FINDING CALM IN THE STORM
A stroke can happen at any age, in both men and women, without warning,
which is exactly what happened last November to Pam’s husband, Gord.
“I couldn’t understand,” says Pam, who, together with Gord, lives in Grand Forks. “He is a non-smoker and doesn’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. Gord keeps active by playing hockey, going to the gym, skiing, and walking on most days. So we were both shocked.”
A stroke is an abrupt loss of brain function caused by a sudden blood vessel blockage or rupture in the brain. Thanks to supporters of the KGH Foundation’s Every Moment Matters campaign, Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) and the Interior Health Stroke Network now have the capacity, expertise and equipment to help hundreds of stroke patients every year just like Gord.
Gord was sent to KGH, the main referral hospital for stroke patients from across the southern interior of BC, including Grand Forks. Pam followed, and later their daughter Robyn, flew from Vancouver to support her parents.
“I was in a fog. I had no plan,” shares Pam. “We needed a place to stay, and I just didn’t even know where to start.”
One of Gord’s nurses suggested JoeAnna’s House, a home away from home for out of- town families with loved ones receiving care at KGH.
“We did not know a place like JoeAnna’s House existed in Kelowna,” explains Pam. “But thank goodness for the staff at JoeAnna’s House. My life was in chaos, and they were so kind and calm. A huge weight was lifted.”
Pam stayed at JoeAnna’s House for four weeks, then went back to Grand Forks for 10 days. She later returned to JoeAnna’s House for another two weeks while Gord recovered from the stroke.
“You never know when your life could be turned upside down.”
“You never know when your life could be turned upside down,” says Pam. “JoeAnna’s House not only gave me a place to sleep but also emotional support from the staff and from the other guests. We were all worried about our loved ones, but we really helped each other.”
Pam’s daughter is on the board of directors for Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Vancouver. She says that what they do at RMH is so much more real now that JoeAnna’s House has touched their lives.
Both Pam and Gord are now back at home in Grand Forks. “Our new normal is different and continues to evolve,” says Pam. “Gord is focused on his recovery and doing well. We are forever grateful to the supporters of JoeAnna’s House – being able to stay there lifted a significant financial and emotional burden for us – and for that, and so much more – thank you.”
Better Together: When Pam returned to JoeAnna’s House for the second time, it was around the holiday season, and she brought a turkey and made a donation to go towards a holiday dinner for the house. Pam also helped prepare the dinner with JAH staff for the guests, showing yet again that we are Better Together.
JoeAnna’s House was built through community support, with the sole purpose of providing out-of-town families with safe, compassionate, reliable, and affordable accommodation while their loved one(s) received advanced medical care at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH).