Letter: I’d Never Really Been Ill Before

Letter: I’d Never Really Been Ill Before

July 07, 2019

Earlier this year, I caught a nasty, late season flu from my son. After suffering from worsening symptoms for a week, I checked in to the Burnaby Hospital Emergency Department on a busy Sunday evening. A chest x-ray revealed that on top of having the flu, I had pneumonia in both lungs.

My third night in the hospital was when things took a turn for the worse. I woke up to concerned nurses and doctors that told me that my oxygen saturation rate had become dangerously low. My condition wasn’t improving, and I had to be moved to the ICU – a decision that really freaked me out because suddenly I knew I was in a very serious, potentially life-threatening situation. At 49 years old, I’d never really been ill before, and all of a sudden I was worrying about whether my will was up to date, if my wife was listed on my bank accounts, and if the mess I’d left at my work at Langara College would impact my students.


“My condition wasn’t improving, and I had to be moved to the ICU – a decision that really freaked me out because suddenly I knew I was in a very serious, potentially life-threatening situation.”


In the Burnaby Hospital ICU, I continued to receive oxygen and medication for the flu and pneumonia. I was also put on strict bedrest and a liquid diet in case I needed to be intubated. After checking on my chest x-ray and CT scan, Dr. Kwan, a pulmonologist, thought that I might have had a rare variant of pneumonia known as BOOP. As a result, I was put on anti-inflammatory steroids to calm my immune system, which was likely attacking my lung tissue. Over the next week, I started to make minor improvements and prior to my release, a bronchoscopy confirmed the diagnosis of BOOP.

For the two and a half weeks that I spent at Burnaby Hospital, the medical staff were exceptional in every respect. I was truly amazed at the level of care I received—the nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, and physiotherapists were all amazing, compassionate and competent. When I was first moved to the ICU, and my condition was the most precarious, I remember receiving standout care from several nurses; Tezra, Izumi, Donna, and Marni, to name a few. But, really, everyone was great.

It is really important to have a hospital in your own community, near to home, which makes a hospital stay easier on the whole family. To anyone able to give, I would say that a donation to Burnaby Hospital is one of the best ways to enhance your community and positively impact the lives of so many people. And the exceptional people working there deserve to have the equipment they need to help their patients.

I spent a lot of time during my stay at Burnaby Hospital thinking about my kids and creating videos on my phone telling them how great they were and how proud I was of them. I’m incredibly thankful that because of the staff at Burnaby Hospital, we all get to spend a lot more time together, and that my kids don’t have to watch those videos yet.

Cam MacDonald