Nov 2016 09

For me, last night started in a bar watching US Election coverage, and ended in an Emergency Ward. Some thoughts on a morning after where everyone is unsettled.

Like most people I know, I’m uneasy about the results of the election to the south of us. I’ll leave the real political analysis and impact to those more qualified, however it’s a good time to remind myself that we’re a different country and perhaps the days of the US being the ‘centre of the universe’ have, and should, come to an end. Canada, this wasn’t our election. Democracy spoke, and perhaps we are finally able to see our neighbours for who they really are. As any election in another country should be, this was a statement only about that country. Although I don’t agree with the victor’s stance on most things, if this ushers in a time that America focuses inward instead of trying to be the world police, maybe some good can come of it. It’s time we looked to other nations, and ourselves, as a role model. Canada and the world can continue to move in any direction we choose.

In any case last night I was given a reminder that for me, real life happens beyond the wide lens. While at one of my favourite watering holes to take in a bit of their Election Results Party, I received a text that a family member was rushed to the hospital, to Emergency. So I left for the hospital. I’ll leave out the details but fast-forward, it was close but they’re going to be okay short-term.

When I arrived at the hospital, my mind was on the coverage I just left. I entered the hospital through the main doors and walked through quiet, dimly lit halls following the red ‘EMERGENCY’ signs and reflecting on the red and blue sides being tied at 134 electoral votes. Pushing open the doors to Emergency snapped me out of that big-time. Emergency was a different world. Scurrying paramedics. People lying on stretchers and hooked up to ventilators and lots of beeping machinery. The worried faces everywhere weren’t for the election. I zig-zagged my way through the crowd. A woman was moaning incoherently and I glanced at the monitor showing her vitals as an EMS worker sat with her holding her hand. The TV mounted in the corner was tuned to election coverage, but I didn’t look. It suddenly didn’t matter.

I was directed beyond the admittance lobby, through the security doors, and to the ‘Acute Care’ areas. Walking through those doors, surprisingly, it was peaceful again. There were about a dozen full and half-curtained off areas and one of them held the person I was there to see. As I walked over to #4, I passed many open curtains and caught glimpses of concerned fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, kids, people. You can tell a lot about a person through their eyes.

Doctors and care workers were gathered around charts, conferring. I saw one doctor emerge from behind a curtain and she immediately removed her smock, deposited in a bin with others, and grabbed a new one to go off to the next curtain.

This wasn’t US Election Tuesday. This was a night like any other in Emergency and this was just what they do. They try to save people.

And their example reminded me that this is all you can really do to make a difference. You can only change the world through your moment-to-moment contact with everything you do. You can be nice to someone. You can be caring. You can be empathetic. And hopefully that ripples outward and makes a difference. You can’t change the world. You can only change yourself and how you approach things.

What is ‘real’? Are countries and borders and electoral maps and political parties ‘real’? Is it time to start looking inward at ourselves instead of outward and thinking someone else will do the work to change the world for us? Will there ever be ‘real’ change in this world?

What I saw last night in Emergency. The care, concern, anguish, love. That shit was definitely real.

To the health care workers I saw last night, I tip my hat to all of you. Grace under pressure, defined.