Harrison Happenings: What would we do without friends?

If you've got friends, you can conquer anything says Observer columnist Ruth Altendorf

The year had been good to me so far and I was looking forward to the month of October when my grandson, Andrew, would be getting married to his bride, Khristi. My daughter, Yvonne, had left for Vancouver already and I was prepared to follow a week later. There was only one follow-up visit to the eye surgeon left — or so I thought.

When he looked at my right eye, however, he discovered that the retina had started to separate and the alarm bells rang. It was about 5 p.m. when I had my marching papers in hand, scheduled to see the retina specialist at the Surrey Eye Center the next morning, 10 a.m. sharp.

As one can imagine, I was quite distraught and, as soon as I came home phoned my friend, Pam.  Without hesitation she told me that she would be at my house at 7:30 a.m. and take me there. So she was and off we went, fighting pouring rain and morning rush hour traffic all the way.  When we arrived at the center, the waiting room was already filled with people, all having similar problems.  When it was my turn, the eye surgeon took one look at my eye and confirmed that the retina in my right eye was “falling off” and had to be “fused on again”, the sooner the better. What about tonight?

Actually, this question was not directed at me, but to the assistant who had to find out if the operating room at the Surrey Memorial Hospital was available. It was not and I was glad because I had not eaten since the evening before and was feeling faint. We went home, I took a hot bath and then we had dinner at our favourite restaurant. When time gets tough, you have to be good to yourself!

The next morning the phone rang and I was told that the surgery would take place the following day, 10 a.m. at the Surrey Memorial Hospital’s Eye Center. In other words, I had a day off!  The next morning, same time but no rain, off we went again but to the hospital this time.

The Surrey Memorial Hospital, currently under serious reconstruction, does not make it easy for anybody to find their way. With the help of some “insiders”, however, we found the Eye Center which lo and behold, was a beautiful and calming place in all the chaos!  I would have been in and out in three hours if they would not have had to “bump” me due to two emergency cases.  As it was, we came home by about 4 p.m. in the afternoon, where Trudy, the “night nurse” who had been brought to the rescue by Renate the day before, was waiting.

I went straight to bed in order to get up at 4 a.m. the next morning to be ready for pick-up by friend, Ken, at 6 a.m. for the follow-up check on the operation. We were lucky there was no rain, the roads were clear and I was the only patient at a very elegant Eye Center in New Westminster. The surgeon was happy (apparently she liked what she saw), I was happy and Ken was happy because we did not have to wait around.

It was a good situation. It was also the day of my grandson’s wedding!  So, when we came home, I gathered up my friends who had been so helpful and we went out and had a toast to the young couple at exactly the time of the ceremony!  All that is left now is a follow-up visit to the Abbotsford Eye Center – Oops! I think I said something like this once before but hopefully, this time it will work.

I would also like to thank my neighbors, Elizabeth and Frank,  who kept a close eye on us throughout the ordeal. The world is full of surprises but if you have friends, you can conquer everything!

P.S.  Yes, it is the same surgeon working out of four different eye centers!  She is amazing!

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