Being with your best friend and doing all the things you both love is a really amazing feeling.
The adventures just never seem to end, the conversations lively and telling of the journeys wide and varied.
My husband, Lee, and I have been married 18 years and most of it has been a great adventure. We’ve travelled to some seriously unique places with our binoculars and camera gear. We held our own bird tours in the US southwest and in parts of Western Canada.
We’ve traversed canyons, creek beds, wild rivers, national parks, state parks, provincial parks and had amazing times.
Our photographs have been published in a variety of publications and it was always with great joy we looked on these moments remembering whom we met and how we got a particular image.
We had a large yard backing on to crown land was kept primarily in its natural state except we had bird feeders everywhere and became to “go to” folks for bird counts and bird photography.
We hosted week-long photo tours right here in Osoyoos and believe me they were very well attended.
We always had company and always served dinner to many at once.
In short, it was lots of work but, oh, the folks we met and the things we accomplished.
We sold our big home up on the hill here in Osoyoos and moved into a custom forty-foot fifth wheel pulled by an enormous 3500 Dodge Ram dually truck.
And off we went — from here to Alberta, then back here and then we visited seven states always following the light and the photo opportunities.
It was during this time that we both noticed my husband’s ability to hook up and un-hook our fully-loaded movable home was not as easy anymore. In fact, towards the end of that year it was nigh impossible.
So whilst we were in Overton, Nevada, we purchased our current home from our home town realtor, sight unseen. We moved into our new home in our favourite little town and thought life might be easier once we were no longer living this nomadic lifestyle.
That is when life really changed. Lee started feeling more and more uncomfortable and was less and less able to do work around the house.
Everyone, including my husband, thought it was his back.
It took several appointments to our local GP to discover that no blood test or prescription was going to fix the problem. But after waiting seven months to get a CAT scan, which virtually told the doctors nothing, we waited almost another year for an MRI.
With the MRI finally completed, we booked an appointment with a neurosurgeon — and had to wait eight months for that only to have this doctor spend not even ten minutes with Lee before determining “it is not your back,” and “I cannot do anything for you.”
Now my question is, why could he not have just made a comment to our GP so we could move on with this arduous procedure.
Lee’s pain eventually got so bad that I had to take my husband into the emergency ward at our wonderful little hospital in Oliver.
And it was there — finally — that an ER doctor ordered x-rays and told my husband, “You need a new hip.”
We had spent years, visiting — but mostly waiting for — specialists to diagnose what was wrong with Lee and it merely took a visit to the Oliver ER for us to get an answer.
An appointment was made with an orthopaedic surgeon — another specialist — and we waited a long time for that, too.
But we got in and, yes, indeed, things were looking up.
We were told on November 15, 2015, the paperwork would go into the hospital in Penticton. It might be a year, we were told, but Lee would get his hip replacement.
Well, another year has come and gone. Fourteen months, in fact. Finally, we were told Lee is on the surgical schedule — except that now he also needs to see a cardiologist (just to make sure his heart is strong enough to survive the surgery). That could take another three to five months.
The waiting, it appears, will continue. Meanwhile I’m losing my best friend.
He has disappeared in a maze of pain, sleep deprivation and soul-numbing nothingness.
He is tired of always hearing the same damn questions — “How did you sleep?” and How are you today?” — and eventually I stopped asking.
I now do things like a single woman. I do not have my best friend to join in any adventures. We go through the motions but it is not the same.
This has gone on since the very first appointment in 2014. Now, it’s 2017 and I am depleted of much of anything these days. I simply put one foot in front of the other.
I cannot go see the grandkids because “what if we get a call to go to the hospital?” — even though I know it’s a call that never comes.
This whole process has robbed us of our life together and it has destroyed a vital man.
We do nothing together any more; it is just too painful for him.
So, to the medical doctors who do not think beyond their schedules, to the Interior Heath Authority that has allowed this to happen, to the long waits you put human beings through, this is what you have done.
I miss my best friend. And as I watch him disappear more and more with each passing day, I just want you to know you’re ruining not one but two vital lives.
You’ve taken the very essence of joy and destroyed it. You have blown all hope for a better time ahead.
And I’ve had enough. I won’t sit still and wait any longer. I won’t allow you to do this to us. And I won’t let you do it to anyone else, either.
My response begins here, with this column. But it certainly isn’t going to end here. I’m going to do whatever I must to get Lee his surgical date.
You’re all on notice — all of you — and, by God, you’d better pay attention.