Big city has healthcare, but there’s no place like home

In this week's "Cakewalk Chronicles", a look at healthcare in small towns and the big city.

Rural health care

This is the most pressing issue in this part of the Province, and no one will argue about that. Cam Fortems of the Kamloops Daily News called me earlier this month and asked for an interview. He told me he was working on articles about this, and Sherman and I were happy to hear it.

Waiting for months on end while Sherman was going blind with cataracts is not drama; it’s seeing your husband’s eyes filming over week after week. I had previously given Cam the names of persons in the community with chronic health care issues, and he came out with a photographer, took pictures, and asked questions.

We hope that the powers that be will hear and listen. However, bureaucracies are monoliths which grow so quickly, and so often at the expense of peoples’ health. Our priorities are askew, and we the people must continue to speak out and make demands. One person’s far-too-early death was caused partly by delay and the closure of our ER. How many more will it take to rouse us?

On another planet

It was a bit like science fiction as we hurtled along in traffic, surrounded by metal and machinery and noise at the 90 decibel level. Houses were stacked like plywood above concrete walls covered with hanging roses and ivy, which seemed like the strangest anomaly in that environment. We were headed to the heart of Vancouver, to the clinic of Dr. Pierre Faber, and we did it four times in one week. Our driver was my sister-in-law Anne MacDonald, a retired RN and hospital matron with the determination and skill of a cab driver after a fare.

The surgeries carried out on July 5 and 12 have put the twinkle back in Sherman’s eyes when he watches the girls in shorts striding along Third and Railway.

The adventure was not without its pleasures. There was the infinite pleasure of sitting in the shade of a beautiful garden, gin and tonic in hand, surrounded by tall cedars; attending a delightful birthday party for Anne’s twin grandsons; and visiting the Pitt Meadows Art Gallery, which featured a fine display of Native art.

The hospitality was five star, and the warmth and affection from visiting relatives a tremendous morale boost. Pitt Meadows is a fine, neighbourly community of tall trees, beautifully kept yards, curb and gutter streets, and every amenity. Coming home in an air conditioned bus was okay, but stepping off the bus into  a simmering heat wave had us reeling.

Dolly took us home, and it was good to be back in Ashcroft. Quite an adventure, that one! But it just goes to show you how far you have to travel to get the kind of medical attention needed.

Cow patties?

I guess it’s democracy in action, but it’s not without its humor. Ray Bewza, whom I’ve known for well on 40 years, is the most unlikely letter to the editor writer I could imagine. When a quiet-spoken, civil, even mannerly fellow like Ray – who is about as calculatingly inconspicuous as, well, an agent of some government bent on whatever – stands firmly on the Wellness brand, you have to listen.

I’ve argued with Ray, and others, that it was a fait accompli, and opinion against Wellness came a year or more too late to matter. But maybe I’m wrong. It’s never too late to call attention to a matter which has become something of an issue. Exercise, mountain climbing, deep breathing and massage, cycling, and clean air do not, of themselves, create Wellness. Peace of mind comes with the assurance that our health, mental and physical, can be  treated with the resources that other communities enjoy.

The new library

Well, it is good news indeed that one of those resources, access to reading materials and information, is going to be made available in a brand new modern facility in Cache Creek. Yes, right across from the decaying former apartment complex and shops we called the Oasis shopping centre. With tattered paper at the filthy windows, and the skeletons of former businesses hanging like spent party balloons, the building has been condemned, yet stands in pitiful squalor for all to see. Isn’t it about time that something was done about this sad and depressing reflection?

The new highway

It’s as smooth as ice on a windy day at Barnes Lake, and a pleasure to drive. Forty or more years it has been since a new layer of asphalt was laid on that circuitous passage along the Ashcroft bluffs into town. It’ll be a temptation to drive too fast, but let us hope that we’ll be content to remain within the speed limit. There’s been more than one fatal accident over the years on those bluffs.

Canada Day

Once again, Canada Day in Ashcroft was one of the highlights of the year for us. A goodly crowd of children and parents turned out, with Joris Ekering as MC, and sundry volunteers, making the event. Once again, I am reminded how volunteers make every event so memorable. I particularly appreciated John Kidder’s singing of “O Canada” in both languages, and the humour and spirit of Bonaparte First Nations member John Pierro. Our Mayor flew his plane over the festivities in a flourishing sweep. Thanks so much for this to all who made it happen. Being Canadian is a special privilege, and events like our Canada Day celebration in Ashcroft raise our consciousness of the fact.


Uh huh. It’s the most overused word in English language newspapers, and my pet peeve. They tell you the killer’s name, give you sundry details such as the clothes he was wearing and the guns used, and tell of the bodies maimed or dead left in the wake; then use the word “alleged”. How absurd is that?

Count the word in your newspapers. “Alleged” bounces back and forth across the eyeballs like Bingo balls.  Hey; when the killer is standing there with a smoking gun in the midst of the carnage he has created, the use of the word “alleged” is ridiculous.

Stand up comedy at the Trackside

The open house at the Trackside Diner on Sat. July 21, with entertainers Janice Bannister and Tracey Knihnitski, prompted lots of laughs. A replica – in cake! – of the Diner’s interior, prepared by Rayla Reid, was incredible. Everything was there: the stools, the jukebox, the black and white tiles. Sherman had apple pie and ice cream, and I had a banana split that was so beautiful people took pictures of it. And I ate every scrap of it, too!

Macho where and what

In the age of Viagra and Cialis advertising, with the words as common as Jello and Band- Aid, what happened to modesty? Jane MacDougall asked this in an amusing article in the National Post. The subtitle of her piece was “Shame, once common, seems to be almost extinct”. I think it’s funny that we can  see ads promoting Depends for women as matter-of-factly as we can read a recipe in Martha Stewart’s Living magazine. We don’t raise an eyebrow over all this frankness about bodily functions; there’s not a trace of embarrassment, much less shame.