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MLA Pam Alexis back at work after suffering from a stroke

Abbotsford-Mission MLA shocked to have no permanent side effects after her health scare
It’s been a year since Pam Alexis was elected as the new MLA for the Abbotsford-Mission riding. In that time she has dealt with a sharp learning curve, experienced her first speech in the legislature, set up an office in downtown Mission and survived a health scare after suffering a stoke in September. / Kevin Mills Photo

Abbotsford- Mission MLA Pam Alexis is back in her office, one month after suffering a bilateral stroke.

She considers herself to be “incredibly lucky” not only to have survived the health crisis, but to have managed to escape with no lasting side effects from her ordeal.

Last week, Alexis sat down with the Mission Record to share her experience and to warn others not to ignore symptoms.

In late September, Alexis was in a finance meeting, in downtown Vancouver.

“I had checked out of my room and I had felt funny that morning,” she explained.

“I was dizzy, I could feel something in my head go, but I thought it’s probably nothing I’ll just work through the day and see how it goes.

“It was a mistake. I should have immediately sought medical attention,” she said in hindsight.

Alexis remembers the morning meeting and having lunch, but from there the details become fuzzy.

She remembers sitting next to Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu, a former registered nurse.

Sandhu noticed that “something wasn’t right” and told Alexis she was calling an ambulance.

Alexis told her she was fine, but Sandhu was persistent.

“I remember she got me out of the room, she was very concerned,” said Alexis.

The ambulance rushed the local MLA to Vancouver General Hospital to see the head of the stroke team.

“I don’t remember anything else after that, nothing.

When Alexis woke up the next day, she could see her son, her sisters and other family members around the bed.

The family had been called by the hospital and told a significant event had occurred.

“I had clots in my thalamus, a part of my brain, and they felt that there would be some permanent damage and they didn’t know exactly what but they wanted to alert my family that there could be issues,” explained Alexis.

“I woke up, gestured for pen and paper and started giving them directions and writing phone numbers down. They gathered around me and they’re looking at me and going ‘Are you all right? What’s going on?” And it was like, I can’t speak to you I’ve got tubes everywhere, but get this thing off of me,” she wrote about the breathing tube down her throat.

Alexis said the doctors decided she was well enough to remove some of the tubes, as long as she was monitored, and began asking “a million questions.”

“It turned out I stroked out because I was in AFib.”

AFib (Atrial fibrillation) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications.

“Now, I’ve had issues with AFib for years, where I can feel my heart go funny. I tried to get a halter (heart) monitor to capture it but I was never successful. I didn’t know that AFib is the number one cause of strokes.”

Alexis said she remembers dealing with AFib back in 2005 when she was with the Mission School Board.

“My message to people, and in particular women, is to make sure you follow through. If you are one of those that have AFib, if you know there is something goofy going on, then check it out. Be your best advocate.”

As for permanent side effects from her stroke, Alexis said she doesn’t appear to have any, which she calls shocking.

“I was so incredibly lucky. I have had hours and hours of cognitive tests, rigorous tests to ensure that I’m OK, and I’ve passed with flying colours.”

She recovered so well that she has decided to resume her MLA duties.

“I promised I would ease back into this rigorous schedule. I am doing two weeks of virtual meetings in Victoria. Then my hope is I will return in earnest beginning of November.

Next week, Alexis looks back on her first year in office

Kevin Mills

About the Author: Kevin Mills

I have been a member of the media for the past 34 years and became editor of the Mission Record in February of 2015.
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