Health Care PEI – Don’t Get Sick

It appears that my last post is among my most popular – and for good reason.  While I did not write that (it really was from my mother-in-law) it was linked to on several big sites, and printed in the provincial paper.

You would think that much exposure would bring some changes for the better.

You would be wrong.

My father-in-law was recently scheduled for surgery in Halifax, to repair the arteries in his neck that caused the stroke to begin with.  This is scheduled for approximately two weeks from now.  He is still getting regular checkups with his family doctor, just to keep things in the clear.  The infection in his foot was cleared up about two weeks ago, but has recently resurfaced.

His doctor contacted the health minister, and got a signed letter from the federal government stating that he will be getting treatment at the Tyne Valley medical center, regardless of their status – but he would have to pay for the medication.

For those of you outside Canada, this is not how medical services work here.

When his doctor contacted them indicating that he will need further treatment, and provided the letter, his medical insurance covered the cost of the medication.  Then he was told by the nurse at the medical center that she would not administer the IV, because the resident nurse did not authorize doing so.

His doctor – who has been a hero through all of this – told him to return to her office for the treatment, and she would administer it by injection.  She is not permitted to administer an IV in her office, as it is not technically a health care facility.

The problem is, the injection is not nearly as effective.  So, he has two choices – take a less effective treatment, and risk it not having the desired effect in time for his surgery (which he needs to stay alive, and will be rescheduled if he retains the infection), or spend six hours a day driving back and forth to Summerside for an IV, which he cannot afford due to him not working because of the infection.

This essentially comes down to Health PEI deciding that if you don’t live in Summerside or Charlottetown, your life is not worth saving.

And even in Charlottetown, it’s not worth trying too hard to save – two ER doctors quit the other day due to incorrect procedures by the hospital.  Hospital admins were pulling ER docs out because patients who had been admitted were waiting too long to see a doctor.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that backward?  Shouldn’t the admitted patients be left in the care of nurses who can keep them alive and comfortable – and page a doctor if one is needed – and the doctors be in the department where people go when they need to see a doctor now or they will die?

PEI is a wonderful place to visit, and I encourage you all to come here when you can.  Just don’t get sick or injured while you’re here, whatever you do.  The next time we need to visit the ER, we may just drive to Moncton instead – it would be faster, and we would be treated like patients rather than inconvenient bleeders.

I am attempting to reach Robert Ghiz – and I ask you all to do the same, his office phone number is 1-902-368-4400 – to talk about this with him.  Not one of his aides, or assistants.  I want to talk to the man himself, and find out what the hell he is doing.

From My Mother-in-Law, to PEI Health

“In Early December of 2012 Glenn Giddings attended a medical clinic in Summerside PEI for a swollen and sore foot, his family Dr. was out of province and no replacements for her were available. After a rushed examination he was given an ointment and sent home. After a couple of days his symptoms worsened and he contacted Dr Joyce Madigane, his family doctor, for a follow up. After actually preforming some tests Dr Madigane was able to correctly diagnose him with a dangerous staph infection. The infection required him to travel to the Tyne Valley hospital 3 times daily for cleansing, bandaging and antibiotic treatments through IV.

In February of 2013, just as they thought he would be able to return to work, the infection relapsed and again he had to travel daily to the hospital. By this time he had been unable to go to work since the initial diagnosis in December. The cost of gas was manageable. However adding to the expense were trips to specialists in Charlottetown, Summerside and Oleary for his diabetes. Through this his foot began to heal again.

Dr Madigane continued to monitor Glenn’s progress regularly with him traveling several times a week to her office. Still out of work his care continued to eat at our savings but we thought he was getting better. Until a 3rd relapse and then a 4th. It became obvious with the 4th relapse in June of 2013 that the reinfections must be caused by a more serious infection in the bone. Now, unable to get further assistance from EI and all of our savings gone, Glenn needed to continue his daily trips to the Tyne valley hospital for IV treatments and cleansing. As well we had to travel to Charlottetown for a bone scan.

Knowing that a scan requested by rural PEI would take too long to come back he began to receive treatment for bone infection, if we waited for results our only option would surely have been amputation. It was so important for him to maintain his schedule and antibiotic levels just to keep his foot. Money now was a problem as he was still unable to return to work.

The required treatment for his foot was daily IV for a little more then 4 weeks, he had to have a splint inserted into his heart for easy dosing. On June 24th less then halfway through his most recent set of treatments he received a phone call from the staff at Tyne Valley hospital telling him the hospital was closing and the dose he would receive that evening would be his last available at this hospital. The staff member then informed him that as of yet they have been unable to place him at the Prince County Hospital or the one in Alberton. Panic set in – what were we supposed to do? No more treatments would surely mean a loss of his foot. There was no room for him to go to the other hospitals for his antibiotics, no room! We made frantic phone calls to everyone and anyone we could think of to help get him his needed treatments. Finally – after the PEI health minister refused to take our calls, and we finally got in contact with Paula Biggar, who promised us she would look into the issue – we were told he would be able to continue his treatments at the Tyne Valley hospital only until another spot opened up at one of the other hospitals. I should point out that any of the elected officials – Mr Currie, Mr Ghiz, et al – who we contacted in this emergency have yet to contact us in any way.

On June 28th he began treatments at the PCH. Thankfully he would receive his full needed treatments. Then reality set in, how would we be able to afford for him to travel all the way to Summerside daily for his antibiotics at a cost of no less then $60 a week (75 km a day)? He has not been to work now for almost 8 months.

On July 23rd Glenn was at the Oleary hospital for an appointment with the dietitian for diabetes. Upon leaving his meeting he had a stoke in the parking lot of the hospital. I ran into the hospital calling for a doctor for help. I was told that there are no doctors in the hospital. No doctors in the hospital! I telephoned Dr Madigane who advised me to take him straight to Alberton hospital. I had to transport Glenn to Alberton, a 15 min drive, knowing there was something was terribly wrong with my husband. He was admitted to the hospital right away and remained there until late the next day.

A CAT scan in Summerside – we again drove ourselves – revealed that he had actually suffered from two strokes. It was at this time the bone scan from his foot came back too to reveal Dr Madigane’s suspicions proved true and there had indeed been an infection in his bone. It took so long to get the results back that his foot would have required amputation for sure had Dr Madigane not treated him in advance.

We know our troubles are not over financially or medically, and we have been left to feel so helpless and desperate. The individual doctors, specifically Dr Madigane and Dr Dickerson have been wonderful, kind and helpful offering care and support even though they were are so obviously overworked and stretched so thin. The nurses too, deserve recommendations for their care but what can they do when told the hospital cannot care. When there is only one hospital between Alberton and Summerside and there are no doctors even there for a man in their own parking lot – a veteran who suffered a stroke in what should be the safest place in the world to have a medical emergency. To this day Glenn must continue trips several times a week to the PCH for treatments. The lack of available care in rural PEI has left us scared for our safety and moving closer to the poverty line. We must not be forgotten or belittled for not living in the cities, we are all Islanders and Canadians – we deserve fast, efficient and accessible medical care.

Glenn and Janie Giddings

of Ellerslie PEI”

Han Solo

I introduced the Sea Bass to Star Wars this evening – his mother and sister were off to see Anne of Green Gables.  He was entranced.  Even at two years old, it held his attention far longer than I expected.

This makes me happy.

His sister was a little put out, as Star Wars is ‘our thing’ – we watch it when we have our campouts in the living room.  But I will talk to her about that in the morning.

But for all the times I have watched this movie, something occurred to me for the first time tonight.

It’s in the Cantina, in Mos Eisley.  Obi-Wan is negotiating passage from Han, and Luke is being a whiny little shit.  Han mentions the Falcon, and seems surprised that Obi-Wan has never heard of his ship.

“It’s the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs,” he says.

This has long been a point of contention in the Star Wars fandom – does parsec mean a unit of time in this galaxy?  Is this a mistake?  Or, as some people theorise, is the ‘Kessel Run’ something that has variable distances, based on the skill of the pilot – navigating through a cluster of black holes, or something like that?

But Han uses the term in reference to speed, so it either has a completely different meaning in a galaxy far, far away, or it’s a blatant mistake by Lucas.

But it struck me tonight.  It’s none of the above.

Han Solo is a smuggler, thief, hustler, and con-man.  He takes every chance he can to wriggle an advantage out of every situation.  With the cock of his head and the penetrating look he gives Obi-Wan when he makes this bold claim, you can see it.

He’s testing the old man.  Does this old fart who looks like he’s never stepped out of the desert before know anything about space travel?  Can I bilk him for a passage price far and above what a trip to Alderaan deserves?  If I throw some technobabble at him, will he get starry eyed and agree to things just to make it seem like he’s keeping up?

Han is trying to con the old man.

When the camera cuts back to Obi-Wan after this statement, his expression says it all.  He’s been the target of far better attempts than this ham-handed one, and come out the other side.  He’s not some rube that can be hustled.  And Han recognises it, and cuts back on his con – he still exaggerates the cost, but that’s to be expected.  But where he demands 10000 Imperial credits, had Obi-Wan fallen for his trick, Han would have demanded 15000, maybe even 20000.

I Am Not Boycotting Ender’s Game

So the internet is in an uproar over this film.  It must be Sunday – the internet is angry at something.

People are calling for a boycott of the new film, about to be released, Ender’s Game.  And that’s fine, you want to not see it?  Don’t see it.  I’m okay with that.  But they’re not watching it because Orson Scott Card, the man who wrote the book the film is based on, is a magnificently gaping asshole.

Seriously.  It is both shocking and rather impressive how much of a nozzle this guy really is.

He’s opposed to gay marriage.  Fine, whatever.  He’s wrong on that, but a lot of people are.  There are worse things to be a dick about.  But he’s also very vocalabout that opposition, and is a board member of a group of like-minded people who have all decided to be very wrong together, and to be very wrong very loudly, and throw a lot of money around about it – along with a lot of votes to politicians who don’t really care if you’re right or wrong, as long as you check the proper boxes come election time.

So people are boycotting the film.

But doing so is . . . well, it’s really kind of stupid.

See, the thing is, Orson has already gotten paid.  You’re not taking any money out of his pocket by not seeing the film.  He will be ignoring your lack of cash while he goes to sleep on his giant bed made of money.

“Ah, but Summit,” you say, proudly indignant, “The production company who paid him . . .” wait, that’s not really likely, either.  See, Ender’s Game – the novel – came out a long time ago.  And it’s been kind of a big deal in the science fiction genre since day one.

Day One for it, by the way, was 1985 – right smack in the middle of the sci-fi epic filmmaking boom.  Star Wars was still destroying theaters, and Dune was out, and people were looking at aliens and spaceships and huge space kablooeys in a whole new light.

Ender’s Game’s film rights were sold a long time ago, I would imagine.

And if that was the case, then Summit bought them from another company.  Who bought them from another company.  And so on.

So you’re not hurting anybody you want to hurt by not seeing this movie.  Hell, even if you were – you really think one theatrical bomb is going to sink a production company nowadays?

That being said, I’m not going to see it.  Not because I want to prove a point. Don’t get me wrong, I completely disagree with Card’s politics.  But the fact of the matter is, his politics don’t factor into the story.  At all.  There is one sort-of maybe/kinda see-it-if-you-squint-and-cock-your-head-a-little-the-right-way reference to homosexuality in the book.  And you know what?  Ender himself – the main character, who’s name is on the cover – thinks that negative reference is stupid and childish.

Yeah – the character you’re boycotting?  He agrees with you.

Anyway.  I’m not going to see the movie.  For one simple reason.  The book is one of my absolute favourites.  Ever.  It is easilyin my top five, all time.  I first read it in 2000, maybe 2001.  And I read it in one sitting.  I kept telling myself I would finish this chapter and go do some chores around the house, and then it was three chapters later and my stomach had given up on me and went to live on it’s own.

The book is amazing.  It is a near-perfect story.  I’ve read it at least a dozen times, and I will continue to re-read it as I grow old.

And that’s what I judge books on.  It is a fantastic story, and it is extremely well written.

Card’s hatred of homosexuality is a side-issue to the book, and the film based on it.  By all means, do what you can to bring the man’s thinking out of the dark ages.  But read the damn story, because it is good.  Hell, if you don’t want to buy a copy, download an e-book version for free – that will hurt him a wee bit in the wallet.

The story is – and I hate using this word – unfilmable.  There is no way that any movie can do this story justice.  There is very little that actually happens.  And most of what does happen is all in Ender’s head.  There are some action sequences, but they are secondary – not even secondary, tertiary – to the story.  They could be left out altogether and it would still be awesome.  But the film will focus on them, because people like things that blow up.  And a lot of the tension and drama that Ender goes through internally, that we see only as we read his innermost thoughts, will be front and center.  He will be anguished, and torn, and whatever kid is playing him will over-act and just fucking ruin it.

Also – just to point out a hugefucking mistake before the movie even comes out, Ender, at the start of the book, is five years old.  At the end?  Ten.  Asa Butterfield – the actor playing him – is sixteen.  This is why I am not seeing the film.  Because the book is wonderful and heartbreaking and mind-boggling and funny and thought-provoking and makes you cry and want to vomit and jump for joy all at the same time.

The movie will have attractive adolescents blowing things up, in space.

Star Wars

So, there are rumours that JJ Abrams is in talks to produce a TV adaptation of a Stephen King time-travel story.

Ignoring the fact that King has not written anything good enough to be put on film since Carrie, this rumour worries me.

Abrams is working on Star Wars.  The new Star Wars.  Episode VII.  After decades of anticipation, adoration, and repeated viewings, the Star Wars saga got prequels, finally.  And they sucked.  They were a huge disappointment, and pretty much solidified the global feeling that George got lucky the first time around – the man was a hack.

So Disney is trying again, with a well-respected filmmaker in control.  And he is now rumoured to be splitting his attention to a Stephen King adaptation?  I’m sorry, but no.  This should not be allowed. Disney should have put it right in the contract – you cannot work on anything else until this is finished.

The fans deserve this.  This story no longer truly belongs to the studios, or the writers.  We own it just as much as anyone, and we deserve a new Star Wars movie that is just as good as the original trilogy.  If only for putting up with Jar-Jar.

Rehtaeh

I have no doubts that she was raped.  I want to make that clear from the start.  I am not excusing the boys accused in the media in any way.

I’ve written this a few times – and rewritten it – because I want to say this, but I don’t want to be seen as callous or uncaring.

I was raised in a small town in Nova Scotia, and I have some first-hand knowledge of what terrible situations will do to you when you live there.  Small communities like things to go one way, and anything that sets you outside the norm is cause for concern.  This is what happened to her, and it is the ultimate cause of her death.

I don’t believe she killed herself because of the assault.  If that was the case, it would have happened earlier.  It was the fact that her entire community turned their backs on her.  Left her with no support, and nothing but doubt and aggression when she needed love and caring most of all.

The police are not entirely to blame here.  The police investigate crimes – and accusations of crimes – with the foreknowledge that everything they do will be open to minute scrutiny in a court system that is harsh and unforgiving.  Video evidence and public opinion is not enough.  Hard proof, beyond doubt, is what they need.  And it is likely that they did not find it.

My heart goes out to her family – no one should have to go through this.  The horrific assault on your child is bad enough, but having your friends and coworkers turn against her and drive her to suicide is the far worse crime here.  She was raped.  Whether there was proof or not, whether her attackers were charged or not, is irrelevant.  She needed help.  She needed to know that her peers loved her and wanted her to be safe.  Instead she got harassed and driven further into depression, until the only way out was final and forever.

The scorn and derision was targeted to the wrong person.  She was the victim, and she was treated like a monster.  The people in her community now calling for blood are the same ones who ignored her, and let her spiral into despair.  And now they feel guilty, but rather than admit that they were wrong they are screaming for the easy fix – crucify the boys who started this, but pay no attention to the months of abuse we heaped on her after the fact.

This is a sad event, and one that cannot be fixed.  Publishing their names will end with their deaths.  And this is not deserved, any more than hers was.  That is beyond justice or retribution.  This is people trying desperately to shift the attention away from their own mistakes and selfishness.  Her parents needed you.  She needed you.  And now that everyone knows you refused to help, you are terrified.  And you should be.

By all means, look into the investigation.  If mistakes were made there, the police involved should be charged.  Absolutely.  If better evidence is found that can bring these boys to court, by all means charge them with everything you can.  But look into how the community responded, as well, and charge every single one you can with everything that you can find – because they drove her to suicide.  They made her life unbearable, and should be held responsible for that.

Her parents deserve that justice, because they don’t have their little girl anymore.

The Wheel Weaves

It is 1992, or thereabouts, and I am a 14 year old kid. A friend in school tells me about this series of fantasy novels he’s reading, and I decide to give them a shot. And thus began twenty years of wonder, frustration, joy, and fury at one of the best fantasy stories I have ever encountered.

The Wheel of Time is huge. Spanning 14 novels, each one heavy and dense, it is convoluted, with hundreds, if not thousands, of vital characters living in a fully-realised world. Countless plots and subplots weave together to form a massive, rich, and enjoyable story.

And it is done. Finished. I finished reading the 14th and final book less than ten minutes ago.

With the hype, and the wait, for this ending I was expecting disappointment. Indeed, I took my time with this volume, for fear that it would let me down. After Jordan’s death in 2007, there was a great deal of concern among fans of this series. Would it ever be finished? Who would complete this monumental task? And when the new author was named, I admit I was worried. I had never heard of Sanderson, and in the fantasy fiction world, I expected to know the name of the person chosen to finish this, the Lord of the Rings of our generation.

When I read his first novel in this series, book 12, my doubts were immediately washed away. This man was more than a writer chosen to complete another’s work. This man was a fan, someone who understood this world and these characters, someone who wanted this to be finished, and finished well, as much as anyone else.

And he was good.

Back when I first started this series, the third book was out, and the fourth was on it’s way. Since then, the release of the next volume has dominated my time. On launch day, I would buy the new book, and spend the next 12 hours or so reading it as fast as I could, only to have to wait another two years for the next book.

It was the same with Sanderson’s three volumes. This was not Jordan’s world in another’s hands, but another writer bringing a beloved story to a close.

Spoilers Begin Here

This, the last book . . . I don’t know what I expected. I really don’t. I truly believed that my twenty years of devotion to this story would be the cause of my disappointment. Nothing anyone wrote could possible live up to how I wanted this to end.

Wow, was I ever wrong.

The Last Battle – a chapter named for the culmination of the entire story – stands as one of the finest pieces of storytelling I have ever encountered. I was up till 4:30 in the morning last night, reading because I could not stop. And when I reached the end of the chapter, I nearly threw up. It was too much, too intense, too good. I sat in my chair and simply held the book in front of me. Closed, on my lap, trying to grasp what had just happened, and how there could possibly be another 150 pages to come.

People died. Beloved, important characters. And they died. Some heroically, some in senseless and unimportant ways. But it was real. It was not contrived; killing these characters was not done just to show us that the author really meant it – these characters died in real ways, and it was a shock not because of the ham-handed way it was done, but because a friend was gone.

The whole battle, from start to finish, was believable. At no point did you look at the situation and believe that the right side would win despite all odds. Nothing happened that made you think that this was how they were going to pull it out of the fire – there was real danger, and a real chance that the good guys would lose.

And it was written so well, I think I would have been okay with it, if they had.

But of course, they pull through in the end, and all is saved. But even that was done in such a way that it didn’t feel forced. It didn’t feel inevitable, and it came with an almost overwhelming sense of relief – they did it! – and sadness – at such a cost, though! – that you felt as though you had been on the front lines yourself.

This was a fitting end. An imperfect victory, but a victory nonetheless. I finish this series with mixed emotions – sadness that there will not be any stories going forward, but with a great joy that I was able to enjoy this for this long, and as much as I did.

It is over. Thank you, Mr Sanderson, for finishing this, and for doing it well.

One Year

It is difficult to imagine a year. To hold that span of time in your mind, and really see it. We use the term to divide our lives, to mark our passage on this earth, and use the intangible to set real, tangible limits on ourselves. I am 34 years old. My children are six and one years old. In two years, I hope to purchase my first house.

Years. Meaningless, but vital.

This past weekend, my wife, children and I travelled to Nova Scotia for the weekend. The trip was longer than expected, as the weather had shut down the ferry for the day, but we forced ourselves to make the long drive ‘around’ – across the Confederation Bridge, through New Brunswick and along the north shore of Nova Scotia.

We wanted to make sure my stepfather had as much family with him as possible, on the anniversary of his wife’s death. Last year, he was as close to completely broken as I have ever seen anyone, and I wanted to be there for him, and spend the day with family myself.

We arrived late Saturday afternoon, and spent the day together. My brother and his family are staying at the house, after his surgery, as it is far easier for him to maintain mobility in that house than it is his own, and it made for a good weekend. Good conversation, with laughs and memories.

Monday morning, before we left, we took the children to the cemetery for the first time. My daughter is old enough to understand where she was, and why, and was very quiet. My son, picking up on the mood of his mother and I, was very quiet as well. We paid our respects, and went home.

To mark the day, I left my poppy behind. We usually attend the ceremony at the cenotaph each year, but I have missed the last two years for obvious, and important, reasons. I think leaving it with my parents is close enough.

A year ago, my mother died. It is difficult to imagine a year, but this one, I can.

How To Spend A Sunday Morning

One Giant Leap

I was not yet born when he took the most important step in human history. Nor was my older brother, six years my senior. I would not be born for nine more years. But I cannot recall a time in my life when I could not have told you what he said.

Everyone knows those words.

Regardless of what nation you call home, or what god or gods you pray to. It doesn’t matter where you live, or what you do for a living. It doesn’t even matter if you believe he actually did it or not. You know what was said. People will know those words for as long as there are people to hear them.

Neil Armstrong’s one small step was the culmination of a rise in Cold War aggression, and very politically motivated. But that does not detract from the accomplishment. It does not lessen the impact, or make it any less important. At that moment, we were less a world divided by nation and creed than we were a species, rapt and united.

It is difficult to put into words how monumental his act was. He will forever be the first. Our first. No one can ever take that from him, or us. He united the entire population of the planet, if only for a few brief days. No man has ever done so much to make us realise that we are all together in this. That we are one people, with one home.

Neil Armstrong is, in my opinion, the single most important human being in history, and likely always will be. Even if it was by chance. He was no more special than you or I. Nothing set him apart from his peers before he stepped from the ladder onto a desolate lunar surface. And after his walk was done, that step was the only thing that set him apart.

He was one of us; simple and happy and flawed in all the ways that everyone is. And he was a giant. He lived among the stars, and he proved to us all that anything – anything we could imagine – truly was possible.

This day will be marked as the day we lost our ambassador. Today, we are lesser.

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