Oliver And A Medical Crisis
Aug 11, 2007
Our stay in Whitefish worked out well in that we got to try some golf "re-entry" after such a long layoff. Needless to say, no new skills had mysteriously developed and some of those we took for granted proved to be fleeting. We were delighted to have arranged a bit of a trip "decompression" in Oliver and we headed out on our trip there in what we hoped was a reprieve from the smoke.
We chose a route via Highway 2, the western portion of which we remembered as being incredibly scenic on one of our trips to Spokane. While not quite as spectacular, we enjoyed the sights as we wound our way through the Kootenai National Forest (I know, but that's the way Americans spell it) and along the Kootenai River. We made a stop in Libby, Montana to buy some Hot and Spicy V8 for Brenda (not available in Canada, yet). Libby is home to the Libby dam on the Kootenai/Kootenay River, which forms Lake Koocanusa.
Just into Idaho near Bonner's Ferry we headed north on Highway 95 and made our final re-entry into Canada at Porthill near Creston. The weather had been around 23°C and windy but as we approached the border we noticed forebodingly black storm clouds where we were heading. We were the only vehicle at the small customs building and had to wait for our agent to come to the window where she passed us through in less than a minute.
As we headed toward Creston the wind suddenly picked up even more and in the span of 5 kms it started to rain sideways and our thermometer read 11°C...a drop of 12° in less than 3 minutes...Welcome home? Once over the Salmo-Creston cut-off things improved substantially such that by the time we headed down Anarchist Mountain into Osoyoos we were back to 27°. As usual in the summer, Osoyoos was gridlocked with traffic further exacerbated by barefoot pedestrians carrying inflatables, ice cream cones, coolers and towels hot-footing it across the road pretty much anywhere they pleased.
The drive north to Oliver through orchards and vineyards was mercifully short and, after a quick stop at the liquor store, we found our way to our hosts' property on Tucelnuit Lake. Bob, Rita, Chuck and Mary were out to greet us with an emotional hug as we marvelled at Bob after his cancer ordeal. His physical appearance and joyful demeanour just blew us away after our long concern over his battle. Rita had given us regular updates via e-mail and phone conversations but there is nothing like that first in-the-flesh encounter to reinforce what the power of collective will, positive attitude, strong physical conditioning and exceptional medical care can do.
Chuck and Mary were deeply immersed in the construction project of their new lakefront home, which had reached the "lock-up" phase. They would soon be out of their temporary travel trailer accommodation as long as the trades people kept up with their schedule. We enjoyed a cold beverage by the lakeshore where we met Chuck's mother, Em who had just arrived as well. Our accommodation for the next 2 days was in a cottage on the same property, owned by the folks from whom Bob, Rita, Chuck and Mary had bought their lots.
After unloading (for the second to last time on this trip...yea!!!) our stuff into the cottage, we returned to the lakefront for a lovely dinner prepared by our hosts. The excitement and celebration of nearing home and seeing familiar faces apparently caused the wine to hit me harder than usual, as I excused myself from a cozy after dinner campfire to retire for the evening. I'd just have to rely on the collective memory of the others for the recap of the intellectual gems shared over the rest of the evening.
Bob and Rita had decided to forego a round of golf to join Brenda and me on a bike ride around the lake and town on the "Hike and Bike" trail. We took our time preparing (slow morning?) and finally hit the road around10:00 a.m. It was warm but not unbearably so and yet I found myself labouring and sweating profusely. About 2 kms into the ride, we started up a relatively easy hill where I waved Brenda around me so I could take up the last position of the four. She mentioned as she went by that my back tire appeared low and I immediately attributed my increasing fatigue to that.
I dismounted to check the tire and Bob came back to help me. We pulled out a pump to top up the tire and I felt progressively worse with dizziness, nausea and blurry vision. I said I needed to sit down and rest so I found a roadside boulder on which to sit. Brenda and Rita came back to us as well and I wasn't feeling any better. With little prompting, I accepted their judgement that I needed to go to Emergency.
Bob rode back and got his van to load up our bikes and take me in. Bob and Rita were familiar with the Oliver Medical Centre, as Bob had used it to have his IV "pic" for his chemo program serviced, so we were there in jig time. I was on a bed with a monitor and ECG setup in less than 10 minutes. Fortunately, nothing on the instruments indicated any problems related to coronary function and, other than my symptoms and family history, there was no apparent cause for my distress.
The on-call physician, Dr. Francis, interviewed me for further diagnosis, asking a number of questions about the morning and my family history. One of the questions he asked was, "Have you eaten this morning?" and I told him that I had coffee, oatmeal and raisins. Brenda said, "I don't remember you eating?" and I had to add that the oatmeal and raisins were in disk form. She exclaimed, "You had cookies for breakfast!"...Hell, yeah!
When Dr. Francis went through the medications I take, he zeroed in on the Atenolol, a Beta-blocker. He said that in treating high blood pressure it artificially lowers and limits your heart rate such that your heart, under exertion and exercise, can't go above a certain controlled rate. He surmised that what had happened to me when I was cycling was that where my heart rate should have gone to 120 to 140 beats per minute, I was topping out around 85 to 90. When that happened my brain and extremities weren't getting adequate blood to function.
He strongly recommended that I see my family doctor and get onto something else to treat the hypertension. After about 1-½ hours I was delighted to be discharged. I really was so lucky to have Bob, Rita and Brenda there to know what to do and for their calm and controlled response I owe them all great thanks. We returned to the cottage for showers and freshening up with a plan to visit a winery for lunch later in the afternoon. Bob and Rita recommended the Lake Breeze in Naramata near Penticton so we set out in Bob's van for the 50 km drive.
The bistro at the winery was very busy and, lacking a reservation, we had about a 45-minute wait. We used the time wisely with a wine tasting where we purchased several bottles for the evening's dinner. Our wait finally was over and we had a lovely lunch on the patio and enjoyed a couple of bottles of a Gewürztraminer we had tasted earlier.
On our return to the cottage, we were joined by the cottage owners (our landlords), Bill and Francie Ross who arrived for appetizers and dinner. Em was treating Chuck and Mary to dinner so it was just six for dinner. We had lots of laughs over dinner where we discovered Bill and Francie had done a 6-month motor home tour with a route reversed to ours. They had visited many of the same cities and we shared memories that I'm sure encouraged Rita and Bob to consider a similar adventure.
Around the campfire later, Francie, who is an RN, expressed similar surprise to Dr. Francis in my Beta-blocker treatment. She has hypertension herself but would not consider the drug I take, especially at the large dosage I was prescribed. I was committed to get to my doctor as soon as we got home to take care of that. As we bid good night to Francie and Bill, they invited us to join them for coffee and treats in the morning, much to our delight.