Interlude – How I went to Toronto and didn’t get S.A.R.S.
Heather and I went to Toronto in June. Toronto was still under world quarantine because of its Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak but we didn’t care. I had some research I wanted to do at Trinity College, and Heather had a meeting of a national board she belongs to, and we both wanted to see our daughter’s new apartment.
Our youngest child, Rachael, was married in December 2002, and in April she and her husband moved to Toronto. He is articling with a huge Bay Street law firm [yes, another lawyer in the family], and Rachael wants to try her wings in the world of opera performance.
They found an apartment near to Ariel, our other Toronto daughter, and they bought a dog. Heather and I - truly enjoying our empty nest, but eager to see how our baby is making out - were taken to see their new home, and were most pleased. We had a lot of fun visiting back and forth with our two grown daughters and their husbands and their pets.
I returned to Winnipeg in a great mood. My research had panned out, our visit was fun, and I had managed not to miss any important parish events. The day I returned from Toronto, I attended a choir barbecue, and the next morning presided at worship - as I do every Sunday. Sunday afternoon I had a tickling cough. Monday morning I had a raging fever, and the cough was severe. A quick check of the internet suggested that these are the very signs of the beginnings of SARS.
I don’t mind getting SARS, myself. In fact, it almost matches my preferred end to life: sudden and final. However, I couldn’t shake from my mind the image of 150 people coming forward to receive Holy Communion at my hands; and the twenty choir members at the barbecue; and my son and granddaughter who came over on the Sunday afternoon to celebrate Father’s Day; and his law firm; and my granddaughter’s school.
The headlines ran through my mind: “Anglican Cleric Brings SARS to Winnipeg! Parish Church, Law Firm, School all Quarantined.”
I phoned the Manitoba SARS hotline, and spoke to a machine: “I was in Toronto; I may have SARS.” The call back was almost immediate. An efficient-sounding voice told me to get in my car and drive over to the hospital where Winnipeg’s SARS unit operates.
When I arrived, people came out to meet my car wearing masks and gloves. At arms length, through the car window, they handed me a mask and told me to leave the vehicle where it was. They then preceded me into the building, not letting me touch anything. I was ushered into a small room where a nurse completely enclosed in plastic and rubber examined me.
The long and short of it was she was able to officially pronounce that I did not have SARS: there was no loss of blood oxygen - a sure telltale; and my contacts in Toronto had not been near any known SARS outbreak centres.
What a relief! My nightmares of quarantined congregations and law offices quickly dissipated.
I could leave the hospital without a mask and I could open my own doors.
But I had an unholy infection which took nearly two weeks to go away.
Next: The Old Man and the Mountain Bike...