Letter: Lessons in gratitude – Be thankful for our healthcare workers

Kingston General Hospital. Photo by Phillip Stafford.

Editorial note: The following is a submitted letter to the editor. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of The Kingstonist.

I’ve recently had to spend 10 days in the hospital due to non-Covid related issue. After a year of not working and a non-existent to-do list or projects that engaged my mind, my drinking began to increase on a monthly basis, then a weekly one, and then finally on to a daily rate. I knew I couldn’t afford it, and I was aware of the damage that I was doing to my body and mind. I knew it had to stop.

So I started by skipping a day or two, then I was going three days in a row, then I was managing four. I’d eventually give in and have a few beers in between, but I kept pushing for more. I thought this is great. I felt good, I had more energy, I was sleeping through the night, and whenever I had to pay bills, I had to double check the balance – Even went to the teller one day to have them check the accuracy. I couldn’t believe it, it was too good to be true… And, well, it was. On what would have been my sixth day of sobriety, my body rebelled and said no, we’re not playing this game anymore. I was at work when I just collapsed and fell to the floor. I got up, but only for a few seconds. I fell to the ground again and had what looked like and epileptic seizure. Gave my co-workers quite the scare. Sorry guys, I’ve witnessed a few before and they can be quite upsetting.

Upon arriving at KGH, the staff took blood samples and a CT scan and they quickly ruled out epilepsy and determined that it was a seizure brought on by the cessation of alcohol to my body. It was an alcohol withdrawal seizure. Here I was thinking that I was doing my body good when Miss Irony made an appearance. We’ve all heard stories of people who just one day stop drinking, or smoking, drop caffeine, or maybe those who suddenly start exercising to extremes. All of these are done with good intentions, but they can be dangerous, too. The body’s chemical balance can quickly be based upon one’s daily routines and a sudden stop or change to that routine can cause adverse effects. Any change to your routine should always start with medical consultation. Just a quick call to your family physician, a chat with your pharmacist or a call to telehealth is worth it. You may think that you will just be wasting their time, but what you may actually be doing is saving some of their already-borrowed-against time down the road.

It’s pretty simple, and we live in a country that puts emphasis on healthcare and there are many resources out there. One just needs to reach out and use them.

Which is what brings me to reason I am putting pen to paper, well, fingers to keyboard, this morning. I simply wish to extol upon the reader, to citizens of the city and those who work in the medical field or any field associated to it, just how great we have it here. For a humble, medium sized city, we have world class institutions here and we should all be proud to have them. The fact, too, that KGH is a teaching hospital also bodes very well for the future. The best teaching the next is very reassuring.

During my 10 day stay I was always treated with respect and dignity. If there was a procedure to be done or a new medication added or taken away, I was given a clear explanation as to why and what it was for. Please don’t to try to get me to explain any of it back to you now, though, but I understood at the time and, more importantly, I trusted those who were looking out for my best interest.

Which brings me to my final point, I promise. Please respect your doctors and nurses and whoever else is there working to get you home. Don’t berate them, curse at them, or throw food at them. Simply don’t act like a child throwing a temper tantrum. It’s not going to get you anywhere and may, in fact, make your stay more miserable – And it does take its toll, not only on those trying to help you, but also those sharing a room with you. No one wants to be in a hospital, everyone has something to tend to on the outside, be it family, work, pets… well, that falls under family, I guess. Maybe it’s the garden that needs looking after. Well, don’t worry about the watering, Mother Nature is taking good care of that… Too good of a job, if you ask me. My point is that disrespect anywhere – not just in a hospital, but everywhere and in every situation – is intolerable and just shouldn’t be. Do you want a happy cook making your food or one who is swearing and throwing pans around every time an order comes in?

In fact, I suggest the opposite: Go beyond just respect, use your please and thank-yous, give a compliment or two, or tell someone that you think they’re doing a great job. Or take it completely off topic and ask why they chose their profession, or maybe ask if there’s anything new or good on Netflix that one can look forward to. I was on four floors where my room was close to the nursing station and whenever I heard laughter emanating from there, my heart filled with joy. Humour overcoming even the hardest of times is always a thing of beauty and a wonderful sound to hear. So, try that instead.

Well I’ve taken up enough of your time and my belly is trying to say something. So, I will leave it at that for now. Thank you ever so much to all the angels of mercy who got me back on my feet, and to all those who did the same for others.

I wish everyone a great day, let’s hope the rain away and be kind to one another. Oh, and wear your damn mask. Please… and thank-you.

J-F (Johnny) Poulin, Kingston resident

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