Tuesday, July 7, 2015


The morning was perfect. We woke to gorgeous sunshine, and had a good but simple breakfast at our tent trailer, followed by a fantastic time rafting on the Athabasca River with Maligne Rafting Adventures until lunchtime. Then Lee accidentally whacked his right hand hard on the sharp corner of a solid wooden podium when he went to thank Caleb, our guide, with a handshake. "Yow! That hurts!" Lee said, and offered Caleb his other hand instead.

Within minutes, all the colour left Lee's face, and he was sitting on a bench, cradling his hand, his head between his knees, feeling nauseous. Needing fresh air, he moved to a chair near the door. We hovered around him anxiously, and for a few seconds he blanked out and there was no response, though his eyes were open. Then he had something that looked like a small seizure (which we think now was a vasovagal response), and I asked if someone could call 911. A Maligne Adventures guy already had. Lee came back to himself for a moment, complaining that he wasn't feeling well and couldn't see properly. I was called to the phone to talk to the 911 operator, and Lee faded out again, but our daughter had just taken a first aid course and knew to pinch his trapezius muscle, bringing him out of it, and she helped him out of his jacket. In the meantime, I only managed to answer a few basic questions before the ambulance appeared at the door. Lee was still pretty woozy and feeling awful, so the paramedics gave him oxygen and put him on a stretcher before wheeling him to the ambulance.

The hospital was two blocks away (Jasper is a small town of only 4,000 residents and maybe 10,000 summer sightseers) and we found ourselves the only people in the Emergency ward with a team of three paramedics, three or four nurses and two doctors. To make a long story short, Lee's lack of colour, abnormal blood pressure and heart rate patterns, and tired shoulder muscles from paddling a river raft for an hour made him look just like the victim of a heart attack. He was sent by ambulance to Hinton and was flown by air ambulance from there to Edmonton's Royal Alexandra Cardiac Care Unit.

And he's fine now, except for his swollen hand, which may or may not have a slight fracture. The heart attack enzymes the cardiologists expected to find in several blood tests never materialized, so they are running a few more tests to be sure that everything is as normal as can be, that this whole thing was just a shock reaction to damaging a nerve centre in his hand. Lee is patiently waiting to come home, and our guests from Norway, who joined us for our trip to Jasper, got to try out the waterpark at West Edmonton Mall instead of seeing the Athabasca Icefields. They've been most helpful, and are good sports.

I am so thankful that this whole event wasn't as serious as we first thought, that it happened in a small town with an excellent medical team, that Lee's care is so good, and that we all managed to return to Edmonton in one piece, tent trailer in tow. We are so blessed.

Thank you, God, for everything. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


  1. oh my goodness! what an experience - NOT a good one. just another reminder that things as we know them can change in a mere moment!
    thank you for sharing; hope your paddler gets home soon, and all is well
    su :)

    1. Thanks, Su -- Lee's home safe and mostly sound! Yes, it only takes a second for life to shift directions!

  2. Maria , what an experience and roller coaster of emotions you all went through ....
    Glad to know Lee is okay and also relieved to see you briefly in person this morning.
    I am am joining you in the song of gratitude...
    Much love & lots of Hugs...


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