Patient Stories: Kevin Ryan, Pakenham, Ontario

Hello! I am from out of town (Pakenham) and it is approaching a year since my stay at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute.

I am just now getting back on my feet financially after Covid and my heart attack and I plan to donate as much as I can to the UOHI through direct donations and Lotteries like the Heart and Stroke Lottery.

 – Kevin Ryan, Pakenham, Ontario

Monday April 11 – 2022

I spent most of the day outside clearing brush from the shoreline at my house and just enjoying the outside on a beautiful day.

I was also getting ready for an important curling match that evening.

I left for the curling club with my two neighbours who curl on another team in the same league and we all began play at around 7:00 pm that evening.

I noticed that I was sweating and breathing heavily more than usual after sweeping a few rocks in end 1 and I remember our team scoring a 3 in end 2 and hanging up that score. That is all I remember until I woke up in the ambulance as it left the curling club about 45 minutes later.

In end 3, I swept 4 rocks, threw 2 and was calling the skip’s 1st rock into the house (as I was told later) but I remember nothing after posting the score after end 2. 

My neighbour (who I traveled with that evening) and who is a very close friend, is a retired nurse and was playing on the next sheet. She threw her rock, saw that I was in distress and immediately came to me and began CPR. She also called for the defibrillator that we have in the club.

One of our club members who is a ski patroller, retrieved the defibrillator, activated it and hit me twice at which point I sat up (I still have no memory of this).

I was rushed to the Arnprior District Memorial Hospital where it was confirmed that I had suffered a cardiac arrest.

I spent the night in the Emergency Department at ADMH and on the morning of April 12, I was taken to the University of Ottawa Heart Institute where I stayed for 12 days.

After my arrival at the UOHI, I was met by the sincerest group of professionals that I have ever encountered.

I was greeted by the trauma team who explained to me what the potential testing and treatment plans were as well as the Chief Nursing Coordinator who went over the nursing roles during my stay.

A cardiology team then came in to take me for an angiogram and after explaining the process to me, off I went.

Later that day, the same team came back in and explained the results of the angiogram and their recommended treatment plan and late in the afternoon, Dr. Marc Ruell came in to see me and reassure me that the planned bypass surgery was quite common with very high rates of success.

I was very mentally exhausted at this point but Dr. Ruell stayed with me and explained that this type of event (cardiac arrest) was common but the survival rates were quite low (1 in 10). I told him that I had no symptoms at all and that I was curling at the time and he told me that being relatively young, in good physical condition and being at the right place at the right time was what saved me.

The folks at the UOHI were wonderful from day one and I was met by the nurses and other professionals every day who encouraged me to stay positive and follow their guidelines. I had never been in hospital in my life and I did not know what to expect but I soon settled into the routine.

My surgery was scheduled for Friday April 15 but it was bumped to Tuesday April 19 due to bed availability in the ICU.

I had lots of visitors and calls over the first few days but then my wife called and advised me that she had contracted Covid and the next morning the hospital was closed to visitors due to a Covid outbreak in one of the floors.

My surgery happened on the afternoon of April 19 and I woke up in the ICU the next day around 12 noon.

I was out of bed and walking by 1:00 pm and I spent the next 18 hours in ICU.

Due to my wife testing positive for Covid, I was tagged with a Covid alert which meant that the nurses in ICU had to gown up every time they came in to see me which was, I am sure, a major inconvenience for them but I never once heard a complaint or criticism from anyone and in fact, everyone could not have been more helpful or gracious.

I was moved back to a ward room on April 21, and again all of the staff were exceptional during my stay.

They encouraged me to establish a walking routine and to become as independent as I could and I gladly complied.

My main goal was to get home to see my wife, my daughter, my son and my grandboys as well as my brothers and I was able to leave the hospital on Sunday morning April 24, although, due to my wife’s Covid isolation, I had to stay at my brother and sister in-laws’ house for three more days. 

I feel so lucky that my friends at the curling club, the doctors and nurses at the Arnprior and District Memorial Hospital and everyone else who helped me get to the UOHI were there for me.

Everyone played a role in my journey but it was the nurses, doctors and professionals at the UOHI who had the most impact on me by their never-ending professionalism and compassion. I will be forever grateful to the entire UOHI team who managed to keep smiling and stay professional every day through the ravages of Covid and other events beyond their control.

God bless them all.

It has been said before, we are so lucky to have a world class facility so close to where we live and, in my case, this really rings true.


Kevin Ryan

Pakenham Ontario.