Lifetime Memory | Knowledge.ca
Lifetime Memory
Submitted by:
Marian Hof

I was born in Duncan, BC in 1950 and soon after diagnosed with a cleft palate. At that time the plastic surgery to repair this birth defect was in its infancy, I had the operation in Victoria in 1952 but it offered only marginal improvement. At 6 years old it was decided I would come to Vancouver for 2 weeks for speech therapy at Vancouver General Hospital. We stayed with my aunt in West Point Gray and took the bus to the hospital every morning to meet with the therapist in the corridor behind the ER.
One afternoon, as we sat on the wooden benches awaiting my appointment, the ER doors burst open and a young mother with a screaming baby wrapped in a blanket, clasped in her arms, ran to the desk, followed closely by her equally distraught husband. I caught a glimpse of scarlet flesh, with large white streaks, and skin seemingly hanging from the head. The trio were quickly ushered from the scene, but in those few minutes I saw the horror witnessed in an ER every day. Even at only 6 I was horrified. I asked on the way out, how the baby was, and was told she was in treatment, apparently at 28 months she had been tall enough to reach the handle of a pot of boiling oil left on a stove, and that was what had spilled onto her head and upper body causing such catastrophic damage. I asked the next day when I went to my speech therapy appointment, but no one would say anything, I guess they just thought I was a nosey little kid, but that event had a real impact on me.

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