Two things to know:
Thing 1: My husband takes excellent care of his health. A former 400-metre hurdles champion, he cross-country skis each winter, is a dedicated long-distance cyclist and follows a balanced diet.
Thing 2: He hates going to hospitals.
He’d collapsed while doing yard work. Could hardly breathe.
On the way to Emergency, my good man declared pessimistically: “No-one ever emerges from Emerg!”
Incredulous, I replied: “Most people DO emerge just fine!”
In reply, he gave me instructions for his funeral.
“NO open casket! NO long speeches!”
“And NO talking about death!” I said.
I patted his hand and prayed.
From the moment we arrived in Emergency to the moment my beloved left the hospital, he received the kind of care one prays for. The hospital staff impressed us. All, especially the nurses, were kind.
His specialist, Dr. Herbie Ho Ping Kong, showed up often to check on him and thank the staff. It’s no wonder this man, author of bestseller The Art of Medicine, is a legend in medical circles.
All the doctors, particularly Nadine Abdullah and Ezra Hahn, were great.
One morning, Dr. Abdullah and a group of doctors visited my husband’s hospital room and…. found him lying on the floor. On closer inspection, he seemed alive — and exercising. They sent him back to bed, reminding him that he was seriously ill. (I understand this tale has since made the rounds at the hospital.)
“You did WHAT?” I asked him shortly after. “You’re at death’s door and you’re doing the plank?”
Our older daughter and her husband were in Asia, celebrating a special wedding anniversary.
“Don’t tell them!” her father pleaded. “It will ruin their vacation.”
I understood. But younger daughter said they’d want to know, and she was right.
Every night, I lay on a chair-that-turns-into-a-bed.
Awake, watching him breathe.
At first, the chair-contraption wouldn’t recline. Since only one of my arms works well, a nurse assisted.
“I’ll help!” said a voice from the bed. The nurse thanked him politely and wisely ignored him.
Comic relief: Two of our close friends – a well known couple on the Canadian arts scene — greeted Dr. Hahn warmly: “Got any good drugs to share, Ezra?”
Luckily, I wasn’t there to hear it. And luckily, Dr. Hahn has a sense of humour.
My good man requested his laptop. Younger daughter and I refused, then gave in, warning: “Don’t look at work email!”
“Goodbye, and thanks for everything”, he told the nurses.
He meant it.
We returned home, thankful.
He was improving but exhausted from the drive.
“Time to rest,” I said.
He complained – half-heartedly – about my bossiness.
“Probably the only time I’ll get to do it,” I smiled.
He rolled his eyes and smiled back.
Family and friends sent food, prayers, flowers and good wishes.
The food helped sustain our bodies. The prayers, flowers and good wishes from everyone – from church-members at St. Thomas’ Anglican to blogger friends around the world – helped sustain our spirits.
He’s still improving. But I’m still being bossy.
Dedicated to the staff of Toronto Western Hospital.
And to everyone who supported us at this challenging time.