photo_donor2“Because I’m still here!” That was the straightforward answer offered by Comox resident Arnold. The statement is by way of explaining why Arnold, and wife Jeanette have chosen to donate to St. Joseph’s Hospital and how they hope others will do likewise.

“We donate to the hospital because they saved Arnold’s life,” says Jeanette. She goes on to explain how on the morning of March 6, 2008 she drove Arnold to the hospital to have a relatively simple test – a nuclear scan. It was a test that was to ultimately lead to a traumatizing event in their lives, and one that, if it hadn’t been for the skills of the physicians and nursing staff at St. Joseph’s, might have had a sad outcome.

Arnold explained that, due to chest congestion, he’d been forced to spend the previous two years sitting up in order to sleep. “I couldn’t lie down,” he said. “If I were to lie down, I couldn’t breathe; my lungs would fill up with fluid. But, to take the nuclear scan, I had to lie down. There was no option.” At home Jeanette, patiently waiting for a call from Arnold so that she could go and pick him up, instead she received a call from somebody in the Emergency Room informing her that her husband was in the ER and was fighting for his life. In a blind panic she drove the blessedly few brief blocks from their home to St. Joseph’s.

What had put Arnold into the medical crisis was a combination of pulmonary edema and congestive heart failure. And, for four to five days it was touch-and-go as to whether he would emerge alive from the coma he’d gone into.

During those frightening, touchandgo days, Arnold was under the care of Dr. Richard Engman, for whom he has nothing but the highest praise for his dedication and the fact that he stayed in the room with the Schreiners for much of the time of the medical crisis. “He was lying there with all sorts of tubes connected to him and after three or four days it didn’t look like he was coming back,” Jeanette says. “We were almost at the point of having to make a hard decision. But, then he started to breathe on his own. All at once he began coming back. On the sixth day he really brightened up and was talking to us.” Arnold says that he know he heard one of the nurses referring to him as “the miracle man at St. Joe’s.”

“I know I heard that and I’m sure I wasn’t dreaming,” he says. From that point it wasn’t long before he was back home again. He said that while he is still medicated, he’s not on a lot of drugs. He said he has been put on a routine of walking every day, but otherwise he’s able to live a relatively unencumbered life.

Both Arnold and Jeanette are unstinting in their praises of the care and dedication they received from everybody at the hospital. Aside from the aforementioned Dr. Engman, there were also Drs. Murphy and Fitzpatrick (Arnold’s GP), and both say the nurses during the difficult days were exceptional in their dedication to the patient.

“We’re just so thankful to the whole group that was there in that room. There I was under their care with 17 tubes running in and out of me, and yet I ended up suffering no serious aftereffects,” he says. “I have a slight tremor in my right hand, but that doesn’t bother me too much since I’m a southpaw.”