I had been experiencing a slight tightness in my upper chest for a few days. On September 21, 2020 I was on my hands and knees digging in my garden with a small tool when suddenly a tightness in my chest increased dramatically and I found myself having difficulty breathing. I stood up, but only managed to walk a couple of steps before collapsing on our ground level deck.
Luckily, my wife Christine turned around and saw me lying there and ran over asking what was wrong, but I couldn’t answer. Christine phoned for an ambulance and I was finally able to gasp that I couldn’t breathe.
I remember fleeting things… being pulled into a sitting position by a paramedic… falling back again… someone saying they could not get a blood pressure reading… hearing the siren as the ambulance drove to the hospital.
Then I was being wheeled into a trauma emergency room where there were lots of people waiting. I was getting needles in both arms… people were talking… someone mentioned warfarin… I was attached to drips… then I remember being wheeled into another room for what I found was a cat scan.
Someone asked me if I wanted to be resuscitated and I answered, “yes please”.
I realized at this point I was in serious trouble and was getting scared that I might not see my wife again, but felt assured these nurses and doctors were doing everything they could to help me. I drifted in and out, not knowing how long I had been there. Then I was moved upstairs to the ICU where I was immediately hooked up to the machines and was intubated to try and get oxygen to my blood.
A doctor explained I had suffered a massive saddle pulmonary embolism and was incredibly lucky to still be here. He informed me I was at a point where they had to try something different soon to get the blood clot that was blocking the blood flow to my lungs reduced and told me of a method used in Victoria that showed great promise. I agreed to this procedure, knowing they were doing their absolute best for me.
A drip bag containing a solution to try to break up the clot over the next 24-hours was attached to my arm.
While in the ICU I had 24-hour care – someone was always there – right outside my room looking in or by my bed checking me and making sure I was comfortable. The staff were incredibly professional, caring and reassuring. They made me feel that I was in the best of hands and that I was their priority. By the next morning, I was starting to breathe easier.
After a few days in the ICU, I was desperately wanting to get home to see my wife, but my oxygen levels had to increase before I could leave. On the morning of the 5th day, Dr. Kyle Murphy explained to me that my heart was enlarged on the right side due to the blood being blocked from getting into my lungs and my lungs had also suffered damage from the lack of oxygen. I would be on blood thinners and required a follow up visit with him in six months, but I could go home!
I am forever thankful and owe a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid to the staff of the Emergency Department and the ICU staff. I honestly believe if this had happened to be somewhere else, I would probably not be writing this.
I owe my life to the people of the Comox Valley Hospital and the professional care, warmth, and calm reassurances I received. I’m celebrating another birthday in a few days and the staff of the Comox Valley Hospital gave me the best present of my life, life itself.
I am Eternally Grateful!