Anne Simms spent most of her life knowing that, one day, she’d probably have heart surgery. She was born with a defective aortic valve. Back in 2003, she found herself getting tired and out of breath, and suspected the time had come to have the valve replaced. The doctor she consulted, though, told her it was just panic attacks.
“I didn’t like that much,” says Anne. “I don’t get panic attacks. So I consulted another doctor.”
The other doctor sent Anne for an electrocardiogram, which confirmed her suspicion. She was referred to St. Michael’s Hospital.
The surgery was almost 20 years ago. Anne is the first to admit, and she does it with a laugh, that her memory isn’t what it used to be. But she does remember being treated well. She remembers being comforted and respected. And she remembers being listened to.
“After the surgery, it was important that I get walking again. And I knew that. But it was hard. And people were really nice about it. They told me to take my time. They were firm about me having to do it, but really nice at the same time.”
Anne thinks back to that doctor who told her it was just panic attacks. She thinks maybe he should have listened to her a bit more. She’s glad she ended up somewhere where people did.
“I’ve had the experience of not being treated in a human way. I have many friends who’ve had the same. You don’t expect doctors and nurses to be your best buddies, but it’s nice if someone says ‘okay, we understand where you are coming from,’ instead of always running in and out saying ‘we’ve got to get this test done.’”
Anne Simms says she’ll never forget the care she received at St. Michael’s. She makes an annual donation to the hospital she credits with her being alive today. Anne is in her eighties now. And as she likes to say, with a chuckle, “I’m ancient and I’m lucky.”
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