Thankful for this community

Chrissy Irving

I wanted to write a little article in the paper to express my gratitude for all the love and support that my family received over the past couple weeks while I was down in St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. We are proud to call Tumbler Ridge home for the past ten years and when something like this happens in life you truly get to know what your community and friends are made of.

It all started on my birthday. I woke up in the morning and thought I come down with the flu. I called all my clients and canceled Massages for the day, I had also noticed that all my fingernails had splinter hemorrhages that appeared overnight I Googled this and found a scary term used—infective endocarditis.

But what young healthy person has a heart condition? So I waited until Monday to see my doctor. I rested for the weekend and by Monday I felt worse with dizziness and overall weakness. I made an appointment with Dr. Helm.

When I went down to the clinic and told Dr. Helm of my symptoms and showed him my fingernails he immediately brought me over to the emergency side and ran an ECG followed by blood work. My blood work came back with high amount of Troponin and elevated Eosinophils indicating heart involvement as well as white blood cells trying to fight something off.

I was immediately hooked up to IV and started on two different types of antibiotics thinking it was a bacterial infection in my heart. Dr. Helm quickly arranged a transferred to Dr. Nicola, a Cardiologist in Fort St. John and I was off by Ambulance to ICU.

Arriving in Fort St. John I was admitted to ICU and given an echocardiogram as well as a chest x-ray and enough blood work to make a person queasy from blood loss. At this point it was determined that yes, indeed I had inflammation and fluid around my heart and they would do further testing to determine the cause.

I spent the next five days in ICU getting blood work and the doctor trying to figure out what was going on. I luckily had my family surrounding me and being there for all the support I needed because not knowing what the outcome was is extremely terrifying.

Then one morning my cardiologist came to do his morning rounds. He sat beside me and told me he was suspecting that I had a condition called Eosinophilic Myocarditis where the walls of the heart thicken and eventually will contract but will be unable to relax. He informed me that if this was indeed what I had the prognosis was not good and within three to four years, I potentially would need a heart transplant. He made the decision to fly me to St. Paul’s Hospital where I would have further testing to confirm his suspicion.

I was flown down to Vancouver and admitted to the critical cardiac ward and given a full assessment and seen by the Cardiac failure specialist where they would keep me until they knew what my condition was.

In the days to follow I was seen by the Cardiac team, Hematology team, Rheumatology team, Allergy Specialist and Contagious disease control doctor where they tested for bacterial, parasite and viral infections, which all came back negative.

I also had another echocardiogram, chest x-ray, CT scan, MRI, Ultrasound and Bone Marrow Biopsy. The hematology team is still waiting for test results from my bone marrow biopsy but discharged me as an outpatient and are treating me for hypereosinophilic syndrome with a large amount of prednisone as well as antibiotics because my immune system will be compromised.

I will continue with weekly blood tests and an echocardiogram in three months and eventually decrease the amount of prednisone and see how things go. My heart had shown high amounts of troponin but was cleared of any long standing damages and is perfectly normal and functioning well.

We are feeling pretty great about being home and continuing a long and healthy life. I hope to never have this experience again and pray for God’s grace for anyone who has to go through something like this. We are truly grateful and humbled by all the support and love shown by everyone and from the bottom of our hearts we are thankful for everything people have done to support us through this trying time.

Thank you!