Let There Be Light

A bulletin following a brief comforting encounter with British Columbia’s health care system in the midst of a pandemic:

It wasn’t my intent to add to Medicare woes by losing the sight in my left eye five or six months ago just as COVID-19 launched its full fury on the world. It just happened that an artificial lens installed in 2004 had slipped its moorings and needed replacement.

Let me emphasize any following descriptions are pedestrian personal, not medical textbook. Just adequate enough to relate a procession of “please don’t blink” eye exams from my family doctor (yes, I know I’m lucky to have one) and eye specialists.

It was roughly six months later that I was requested to present myself to “Surgical Daycare, Royal Jubilee Hospital, a few minutes before 7 a.m. on December 14th.”

I was advised several times by phone and by text that the times were not chiselled in stone and “may be adjusted” if COVID-19 got too unruly.

An anxious time, but last Monday morning, December 14th, my youngest son Nic juggled his shifts as a paramedic and picked me up at the Berwick Royal Oak senior’s retirement residence shortly after 6 a.m. He delivered me to RJH, where he chatted with surgeons and nurses with the familiarity only veteran front-line health care workers can have – and picked me up a few hours later to get me home to Berwick.

Ever accommodating, Berwick had placed a single bed in my living room, a mandatory requirement from Dr. Daniel Warder, the vitreoretinal specialist who had been up before dawn with a small army of nurses and technicians to take care of me and a multitude of others. The extra bed was for my driver – just in case I needed post-op help.

I can’t clearly remember the comings and goings. I can say I was well attended with explanations as to what was happening and why. After the surgeon arrived, I had a little nap, woke up with a bandaged left eye, a sporty white eye patch and a list of advisories noted by my paramedic guardian.

We came home to Berwick to dine on home-cooked shepherd’s pie courtesy of Nic’s partner Anna – who is also a paramedic. The pie and other goodies were stashed in an insulated backpack. And, courtesy of microwave technology, the pie was perfect, served hot as we dined late Monday afternoon.

Tuesday was a post-op checkup day. Everything looking good. Eye drops every four hours until December 23rd and the next post-op check. I’ll let you know how it plays out. For now, BC Health Services get gold stars all-around for efficiency, courtesy, and confidence-boosting helpfulness.

Thank you!


  1. Well, I had artificial lenses installed in summer 2019, pursuant to cataract surgery. But my eye surgeon didn’t warn me that they could slip their moorings. Of course, if it took 16 years for yours to escape I needn’t worry until 2035.

  2. Glad it worked for you. I too have found the health care system responsive having had a recent stay of over six weeks at Surrey Memorial and Royal Columbian Hospitals.
    following a fall, stroke, seizure, etc. The care was excellent. I also had cataract surgery in Victoria about the same time as you. So far, so good. Merry Christmas and a very happy and healthy New Year to you.

  3. Jim. I have just forwarded your article about your eye problem to my newest penpal you may have read about him in McLean‘s magazine when he wrote a letter to the editor complaining that all he got in his mail or bills I responded and I have enjoyed more than a few letters back-and-forth with him. MacLean’s magazine even did a follow up in January as he explained what that single letter to the editor had done as more people than me responded to him. I have sent him a couple of your blog columns and I am sending him the one about your eye problem because he is now facing that issue himself

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