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An unexpected diagnosis becomes an emergency

Vallier family is seeking donations for travel expenses to see sick father and husband
Kathleen Thompson

New Year marks new beginnings and resolutions. But for one Powell River family, 2012 marked the beginning of a treacherous battle for a family member’s health.

Tim Vallier, 55, was told by doctors on January 4 that he just had a sore throat but over that weekend it became much more. Now he’s on life support in Vancouver General Hospital and his family needs help.

After Tim’s right side swelled up and he began experiencing chest pains, his wife Marina was told to bring him into the hospital, where the diagnosis was unexpected.

“He had a little bit of everything. He had the mumps, he had the flu, tonsillitis,” Marina said. “You name it, they said it.”

She added that doctors suspected Tim was dehydrated. They kept him overnight and gave him antibiotics and liquids.

When fluid was found between his ribs and lungs, he was kept for a second night. Doctors were not going to move him, but on Monday, January 9 they changed their minds, Marina said.

“They decided it was quite the emergency and had to fly him to Vancouver,” said Tim’s younger brother Nick. “Doctors assessed him, did a CT scan and figured out he needed emergency surgery. If they left him here for one more day he wouldn’t be here. It turned into a major infection inside the body.”

Tim underwent two surgeries. The first was to clear fluid from around his lungs and the second focussed more on his heart, explained Nick. “There’s a bag that covers everybody’s heart inside their body. The infection was constricting that bag so they had to cut the bag open to allow the heart to pump and then clean all the infection out.”

Nick said doctors think it might have been strep throat that “went abscess.”

Tim ended up on dialysis as his kidneys were shutting down. It became a combat to sustain Tim’s life while trying different antibiotics.

“He’s been laying in bed for three weeks straight without moving so they’re trying to make sure everything’s okay,” Nick said.

He went on to describe the battle doctors are going through to save his brother and how they speculate that Tim might need three or four more surgeries.

“From what we’ve been told by doctors the infection is still there,” Nick said. “They’ve only been able to basically keep it in a certain area and kind of control it. They’re hoping the antibiotics will get rid of most of it.”

He added that doctors have one tube coming out of Tim’s body to try and drain it. There were previously eight tubes, including one in his mouth and another in his throat and 16 different types of intravenous lines going into his arm.

He was moved out of intensive care briefly before more fluid was found in his lungs and he needed a ventilator to help him breathe.

Nick and Marina opened an account called the “Tim Vallier Recovery Fund” at First Credit Union for anyone who wishes to donate money to the Vallier family. They also have an account under the same name at Sunset Coast Bottle Depot for people to donate bottles.

“It could be four to six months, it could be longer before he even has a chance to come home, if he makes it through,” Nick said. “He’s drawing disability so that’ll be there for now to help [Marina] out but for any other time to go see him there’s no other funds.”

Marina spends four days in Vancouver to spend time with Tim and a week back in Powell River. When she isn’t in Vancouver, she calls the hospital daily for updates.

Nick describes Tim as an avid Toronto Maple Leafs fan who will help anyone he can. “He’s easy-going, fun to be around...I miss him.”

The Vallier family is hosting a Come Play by Donation ball game from 9 am to 5 pm on Sunday, March 11 at Sunset Park. There is an age minimum of 15 years. There will also be a 50/50 draw and raffle tickets.

“All for Tim,” Nick said.