Thursday, August 04, 2011




Wow, 62F at 8 a.m. this morning & after all this heat & humidity can you imagine just how really great that felt.  Come on Autumn:))  With the cooler air it didn't take me long to get my 12 foot aluminum step ladder out & finally trim some more overgrown Mulberry trees.

The Ritz Villa Care Facility where my Uncle Harry lives phoned us Wednesday morning saying they had arranged a Cat Scan & additional X-Rays for Harry Thursday (today) & wondered if we could be at the Stratford Ontario Hospital to meet the mobility van with Harry aboard.  Kelly had to work so I headed myself for Stratford about 10:45 a.m.  What a beautiful morning for a country drive it was.  Big white puffy clouds in a deep blue sky.

No problem finding my way to the Stratford Hospital about an hour east of Bayfield.  I have lived in this whole area most of my life & know it like the back of my hand.  However, what I had failed to remember is the fact the Stratford Hospital had undergone a major renovation & reconstruction project this past couple of years.  Imagine my surprise when I turned down the street beside the Hospital heading for the usual parking lot only to find the parking lot gone & replaced by a big brand new Hospital Emergency Wing.  Oh Oh, I knew I was in trouble.

The main entrance & large lobby I was familiar with & where I had planned to meet Harry was totally fenced off, inaccessible & partially hidden by large piles of dirt.  I did spot a small parking lot near the Emergency wing so cranked myself a turn around & beetled back & into that parking lot.  Now what!!  Figured I would try to make my way around the Emerge wing & head for the lobby.  Nope, fenced off.  Ok, back through the Emerge where?  Saw a lady standing by the doors so asked her how to get to the main lobby.  She was from out of town & in broken English told me she had no idea what a lobby was. 



I could feel a few pangs of panic setting in as I glanced at my watch knowing I now had absolutely no idea where to meet the soon to be arriving mobility van.  Quickly buttonholed a passing nurse who was obviously on her way back to Emerge from a sandwich machine somewhere.  Her interest was obviously focused on her Tuna salad sandwich as she quickly threw me some un-detailed set of directions involving what seemed like a dozen or two left & right turns.  Never heard or remembered a thing other than her pointing down a long hallway telling me to turn right at the far end.   Oh, & she said something about steps.

Last time I had been at this particular GPS location on the Planet it had been a simple parking lot.  Now I found myself making my way through a tunnel like maze of hallways with never ending doors on either side.  Everything was very new & confusing.  Finally rounded a corner & recognized some plaques on a wall which I knew was near the lobby where I also knew volunteer Hospital people had an information kiosk.  But, the lobby was gone!!
DSC_0037Where the lobby had been was a floor to ceiling construction divider making for another long narrow hallway ahead.  Luckily I spotted a couple ladies with their volunteer vests on sitting at a desk near a pop machine in an alcove.   I pulled over for my third set of directions in about 5 minutes.  This isn't easy for a man you know.

Luckily, they told me I was about half way to where I had to go & it sounded like one more left turn would do it, & it did.  I found the old Emergency section of the hallway & a sign confirmed this is where I would indeed meet Uncle Harry in the mobility van.

Ten minutes later I was helping Harry & his wheelchair from the van.  Lady driver told me to call her on her company Blackberry when we were ready to be picked up.  Told her I didn't have a cell phone so she gave me her own personal phone.  She might as well have given me the schematics for the International Space Station.

Harry was quiet as I quickly wheeled him back in the direction of the volunteer workers because I had forgot to ask them where the new Cat Scan & X-Ray departments were located.  It was now my fourth time asking for directions in less than half an hour.  Oh dear, what is a man to do!!  Following more left & right turning instructions Harry & I were finally back into the new section of the Hospital I had originally entered.  We were looking for the newly named 'Imaging' department & finally found it at the bottom of a wide left sweeping wheelchair ramp.  We checked in & registered at the Imaging desk & all was OK for a time.  Took a few pics of Harry in the new & brightly lit waiting area.  It was a welcome 20 minute rest before.....we got lost all over again!!
IMG_0566IMG_0565       IMG_0567


A Cat Scan technician called our number & I wheeled Harry down a hallway, around some corners I think & into a large room with something that looked akin to a space pod or something.  It was the Cat Scan machine kinda looking like a big round Krispy Kreme donut with a hole in the center.  The lady technician & I had a hard time getting Harry out of his wheelchair & onto a bed like narrow bench affair.  It caused Harry considerable pain to his lower back. 

I  then waited in a comfy chair just outside the Cat Scan door & 20 minutes later he was done.  With difficulty we got him back into his wheelchair & the lady technician led us on what seemed like another dozen or so left & right turns to the X-Ray department.  It was probably only a couple turns but by now every step forward seemed like another left hand turn.  Harry was still in pain as we waited a short 10 minutes before he was wheeled away into the X-Ray department for more X-Rays.  Twenty minutes later a technician wheeled him back out saying he was finished & we were free to go.  Go where!!

Yep, we were lost again as I wheeled Harry down a hallway heading for what I thought was a closed door leading back to the imaging lobby.  Nope, that seemed to be a maintenance room.  Back up the hall, a left turn here, a right turn there & nope, we were getting nowhere fast.  Another large double door with some Nurses on the other side.  Ho hum, here comes my fifth set of directions.  I really do think those two Nurses actually enjoyed a couple older guys needing & asking for directions!!  Followed them precisely & ended up at the other end of yet again, another hall.  

Saw an open office door to my left so asked the lady inside if we were anywhere close to the lobby.  Yes, she said, just around the corner to your right.  Oh, how many times had I heard that today.  But, this time it was correct & that turned out to be my final set of directions for the day as seconds later Harry & I finally burst out into the brightly lit Imaging lobby.  We were on our way now retracing our steps to the far side of the Hospital.  But, remember that cell phone the mobility van driver had given me?  Oh ya, here we go!!

Just outside the Imaging Lobby Harry & pulled over to the side of the road so to speak while I sat down on a marble divider of sorts & pulled out the lady driver's cell phone.  Noticed it said Nokia on it.  It might just as well have said 'Frazzleblats!!'  Flipped it open & sat there staring at it.  Now what am I supposed to do!!  Ya, the numbered key pad was there alright but so what.  I did have the driver's Blackberry number written down but what good was that if I couldn't figure out the phone.  Punched in the number & started pressing some unlabeled buttons trying to find 'Send'.  Nothing!!  Re-dialed again & pressed some more colored buttons.  Nothing!!  Ok, that was it for that. 

Luckily my short term memory had remembered seeing two pay phones side by each on a wall somewhere on our original journey through this labyrinth of halls.  Harry was still in pain from being moved in & out of his wheel chair a couple times earlier but we made our way back to where I found the pay phones.  Oh geezzz, am I going to remember how these antiques worked & do I have any change.  Been decades since I used a pay phone.  Sign said 50 cents & everything came back to me as I dropped two luckily found quarters in my pocket into the slot & dialed the number.  Darned if the mobility van lady didn't answer too.   Well, how's that for some good old modern antiqueology:))

Ten minutes later I was helping load Harry back into the mobility van for his journey back to the Care facility in Mitchell.  Oh, did I mention about losing Harry's Blue Jay's ball cap in one of the imaging rooms.  Ok, never mind, but I did find it in time & at great perilous risk to myself of becoming lost again in the maze.  No matter, Harry was able to travel under his favorite Blue Jays cap all the way back to his Care Facility in Mitchell.



And, how was your day?

THE LAST PARAGRAPH:  With all the nursing homes, hospitals & medical clinics I have been in & out of these past number of years & seeing the terrible ravages of age on people, I have often thought to myself,  'I sure hope I don't live long enough to get old.'


GROANER'S CORNER:((  Did you know that marriage is a relationship in which one person is always right, and the other is a husband.

The only thing better than right now will someday be the memories of right
now...... AL.


  1. Craig knows that!

    As I read about your day with Uncle Harry I thought that as uncomfortable as his day was, perhaps he took some pleasure in it as a "day out."

    I hope he can have some better days soon.

  2. Got quite a chuckle out of your post today. I could just see you going up one hallway and down the other looking like a lost sheep and all the while pushing Uncle Harry in his wheel chair. I hope Uncle Harry feels better soon and gets over the pain from all the jostling in and out of his chair. You sure are good to him.


  4. Best wishes to Uncle Harry. "Getting old ain't for sissies."

    Any news about Lexi?

  5. That's what they did to our clinic here in Billings. But their information people even had little maps to give us to find our way around. Sure am glad Uncle Harry had you to be with him. Getting old really stinks. But your groaner sure got it right tonight!!!

  6. well you know Al, my day was better than yours..lost in the labyrinths known as hospitals!...worked in the same one for thirty some years in the 'imaging department'!..know the halls like the back of my hand!..sounds like they need better directions!!!!

  7. Ima wondering why a guy who can operate those high $ complicated cameras couldn't operate a cell phone?

    Hope uncle Harry and you are both feeling better soon. Ima thinking your day was a great day. You got to meet a lot of new folks and explore the new Hospital all at the same time. sounds like an adventure to me


  8. Been there, done that. Had to go into the hospital for an ultra sound in Hengelo when we lived in the Netherlands. They had been renovating. Oh boy.
    So now, try doing all that in Dutch.

  9. Congrats on finding your way (eventually) around all the congestion of halls..and new hospital areas..they did the same thing to our hospital....I always make sure I have at least an hour to devote to being lost and my question asking before my appointments...hope Uncle Harry feels better today...

  10. Dontcha know? ALL those female nurses and aides were watching you on their surveillance cameras and having a good laugh at making a MAN ask for directions????

    It's part of the re-conditioning process of males on the part of females to get them easier to live with!


  11. Just remember, Al..Growing old is not optional...growing up IS!! And I intend to never grow up...much to our children's chagrin!

  12. Yep, I'm with you on the "sure hope I don't live long enough to be old" part. You are such a good nephew to see after your Uncle Harry, I admire you!

  13. Al, you are smart to not have a cell phone. They do fry people's brains. How did we ever get by with out them in years past??? It's sad to see so many people (seemingly in quiet desperation) 24/7 with a cell phone plastered to the side of their head.


  14. So, how many hours did it take to find your way back to your car? :)

  15. Just a little comment on the mobility van picture -- the brake light made a great finishing touch to what would otherwise have been a ho-hum snapshot. Good eye, Al! Agree, you're a good nephew for Uncle Harry. It's too bad the imaging and X-Ray folks have to cause the pain they do just to find out what's causing the pain!

  16. The huge medical complexes may be better for the medical personnel, but they aren't always better or easier for the patient. I really dislike them and prefer a small medical center where I can park in the lot in front.

    You were fortunate to find a pay phone - they are getting rare, you know?

  17. Good for you, helping uncle Harry out....One day you will get your reward for the kindness. gettin old and in a wheel chair is tough. In fact gettin old is tough,,,as I'm finding out!! I hope I have a neat nephew like you around to give me a hand!!!

  18. My goodness my head is spinning just reading about your journey through OZ! LOL....Dorothy your not in Kansas anymore! Glad it all ended well.