To bring you up-to-date on what has been happening with me lately, I have to go back to April 2020. Both Brenda and I were getting pretty good at self-isolating by this time as we were already a month into the COVID-19 pandemic. Meetings for me as part of my duties for Town Council were getting canceled left and right and we just got used to spending most of our days indoors at home. One such afternoon, Saturday, April 18, I was sitting on the bed watching a DVD with Bren when suddenly my right arm fell asleep. I noticed right away that it wasn't the typical "pins and needles" feeling and quickly all feeling from my shoulder down to my fingertips was gone. I told Bren that she should take me to the Princeton ER as soon as possible.
Lights and Sirens
We got there at 5:00 PM and by this time my arm and hand were cold to the touch. The ER staff could not locate a pulse and determined I had a blood clot. This instantly put me on an ambulance to Kelowna leaving Princeton at 7:15 PM. The ride on Highway 5A was quick and by the time we reached Westbank and Highway 97 the ambulance was using lights and siren to get me to Kelowna General Hospital as fast as they could. I had what was termed a "life or limb" transport. By the time we got to Kelowna, I had limited feeling in my shoulder and my fingers moved slightly. I was on the operating table at 11:00 PM and spent the night in recovery - the only person in the 20+ bed ward.
Cardiac Cocktail of Pills
The next day I relaxed and although I had been warned that I may not have complete use of my arm, it recovered to about 100% function. Speaking of function, the following day I had a cardiogram that revealed what was going on. My irregular heartbeat (known as Atrial Fibrillation, or AFib for short), from November, had either returned or had not been resolved. I had 50-60% heart function in November. A normally healthy person can have up to 70% heart function. Mine in April had dropped to 10% and as a result, my heart wasn't pumping properly. It was producing blood clots and one was still in my heart. Medications were prescribed to work on this - blood thinners in particular, and I went home Thursday, April 23.
A Recovery Plan
The big difference between my hospital stay in November in Penticton and the one I had in Kelowna in April was that I went home from KGH with a binder of information and a recovery plan. We found out weeks after I got back home that there was a recovery plan with several follow-up items listed from the stay in Penticton. However, none of them were acted upon by my doctor (based in a different community than Princeton). This time around things were very different. I also changed doctors to a local one. We had a Community Nurse visit with us weekly, then bi-weekly to ensure we were doing the right things with the recovery plan. I worked on building my strength with walks around the yard.
Building My Strength
At first, Bren wouldn't let me out of her sight as I was still somewhat weak and often required up to three naps to get through a day. I wasn't eating much, either. I also found that some foods I liked before I got sick, I didn't like anymore. Certain liquids I couldn't drink anymore as I didn't like the taste. That eventually changed as I got stronger. While my AFib didn't change much, blood tests showed that all the other things going on in my body were getting back to normal. However, the list of issues that resulted from Penticton still needs to be resolved. The strength of my heart will determine the timing of the handful of medical conditions I still have to get through as part of my recovery.
I've taken to calling the future operations Phase 2 of my recovery plan. As we enter mid-July, I have a CT Scan coming up that will examine my kidneys. One of them has a growth on it that is about an inch to an inch-and-a-half long. Later that same week I have an echocardiogram scheduled. This is for my heart to determine the current function. With the walking I've been doing (recently as long as 63-minutes) I'm certain that the heart function will be much higher than 10%. Other issues that will require attention is a hernia and a gallstone. I figure I'll be recovering well into 2021 with the way things are going but I have no complaints. I have an awesome support network and that has made a difference.
Bad Timing Or Not?
As I have joked a few times that if there were a good time for this to happen to me, the COVID-19 shutdown of things has made it easier in that I don't feel bad about missing out-of-town meetings as the majority of them were canceled because of the coronavirus. Those I have been able to attend have been via video conferencing. I am strong enough to attend Town Council meetings in person and have made it to the last three that have been scheduled. What's next for me? Well, we are still going day-by-day watching my salt intake and monitoring my blood pressure and heart rate daily. Thank you to everyone who has been following my progress online. It is part of what keeps me going.
My name is George Elliott. I have been in the Media Industry since 1978. I spent 23 years in Broadcasting and worked in a total of six different radio stations located in southern British Columbia Canada during my career. In 2000 I switched gears and moved into the Print Media Industry at a small town, local weekly community newspaper. In 2004 I bought the paper and operated it with my wife, Brenda until July 2016 when we closed it. I launched a freelance web content and article writing business from my home in January 2014.