It will be a few weeks before MP Todd Doherty gets the green light to return to representing Cariboo Prince George in Parliament.
At the end of January, Doherty required emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder, but while he was in the operating room at University Hospital of Northern British Columbia in Prince George he stopped breathing.
“I’m still on house arrest,” he told the Tribune during a phone interview from his home in Prince George. “I haven’t been cleared to go back to work yet, hopefully in three or four weeks.”
He has weekly appointments with his doctor, tests every other week, and is resting as much as he can.
“I try to walk on the treadmill for an hour a day, sometimes I’m able to do it all at once, but other days I am breaking it up. My goal is take control of my own health and make sure I don’t end up again where I did a month ago.”
Doherty said it was “pretty scary,” and his first serious brush with death.
“As the doctor said, you can’t get much closer to not walking on this earth as I was. One person said to me, ‘you know when you have medical staff in tears, you know a — you are loved and b — it is a close call.”
His doctor told him he was fortunate that his gallbladder acted up when it did because it really wasn’t the issue.
“If it wasn’t that day or the next day, it would have happened maybe the next week or a few weeks later that I would have collapsed and may not have had the result I’m living on today, ” Doherty said. “I was that sick and didn’t know about it.”
While he is recuperating, Doherty cannot help but keep close tabs on what’s happening in Ottawa, he admitted.
When he’s on the treadmill, or resting, he’s watching the live coverage of the parliamentary debates.
“I’ve been yelling at the TV,” he said, chuckling. “I’m keeping in touch with our team back there and while they are doing the debating, I am researching back here.”
In his absence, his colleagues have been filling in for him, including North Okanagan-Shuswap MP Mel Arnold who is covering Doherty’s file as shadow minister on the fisheries and oceans and coast guard file.
“He has had to do some heavy lifting while I am away,” Doherty said of Arnold’s efforts. “I’m only a call or text away to help. I might be on the bench, but I am doing the best I can to help the team.”
Commenting on the federal budget released last week in Ottawa, Doherty criticized it for “the amount of money we’re spending with no real plan and no program to get us back to a balanced budget.”
New jobs for the Williams Lake or Cariboo region don’t seem to be in the budget either, he added.
“At first blush I see nothing in there to address the issue that we are living in today after the wildfires,” Doherty said. “How do we mitigate the chances that communities are going to have to go through these natural disasters and what are the steps we can go through to brace ourselves and prepare ourselves? And how do we find a way for families that have been negatively impacted to get back to work?”
While there were big infrastructure investment announcements in 2016 and 2017, he doesn’t see them coming outside the major centres.
“We get dribs and drabs and I really believe rural communities and our riding just aren’t on the radar and that’s disappointing.”
Doherty said the many words of encouragement, letters and messages he has received since he was in the hospital have been overwhelming.
“It’s been very humbling for myself and my family and I just want to say ‘thank you,’” he said. “It’s been a rough go, but I’m here and bound and determined to be out at events again, cheering on our Stampede, and not putting my family and friends through this ever again. I’m doing what I can to make sure I take care of myself.”