Kind of a grim day in the news but I wanted to just note how amazing the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto is. It's accepting adult patients now due to overcrowding in ICUs and it's in the headlines for that reason.

It should always be in headlines for being amazing. +
A few years ago, the newborn of close friends needed a very delicate operation. Spent some time at the hospital while the baby recovered. Someone would be with her all the time and her parents could take breaks. It was a chance, even just for a few hours, to watch. +
While I was there, I got to discreetly observe an incredible scene. A young boy, maybe 10 or 12, had been flown in after a skiing accident up north. He was paralyzed. His family was rushing to Toronto by land but was hours away. He was alone. But then he wasn't. +
The boy was an Orthodox Jew, and he was obviously extremely distraught and terrified. And the hospital out of nowhere materialized what we called an emergency bubbi — an older Jewish woman basically on hand for this precise situation. She stayed with him to offer comfort. +
I was only there a few hours, but I got to see his family arrive, shortly after the boy got good news — his paralysis was temporary, caused by swelling. He was banged up pretty badly but he would recover. And the emergency bubbi was with him when he got that news, too. +
That was pretty amazing to see.

A few years later, my own son ended up at Sick Kids. He had been feeling unwell the night before and we'd put him to bed early. He woke up the next day and I was scared shitless. When I was a kid, a friend of my sister's suddenly died. +
It was bacterial meningitis. It cut her down in a horrifyingly brief period. I was 11, I think, and I still remember exactly what a doctor explained to us after. A fever, a rash and a sore neck are all problems. A fever, a rash and a sore neck AT THE SAME TIME is an emergency. +
My son had gone to bed with a mild fever. He woke up with a much higher one, and was breaking out in spots all over his body, and he was complaining bitterly of a sore neck.

I'm pretty good under pressure. Always have been. I didn't panic. But I felt cold all over. +
My wife doesn't have that lingering memory of someone around your age being killed in a matter of hours by meningitis. But she got it, too. My parents live nearby and I called them and told them, one of you, get here now. Now. Didn't say why, just hung up. We got dressed. +
My mother arrived like four minutes later and we were ready. She was confused and we didn't have much time to explain. She had to watch our daughter while we drove to Sick Kids. My wife threw a bad of snacks together for the kid, I grabbed my journalism go-bag. +
I wasn't planning on doing a story, but it's always helpful to have a pad and pen and a phone charger in a place ready to go at short notice. Off we went. Sick Kids is maybe 15 minutes away? I shaved a few minutes off that. We showed up at the ER. It was quiet. +
Admitting nurse asked us what the problem was. "Fever, rapidly breaking out in a rash and now a sore neck," I told her. She blinked hard, once, and then said to me, very calmly, "I understand what you're telling me. Hang on."

Maybe two minutes later, we're in an exam room. A nurse came with us to take down the paperwork and do the admission forms on the go. We didn't have to wait in the lobby more than a few seconds. Before we had finished telling the nurse the info, the first doctor arrived. +
The doctor checked my son out, and left. He came back with another doctor and a mobile ultrasound unit and a technician for it. The first nurse left, another one joined her.

This is all less than five minutes after arrival.

One doctor and the ultrasound tech examined my son's neck. The other doctor and nurse checked the rash. The nurse also kept up a lively conversation with him about the Maple Leafs, because she had a Maple Leaf button on her gown and my son noticed that right away. +
It only took a few minutes for them to rule out meningitis. My son's neck glands were badly swollen, the ultrasound showed, which is NOT what meningitis does. We spent about an hour at the hospital so they could rule out a few other possibly life-threatening illnesses. +
It was fascinating to see how fast they could transition from zero alarm to emergency alarm to only moderate alarm. And less than an hour after we arrived, we were sent home, instructed to monitor and observe but not to worry. He ended up being a very sick kid for two weeks. +
The virus he had was nasty and he was in a lot of discomfort ... but he wasn't in danger. It wasn't chicken pox, but it was LIKE chicken pox, and he felt lousy.

But he was alive and gonna stay that way.

Anyway. Just a few stories about Sick Kids' in Toronto. They're pretty amazing people there. It's terrible adults need to be there, but they're in good hands. Keep those people in your thoughts.
(Getting some very lovely well wishes, but I apologize if I was unclear .. my son's emergency visit to Sick Kids was a few years ago now. Playing ball hockey outside right not.)
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