Crease Clinic

When times are good, be happy;
    but when times are bad, consider this:
God has made the one
    as well as the other.
Therefore, no one can discover
    anything about their future.

Ecclesiastes  7:14


We will start this story with the time I got sick in 1965 and was sent from the emergency room at Vancouver General Hospital to Crease Clinic, a part of Riverview Hospital at the time.

I know… I’ve said that I want to focus on the good parts of my story. And although being shipped to a mental hospital was a bad thing, good can happen in bad places. Things happened in this situation that helped me grow—things that still benefit me today.

Back to the emergency ward:

When I arrived there, badly distraught, the doctor seeing me had me read the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling out loud. He found it in a poetry book I had with me. I read slowly while the sedative they had given me took effect.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too.

I managed to read to the end before falling asleep. Despite the condition I was in, the words of the poem encouraged me. They showed me what I wanted to strive for. Yes, even then.

Many times I’ve wished I could thank that emergency room doctor, because I have kept that poem close to me all the rest of my life. Even now, fifty-five years later, words from it come back to me when I listen to my Roger Whittaker album and hear him sing his version in Erik’s Song.

I didn’t believe in God at the time, but he must have been with me. It was a blessing to have had my poetry book there, and to have a doctor find that poem and be thoughtful enough to have me read it. The words were powerful and helped me find my way through good times and bad times.

When I awoke, I was in a ward with many empty beds, no one but me there. I looked at the chart on the nightstand, finding out I was at Crease Clinic. This place had a bad reputation. In fact, it was the object of many cruel jokes. I pulled the covers over my head and hid myself. Back to sleep.

Here, too, I found myself in a bad place. But there was good here as well. Gerald McDougall, the doctor who treated me here was a caring person, someone I would stay connected with for many years.

NOTE: Rudyard Kipling’s poem in its entirety is at–

This has been part 2 of my series My Journey from Patient to Leader. Read part 3: A most extraordinary doctor.