Flying with hope

BOOMER TALK: Vernon resident writes about being a benefactor of Hope Air

It has been most interesting and challenging at the same time. I have had my eyes opened wide when it comes to our health care system. I am in line to have a right hip replacement surgery in Vancouver on April 24. It is more complicated than a regular hip surgery, hence my trip to Vancouver to have it done.

It has been almost a full time job making all the arrangements. Gone are the days when you are told you require surgery and then go to the hospital, the surgery is done, and then you recuperate ….in the hospital. It is now protocol to get you out that door as fast as possible.

I want to make it clear that everyone I have spoken with has been more than pleasant and understanding. So, it is not the people I am speaking of, it is the system. Several of them have implied that the whole system is a bit of a mess.

I am fortunate to have stumbled upon Hope Air. Hope Air is Canada’s only non-profit organization that was formed in 1986 to provide free flights for people who may be challenged to afford airline tickets along with all the other expenses for out of town medical treatment.

They use national and regional airlines as well as private planes to provide this service. I have been booked on West Jet. They will fly me down and then back with a friend to accompany me. I am filled with gratitude for this service.

To help keep Hope Air alive, you can make donations at www.hopeair.ca.

I have to arrive for the surgery two days ahead of time, for blood work, X-rays as well as attend a general meeting to learn about how to care for myself after the surgery.

The first hint that it was going to be different was the ‘learning how to care for myself” meeting. I am single and the only other person I live with is my dog. She is delightful, but is of little help in the post surgery department. I don’t have family (except for my 94-year-old mom) so will have to rely 100 per cent on our health care system.

So I began my search into how I could access help post surgery. I won’t bore you with the details, but it has been a succession of phone calls to Community Care and Pathways to Home Program (a rehab facility that operates out of Gateby). It is difficult to get information these days, because nobody answers the phone anymore. We communicate via a series of voice mail messages. Eventually I spoke with a live person.

I was told by the Vancouver program, Oasis, that once my surgery was booked, the support system would kick in and I would qualify for Community Care within my own community. So I am hoping this will be the case.

I tend to be a very organized person, so trying to set all this up ahead of time, which seemed logical, didn’t work that well. It seems the system is in place and everything will just all happen at the last minute. But of course nobody told me this. But then, nobody told me about Hope Air either.

The protocol for hip surgeries is to release you from the hospital in two to three days post surgery, along with needles and medication to inject yourself to prevent blood clots.

I was born with wonky hips and had 12 surgeries on them in my late 30s and early 40s due to complications. I am told that things have changed quite radically since then, so I plan to have an easy, non complicated recovery.

After all, I am flying down and back with Hope.

Carole Fawcett is a counsellor, writer and editor www.amindfulconnection.com.

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