The nightly news roundups are of much the same pattern day after day. We begin with horror stories, move on to people doing things that offend, then to gossip about the affairs of celebrities, and if there's still a few minutes to fill, cutesy items.
I want to tell you life up close is not like that.
Martha and I have lived in the house on Second Street here in Straffordville for over half a century. With the help of friends and neighbours we built these walls and divided the interior into rooms. We wouldn't be allowed to move in today if the place was as unfinished as it was so long ago. The codes have added hugely to the cost of building a home.
During those years we saw friends and neighbours growing older, as we were, but many reached the time of failing health while we were relatively in full bloom.
We learned that one's calendar age has little to do with time of decline or death. It comes to infants, children, young adults as well as those as old as Methuselah.
An old friend many years ago was taken to hospital. I found him lying on a gurney in a corridor, apparently with little attention from anyone. He passed away there.
In more recent years we've been in homes to visit friends who were ill. We saw someone, usually a young woman, bustle in to attend to the patient, but we didn't see what services they performed. Personal dignity and privacy naturally shielded us from observing and spared embarrassment to the patient. We were aware of the existence of public health care but not of its details.
All that has changed in the past year.
Martha has been allergic to cat dander, pollen and cigarette smoke for many years. What would clear up in a day or two gradually kept her down for longer times. Then a nagging cough developed that would not yield to cough drops, puffers, and all the host of products advertised on TV. Tests finally identified the malady. It is pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring of the alveoli that blocks oxygen from passing into the blood in the lungs. There is no known cure.
Martha was in the Tillsonburg hospital for several days during which she went from emergency to a semiprivate ward, to ICCU and on to a private ward. At each bed she was given the kindest care by everyone who attended her while doctors searched for a way or ways to restore her strength.
Life in the hospital, despite all efforts, is unavoidably affected by many things. It was a welcome day when Martha was allowed to come home where being the only patient needing help cut down on disturbances.
Then began our learning the inner workings of the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC).
The bureaucratic purpose of this system is to reduce the cost of caring for patients in hospital, but the care provided by those women and the occasional man who come to the home has been the service of angels. Personal care workers (PCW) hurrying from home to home have never shown any hint of strain, are upbeat, leaving Martha relaxed and comfortable.
Red Cross nurses show the same care and consideration.
The expressed aim of CCAC is to relieve family members from the weight of full time care giving, to allow them and the loved one to enjoy their times together.
Our family has given both of us the greatest imaginable help through these days. Friends and neighbours bring food enough to victual a platoon. The reverend Cordell Hull brings spiritual support spiced with jokes from Newfoundland that leave Martha and me in, well not stitches but in the best of humour.
The Lions Club provides equipment for the home on need.
We are blessed.