Vancouver Island man copes with stunning diagnosis after logging accident

Surgery uncertain for father of three due to COVID-19 hospital closures

  • Mar. 22, 2020 6:00 a.m.

Jayme Johnson with husband Ryan in Vancouver General Hospital after Ryan was injured by a falling tree. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)

MIKE YOUDS

SPECIAL TO THE NEWS

The wife of a logger seriously injured on the job now considers the accident a “godsend.”

Ryan Johnson, a faller, injured his back in the woods near Campbell River March 12 when a large tree struck him in the lower back, shattering part of his spine. He was initially flown to North Island Hospital in Campbell River before being transferred to Vancouver General, where he underwent back surgery the next morning.

Johnson is on heavy-duty painkillers but he’s mobile. He’s been able to get out of bed and move around, but there was an unexpected diagnosis made prior to back surgery.

“By chance, they found a large mass next to his adrenal gland,” said Ryan’s wife, Jayme Johnson. “It is so large they need to get it out as soon as possible.”

Now, the couple has switched from a spinal medical team to an oncology and endocrinology team for support. An oncologist has advised them that the cancerous tumour needs to be surgically removed as soon as possible. The surgeon wants to perform the operation at VGH.

“They want to send him into surgery, but there just happens to be a global pandemic and all the operating rooms are shut down,” Jayme said.

She is holding out hope that hospital authorities will be able to reopen an operating room for priority procedures. A biopsy has been booked for Monday to determine if Ryan’s surgery can be classified as an emergency.

“The hospital has closed all entrances. They’re allowing only some people in,” she said. describing it as a “crazy time,” though that’s not apparent from their immediate surroundings.

“The feeling over here is quite calm,” she said. “We’re here in the middle of it all, in a big hospital in the middle of the city in a pandemic. We’re staying calm.”

They’re riding a rollercoaster of emotions and uncertainty while holding it together in the face of adversity. In retrospect, the falling accident was almost a godsend, she said.

“He really was lucky.”

Ryan grew up on Cortes Island, but the couple long resided in the Alberni Valley and still consider it their home base, Jayme said. They have three young boys ranging in ages from 18 months to eight years.

Friends are helping to take care of the kids so that Jayme can visit with Ryan in hospital. One friend launched an online fundraising campaign — https://www.facebook.com/donate/200343554528765/ —to assist the family with transportation, temporary housing and living expenses during recovery. So far, they’ve raised $3,000 toward a goal of $5,000.

Proudly independent, Ryan initially opposed the charitable appeal, but grew to realize its necessity. Like many other forestry families, they just endured an eight-month strike when the accident occurred.

“We really need to lean on our communities — Campbell River and Port Alberni,” Jayme said. “It really feels heartening. It takes a village.”

Campbell RiverCoronavirusforestryfundraiserPORT ALBERNI

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mountainaire Avian Rescue Society inundated with new arrivals at this time of the year

Jane Sproull Thomson Special to Black Press In spring the Mountainaire Avian… Continue reading

Consultation for Comox Valley Sewer Service postponed to fall

The Comox Valley Sewage Commission has approved plans to reschedule public engagement… Continue reading

Comox spring training cancelled for Snowbirds next month

The team announced that due to ongoing travel restrictions they will not be training in the Valley

442 squadron to perform fly-by over Comox Valley hospital to salute COVID-19 workers

Cormorant helicopter will fly over the hospital at 7 p.m.

Comox Valley Classic Cruisers hitting the road to bring the community together

Residences, hospital, on the list to drive by Thursday night

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

Comox Valley grocers going extra mile during coronavirus

We have had numerous requests to post a fluid article directing consumers… Continue reading

Thieves steal $5,000 worth of cigarettes and candy from semi trailer in Nanaimo

Culprits hit truckload in shipping company storage yard on Old Victoria Road on Monday

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Sanders drops 2020 bid, leaving Biden as likely nominee

Sanders plans to talk to his supporters later Wednesday

B.C. faith leaders, Horgan discuss need for virtual religious ceremonies

Leaders were open to providing other ways to celebrate during the pandemic

Emergency COVID-19 funding now available for children with special needs

Funding to be used to help support families through uncertain times of pandemic

Most Read