I was getting claustrophobic from being confined to my home for the past two weeks, so the drive to North Vancouver last Friday was a welcomed change.
During my hibernation, I wrote about some of the pain and sadness in the following stories: (click on each to view)
However, the decision to visit my friend Suzette, who had undergone a severe operation on her brain, was tentative. I hadn’t spoken with her or Myles yet and didn’t know the results of her surgery. Initially, I was going to call Lions Gate Hospital to see how Suzette was doing, but I decided to send her a text message from the car as I was leaving home.
But just as I picked up my cell phone, a text message from Suzette suddenly flashed on the screen:
So I’m ok for any visits on the 7th floor at the Lions Gate North Vancouver. If you’re able to visit. I think I’m here until Sunday for sure. But if you’re not able to attend, no worries. We can always chat over the phone. ?
I am on my way to see you this morning
Cool – see you soon. 7th floor
What timish were you thinking of coming today?
I have a friend coming at 1 pm with her little girl
I’m stuck in traffic. Been on the road for an hour.
At 1st ave & #99
Too bad where abouts are you? I’ll see you soon
How far away is that?
Where are you?
Almost 2nd narrows
Although one might chuckle at her responses, I was impressed that she was even able to text the messages to me – three days after brain surgery!
Traffic stopped moving on Highway 99. It was like a parking lot, and it wasn’t even rush hour! It was taking me three times as long as it usually does to get to the north shore.
So I secretly picked up my cell phone and called Suzette to explain why it was taking me so long to get there (it’s illegal to use devices while driving in BC – a law that I usually support – but I was feeling like a desperado, albeit a hypocritical one).
Suzette’s voice sounded wonderfully healthy, and that made me feel happy – for the first time in days!
I was able to find a parking spot on St. Andrews street, and it was free! As I walked through the glass doors to the hospital, I saw a smiling face in the reflection – it was mine! Before leaving home this morning, I had worried that Suzette would be lying in bed, unconscious, and with numerous wires and tubes and bells and whistles. But instead, I knew that she was able to think and speak – and her voice was easier to understand than mine.
It was almost Noon as I approached the nurse’s station on the 7th Floor – Intensive Care Unit.
“Could you tell me what room Suzette Laqua is in?”
A nurse looked up from her computer screen and smiled.
“I’ll show you to her room,” she replied.
As we neared Suzette’s room, the nurse asked me another question.
“Are you her father?” the nurse asked.
“OMG! Do I look that old?”
But I shouldn’t have been surprised by the nurse’s question. I have a daughter who is forty-eight years old, and I’m sure that Suzette isn’t that old.
As the nurse and I walked down the corridor, I thought about the events that led up to Suzette’s surgery.
About two years ago, Suzette began having brief episodes of feeling faint and light-headed. But as the founder and operator of Canada’s first web festival – she was used to working sixteen-hour days. It is the reason that the Vancouver Web Festival is one of the leading film festivals on the planet.
On one particular day, her son Lucas asked Suzette something, but Suzette didn’t answer and went into a full Grand Mal seizure. Fortunately, Myles and Suzette had trained their son well – because the eleven-year-old dialed 911, and the paramedics were able to get Suzette to the ER in New Westminster.
After a series of tests, the physician diagnosed Suzette as now being ‘epileptic.’ It was shocking news, and Suzette refused to believe that she had suddenly developed Epilepsy. Undoubtedly, the doctor was wrong. But without an opposing medical opinion, she was given a prescription to prevent the seizure from reoccurring. But instead of Suzette getting help from the medication – she seemed to get worse.
And that brings us up to the point when I visited Suzette at the Neurology Floor of Vancouver General Hospital last December. It was only then that a neurologist was able to correctly diagnose her ailment as Hippocampal Sclerosis and not Epilepsy.
Suzette was flown to Calgary in the New Year, where she received a special MRI on her brain. It confirmed the diagnosis, and Suzette returned to her home in New Westminster to await the Anterior Temporal Lobe Resection surgery.
But when you have a severe condition and the surgery isn’t scheduled until late October – panic begins to accompany the long wait. But Suzette is a fighter and she began pressing for an earlier date for the surgery.
Which brings us up to last Tuesday, when Suzette entered Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver. I wrote about her surgery that day, after speaking with her in the morning.
And now, three days later, I was walking down the hospital corridor to Suzette’s private room.
Here is the video clip from my visit.
Click to view – Danny’s visit with Suzette
And here are some of the photos from the visit and a some that Suzette sent to me, yesterday.
In closing, I will never be able to repay Suzette for booking me as an actor in her film Last Chance Casting. When we met, I was just getting over my cancer treatments and didn’t have a lot of positive things going my way. But that film changed how I viewed my future and I’ve never looked back.
And Suzette and I have been friends ever since.
Dedicated to Suzette, Myles, and Lucas
Today’s tune from Danny’s library (purchased):