I met Dr. Sandra Yong again in the early hours of January 23rd, 2018 by which date my eyesight had improved enough for me to drive to her clinic in Vancouver, without using my old prescription glasses.
“Good,” she said, drawing out the word for emphasis. “The wounds have healed and while there are some scars left on your right eye, they won’t interfere with your vision. I’m going to send you back to Dr. Dubois for future visits, OK?”
“I’d much rather return to Dr. Richard Caldwell for those. He’s been my regular ophthalmologist hitherto. I met Dr. Dubois because of the emergency last month.”
“That sounds right to me. Do give this slip to my assistant as you go and she’ll arrange that for you.”
“There’s one thing also; is there any indication of the pathogens’ serogroup on my record?”
“Let me see … no, it simply notes that it was neisseria meningitidis.”
“I’m curious about its source.”
“In that case, remember to ask Dr. Cadwell about it. He can access the lab record, for additional information.”
“You have a good morning.”
I’d learnt from my niece that serogroup B of this pathogen is not uncommon in North America. About one in ten persons carry the pathogen in their nasal and throat cavities, without manifest symptoms. My niece should know, since for many years, she’d made a career of getting people across the globe pricked and poked to immunize them against various pathogens. Serogroup A wreaked havoc through deadly epidemics at regular intervals, in the so-called Meningitis Belt; the Sahel of Sub-Sahara, until it was reined in by effective immunization drives between 2010 and 2015. Serogroups C, W-135, X, Y, etc. appear to be less concentrated regionally. The pathogenic serogroups are spread through contact with respiratory secretions; such as through coughing, sneezing and kissing, rather than through casual contact, or air dispersal. As a result, its not as contagious as say, the flu virus.
In any case, here is peace, peace at last; thank God this insanity is over. Hostilities have indeed ceased and I’ve returned to where I stood on December 8th, prior to the Pearl Habour-like strike on my eyes. I should visit my optometrist soon, to learn if and what corrective lenses I’ll need, following the surgery four months ago.
So, What Relationship?
The alliance of healthcare service providers sustained by the province of British Columbia’s Medical Service Plan (MSP) offered the urgent and comprehensive response I needed, when neisseria meningitidis threatened my eyes with grievous damage and my body with worse. Its members acted with dispatch and in a manner which made economic sense to me. Other healthcare professionals may second guess the steps taken, after reading this narrative and that too makes sense to me, because techniques and technologies improve incrementally through such reviews. And yes, I love to be annoying too. More specifically, I love to visit the neighbourhood pharmacy just when I’m about to run out of long-term medication and ask sweetly that they fax a request to my family doctor, for renewal of my prescription. Its such a convenience that I’ve no intentions of mending my ways anytime soon.
This brief, if unlikely war over my eyes gave me renewed appreciation of the value of British Columbia’s single payer healthcare system. I’m in a relationship with other partners in the MSP. They include the Ministry of Health, a hierarchy of Health Authorities across BC, Colleges, Boards and Commissions which regulate and oversee healthcare delivery practices, vendors of healthcare goods and services, other patients and Health Insurance BC. If a subscriber is assessed as capable of affording it, based on his preceding year’s tax returns, he pays a regular premium to Health Insurance BC, to pool his risk of healthcare costs with all other subscribers. Therefore, he doesn’t shoulder the full cost of the care he receives when he needs it. We cover each other’s back, by that means. Premiums have been reduced by 50% for all, this year. Besides that, the threshold of income which qualify subscribers to pay full, or reduced premiums have been adjusted favourably, to offer financial relief to more subscribers.
All of this makes economic sense to me, not to talk of the moral imperative for universal access to healthcare. While a resident of BC is healthy, he remains an asset in full bloom, in the pool of talent which the Province can look to, to address any challenges it faces. Why throw part of that talent pool away by excluding it from BC’s healthcare system? The rich in any society don’t have a corner on the best ideas for addressing the challenges which confront them, or all of humanity. Sometimes the best ideas have humble origins.
- The much acclaimed Apple II computer emerged from Steve Wozniak’s garage and translated the personal computer in the workplace, home and school from concept to reality; a reality we now take for granted. Steve Wozniak didn’t have much to his name, when he developed the remarkable circuitry of the Apple II.
- The unscholarly Wright brothers blessed humanity with the first aeroplane, from their mechanics’ workshop and on a shoestring budget. Flying to a distant, or remote city seems the natural thing to do today.
If for their potential alone, everyone in the talent pool deserves to live, not just the rich, the famous, the privileged.
The sudden assault on my eyes in the wee hours of December 9th terrified me initially, as an unexpected encounter with the unfamiliar tends to with most persons. By morning though, I’d settled into my educated attitude of, “Yeah, so …,” which my son says he found puzzling. I chose that attitude over every other, because of a relationship:
- Jesus of Nazareth affirmed some two thousand years ago that I’m of such value to His and my Father in heaven, that He even numbers the strands of hair on my head. Put another way, every detail of my life is of interest to God. Nothing has happened since that affirmation which undermines my faith in it. On the contrary, much has happened to strengthen my faith; such as the details of His death and ressurrection (which was predicted before His time) and the testimony of His contemporaries;
- Since I’m of such worth to my Creator, the Sovereign of the universe, when I pray as I did on December 3rd for better eyesight, He hears and invests in the outcome of my prayer. Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better, when He intervenes in our lives. Jesus put it pithily when He said, “… unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.” (John 12:24; NKJV);
- God’s calculation of when and how to intervene in my life must be infinitely more complicated than I can comprehend, since He knows every possible outcome before the event. Mind you, He created and moderates the time, space and matter of the universe to fulfill purposes which are far weightier than my immediate fixation.
Therefore I’ve no need to be anxious about the urgency of the immediate. He intervenes on my behalf for the best possible outcome, in the most opportune moment. Now, some dismiss such reflections as pie in the sky thinking, or belief in fairy tales, without bothering to examine the historical evidence* of the authority of Jesus of Nazareth to pronounce on these matters. Some speculate that the universe is infact, self perpetuating and doesn’t have a creator.
What evidence you pay attention to is yours to choose. Nevertheless, here’s the end of the matter. Consider the vastness of the universe; I’ll assume you’re well informed enough about its size. Compare that expanse with the size of the earth, just to gain some comprehension of the enormity of eternity, when compared with our lifespans on earth. If I happen to be wrong about Jesus of Nazareth, I will have:
- spent my organic lifespan for more than me, myself and I;
- laboured to reign in my urgings and appetites, rather than be ruled by them and
- laboured to manage my personal relationships in response to what Jesus taught and did for me, as my expression of appreciation towards someone I adore.
I can live and die with that error, without regret. If you happen to be wrong about Him, do you have a contingency for living with your error throughout the endlessness of eternity? ©
* The first five books of the New Testament.