Sunday, January 25, 2009


On Friday at 4 PM I walked into an Operating Room at UBC Hospital.

I was wearing the complete surgery fashion statement: long, green socks, paper shoes and hat, and two cotton nightgowns. No underwear.

Gorgeous, I know.

A few minutes later, one of the anaesthesiologists said, "O.K. Mr. Berner. We're going to add a little something to your I.V. to get you relaxed."

Of course, the next hour and a half is a complete wipe. Gone.

I had arrived at 1 PM for a scheduled 3 o'clock hernia operation.

I brought one of the current books I am reading, Ford Maddox Ford's "The Good Soldier." Wonderful book. Too bad I left my 3 pairs of glasses at home. So I snoozed and cell phoned in the waiting room.

The procedure was delayed by about an hour. That was the only hitch in an otherwise beautifully orchestrated event.

Every single person I met - and there were easily 8 or 10 - was warm and friendly and professional and re-assuring.

It can't be great fun to deal with fearful anxious goofs like me day in and day out, but bless these folks, for deal is exactly what they do and with wonderful grace and charm.

I was stirred to wake up by a lovely nurse at about 5:45. I had no idea where I was. Total disorientation. Followed, of course, by dizziness, minor panic and a terribly sore throat. Thankfully, they don't tell you about the breathing tube.

Soon the room stopped spinning.The nurse helped me get dressed. All my clothes and cash and personal goodies were there.

And, lo and behold, so was my son. Standing right there just like we planned!

Sean drove me home. We sat with a friend and had a bite to eat, Sean went off to work and my friend and I watched some Australian Open tennis and we retired about 11.

I took one Tylenol 3 before I went to bed and another one at 5:30 AM and basically slept like a baby. Wonderful.

My tummy is sore, and it looks ridiculous covered in red paint and with three distinct little entry wounds. But miracle upon miracle, I am not doing too badly at all. Here I am writing this report.

The Moral of the Story.

Oh, how we complain - myself at the top of the mob - about the iniquities in our national health care system. And yes, much still can be done and aught to be done to make it even more accessible, even more financially efficient and accountable.

BUT, having said all that...

99 times out of a hundred, when we need the system, it responds so amazingly well we must thank the gods for those men and women who have had the foresight to enact the legislation and the intricate webs of administration that keeps this mad machine running.

And we must especially thank those receptionists and nurses and doctors who take such good care of us.

Four years ago, I experienced exactly the same level of magnificent care at VGH when I was sent in suddenly for an angioplasty.

For all that America is and has been a great country, the fact that it has managed to avoid this kind of essential service for all its citizens is a shame and a mystery.

We can take great pride in our health care here in Canada.

And we can continue vigilantly to make it even better.


Local journalist Bill Tieleman hs obtained a memo from Dennis Skulsky, the CEO of Canwest Publishing.

How Bill managed to do this is a mystery, but are we ever glad he did it.

The headline reads like this:

Canwest Publishing internal memo details severe cost cutting measures

Canwest Publishing details severe cost cutting measures including freeze on hiring, salary increases, travel, consultants, conferences and more

Read this here.