My story is a little bit different. Some might say ordinary. But that is exactly why I wanted to share it with you.
At this time last year, I was seeing my family doctor for my regular checkup. He was shocked to discover that my heart rate was very low, and my heart beats were irregular. But nobody was more shocked than me! I don’t have a history of heart problems, and had been feeling my usual self.
My doctor told me the condition I have, called bradycardia, is not uncommon but can be serious if the heart does not pump enough oxygen to the body. I could have dizzy spells, memory problems, and trouble breathing, which worried me especially since I am a school bus driver.
Getting a pacemaker would help control my heart beat, so I was scheduled for surgery at St. Boniface Hospital.
In the weeks leading up to my surgery, I thought about it every day. Not only was I coming to terms with the fact that something was wrong with my heart, but the idea of getting wires and a battery attached to it made me nervous.
Having surgery was a new experience for me, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. But from the moment I walked into the Pacemaker Clinic at St. Boniface Hospital, I felt very much at ease.
All of the staff, from those at the front desk to the doctors and nurses who did the procedure, were kind, patient, and answered any questions I had. The surgery itself went smoothly and quickly.
But I am most deeply grateful for the concerned, compassionate caregivers who helped me during my overnight stay after my operation.
As I laid in bed trying to fall asleep, I began to feel a slight burning sensation in my chest that grew more and more intense. I thought it might be heartburn so I sat up and got out of bed to see if that would help. But once I stood up, a wave of nausea came over me.
As I hurried to the bathroom, I remember thinking that something had gone wrong with the surgery. Maybe my condition was more serious, and I was having a heart attack!
Thankfully, the nurse on duty was an angel. She quickly checked my vitals, called the doctor – even though it was the middle of the night – and determined I was experiencing a rare side effect from when the pacemaker’s wires were being attached to my heart.
It wasn’t serious, but I was in so much pain that she gave me some different medication and helped me into a more comfortable position so I could sleep. I’ll never forget her name – Oriana – or her kindness and concern. I told her she was an angel because her gentle presence was such a reassurance throughout the night.
These special moments are what I remember most about my time at St. Boniface Hospital, but they are so commonplace you don’t always hear about them. That’s why I wanted to share my story with you today.
Since my surgery, I’ve learned over 90 people receive pacemaker implants at St. Boniface Hospital every month, and it is in part thanks to incredible donors like you that they experience the same great care I did.
As you read this letter, I am back behind the wheel of the school bus. But whenever I visit Winnipeg, I stop in to say thank you to the hospital staff who fixed me up so I could get back to my routine. And today, I’m able to also thank you, the donor, whose ongoing generosity made it all possible.
Earlier this year, I recognized one of my caregivers, Oriana, through St. Boniface Hospital Foundation to show my appreciation and help future patients. I encourage you to do the same by making a donation today.
Jake (Jim) Loewen