Reports Of Mayor Leon’s Demise Were Greatly Exaggerated, He Says

Rumors were spreading throughout Ontario this week that Ontario Mayor Paul Leon had a heart attack and was on death’s doorstep while under specialized treatment at a hospital in Hawaii.
In various versions of this narrative, in short order he was to be relieved of his position as mayor by Councilman Alan Wapner or such a transition of authority had already occurred.
The truth, Leon says, was no less dramatic or arresting, but without the dire results that were in the story making the rounds.
Indeed, Leon related, he had earlier this month experienced a cardiac incident, which was the culmination of years of arterial blockage he has been living with and continuing to function through. He was not, as was widely rumored or speculated about, transported to a cutting-edge cardiac facility on the Island of Hawaii in the aftermath of a near deadly infarction, but was actually vacationing on the Big Island when he had an episode he could not ignore. “I had grown used to feeling tired all the time and just generally not feeling that good,” he said. “What I was feeling at that point was something I was not accustomed to. It wasn’t a heart attack, per se. It was a blockage. It was painful and unpleasant. But I was able to drive myself to the hospital. It took 45 minutes.”
It was just chance, or perhaps fate, that the Hilo Medical Center, the main hospital on the Island of Hawaii, has on staff cardiologists who rank among the best in their profession in the world, Leon said.
“I had come to the right place,” he said. “There was no delay. I was hooked up to an EKG machine and then they threw me onto a gurney and then wheeled me out for the procedure.”
That procedure, Leon said, consisted of his being outfitted with two stents – tubular supports placed inside a blood vessel to hold it open or relieve an obstruction.
“They didn’t cut me open,” Leon related, meaning that he was not subject to open heart surgery, which would have required that he go under the knife and have his thorax broken and parted or sawed through. Rather he said, “They inserted the stents into my vascular system near my wrist.”
The team of physicians that worked on him were top notch, Leon said.
“They knew what they were doing,” he said. “I hadn’t planned on being at that particular hospital where there were doctors with that level of expertise. It just worked out that way. That had to have been about the best place in the world I could be. Before long, I’m probably going to write a book about what happened. It will be about the doctors. They were consummate professionals.”
Leon related that last year, eleven months ago in April, his brother died, falling victim to a heart attack.
“He was just a year-and-a-half older than I was,” Leon said. “He was late in getting medical attention, and he died. He had the same condition I have. It runs in our family.”
What happened to his brother was unfortunate, Leon said, since the right care delivered in time would have prevented his death.
“Blockage of the heart is no longer something that has to be a threat to your life, if you get proper treatment,” Leon said.
He said he had known for some time that things weren’t entirely right with him.
“I felt tired all the time,” he said, “I have learned now that I had been living all those years with blocked arteries. The doctors discovered this and have now treated it before it has become critical. I can tell you that right now, I feel better than I ever have. I feel healthy as a horse. It is obvious my blood flow is way better.”
In November, Leon was reelected mayor following what he said was for him a lackluster campaign.
“I wish I had felt this good last year during the campaign,” he said. “I feel ready to take on the world again.”
Initially, Leon said, his doctors had advised that he go very slow. He waited six days after the stents were put in to head back to California.
“There was concern about me flying and being at that high of an altitude,” Leon said. “On the sixth day, I was seen by the senior cardiologist, who ran tests and cleared me to come back.”
Leon missed the March 7 meeting this week, but said that he will be in place for the council meeting on March 21.
“I am ready to get back in there,” he said. “The doctors, naturally, said that I should be careful about putting myself through too much stress. But I am still the mayor. There is no truth at all to what you heard, that I am no longer the mayor and Alan has succeeded me or staged a takeover. I will be back at the next meeting.”
He considers himself fortunate and he remains determined.
“I really have never felt better,” he said. “I’m not tired and I’m enthusiastic. I got through this with flying colors. I will probably live into my 90s. My arteries are clean.”
-Mark Gutglueck

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