How I Spent My Summer Vacation (Letter-to-the-Editor)

Dear Editor,

Remember when school would start and your teacher would ask you how you spent your summer vacation?

While school is now a dim and distant memory for me, last summer is anything but. I spent about ten days of it, flat on my back in the Regina General Hospital, after a near-death experience. 

It all started on a dark and stormy night in late June. Like many other folks living in a huge area of the eastern prairies, we suffered property damage in the thousands when a dangerous "plow wind" of well over 100kph struck about midnight, while we were in bed. (Sadly, it was consistent with what our top scientists have been warning us about for decades: That the climate we humans are changing by our addiction to fossil fuels, is bringing "weather events" which have become way more severe and frequent than they once were.) 

It buckled our garage door (above), damaged our car inside, blew the tops off several of the spruce trees in our shelter belt and brought down two of the largest, brushing our sun porch and barely missing our house (below). 

Some days later, I was cleaning up the debris when it happened. I developed the kind of chest pain I knew I couldn't ignore. 
Rowena rushed me to Roblin hospital, where I got immediate care and attention. Because no bed was available at the Regina General right away, I stayed overnight in Roblin.

The next morning, they transported me via ground ambulance, to Regina. And what a ride! I couldn't help but imagine I was playing one of those video games, swerving to avoid power poles, other vehicles, or whatever. Except this was no game. The traffic was heavy. Oncoming semis were pulling over on the shoulder so we, ourselves could pass vehicles in our own lane. And, wouldn't you know it, there was at least one silly bugger who didn't want to move over, despite our siren and flashing light. If I'd had the strength, I'd have given him the "finger." The fact my driver did not, showed remarkable restraint, on her part. Normally, it takes me about three hours to drive to Regina. She got me there, alive and safe, in two! 

So the next person I hear making some smart crack about women drivers, will have to answer to me!

I was in the operating room that very same day. They "went in" through a vein in my wrist. As I watched on a monitor, fully conscious and pain-free, a world-class cardiology team installed a "stent" in my most highly-clogged artery. Then, a few days later, they put me under, opened my chest and installed bypasses in no less than six others.

Events after that were a bit of a blur. Following a groggy recovery involving a host of health-care professionals; nurses, doctors, therapists and, of course, my loving family, I'm home again and pretty much back to normal, whatever that is!

I am forever grateful to them, my friends and neighbours here at home for all their well-wishes, other kindred spirits who have generously shared their helpful hints with me, arising from their own, similar surgeries and, last but not least, our Canadian health care system. Here I am, enjoying life once more. And we didn't even have to mortgage our house!

But my ordeal has done more than that. It has brought me "up close and personal" with my own mortality. It has caused me to wonder whether I would "change." Would I remain the "curmudgeon" I've become, railing against the system, or would I turn into a "kinder, gentler person," more accepting of the way things are?

Those who've perhaps felt the sting of my caustic letters or stories in the past, might be disappointed. For I've concluded, it will take more than a brush with the Grim Reaper, to suppress my inner "grumpy old man!"

Speaking of which, I've just written another magazine article. It's about Manitoba's crusade to kill any plant, shrub or tree which stands in the way of chemical farmers and their habit of growing only pristine "monoculture" crops. This crusade, fuelled by the province's draconian "Noxious Weeds Act," often involves the spraying of powerful weed killers in roadside ditches. In the process, wildlife, their habitat and humans, alike, suffer the consequences. It'll be appearing in the March/April issue of The Dominion magazine, on my blog and (Ed willing), maybe even in The Roblin Review!  Please watch for it.

But perhaps just as importantly, my summer experience also renewed my appreciation for those who are just the opposite of myself. They toil to promote our community and to make it better, in so many ways. And they've done it without ever writing or saying a negative thing - groups like (but not limited to) the Lions' Club, those planning our Centennial celebrations and our churches who help the poor, hungry and disadvantaged in so many ways.

My fervent hope is that all of you will consider me a partner, not a rival, in our attempts to achieve a better world.

After all, that world needs all kinds, does it not?

I hope you agree.

Gratefully and grumpily yours,

Larry Powell
Roblin, MB
Please also read: "At Last. Someone Gets to the "Bottom" of Climate Change!, by Danny Dimwit, who had an experience remarkably similar to mine!


Mo said…
Love it! And thanks for clarifying the story!!!!!
Great to read and learn about it!!!!

See ya soon