Wherever the Road Leads

Words Fail Me, Part Two

I Suffered Through Winter For THIS??

My mother is much better. A week in the hospital has done her a world of good. She is lucid, feisty, complaining but seems to have accepted the fact that she is elderly and may need assistance from time to time.

Thinking she had hurt her back while turning her mattress, she lay in pain, unable to eat of sleep for a week. She made at least two trips to the Emergency Room at the local Hospital but neither one, after a battery of tests and x-rays, recognized that she had a bad case of Shingles. Once my cousin’s wife – I assume having first-hand experience – diagnosed the problem and got my mother to a doctor, only then did the suffering, and mental anguish of wondering why she wasn’t getting any better, begin to ease.

Now, should the doctors in Emerg have suspected or known to look for Shingles? Who knows. Even my mother didn’t look at herself in a full-length mirror to see the rash on her stomach, until after Shingles were suspected. I am going to guess that the Emerg doctors were very courteous to a little old lady and allowed her some modesty.

My issue is what came afterward.

No doubt due to the Atrial Fibrillation, my mother fell beside her bed. Unable to get up, she called my Uncle Peter who lives in the same building and has been an absolute God-send to helping my mother through this. Uncle Peter, at 96, is older than my mother. Recognizing that he couldn’t get her up, that she was weak and probably needed to be in hospital no matter what, Uncle Peter called 911 for an ambulance.


Chatham-Kent EMS. Oops.

“I’m sorry, they are all busy.”

WHAT??? The ambulances are all busy???

He was advised to call the Police and the Fire Department, which he did. They called for and got her an ambulance.

The ambulance did not take her to the closest hospital, Grace, formerly run by the Salvation Army until the government got into the hospital business. Grace Hospital was full. Yes, full. She was taken to a hospital – though a more modern and efficient one – further away.

After spending ten hours in Emergency, she was admitted and given a room. However the hospital did not have enough Shingles medicine on-hand, so someone was despatched to her apartment to pick up her prescription. Yes, North York General Hospital had only one day’s supply of Shingles medicine on hand.

North York General Hospital

North York General Hospital

North York General seems to have looked after her very well. Scottish through and through, she was bemoaning the fact that OHIP – the Ontario Health Insurance Plan – does not pay for a single room, it will cover only a ‘ward’ – a room with two or more people. Well, okay, maybe that makes sense, though here in the US for the few times that I have been in hospital, that has never been a consideration. Maybe I had good Insurance.

Last night I called my mother. A Terrorist answered the phone. I asked if this was Room 664 and got a grunt. Again I asked if this was Room 664 and got another grunt. I asked what room this was and got a third grunt. Is this Room 664, I asked and he replied, “English no good.” No, but good enough to get OHIP.

I called Switchboard and sure enough, she had been moved to a Ward, replaced by a man Americans refuse to fly with, in a single room.

Allah Akbar.

For this ‘free’ Health Care I suffered through the worst winter in decades, paid 13% sales tax, $5 per gallon for gas and grocery-shopped with Terrorists?

Mon Dieu.

OHIP? Pas de chance.

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  1. elayne  September 18, 2014

    be thankful she doesn’t live in Quebec as they are coming to our emerg rooms for treatment in the outaouais region. I am glad that your mother is feeling better though.

  2. Alistair Mair  September 19, 2014

    I am sure the health system we have is back logged with people who use the hospital ER on a regular basis for aches and pains and colds that could be endured at home. If I fall and scratch my knee do I need a doctor or just a bandage and to suck it up for a day or two.

    Perhaps a Doctor can’t diagnose a problem without the right information. Shingles is in all people who have had Chicken pox. Stress can activate the dormant virus. There is vaccine available for shingles. Did you arrange to have Wilma vaccinated?

    We were the people that went and got your mothers meds after her insistence that the para medics had taken them. Perhaps at the age of 91 someone with authority needs to check in on her. Independence has responsibility to recognize when you need help.

    If people would stop coming to Canada for free medical the system would be better available to those who have spent a lifetime contributing to it.

    • gordon  September 19, 2014


      Regarding the Shingles, I think I tried to give the doctors the benefit of the doubt, particularly as my mother lay in pain for a week and didn’t notice her own rash.

      There’s an expression, “It’s easy to spot the stain when you don’t like the slacks.” That is quite possibly my bigger issue. Doug telling me, “Yankee Go Home” may have been very fairly assessed.


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