Greg’s Story

When the Unexpected Occurs, Imaging Provides Reassurance

So far, the Imaging is Power fundraising campaign has focused on the importance of MRI. Now, it turns to cardiac care—a major consumer of imaging, and an area our community cares deeply about. The campaign will support the replacement of a critical piece of cardiac equipment: a 13-year-old C-Arm in the Heart Catheterization Lab at Royal Jubilee Hospital (RJH) that is beyond its end-of-life, and used more than five times a day on patients like Greg.

I have been in great health all my life. During my 30-year military career, I’ve had annual medicals, including blood work and electrocardiogram tests (ECGs). I don’t smoke, drink very little, and have no family history of heart disease. Suffering a heart attack, at 54 years old, wasn’t on my radar.

In the early morning of October 24th of this year, I woke up feeling pressure in the middle of my chest. I didn’t want to wake my wife and two young kids, so I dismissed the feeling, thinking dinner had simply been richer and later than usual.

An hour later, sweating and scared, I woke up my wife, who’s a physician and felt I should go to the hospital. A series of ECGs at Royal Jubilee Hospital revealed I was suffering a heart attack.

I was terrified—more than any other time in my life. For context, I’ve been on the frontline of combat with the Canadian Air Force. Mountaineering and parachuting were passions, prior to having kids. I questioned if I would see my children grow up.

But then—cardiologist Dr. Anthony Della Siega calmly explained a procedure that would save my life: a stent would be placed in my coronary artery, accessed through my wrist. I would be awake through it all, and he was confident it would go well.

I was quickly brought up to the Heart Catheterization Lab, and placed on a table. A piece of machinery was rotating around my body—I was told it was a C-Arm. I could hear Dr. Della Siega and his colleagues speak about the images of my heart they were seeing. How surreal, that they could be inside of my body in real-time.

Within minutes, they shared the device was in position and functioning. Thanks to the care teams and the technology, my heart was beating healthy.

Later, I learned my artery had been 70 per cent blocked.

While I may no longer be able to fly with the military, I’m grateful to be here. Dr. Della Siega provided me with an image of my healthy heart to take home. It provides me with reassurance that regardless of what the next chapter holds for me and my family, I have my health.

And, like you, I have access to great local hospital healthcare if, and when, I need it. Please join me in supporting the Victoria Hospitals Foundation—it does help all of us when the unexpected occurs.

—Major Greg Clarke, Commanding Officer, Joint Rescue Coordination Center & grateful patient