Sight Amongst The Chaos

The world is in a state of division: one side that is doing everything they can to avoid going out and having contact with other members of the public. The other side are the ones who throw caution and by proxy, all of our safety, to the wind. I can’t stress the current importance of social distancing and staying home unless absolutely necessary.

As much as some people would absolutely love to have the world grind to a halt for one or three months, there are some things that simply can’t be avoided. For example, families need groceries and pharmaceutical amenities. Some people have medical needs that extend beyond the call-in phone lines and require in-person visits. For those of us with Type-1 Diabetes, those appointments can mean the difference between continued health or the slow descent into loss of control.

As I’ve written before (and included gross photos), I attend Saskatoon City Hospital every 8 weeks for eye injections in order to reduce swelling and eliminate the effects of Diabetic Macular Edema. I’ve already written about this specific condition and you can read that post here (Part 1) and here (Part 2). So I won’t get into the conditions, per se. But if you read those two posts, you’ll understand what it is I go through every 8 weeks.

The point is, I had an eye injection appointment scheduled for yesterday. About two weeks ago, I reached out to the Saskatoon Retinal Consultants and consulted with Health Canada as well as the Saskatoon Health Region to ascertain what dangers may be considered and what options I had available. Based on all the consultations I received, Saskatoon was considered a “safe zone” and patients were being encouraged to keep their eye injection appointments.

The reason behind this was quite simple: Maintaining one’s eyesight and preventing blindness is definitely considered essential. I can’t say that I disagree with that sentiment, but the thought of leaving my family during these trying times was less than ideal, in my mind. But I couldn’t drag them out with me, considering everything going on. I didn’t want to bring an infant, a young juvenile and my wife into another large city where they’d be exposed to people who weren’t being safe.

I contacted my usual hotel of preference, the ParkTown Hotel. It’s a 10-minute walk and the price and comfort is above reproach. I reached out and asked if they were still accepting reservations. They were, but they had shut down everything within the hotel: restaurant, gym, pool and Finn’s Irish Pub, which is where i usually wash away the pain of my injections with a pint or two.

I booked the room regardless, and was offered a 20% discount, which tickled me to no end. The only problem is I would have to pack some food as the restaurant wasn’t available. No big deal. I woke up yesterday morning, packed my bags and took to the highway. It was a surreal 2-hour ride. There were almost no vehicles on the highway. It felt like something out of a bad book.

I reached the city at about 1 p.m. and went straight to the hotel. I had to be buzzed in, and I approached a reception counter wrapped in plexiglass. The receptionist confirmed that I had a reservation and had me press my ID against the glass and swipe my own credit card as a hold on the room. The place was quiet and the entries to all the amenities were shut and locked.

I checked into my room and responded to a number of emails and blog notifications before prepping my shoulder sling and walking to the hospital. Once Arrived at Saskatoon City Hospital, I was met at the door by security services who requested my name and checked a list. I felt as though it was Night At The Roxbury and they were checking if my name was on the VIP clipboard. I regretted not wearing my red satin suit…

I was “requested”, and I use that term lightly, to use hand sanitizer and place a face mask before accessing the hospital. I saw that my name, S. Cook, was on the clipboard, leading me to believe that I would not have been permitted inside had my name not been on the list.

The “Paper Ninja,” or perhaps The Invisible Man

Once inside, I reached the fourth floor where the Eye Care Centre is located, and checked in with the reception. Contrary to the usual process, I was given a small identification “sticker” to place on my clothing instead of the usual hospital band. I was ushered through all the usual steps I go through, but much quicker and all the waiting rooms were empty as I passed through.

My ophthalmologist came into the procedure room wrapped in paper OR gear, from head to toe. He was quick and efficient, and mentioned that the clinic administrator would mail out my next appointment. I walked out of the hospital half-blind, avoiding people as I walked. The problem with the paper face mask is that it would fog my glasses, making it all but impossible for me to make my way out without removing them.

The Paper Ninja, without his awesome shades…

I sauntered back to the hotel and spent a quiet evening watching Star Wars and writhing in pain. My usual regimen of beer and burgers was sorely missed, last night. Now, I make my way back home. If I’m being honest, it was a SHITTY 24 hours and I can’t wait to get back to the relative safety and comfort of my home. You think self-isolation and quarantine measures are bad? It could be worse.

Yes, the world has gone to hell without the benefit of a hand-basket. And some people will be outside their house despite the requirements of the Quarantine Act. But don’t be so quick to judge, as these people may be on route to required and necessary medical appointments they need for their continued health and well-being. As much as we should all be self-isolating and staying at home, some situations simply don’t make that possible. Respect and understanding can go a long way, especially now. ☯

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I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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