A stroke here, a heart attack there — what to do? What to do? An update!

David F. Rooney

KAMLOOPS — There’s nothing like a stroke and a heart attack to prompt some major lifestyle changes.

As Revelstoke Current readers know by now, I suffered a stroke on the  night of August 21. What they aren’t aware of is the fact that subsequent CAT, MRI and Ultrasound scans at Royal Inland Hospital here in Kamloops show that I also had a heart attack. Blood flow through the ventricles of my heart is now about 15 per cent — not the 60 per cent it should be.

I am scheduled for a cardiac test on Tuesday that will determine whether I will be sent to Kelowna for an angiogram and/or a little surgery to insert a stent into one of my arteries. An angiogram calls for the insertion of a tube from my thigh all the way to heart and the injection, then, of a dye that will show where the major blockage is.

Sounds like fun, doesn’t it? And all because I refused to heed my physician’s warnings or the pleas of those who love me.

But why would I do that? Vices like smoking and drinking were activities I managed to justify to myself as understandable responses to stress — a kind of self-medication — even if I tried to hide them from others. And I was always ready to quietly delude myself into believing that I was a tough guy. Nothing was going to touch me.

Tough guy. Yeah. Right. More like a weak character.

That’s why I found myself lying on the floor unable to make a telephone handset function.

There’s nothing like a stroke and a heart attack to efficiently puncture and deflate the delusions people like me manufacture to justify our addictions.

Once revealed for the evil thoughts they are, the only rational response is to repudiate them completely and strive for a better life. That will take time and the understanding of my friends and family. Does that sound like a mea culpa? I guess that’s what it is.

Fortunately, I am also in good hands here. The physicians overseeing my treatment and the nurses and occupational and physical therapists in the Rehabilitative Medicine Program’s stroke unit on RIH’s fifth floor are compassionate, dedicated and very, very professional.

The patients they care for are a mix of mostly late middle-aged men and women — although a couple are clearly younger — suffering from various degrees of incapacitation. One is severely in capacitated. The three men I share a room with are worse off than me but are cheerful and we have fun mocking the quality of the food.

Take the Saturday night meal, for instance. We were served things called “ribs” that were very clearly made from some kind of ground-up mystery meat pressed into vaguely rib-like shapes and slathered with BBQ sauce. The peas were real but the jury was out on the scalloped potatoes. Some thought they were mass produced in a factory, others muttered about trolls in Vernon where all of our meals are prepared, then frozen and shipped here because that somehow makes more sense to the bean counters than cooking real meals here.

Fortunately, I’ll only have to eat this stuff while I’m here. Once I’m back in Revelstoke I’ll have to take some additional time off and do more cooking for myself.

I can already taste it. Now all I need to know is how long it will be before I can go back home to Revelstoke.


Since I posted the above column on The Current on Sunday morning I’ve learned quite a bit more about what is happening:

  1. My heart has only 15 per cent of its normal function and some portions of it are not working;
  2. I’m having a MIBI Cardiac Stress Test on Tuesday or Wednesday. This will help determine what parts of my heart are working and which aren’t;
  3. I’m being sent to Kelowna for an angiogram on Thursday (I presume I will be transferred back here but I could be wrong). The angiogram will show my physicians how extensive the blockages are; and
  4. The results of these tests will determine whether I require:
  • a stent; or
  • a full bypass operation; and/or
  • installation of a fibrillator (AKA a pacemaker) in my chest.

Either way, the invasive stuff will be done in either Vancouver or Victoria after this coming Friday.

In  my absence, Laura Stovel has agreed to cover some events in town as they occur. If you have an event planned and would like to ensure it is covered by The Current please send the details by e-mail to lstovel0@gmail.com (please CC it to me at drooney1@telus.net so the What’s On section is can be updated). You can also reach Laura by phone through her parents, Marg and Bud Stovel, at 250-837-3515.