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In pain, Cora lies in a hospital bed after her operation, feeling alone and helpless after the insensitive treatment by her doctor and nurse. Enter Ti-gars (Cowboy), a Québécois handyman who is working on the roof. He and Cora constantly clash as Cora rejects his efforts to help her, unaware that he needs her help as well in order to solve his own dilemma.

Quebec country music, plus songs of Nashville and Jamaica, help further the plot of this comedy-drama. The play presents a light-hearted look at the too-familiar problems of patient alienation and helplessness. It is also not an accident that Cora and Ti-Gars must work together to solve their problems.

Four characters, a simple set, some lively music, and a cowboy hat — these are the ingredients for this humorous yet thought-provoking play. Tickets was first presented at a nursing conference on patient care at the Montreal General Hospital.

Finally, a year later, free of pain and clear of mind, I was able to look back on my experience from a more objective point of view. At this point, Ti-Gars re-appeared, this time as a forceful character with a mission, and was able to show me my hospital experience in a new light. The result was Tickets, which explores self-help as well as what Dr. Wilfred Grenfell once described as “the art of healing: opportunities of doing more for the patients than simply patching up their bodies.”

The fact that the staff of the same hospital where I had been a patient chose to mount Tickets revealed to me an attitude of listening and of caring and a desire to share ideas with others. The obvious ticket to the play belongs to Dr. Sproule, but Ti-Gars was Cora’s ticket out of the hospital, and Cora was Ti-Gars’ ticket out. Working on the play with the hospital staff also gave me a ticket — to understanding their problems and discovering their dedication.

I would be more than glad to share Ti-Gars with any and all patients, long- or short-term, who have any feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, or who just feel plain downtrodden and in the dumps. The medical staff will take care of your body, but Ti-Gars will take care of your mind, your heart, your emotions, and your soul. You must have spirit to survive. Ti-Gars healed my spirit. For that I will always be grateful.

From Tickets:

DR. NORRIS (consults chart): Lung repair … right side … upper lobe….

CORA: What?

DR. NORRIS: Let’s see … your operation was a week ago … you have a chest tube. What I’m saying is … (Authoratative) Now, don’t forget the exercises … very important! Bre-e-a-the deeply … (He demonstrates) Get in that old O-2. You have 2 and ¾ pounds of lungs … Use them! That is to say … fill’em up! And sit up straight! Shoulders back! That’s the ticket…!

CORA (Tries to put shoulders back but the pain stops her) And … when can I go home?

DR. NORRIS: Oh, didn’t I tell you? One more week … that is … about six or seven days….

CORA: I know how many days are in a week! I’m not stupid! Helpless … but not stupid! Honestly!

DR. NORRIS: Well … of course not … What I’m getting at is….

CORA: I know what you’re getting at! One time! Tell me something one time! Not two times … one time!

DR. NORRIS (Stares at her): I was just … I thought….

CORA: Stop thinking! Pay attention! Pay attention to your patients!

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