Saturday, March 2, 2019

Some things you just don't see coming


I had a very interesting experience today, one of those things that make you rethink opinions and attitudes you've held for a very long time.

This morning I took Hapi to the Reservoir as usual and for reasons I won't get into right now I decided to walk along a trail that is well out of the way. One of the mountain bike trails that is narrow and steep.

I had arranged earlier that I would talk to my eldest son on the phone, just to catch up on things since Christmas. Yes it's been that long since I last talked to him. When his dog was still alive we used to go for long dog walks and phone each other, him in Toronto and me in Nova Scotia. Since I was on a trail that I used to walk along for those talks I called him. He was having breakfast in bed and said he was about to call me. So I walked and we chatted, with Hapi following along behind.

At a certain point I noticed that Hapi had stopped quite a ways back, so I stopped too. She was looking back the way we had come and I saw a man coming along behind us. Hapi was waiting for him sociably. I was at a fairly level point in the trail so I stepped off the trail so the man could pass me but he didn't.

He said, "I know you, we met fifty years ago."

I was holding my cell phone, still in the call with my son, so he was hearing the conversation. The man started to describe the time that we met, it was the birth of my youngest son and I realized immediately that the man was the doctor on call that day. It wasn't fifty years ago, it was 42 years, that son has just celebrated his 42nd birthday.

The birth was a home birth, without benefit of a doctor or midwife, just a couple of friends. I lived in a cabin that I had built a couple of summers previous, situated almost a kilometre from the nearest road. No electricity, no running water, no phone. And a blizzard that day with a foot of snow on the ground. The birth went reasonably well but afterwards there was too much blood and one of my friends went to the neighbour's place over a kilometre away to call a doctor. This was that doctor.

Nothing bad happened, everyone survived without intervention, but I did have to go to the hospital "for observation" for a couple of days. There was more blood than there should have been but I didn't think it was life threatening. But I was young and fearless then so perhaps I underestimated.

I never liked that doctor. I thought he said and did things that were uncalled for, but being in a somewhat vulnerable position I did nothing about it other than to avoid ever having to deal with him again. Until today.

He seemed really happy to meet me today. He started recounting that long ago day as he saw it. Our memories did not match up entirely, but after all it was 42 years ago.

He said, "There was so much blood, I was really worried!"

I said, "Really? I wasn't."

He said, "Well you should have been!"

But he said it in a nice way, he wasn't criticizing. Then he told me that that had been his first year in practice and he had only just moved to the area.

"What a way to start out!" he said.

I didn't know that. It kind of put things in a different light. He was inexperienced, trying to handle a situation that he thought was beyond him, trying to appear like he knew what he was doing. And this was my third birth, I did think I knew what I was doing.

He told me that he had just retired.

I said, "Do you miss it?"

He said, "Oh yes, I miss it a lot. All those people, they were like family, they were my family. I miss them a lot."

I was a little sad for him. I didn't know that a doctor might feel like his patients were his family.

Anyway, we shook hands and he continued along the trail, I waited until he was out of earshot.

I said to my son who was still on the phone, "Did you hear that?"

"Wow," he said, "Wow!"

He was six years old at the time and present at the birth. He remembered it.

I always had a very bad opinion of this doctor because of that single encounter 42 years ago. I avoided having anything to do with him. But he turned out to be a nice man, a good person, and probably a good doctor.

Ironically I walk by his house every day on my way to the Reservoir. I didn't think he knew that, but he did.

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I also went skating today. I've been trying to go almost every day because you never know when the ice will disappear under a foot of snow or a whole bunch of rain. I tried to go skiing but the snow is very icy and I am a very bad skier. I lose my balance easily and fall down, then it is really hard to get back up again. After the third fall I thought that if I fall again I won't even bother trying to get up. It feels like a lot of work for not much joy. Unlike skating.

Hapi is not keen on my skating or having to go out on the ice but she is patient about it. And today there were lots of kids skating so she got plenty of attention.

1 comment:

Wisewebwoman said...

What an amazing story and isn't it extraordinary what a little more information can do for us? How scared he must have been!

How brave you were in your cabin!

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