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Dad and Mom at Dad's retirement from Kraft Foods party

Dad and Mom at Dad’s retirement from Kraft Foods party

My dad worked hard all his life and has been quietly suffering these last two years.

He has several degenerative discs that are being squeezed out of his back and no amount or type of medication has relieved his pain.

Most recently, the only time he doesn’t feel pain is when he’s laying down.

Doctors say that once his discs have been squeezed out, he’ll be pain-free – his back will be stiff – but he’ll be pain-free.

In the meantime, his leg muscles are atrophying. He only has about ten percent muscle left in his right leg; and even before he got laid up, he was using a walker.

As a young father, dad worked long days, six days per week making margarine at Kraft Foods. Back then employers weren’t as aware about proper lifting and safety at the workplace. It wasn’t unusual for dad to lift and carry 100 lb. bags of salt up a step-ladder to pour the contents into a vat. He often had back pain and tension headaches in those days.

Years of heavy lifting and hard work resulted in his troubles today.

“No one needs to be in pain these days, there must be something that can be done. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life on the couch,” he recently told me on the phone.

Not too long ago, we learned that there might be something else we can do. The hospital could administer several painful cortisone shots into his spine with the hope that he could be pain-free for up to six months.

But there is a waiting list. It could take six months or more before he would get in.

I was irate to say the least.

When I was a child, I was petrified of doctors. The only person I trusted to tend to my ouchies was dad. He called himself ‘Dr. Heinz’ – Heinz is his given name – just like the ketchup, he used to say.

Once I cut my right hand between my ring and middle finger on a rock while playing in a lake. I feared the worst. I was sure I would need stitches. It was a bloody mess and I could see bone. But Dr. Heinz gently cleaned and bandaged the wound, then bound the two fingers together with gauze and medical tape.

And it worked – the wound healed!

Some forty-plus years later, every time I look at that tiny scar I think of dad. He always took such good care to doctor me up.

Every day that dad can’t walk because of pain, his muscles deteriorate even more. I can’t doctor him up, but enough is enough – I had to do something!

So I made a few phone calls to the hospital in Ontario. They have the referral from his family doctor. They know his medical history, but I wanted to tell them about the man who is my dad, who worked hard all his life, who deserves better than this; who deserves to live his last years with some enjoyment and quality of life.

And it worked. Or it is just a happy coincidence – I don’t really care which – but he’s scheduled to get his shots on Friday!

I couldn’t be happier if I tried.

So fingers crossed, and prayers for pain relief sent, I hope for the best. Good luck dad!


The sad truth is that Canada’s Health Care System doesn’t work anymore. Thousands wait for operations and procedures; many are the elderly; the very folks who worked their butts off to give us a better life. Canada was once recognized as one of the top countries in the world as far as healthcare and general well-being are concerned. Not so anymore. Something needs to be done.  By the year 2041, seniors are expected to represent 25% of the population in Canada, let’s put something sustainable in place before then.


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