A message of thanks from Push Festival's executive director Norman Armour

The following update from the PuSh Festival's executive director Norman Armour has been posted on the PuSh Facebook page. In it, Armour discusses his cardiac arrest, and thanks all those who came to his aid.

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 percent 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 percent.

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 five and a half 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 [be] 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 B.C. 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 six cylinder, rather than the eight 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.

- Norman



David Bloom

Feb 6, 2012 at 11:04am

We're lucky to have Norman Armour in this city, and he has worked himself ridiculously hard for many many years. Like most people in the arts community I am deeply grateful for everything Norman's given us, and so relieved that he is still healthy and vital.

Now we just need to convince him that he's earned the right to slow down just a tiny bit.

Local actor

Feb 6, 2012 at 11:43am

It seems that all it takes is the strength of one individual to give power to an entire community, and when needed, the strength of that same community to give back to the individuals that make up its heartbeat. I am so grateful for the affirmation that both Norman and this community he has helped to build are alive and well. Thank you to Norman and Push for showing us how strong we can be.

Mike Puttonen

Feb 8, 2012 at 11:03am

Whew. What a story, what a showbiznez story! Get well soon, Norman. Your festival is wonderful - and here's to your fine Board, working like the Mad Magazine version of 42 St. in this emergency, with Max Wyman in the Warner Baxter part...whew.

Maureen O'Hara Jolly

Feb 9, 2012 at 5:31pm

Wonderful to read your amazing story. I was there sitting beside you, watching my sister Mary Margaret. The show went on as life does and the night was a miracle. God Bless you, your family and many friends.