PuSh Blog

A message of thanks from our fearless leader, Norman Armour

February 04, 2012

February 3, 2012

Thank you everyone for your thoughts, notes, flowers and other acts of love and kindness. Rather than reach out to all of you individually, I wanted to give you an update and fill you in. Please, no need to respond to this.

Basically I’m good. I’m at home, with my loving wife Lorna.

As my GP said the other day, I’m a lot safer now, then I was last Friday, the night before the “medical incident.” In fact, there is only a 10% chance of what happened recurring, which is much better odds than those I had for surviving what befell me: i.e., the very same 10%.

I had a heart attack—a full cardiac arrest. (My cardiac specialist at VGH, uses the word “insult’” as in “the insult to my heart, and body.” Who said words can never hurt you?) In a nutshell, I had a blood clot form in a major artery very close to my heart. My heart seized up and began acting irregular with no real beat. I had collapsed unconscious in the intermission between acts of Mary Margaret O’Hara & Peggy Lee at Club PuSh, in Performance Works on Granville Island. A group of individuals (some I know personally; some I don’t) then proceeded to save my life. I was given CPR for over 5 & ½ minutes. The paramedics upon arrival put the paddles to me. My heart re-started. I was taken by ambulance to VGH. Along the way, I required the defibrillator again. Truth is, they stopped the ambulance directly in front of the Arts Club. Not sure that there is any meaning to gleaned by that fact.

Whether unconscious or not, I can’t remember any of this. All was recounted to me.

At Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), I was given an angioplasty with a stent: Angioplasty, also known as percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI, is a procedure that uses a flexible plastic catheter with a balloon at the end to dilate narrowed arteries in the heart. The procedure usually includes placement of a metal stent to hold the artery open. In this way, angioplasty helps to restore blood flow to the heart muscle. A stent is a small mesh tube that is used in the treatment of coronary artery blockages. This was done within an hour of my arrival. (For the record, I actually have good and free flowing veins (normally) and my blood pressure is also very healthy. I also stopped smoking a year ago.) I was medicated and put in ICU. That’s where the really nice people are. The nurses that is. Anyone who has, or does, encounter the BC health system hopefully knows what I’m talking about. I’m astounded at how empathetic the care was, how tender and endearing they are with the wounded such as me.

There were many friends who accompanied my trip to VGH. Thank you. Not sure that Lorna would have gotten there when she did, or that she could have weathered as she did. Thank you.

On Sunday, the PuSh board of directors and staff—under the leadership of Max Wyman and Minna Schendlinger—held an emergency meeting, divvying up my duties, strategizing communications and the like. Could there be any greater proof of the Festival’s resilience then the sheer speed, calm and professionalism with which board and staff responded? There’s “succession” for you. In fact, a Succession Strategy was put in place this year for the Festival. But in the end, no amount of planning and forethought makes up for the human quotient. And here too I feel remarkably blessed. I love the people I work with (and I mean both board and staff). They are my friends, my colleagues and my soul mates. As a good working friend, in true Welsh manner, once quipped, “I won’t work with anyone I wouldn’t wish to have a drink with.”

I was released from VGH Tuesday at noon. I’m home and recovering. I’ve been cleared to return to my “desk jockey” job, as my cardiologist referred to it; but, I’ll do the mature thing and take the next few weeks off. Long-term effects? Not necessarily horrific or debilitating, though I may now be driving a 6 cylinder, rather than the 8 cylinder I may have once possessed. Only time will tell.

I have had two other such brushes with mortality. Those who have had similar events will confirm that it can be an overwhelming experience. …to tears. I could have been a thousand other places, doing a thousand other things; there might not have been a single soul around me at that very moment. And I’d liked to think that most human beings gain comfort from the thought that their lives are adding up to something, that they are in fact meaningful, valued and of consequence.
Thank you all. If I had any childish doubts, they are no longer.

Fortune. Fortunate. Dance a jig a like Walter Huston in “The Treasure of Sierra Madre.”

On behalf of Lorna and myself, thank you. I feel truly blessed. I look forward to seeing you sometime soon… in this lifetime.



  1. Dear Norman, I thought it might be encouraging to know that my 92-year old mother is hale and hearty after virtually the same experience as you – a few months ago…a clot,heart stoppage (a few times), a stent, fibrillation (she got a pacemaker), excellent care in the cardiac unit at VGH and lots of love from friends and family.
    Rick and I send our very best to you and look forward to seeing you leading fearlessly as soon as it feels right.
    Judith and Rick Marcuse

  2. had no idea but am sooo glad you are safe and sound! This arts community of ours is truly AMAZING isn't it?
    I am very happy that you are recovering and hoping to see you soon – in this lifetime as you said.
    Much love to you and your wife.
    Mirjana Galovich

  3. Hi Norman,
    We don't know one another, but it doesn't matter. I was deeply moved by your message, and want to thank you for sharing your experience. I am so glad you are recovering. I spent hours today at a long-term follow-up appt for my son at B.C. Children's Hospital. He's also doing very well now. It's reminded us about what's important in this life, and, like you, we have met many wonderful caregivers and friends along the way who have helped illuminate the path. All the very best to you Norman from both myself and my son. We will dance a jig together in your honour!

  4. Dear Norman,

    I'm so shoched to learn about the “insult” your heart and body have been suffering and so glad to read how you are recovering in serenity and in good company with your wife, collegues and friends. Take care you Norman, take your time, it is so precious. Thank's for sharing this wiht us.
    With my warmest thoughts
    Dominique Violette

  5. Dear Norman,
    not sure you remember, we met in Rome, and I often think about your festival and the work that you do and artists that you support…I am really happy to hear that you are feeling better and that when this happened you were in the theater, where good people are 🙂
    Very best wishes,

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