Al Wiebe
Of No Fixed Address

I hadn’t slept in 24 hours. Sleep wouldn’t come. I’d been released from Crisis Stabilization Unit after only three days, following a 2 a.m. bridge jump to end my miserable, homeless life. That was spurred on by the rejection of help by HSC emergency three times in two weeks when my life hung in the balance. After the third time, I jumped. I could not fathom that the system that was there to help, had outright rejected me three times because I was homeless.

I somehow survived the jump, and the next day found myself at Misericordia where the same rude treatment greeted me. The nurse there said, “You can wait for or five hours for a doctor, but she can’t help you.” What kind of healthcare system do we have when they say, We can’t help you?

As mentioned earlier, I was sent to the Crisis Stabilization unit for three days not nearly enough after fourteen harrowing months on the harsh streets of Winnipeg. 

I went back to my “homeless home”, the wreck of a ‘64 Mercedes in the back lane next to Diaz Auto at the corner of McPhillips and William.

I lived in the back seat of that car through one of Winnipeg’s harshest winters and hottest extreme summers, while battling depression, anxiety, diabetes, and a long fight with pneumonia.

There I was, after a failed bridge jump, no clothes, nothing to my name. 

I was really sick and had not been able to keep food down at the Crisis Stabilization Unit, yet they released me to the street. 

I lay in my car for twenty-four agonizing and painful hours. Trying to decide what to do. 

I finally used the last ounce of hope and energy in me to try to get to St Boniface Hospital. I had collected enough drive-through change from the McDonald’s and Burger King at McPhillips and Notre Dame to get to the hospital. I didn’t trust myself to walk across those two bridges. 

I walked through the emergency rooms at St. B. I saw a friendly triage nurse, not like the one at HSC, whose attitude changed when she found out I did not have a home, and not like the treatment I had received from Misericordia.

Twenty-four hours and six minutes later a doctor walked into the room I’d been placed in, a room where they put psych patients, and my life changed forever. 

The long journey forward began.

Al may be reached at [email protected]. Phone 204-960-0335.