“Mrs. LePage?” queried the nurse at Royal Victoria Hospital.
“That’s me.” I responded and arose to follow her to my CAT scan preparation.
“I knew I recognized you!” she announced with glee. “You went to Eastview. You were in the choir and sang a song with Chris Vandersteen for the original song-writing competition. I went to school with Chris and so I remember the performance very well.”
“Oh, good grief!” I said in my outside voice. “Awk!!!!” I said in my inside voice. “I can’t believe that anyone would EVER remember that from when we were in grade 13 – in 1982!!!!!!”
This, is Barrie.
“I see a lot of our class-mates coming through here.” the nurse went on to explain. “Everyone gets sick at some point and when they do, they come through here.”
Illness has no bounds. Illness does not discriminate. Illness plays fair – for the most part.
“I’ll have to put an IV in your arm so we can insert the dye. You’ve had this before right?”
“Yes.” I replied. I have had it before – for my first CAT scan. But then, I was in a different situation. Then, I was thinking there was very little that the image would find. I was chatty. I was excited to learn about this new technology. I was in very good spirits. I was the same physically then as I was this second visit – but my knowledge base was, this time, slightly larger.
“There, you are all ready and in a couple minutes, they’ll come and get you.” the nurse added. “Do you remember, so-and so and so-and-so?” she inquired.
“Yes – I remember them. And I have recently met so-and-so and so-and-so here at the hospital.” I added.
“There are so many of us from Eastview that have returned to Barrie and are working here at RVH. It’s funny how we have all been called home.”
“It is like home-coming week when I come here.” I rejoiced. “It is so nice to see familiar faces with shared histories. How interesting it is to see where we all ended up.”
“Stacey?” the technician inquired.
“That’s me.” I responded.
“It is time. We will walk to the CAT room.”
“Geez – I know there is a joke in that comment somewhere, but I really don’t think it prudent to pursue at this time.” I thought.
I lie down on the bed-like structure and placed my head on the pillow exactly where I was told to place my head. I had kept my new super-cool boots on so that I may feel more grounded and normal in this very strange and high-tech world. They looked very much out of place at that moment and I inquired as to whether they would present a problem for the picture.
“No, they are fine.” the radiologist assured me. “I am going to inject the dye now. You remember what it feels like – metallic taste, followed by a warm sensation through your veins, heart, and then it feels like you’ve peed your pants?”
“Yes. I remember.”
“Okay then, here we go. You okay? Raise your right arm above your head. Now raise your left arm above your head. And listen to my voice. Ready?”
“You bet!” I said in my outside voice. “I hope I don’t freak out in that thing!” I thought in my inside voice.
“Take a deep breath in and hold. ….. and breath normally.”
In less than five minutes, it was all over. I sat up. I checked to see if I was dizzy. Nope. Off we went. My husband was there waiting for me and we sat in a make-shift waiting room until the nurses were sure I would not have a negative reaction to the die.
“What are you waiting for?” inquired the nurse from I had met during my biopsy a couple of days before.
“To have my IV removed.” I explained.
“I can do that.”
This nurse and I had discovered during our previous encounter that we had likely played together often as kids at a mutual friend’s house. She played with the older sister and I the middle sister. The conversation then continued as we discovered a collection of other people from Eastview we had both known. Then, I recalled I had worked with her mother.
“Thank-you.” I said to her with a great sense of relief.
And off my husband and I went – back home.
“How did it go, Mom?” inquired my daughter. I explained about the encounters we had had and the number of people I had been re-aquainted with from Eastview. “You never told me about the song, Mom.”
“Well – I can’t tell you everything. I had forgotten about that, to be honest.” I confessed.
Afterall, that was nearly 33 years ago. That was a life-time ago. So much water has passed under the bridge since then. In any case, it was so re-assuring to be surrounded by familiar faces during my trips to RVH. Had I had to go to Princess Margaret, I would not have known anyone. What a different atmosphere that would have been. So, lucky am I to be able to get all my procedures and treatments in Barrie. In spite of its modern-day size, it is still a little town. It is still a town where friends step forward to help friends. It is still a town where churches offer prayers for those who are sick. It is till a town where neighbours talk to neighbours. This is Barrie.