Wednesday, December 19, 2012

One Degree, Not Six

"Don't they do this test in New Brunswick?"

Holly confirmed to the hospital receptionist in Halifax that they do definitely do have the ability to administer this medical test in Saint John.

"Couldn't your doctor ask for the test to be done there?"

She couldn't because Holly's doctor isn't registered in the New Brunswick computer database.

"Couldn't your doctor there have ordered it?"

The receptionist, only asking these questions out of personal curiosity and registering Holly for her test while conversing, appeared both surprised and sorrowful to hear that there are no available doctors in Saint John.

halifax macdonald bridge old bridge

A quick online search and a phone call was all it took to land a family doctor in Halifax and this test was why we made the four hour trip exactly a week before Christmas.  We made the most of the hours in Halifax by having brunch with two of my sisters and exchanging hugs and gifts over the excellent food at Heartwood Restaurant on Quinpool Road.  Having to close our new studio for a day so close to Christmas was not something we took lightly, but health trumps money - or so should be the case.

heartwood bowl halifax

Late December road trips (the first day of winter, my birthday, and seemingly, the end of the world are only three days away) are always a concern in Canada too.  On our return trip, just past Sussex, the temperature gauge on the car's control panel indicated that the air had chilled to freezing and the light drizzle we had picked up just after Moncton had changed to big, fat snowflakes and the painted white segmented lines on the highway began to fade.  The road had quickly become a treacherous mess with the centimetre or two that had fallen and we were creeping along near 30kms per hour.

norton nb snow

"The sign says there's an exit to Norton in six kilometres," Holly informed me.

Is there anything in Norton?  The two cars behind indicated their intention to take the off ramp, so we followed suit.  Lo and behold, at the bottom of the ramp, an Irving sign glowed through the snow.  This would be so pretty if we were safe at home, I commented.

A handful of cars and a couple tractor trailers sat watching the highway in the service station's (and liquor store) lot and nearly two hours past.  This precipitation was no surprise, nor was the temperature or the wind chill that accompanied the gusting winds, there was no indication any salt had been laid on the highway.  During our time watching from the Irving, we saw two plows going our way, the off ramp was plowed once, but not the on ramp.  Then another plow passed and everyone seemed to decide that it was time to venture out.

The tractor trailers took a number of attempts to get up the covered ramp and the cars crawled their way to the highway.  We prepared the car and went into the service station for any last necessities, still unsure of setting out for the last 55kms to Saint John.

"Are there any motels in the area?" Holly asked one of the seasoned clerks.

It turned out the closest would mean back-tracking 18kms to Sussex.  This was what the clerk recommended, adding "They say a plow just went by, so going from experience there isn't likely to be another 'til morning."

I found that statement to be so incredulous that I struggled to believe it, but was most disturbed with her delivery of it, as she was neither upset by this neglect nor seemingly aware that situations like this were certainly not normal in other parts of the country.

Put off with the prospect of traveling a significant distance in the wrong direction, Holly and I agreed to attempt the journey home, noting that we had water and food should we have to camp out on the side of the road.  We crawled most of the way, but made it safely, albeit completely unnerved, to the untouched slushy streets of home.

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