Family: Wait times too long at emergency at Red Deer Hospital

Changes not likely

The very real issues of wait times at city hospital emergency rooms and the state of the boom and bust economy we live with every day in Alberta threatened to fill my mind as I drove along the busy highway.

My troubled thoughts are in direct contrast to the absolute perfection of the day outside.

In fact, the brilliant blue sky overhead, the lush golden fields and the brilliant tangerines that reach as far as the eye can see are such dazzling perfection that it momentarily took my breath away.

It’s like the scene is camera ready to jump out from the pages of a glossy magazine advertising for a perfect life.

It is true for everything there is a season, I think to myself, wishing in my mind we could all, once again, experience a season of joy.

But, even with a federal election just around the corner and about two million promises coming out of the mouths of the elected or soon to be elected or want to be elected politicians, some things never change.

Unfortunately, wait times at emergency departments seem to be one of them.

I have this friend that I have hung out with for a very long time. She told me, in a candid telephone conversation the other day, that she waited at the emergency room for longer than four hours. She waited and waited.

Finally, she lost her mind, banging on the glass door and demanding attention.

“What did they do?” I asked.

“They did nothing. Simply shrugged,” she replied.

My friend is younger than me (which she very much enjoys), has an amazing sense of humour, a smile that would light up any room and a story to tell.

Always, she has a story to tell.

She is an extrovert. I am not. Perhaps that is why we get along so well. She fills in the gaps of silence naturally and easily whereas I have to run to a computer and pound out the words to express how I feel.

Anyway, my friend, bless her heart, came to see someone at the hospital awhile ago, who, by the way, happened to be me. She told me she had trouble walking, getting up the hill from the parking lot just wasn’t quite as easy as it should be.

“Getting old,” she said, looking at me morosely.

“Hey, I’m the sick one here,” I admonished her. “And you are younger than me.”

Momentarily, she brightened as I knew she would.

Anyway, it turned out her trouble walking was, unfortunately, not due to just getting old.

It was, in fact, much more serious.

Bone cancer!

The unexpected diagnosis was like the chilling, bleak desolation of winter, when hope, like a tiny flower struggling to bloom through a crack in the cement seemed distant and far away.

But my friend, who truly has the heart of a lioness, is not ready to succumb to her illness.

She want answers. She wants to begin treatment. She wants to get on with whatever she has to get on with.

But, it’s not happening.

After more than four hours in emergency she was sent home with low dosage morphine and told to wait.

She was told to wait for the cancer centre to contact her. Wait for more tests. Wait. Wait. Wait.

She doesn’t want to wait. She wants answers. And she wants them now.

Meanwhile family and friends have gathered round her, like so many flowers showing up through a multitude of cracks in the cement.

Call it what you want. Love. Hope. Angels among us.

Whatever! The love and support she has been given has been amazing.

“I am not alone,” she told me, not once, but many, many times.

I know that bringing over lasagna, and flowers, fresh from my garden, cannot take the place of the medical attention she needs.

I know that the people from her church and her work who have reached out to her with untold labours of love cannot give her the answers she needs and the treatment she so desperately wants to begin.

But, sometimes it’s all you can do.

And doing small things with great love serves as a reminder to us all that kindness trumps many things in this world.

And, like the tiny flower that spring through the crack in the cement, it might not give us answers, but it gives us something even more important.

It gives us hope!

Treena Mielke is the editor of the Rimbey Review. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.

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