For Jim Turner and his wife, Shelley, their 48th wedding anniversary this past October was a gift they had not expected after Jim faced a sudden severe illness in May.
After enjoying an evening walk as they often did, the Langley couple had returned home when Jim, 73, was struck with sudden, excruciating pain. “It sent me onto the floor screaming in pain, ‘I need an ambulance.’ Anyone who knows me, knows that’s a huge deal,” he says.
Paramedics took him straight to the Langley Memorial Hospital emergency department, where they learned Jim had a perforated bowel.
Just two months into the pandemic, the hospital was still adjusting to new COVID-related protocols that included limiting visitors, and while Shelley understood, it broke her heart to leave Jim alone before and after surgery.
“I received a call telling me what was happening, and then a call right after the surgery telling me that things were touch-and-go but that he was being transferred to the critical care unit for observation,” Shelley recalls. “I was given permission to come up to the hospital the next day to talk to the doctor and see him briefly, but that evening I was called again to come up soon – he was not doing well.”
With Shelley in the room and their daughter on Skype from Papua New Guinea, they said their goodbyes not knowing if there would be a tomorrow for Jim. But miraculously, he held on.
In all, Langley Memorial’s Dr. Scott Cowie performed four surgeries on Jim with the outcome at every turn unsure; but Jim was a fighter, and so was Dr. Cowie.
“Dr. Cowie did some miraculous things,” Shelley says. “He continued to fight for Jim, surgery after surgery.”
Giving Langley surgical teams the tools they need for patient care
This spring the Langley Memorial Hospital Foundation aims to raise $21,000 for specialized tools to help surgical teams care for patients like Jim – tools like endoscopes, used to diagnose and treat gastro-intestinal cancers, and video scopes, which help anesthetists perform quicker intubation, improving patient comfort and care when preparing for surgery.
Beyond having the right equipment to deliver quicker care, equipment purchases will also help increase the number of patients supported, reducing surgical wait times for the community.
For Jim and Shelley, the care they received at Langley Memorial has left them profoundly grateful.
Through the surgeries, follow-up care and daily physiotherapy, as Jim’s recovery progressed over his three-month stay at Langley Memorial, he and Shelly got to know the hospital staff very well and were consistently impressed at each interaction.
“It was not just the nurse staff and physicians, it was the care aids and cleaning staff, too,” Shelley says. “I have the highest regards for the team.”
After a transfer to Maple Ridge Hospital for continued rehabilitation, Jim was finally discharged on Sept. 20 and though Jim has come a long way since that first surgery in May, his medical journey isn’t yet over.
Following the care he received at Langley Memorial, Jim cherishes each special moment life brings.“Oct. 27, 2020 was our 48th wedding anniversary. I wasn’t sure I would still be here for it and this last Christmas was a gift I had not expected.”
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