Saturday, April 23, 2011

Come on Irene: Yet another role model vaults to forefront in midst of cancer, back surgery rehab

My hero list continues to grow.
I don't know too much about Irene. I think she's a touch older than me. She arrived at G.F. Strong, the Vancouver physical rehab centre, from Vancouver General Hospital, a few days after this, my third  instalment there.
We do share the same spine surgeon, Dr. Robert Lee. Dr. Lee regularly asks about other patients of his that I've come across at GF, and during my check-up this week I remembered to tell him about seeing Irene doing laps in the gymnasium with her walker when I was doing the same.
His eyes got big. Real big. So did his smile.
Why? Seems that the doctors at VGH gave Irene a 10 per cent chance of ever walking again after a car accident sent her to hospital. Her injuries were sustained in the cervical vertebrae, the ones nearest the skull.
Irene even did some laps without a walker this week, leaning instead on the arms of a rehab assistant. And she proudly proclaims "I will walk out of here," in regards to her discharge in late May.
Coming across her story and her attitude was exactly what I needed. I had been feeling a little sorry for myself. I had hoped to be home by late Ap ril, and when I was given a May 26 discharge date I frequently put my sulk on.
I focussed too much on the rotten things that I have happened to me, rather than the fact that all the medical people I've talked to have said that I have the chance to walk out of GF as well.
In fact, I have a chance to be healthier and happier and smarter on, lets say, May 30, 2011, than I was May 30, 2010, and that's after a bout with cancer (Solitary Plasmacytoma, in my T-2 vertebrae), two back rebuild surgeries, a muscle-flap surgery, and four surgeries to combat three infections.  It is, in part, an indictment of my lifestyle a year ago, but no matter.
This is my fourth straight weekend at home and I feel like I did more yesterday -- highlighted by going out for lunch with my parents, grandmother, an aunt and uncle and Carol-Ann, plus sitting out in the yard for a time -- than I did in my previous three leaves combined. My occupational therapist, Erin, is trying to healthy up my diet -- I even made split-pea soup earlier this week.
I feel like I'm back going in the right direction, and I have at least one more prominent reason why.
Thank you, Irene.


  1. Wow, thank you Steve for your post. Saw it on my buddy's FB(Mike Sidhu) -- Your an inspiration as is Mike and now Irene.

    Happy Easter to you and your family.


  2. Happy Easter Steve and Carol-Ann!
    I missed you both last time I was at GF.
    It sounds like everything is heading in the right direction. Keep the positive outlook.

    All the best,
    Nurse Jackie