I drove to the city early Friday morning beneath a sky washed in vibrant pink, to join a team of staff helping to host a conference at the beautiful new campus of Tyndale University College and Seminary. Paul left the house early too, he was part of Faith and Culture Inclusion Network hosting OASIS 2015 at the Sheraton Hotel in Richmond Hill and Friday was the last day of that conference.
It was just before 3.30 that I returned to my seat and saw a call from Paul coming in on my silenced cell phone. Had I not returned at that moment I wouldn't have seen it but I did and answered it. I heard Paul say deliberately, "Love, I'm okay, but I've had a heart attack," and then more shakily, "It would be very good if you could be here." He told me which hospital he was in. All I could say was, "I'm on my way. I'll be right there!" And on my way out, I told people in my path what had happened, leaving shocked faces in my wake, and prayers following me to my car.
I called our children quickly from the car and headed into Friday afternoon rush hour going north to South Lake hospital. On the way I was flooded with emotion, but also peace. I had so many unanswered questions, and when I finally got to the hospital, and found him, looking weak and vulnerable and attached to many monitoring devices, the details of what had happened amazed me.
Instead of heading up highway 404 to go home; as he had on the other days; at noon when the conference ended, he decided that because it was such a lovely day he would take the slower drive along Yonge Street from Richmond Hill.
As he drove north, a burning sensation started in his chest, then intensified to severe pain that radiated into his jaw. He knew he had to get to a hospital. At first he thought he would keep heading for South Lake hospital in Newmarket, but quickly realized he couldn't make it, so he turned the car around and headed for McKenzie Health in Richmond Hill. In the lane beside him he noticed a police car at one point and considered honking the horn to get their attention, but thinking that if they called an ambulance it would take longer to get there, he kept driving. In under 10 minutes he parked his car outside the door of the emergency department, walked in, and said he had severe chest pain.
The medical staff at McKenzie Health immediately went into action, with 4 nitro-glycerine pills under his tongue and more nitro sprayed into his mouth. They called ahead to have a team prepared at South Lake, then got him into an ambulance and headed up the highway. The major left ventricle to the heart was 90% blocked. At South Lake the blockage was removed and a stent put in.
Besides the fact that he was alive there were so many details to thank God for; so many decisions made that were the right ones.
Over this weekend he has continued to amaze us with his recovery. On Saturday his heart was functioning at 63% capacity. Today (Sunday,) the doctor told him that it was barely possible to see any damage on the sonogram. I arrived this morning to find him dressed in street clothes and dress shoes and having walked several laps of the cardiac floor. He should be coming home tomorrow; there is still a road to be traveled; we are so very thankful...
This photo of Paul was taken while still at the OASIS conference on Friday by our friend and coworker Dwayne Milley. Dwayne said, "He told me not to take the pic. He's laughing because he knew I was ignoring his request."