The Richmond Hospital P.E.U. – a psych ward for each season! :p
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*Big sigh*. Well, I finally found a reason to take the “Canada Line” skytrain, built for the 2010 Olympic Games, here in Vancouver – in B.C., “The Best Place On Earth”! – to visit Alarryyk at the Richmond General Hospital, where he was taken after a short stay at another hospital around 70 mile house.
“They did not have the ‘proper facilities’ for him there.”
The city of Richmond, part of the Greater Vancouver Area, is commonly referred to as “Ditchmond” for good reason. Instead of sidewalks, there are ditches. This is because the “city” (read: suburb) is actually below sea level. I guess Ditchmond is screwed if a tsunami comes our way, and I almost got screwed, or rather run over by two fast black sports cars as I tried to find my way around, sans-sidewalks.
Turns out I got off at the wrong station. The map provided by the hospital was very wrong about which station it is near (it’s the last one on the line, if anyone else is wondering…the map doesn’t even show all of the existing skytrain stops, so perhaps it was made long before the Canada Line was built and never updated? Welcome to health care in “The Best Place on Earth”!). More ditches, another train, and I arrived at a hospital, that looked like every hospital, in every city.
In the fall it was the Vancouver General Hospital – by far the worst. There, he contracted a Staph infection that almost ate his leg – the scars are still huge, and perhaps always will be. In the winter it was the UBC Hospital – by far the most fun. A former player for the Canucks was even in the joint! Often while visiting there, I didn’t want to leave – the people there were so much more fun to hang out with that, say, my peers at school, whether we were yapping like best friends, or Alarr. and I had started some kind of hilarious (and harmless, of course) spat with someone that would be resolved by the end of the night. Now, this Richmond joint…I’m not so sure.
First thing’s first – I give my fiancée a tighter than tight hug after not having seen him for almost a week. He is wearing the familiar hospital-issue pajamas, only this time they are more yellow than brown. He is barefoot – you mean they don’t have those little foam slippers with the smiley faces on them here? CHEAP. They have the same slippers on every psych ward in Canada (maybe elsewhere also?). When I wore them in Winnipeg, on one occasion I turned the smileys into angry/sad faces with a black marker. They were confiscated and I was given a new pair. They seemed to have an endless supply.
The nurses are incredibly kind – a step up from both the V.G.H. and the UBC hospital. However, the setting is more sterile than any of the others, and eerily empty. Now, this is the “P.E.U.” – psychiatric emergency unit – there is another inpatient psych ward elsewhere in the hospital. Still, the equivalent spot at the V.G.H. (there called the “P.A.U.” – psychiatric assessment unit…oh don’t things sound so much more professional when they’re turned into an acronym… had been hopping with activity. I met some wonderful folks there while I was visiting, and Alarr. had an absolutely fabulous time with an ex-communist dissident from Vietnam who could walk up walls and a Chinese girl with one of the most beautiful singing voices I have ever heard, who kept pretending she was Japanese to confuse the nurses…a translator would be paged and staff would be annoyed. Thus, she got thrown into the dreaded “quiet room” quite often. She didn’t seem to mind.
Now, today. The Richmond P.E.U. was disturbingly silent aside from the sound of one person snoring loudly. How I hate listening to someone snore when I can’t sleep. When I had surgery in April, I swear the same person was in my room, which was shared by 5 people. The pre/post-surg. snorer was an old man…on the gynecological unit. Alarryyk let me know that this snorer was a woman – not the same person.
The whiteboard list of staff was much longer than the list of patients. I’m used to psych wards of any sort being filled to the brim. Once, I actually had to sleep behind the nurses station until they had room for me. I considered asking to stay. There was a “room” (curtained-off area with a bed) available right across from Alarr.’s “room”. I’m sure we could sneak some cuddling time in, in between the nurse’s flashlight-in-the-eyes “are you sleeping?” tests. (I was before you shone a flashlight in my eyes…
So, it was just the two of us. Neither of us were/are ready to discuss the events of the past week that landed him in the ward again. So, inevitably, one of us and then the other, brought them up. He spent the week with his ex-girlfriend, was willing to listen to Leonard Cohen with her, who he will never listen to with me (“vagina music”, well, not never, but it really irked me at the time. A “peeled” Wellbutrin pill was in our kitty’s dish! They trashed the previously clean apartment, blamed me for being messy, and he lied to me about taking her home long before he actually did – by putting her on a Greyhound bus after they spent time at his old cabin together. Now, of course, there’s his side of the story, too – she’s a good friend from the past – alright… – but we agreed that she shouldn’t be on our short “guest list” because of the Wellbutrin-snorting and taking $60 from me! But no, it is not time to analyze or speak of these things. *Deep Breaths* I came here to see you, not to argue!
In the end, it was a beautiful visit – as I said of our recent camping trip, all’s well that ends well. I didn’t get to make new friends like I always do in psy-hospitals, feeling immediately at home and in the presence of like minds. But I got to hold my love, give him the puppy-dog stuffed toy that stays with him every time he is in the hospital (a gift my mom gave me when I was three and she was in the hospital!). Likewise, I get to take care of his handmade sock-monkey, acquired even earlier in life, when I’m in the hospital. We keep each other safe and warm, despite the painful distance and presence of hospital staff — we manage to have our fun.
And so I had to leave to catch the last bus back to some station in Richmond after barely two hours. Hopefully our next visit will be longer, argument free, no playing cards will be ripped up (as they were when we attempted to play a game of crib and got into an argument), and more interesting folks will be around to chat with. A piano would be nice, too. Both V.G.H. and UBC had those.
The trip home was long, but it wasn’t sad. My love and I will spend the summer together…this won’t last forever – as long as I don’t lose my cookies in August. The clouds above me glowed like they did when we went on a Magickal trip to the neighbourhood where he grew up.
Everything will be okay. (Repeat as many times as necessary.)