A fond farewell to the newspaper and community

Amid a health issue and need to return to the U.S., Sonja steps down from writing her column

Across the Valley - Sonja Lester

Across the Valley - Sonja Lester

Social life has evolved in a special way with our first-ever experience with a pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic. A wake-up call is that there isn’t much of a social side in a pandemic. Groups get smaller, more intimate and more supportive. We have gone more virtual.

It is a virtual world now that can save a life.

I was talking to my son on the phone and getting frustrated because I couldn’t put the words out. He said, “I better go Mom.” And as I was hanging up with him on WhatsApp I heard him say, “Siri, phone my brother.”

My other son and his wife, living next door, were at my door in one minute. They turned off their stove and came straight over. I turned down an ambulance ride because I knew I was getting better and it turns out that when the ER got their heads-up, by cell phone, that I was coming in they were preparing to triage me.

I didn’t have to go to Terrace or PG to get the tests done. My family didn’t have to take time off work and stay in a hotel. We have a CT scanner and a technician at our hospital and an ER staff of doctors and nurses who are there with their knowledge and experience. And it was a Sunday.

Within an hour of getting two CT scans, one with contrast dye and one without, the radiology report came back. They had findings. My test results were sent to a neurologist at VGH. In just another hour the report came back.

I was given an appointment for another CT scan the next day with a follow-up in the ER and an appointment was made for an echocardiogram. All in our own hospital! What could have felt stressful was comforting, full of safety and thoughtfulness for my well-being. I was cared for in my community.

I am aware of my need to express heartfelt thanks to people such the late Mr. Fritz Pfeiffer of Telkwa (who donated $1.6 million dollars for a CT scanner), the volunteers at New-to-You and also to politicians who make their life’s work to be a driving force for our well-being.

It is through talking to friends and family that I am aware that TIAs or strokes are pretty common and when acted on quickly are often of no consequence.

Writing this column has been a comfort and pleasure. At first I called it Hard Copy, so that we could get our stories in old-fashioned print. I am grateful to Thom Barker for giving me this moment in time. “Make it yours … do it your way!”

My heart needed to change it to Across the Valley as my life became, once again, connected to friends, families and neighbors. Not just mine but yours too.

I would tell a friend “I don’t know what I’ll write in the column this week” then a suggestion would come and I would learn something new about someone I didn’t know.

I feel a deep gratitude to Thom for making me a part of a great team and Grant Harris who let me know that our little column Across the Valley was important to the newspaper.

I have had someone very special and needing a lot of virtual care, from me, in the USA and when it is safe for me to, I will go down. So for now, I need to step down.

We are a great community in a crazily driven world!