Grace and of course Nav...plus 2 different lab guys and gals who twice daily siphoned off my blood, damn vampires...The one time I really needed Nav to replace my IV feed she bolted out, apparently a naked man was running loose in our ward, perhaps he was well endowed, she did eventually return, fixed my IV line and no, Nav could not hide her natural smile.

Tuesday night in room 374...the room next door(375) had a screamer, he didn`t stop, morning noon and night he hollered and I quote..."I wanna get outta here"...He was loud, really loud and I can`t sleep at the best of times..Through the grape vine I heard he was dying, his name was Mr. Anderson, he did not talk, only screamed, ....I heard many a nurse say....Please calm down Mr. Anderson, ...Not sure why but in my head I was saying....His name is Neo....I mentioned that to the nurses, they thought it was charming, think they thought I was crazy too...what, remember that line from the movie The Matrix?

Tuesday night the screaming from Mr. Anderson suddenly stopped....out of the blue silence, next thing you know nurses are scrambling, Neo is throwing up vast amounts of blood, violently hurling blood, litres of blood, ...late at night you can hear everything and if one wants to know what is going on one merely just listens...house-keeping was called, portable Xray was called, a Stat team was called and to my surprise over the next hour the nursing team stopped the bleeding, stabilized him...two hours later Mr. Anderson was screaming, only now the words not so clear, the message weaker, never got even two minutes sleep that night.

Wednesday, the day Angela left, Wednesday night actually, mentioned her bed was booked up for a dying man...To my surprise it was Neo...Mr. Anderson the dying screamer was joining our room.

Nursing staff wheeled in his bed, a big vacuum pump connected to a face mask, Mr Anderson looked very pained, he screamed but in listening to his wailing I realized they weren`t screams at all, he was a big giant strapping man, wounded bad and down for the count and he was making as much noise as possible on his way out...Jimbo Bones whose bed was beside me had no difficulty sleeping any nights, he requested and received sleeping pills, when Mr. Anderson joined our room I was offered sleeping pills too, declined the offer.

If a man is going to die beside you he needs to be heard, screams and all, I talked to him, ....Mr. Anderson, or should I call you Neo, how`s it going, how about some screams for me, he obliged, this giant man, under his chart it said one thing...Pain Management, don`t know what he had but the big fellow couldn`t be sedated without killing him, his pain too couldn`t be stopped...Another sleepless night was in store and it didn`t matter, some events take priority..

The clock struck midnight and next thing you know Mr. Anderson had a visitor...not sure what visiting hours are but the nurses were fine with it..Jimbo Bones was fast asleep...

Mr. Anderson`s visitor was his son, he looked about 35 years of age, he plugged in a music box, a boom box and played probably the most spiritual music I ever heard, it wasn`t quite First Nations drums and Chants and wasn`t quite Chinese music from deep inside mainland China, a combination of both, no voice just soothing sounds, water, flutes and serenity, ...Neo`s son saw that I was astir and asked if I was bothered by the music and his chanting, said no, ....In fact I got up and said wonderful, you`ve come to say goodbye and send your dad to the great beyond..The son had placed an eagle`s feather in his Dad`s hand..

Mr. Anderson knew exactly what was going on, his screams became more concise, more clear, he wanted to get out and die, louder and louder he got, the son talked of people of the mountain, of the river valley, of cleansing in spiritual water,  tears flowed down my cheeks, the moment was surreal, I swear there was an aura lighting up the room, hard to describe...not sure what happened next, nurses came to try and settle down and sedate Neo...Neo`s son didn`t want his father injected with anything...I concurred, Lady IV and I sauntered over, called the nurses away and explained what was going on..

Said can`t you see, don`t you see that aura, reds, green and purple lights flickering from nowhere, Mr. Anderson`s son has come to send his dad off to the spirit world, Neo does not want to go quietly, a giant lumbering man down, wounded, he ain`t going quiet, let him talk, howl and scream, Jimbo Bones is fast asleep and I haven`t been this close to heavenly spirits since my dad died right here in this hospital..

Nurses relented and allowed this transformation to continue, a couple of hours later the son came to me and said..

"Gatekeepers are not ready for my dad, he`s a great man and another day of wailing is in order, and thank you for speaking to the nurses, you understand, I see in your eyes lives the spirit bear too,  spirit bears go out growling and snarling"..

Mr. Anderson`s son left, Neo was strangely silent over the next 2 hours, the only sound later that night to be heard in room 374 was my quiet crying..

If I was a young man I would have fallen in love 20 times in that first 24 hours, but I`m not a young man so I fell in love a 100 times with the beautiful spirits emanating from Burnaby General Hospital.

Lived through and Written by Grant G


P.S......Hospitals can be a beautiful thing when nurtured, new buildings are not caring, it`s  the human factor that make these healing places tick, one merely needs to look at Richmond`s new hospital with an entire floor empty, no staff, or Delta hospital who`s healers have had the tools yanked from their healing hands, even fancy new digs at Surrey Memorial fall short in terms of staffing levels..

Burnaby General Hospital, a dilapidated old building staffed by angels, a place where rules are bent and sometimes even broken, whoever is responsible for assembling the nursing teams needs to be rewarded, and copied, the Burnaby Hospital staff deserve a new building but not if it means destroying the staffing levels, the newest hospitals are cold dead shells without warm caring skilled bodies....

BC Liberals promised 5000 net new long term care beds in 2001, they haven`t delivered a single bed as of yet, George Abbott before he headed for the hills spun it like this..."We BC Liberals have created more than 5000 long-term, assisted living and incremental care beds"

 Don`t know what an incremental bed is, I kinda think its like an LNG Plant...Mythical

That my friends is political double speak, they have created none, there are less long-term care-beds today than there was in 2001, an assisted bed is a nurse coming to someone`s home, that is not a long-term care bed..The problem is reaching critical...I pray that just once the BC Liberals could keep a promise, even if its more than a decade late.

The Straight Goods

Cheers Eyes Wide Open


John's Aghast said...

God bless MacKenzie! "Be selfish for the collective good". She must read your blog. What would we do without you? And think of your Mother too!
A pre-existing condition on top of it! You should know better.

So glad to hear you're improving. Now look after yourself!!

sd said...

Glad you're back!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful piece, thanks

Anonymous said...

Not only do some citizens have to contend with, a corrupt Federal Government? We also have to cope with corrupt Provincial Governments as well. BC citizens have had to cope with extreme corruption especially since, Gordon Campbell's reign of terror in BC. Nor, do we forget Harper's part, in the destruction of our province. Ditzy Christy is running and hiding from Legislature, we know why too.

We are very fortunate to have you to expose, Christy's lies and deceit regarding her 100,000 LNG jobs for BC people and all of her other, bold face lies.

However, you absolutely should not pizz around with your health the way you did. I don't know if you have a low platelet count or what? At first indication, you get your butt to the hospital as fast as you can.

Jon Ghun said...

Very heart-felt, with a fine painterly eye. You put all the parts into the right perspective. You captured the whole of it perfectly.

Much appreciation.

You were in the midst of a battle zone. As is the case in virtually every part of the world these days, the bc libs and el norte neo-cons are fighting a class war without declaring it to those on the other side. The system's being underfunded so that there will be a backlash which will give ample reason to allow for privatization of health care to be accessible to those who can afford to pay, as well as massive cuts for the rest of us who can't. As you recognized, the nurses are thankfully on our side, fighting the good fight to help us win the battle as far as possible.

My guess is that the overlords will go after the nurses union when they're aiming to bring about an end game. While most of the doctors will sell out for the bucks.

Hope you're doing better.


PS> Take your friggin' meds, ya' big dummy (grin).

Anonymous said...

As always very interesting and written like a pro.

So glad you're OK and back doing what you like best.

Stay well and take good care of yourself. Your mother and a whole lotta us peoples out here need you and your brilliant writing in these most evil of times.

Thanks for all you do for us and take lotsa time for yourself.


Grant G said...

Thanks friends...To be clear, after a serious work injury my left leg`s arteries became damaged..They clotted up after surgery..

The clots didn`t get out at that time..

I was put on Warfarin for 6 months...Once off Warfarin my leg reclotted only this time the clots got out, into my lungs..Pulmonary embolism number 1..

When a person clots once, those areas are ultra prone to re-clot..

I am also positive with factor 5...A genetic pre-disposition to clotting..

Chicken or the egg..Without the 20 foot fall onto concrete, without shattering my left leg my leg arteries would be fine..

I hate taking warfarin, also known as rat poison..

However I have no choice but to be vigilant with warfarin and INR blood tests..

Thanks for caring...And.

The story above....It`s not about me, it`s about the fine caring nurses, good doctors and those other patients who had real serious problems..

MacKenzie`s shoes and Mr. Anderson`s eagle feather...

Human suffering amid heartfelt success stories..

I didn`t write the above story...

I narrated a real life movie played in front of me, the good, the bad and the ugly..


W Kent said...

Glad you are back and on the road to recovery. Check your blog daily and started to get quite worried when there were no entries for over a week. We need you!

Burnaby General has suffered much negative publicity in recent years, most of it undeserved. Our experiences at Burnaby General (3 visits to emergency and my husband's amazing Urologist) have been short of amazing. Your article was so well written and thank you for your tribute to the hard-working and dedicated staff. They do not take out their frustrations with the government on their patients - a tribute to all.

Welcome back and please don't ignore your body yelling at you the next time!

Don F. said...

Grant,I got up to my morning coffee sat down and was totally engrossed as always by your writing. I have told you before that if you ever decide to write a book I will be the first in line to buy one I enjoy how you write so much. You have a peculiar way that is all your own that is an art you are very fortunate to master. Thanks for that and sharing it with all of us.
Glad to hear your on the mend, as others have said we need you here. The best to your mom from me also.

Grant G said...

Thanks Don F...Jean..Mr Ghun..Mr. Kent..And others.

Can`t explain my "writing" style.

When I`m sad, angry and or gleeful is when the words roll off the fingertips..

Trying to get readers to feel what I`m feeling.

Those comments are so nice, having almost zero formal training, no university, no college, nothing..

Scribing words?, I`m just talking to you and narrating what is seen.

Emotional sleeves stained with tears.

Thank you very much, I`m humbled indeed.

kootcoot said...

Jeepers Grant, your health issues certainly sound unpleasant and scary. I'm happy to hear you are on the mend and as Jon Ghun said above. "Take your friggin' meds, ya' big dummy (grin)."

I hope the nurses that you write about so well get to read your beautiful thank you to them for the wonderful way they helped you in your time of need.

For the most part front line health care workers like the angels at Burnaby are really caring folk. Most nurses become nurses because they WANT to help people. Some doctors and pretty well all administrators, not so much.

Look after yourself.......please!

Anonymous said...


My name is Zoe, I'm the CNE for Emergency at Burnaby Hospital. Thank you so much for the lovely words you wrote. I will print a copy of your blog and personally ensure MacKenzie reads it. Also, Tom is an old dear friend of mine, I will forward one to him too.

We're all a little afraid of Pepper, but she's usually right.

Thanks again!

Grant G said...

Hi Zoe.

Thank you for that, thanks to all of you for everything you did..

Seeing you nurses in action, doctors, watching you fight for each and every patient, including fighting for me..

It wasn`t only MacKenzie and Tom, it was everyone..

Such a well-oiled team, like poetry in motion..

This big dummy owes a debt of gratitude, Burnaby`s nursing staff restored my faith in humanity.

Be well Zoe..

Cheers Eyes Wide Open

Anymous said...

My my my; such a delightful portrayal of truth be viewed within your fine work of art depicting your eagle eye "cam" of BH ER and it's outstanding cast of stellar characters; Doctors and Nurses and Lab Techs & Respiratory, Physio, as well as the superlative support team of HEU Porter and Paladin Security and all others who crossed paths with you while you were an Inpatient. (I even know of the patient Angela). Most assuredly a magnificent representation of some of the the best that FHA should be proud of and should have recognized far sooner however you kind Sir have honoured the fine staff here with this lively engaging encounter of yours (some of which including Tom and Pepper and no doubt the Charge RN's who have been on staff since days of "The Human Touch" decades ago). Your writing makes me feel like that "fly on the wall" as I was so privy to a rollercoaster ride of events complete with names of staff I have had the honour of knowing since 1990 and I'm bursting with pride for the mighty kingdom of BH's PEOPLE!! I know one thing for sure and that is BH ER is exemplary as your talented mind and writing so are, therefore do please return the favour to these wonderful people of which you wrote of by taking care of yourself and returning back on the one year anniversary of this and rock their world with a proclamation of "Hey remember me?" ..."I'm the guy you brought back from a very dangerous scary place and I'm sure as Heck Never Going To Forget You!!..Ever!" Believe me, they'll love you for that as much as they love you today for this sharing of your real life story at Burnaby Hospital. Stay well and do take care.

Grant G said...

Another beautiful statement(11:50 pm).

I will visit next year and thank them again.

Your comment intrigues me, particularly this.

"RN's who have been on staff since days of "The Human Touch" decades ago)"

What is "The Human Touch"?...

If it is what I think it is....

Tashsa, MacKenzie and others used "The Human Touch" as a healing, calming and soothing medical tool, more powerful than sedation, hands on arms, on legs or hands on forehead, soothing caring hands gently touching one`s spirit..

You description tells me in not so many words that the power of the human touch as a medical wonder has been known of for a long time..

It might well be true, but certainly not practiced widespread..

Burnaby`s Angels have it down to an art-form.

Angels with healing hands..

My what power.

This topic will require more in-depth study.

Thank You

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the moving picture show, presented in a way that readers can see the story through your eyes.

Concur with others, unique and precious is the only way to describe your narration and writing.

Please stay healthy


Merv Ritchie said...

Wow, how you do it, and continue on, I am speechless (almost). I too experienced the same love and compassion in Kelowna between the Rotary Lodge, Cancer treatment wing and the KGH proper. Tears flowed freely with the nurses as they did today while I read your poetry. I wish just for a moment, we could meet and I could shake your hand and join with you in a warm hug.

I love you brother, even though we have never met.

The love of my life who passed away beside me in our bed a year later shared with me the gift of guiding her into the spirit world too. Your words had me crying with her and all the compassionate people, patients included, as if I was there again today, 8 and 9 years ago.

So glad I visited you today, here, online.

If you don't mind, can I share this on MWPR and TD facebook?

All the best - enjoy this time of joy and compassion with your family and friends - Maybe someday we'll talk again.

Grant G said...

Gee Whiz Merv....You should know that any and all of my words and or articles are an open domain for you..

We will meet soon enough Mr. Ritchie, talking on the phone is not enough..

I hope your heart and mind continues in the quest to enlighten and inform..

The human heart heals, flaws, scars and rifts can`t stop man`s pulsating desire to share in the warmth of enlightenment.

I love the work you do online too Merv..


Anonymous said...

Grant, I was vey sorry to hear of your recent health problems. Glad you are back but I must say how much I have enjoyed all of your hospital postings. For me this one is maybe the most moving one so far. Thanks for this, and for telling it like it is in all your many great posts through the years.

Anonymous said...

All we can say is wow, I read the story once then read it aloud to my family.

There was not a dry eye to be found.

Happy tears for Christmas eve, bless your kind soul sir.

e.a.f. said...

If any one thinks Christy would have been all that upset if the quake had been larger and killed thousands of kids, in my opinion, they are deluding themselves. A concerned person would have ensured the schools were up to code.

The premier of this province can't really care about kids, if she did there wouldn't be 4 dead ones in care, the province would not continue to have the highest rate of child poverty in Canada, with no poverty reduction plan. Schools would be up to earthquake standards and there would be food programs in all schools 365 days a year, a new children's hospital would have been built in Vancouver; there would have been mental health facilities for children in all major centres of the province instead of a few measley beds in the lower mainland.

no, in my opinion, kids would have to be dying at the rate of 10 per month before the province/Christy paid attention and they would only be paying attention because they were getting bad press and the feds were "leaning" on them.

This province takes in more from kids via their post secondary tution fees than in corporate tax. Now how much does Christy like kids or care about their education?

Kids in this province whose parents are on welfare/disability/min. wage live at such high levels of poverty, its disgusting. Will things change? not so much. Christy and her corporate friends are doing well with p3 hospitals and toll bridges and highways. Yes, lets wait to grown the economy before we improve pensions.......

Merv Ritchie said...

Hi Grant,

Since the end of October I have been rotating through the lower mainland hospitals beginning with St Pauls downtown. Your words and insights are spot on. I listened to a man yell and berate young nurse Elysie so much I wanted to get up and hit him with my walkin stick. Even the security maintained their pleasant composure while Elysie politely took care of this tool.

From St Pauls, Mt St Joseph, VGH, UBC Hospital to Kelowna then Abbotsford General and back to VGH I have nothing but kind words for all the staff. The kitchen (yeah poor food but what can you expect from Sedexo a French Multinational providing the all profiteering service, the cleaning, porters etc)the surgeons, doctors and especially the nurses (male and female) are and were all truly amazing.

But it is the conditions they work under that make this all even more remarkable.

Rare diagnostic facilities and a shift work pattern that is intolerable. 12 hour shifts, two days day shift then two days night shift. Who could adjust to that? On some floors the nurses get to sleep a good portion of their nights but on others, especially emerg, this is just a recipe for failure and burn out.

And then this scheduling ensures no continuity of care. Just as you named the various care givers I experienced a different person every shift every day and night only twice seeing the same person the next shift.

I have experienced numerous medicine mix ups, having always to ask and check what pills I am getting. "These are your Oxy's" "No sorry, I have been on Hydro morph." "Oh let me go check." " I see you are taking . ." "Not that I am aware of." "I have your . ." "What is that for? I don't take that"

But that is the only issue, and it is understandable. Most normal humans get messed up with a single hour change to their daily life at Daylight savings time change. These poor nurses do it every two days and do a full life reversal, days to nights, over and over and over. And almost never seeing the same patient a second shift.

Merv Ritchie said...

Part two

Continued from Hi Grant,

The funny thing for me Grant, I came down for a simple consultation with a specialist as we have essentially no diagnostic facilities up in the “resource rich” north. Two days after the consult I found myself in St Pauls Emerg being treated by Elysie, haven’t left yet and the original “issue” I came down to have addressed still remains undiagnosed or treated. But my goodness, have I ever seen the works, the amazing people who care for people without being provided anything of assistance for their tasks by our so called “governments”.

I am a heavy equipment mechanic by trade. Every shop I have ever worked in has always had all the best and latest diagnostic equipment. Every shift schedule I had was decent and respectable to human life. Our nurses have nothing of the sort and only the biggest City hospitals have anything close to up to date diagnostic tools and most machines are too busy to be made available when needed for the average guy or girl.

My first MRI was immediately interrupted by, “Mr. Ritchie, do you need to use the washroom?” “No I am fine.” “Are you sure? Your bladder is really quite full.”

You see the MRI, before it even began taking serious pictures, showed my extended bladder and herniated disc. I didn’t need any more than two minutes in this amazing piece of technology that should be in every triage room with the blood pressure cuff and thermometer. I suffered for years and now will endure the rest of my life with permanent nerve damage as our doctors and hospitals are denied the most basic of diagnostic tools. All of this with the associated unnecessary surgeries and medications would easily pay for the tools. It is good enough for machinery, why isn’t it good enough for humans?

And yes, I too have fallen in love repeatedly in every hospital. The men get it as much as the women. I wrapped my big bearded body around Dr. Dvorak at VGH asking, “When was the last time you got a hug from a big bearded man?”

And I am coming to Powell River to hug you too my friend - watch out!

Grant G said...

Good stuff Merv...

I`ll be emailing you..Private talking is sometimes necessary.

Happy New Year