My name is Chris.
In November of 2014, I slipped and fell in my bathroom. From that moment on my life would never be the same, as I once knew it. Prior to this day I was a commercial/industrial electrician and even dabbled in business with restaurants and juice bars.
My injury took me through the A-Z of the healthcare system, starting with a 911 call, admittance to an emergency room, surgery, ICU, inpatient, rehab, outpatient, follow-ups, research groups and now, advocacy and volunteering.
Recovery for me was difficult and long. Incubation, a heart attack and pneumonia complicated my prognosis. My family was told a couple times I wouldn’t make it through the night, and if I did, I would never breathe on my own, I would never be able to speak, move my arms and never walk. I overcame seven out of eight of those obstacles. I still remain unfazed, hopeful and committed to overcome the eighth obstacle, and walk again. I will walk again.
My journey took me through deep lows, lots of fear and crying, combined with disbelief and isolation. I refused to look up at people while in my chair. I refused to interact with anybody outside my immediate circle of eight people. My instability resulted in me ruining a beautiful relationship.
Slowly – very slowly, as I overcame pneumonia and the ventilator, I began to learn to speak and move my arms again. Through the miracle center, Lyndhurst Rehab, and the amazing work from their clinicians (that includes everybody from occupational, physio, recreational, and speech therapist, not excluding psychologists, the swimming aquatics program, peer support and a resource centre rich enough to challenge any in North America), combined with the 24-hour support around the clock from my family who never left me alone, the support from extended family and friends whom I started rebuilding relationships with, and endless love and prayers from all, I started to believe there was some hope, most importantly I decided to try.
I began to focus on what was possible and not live in the past.
I saw many opportunities for improvements in the processes of the healthcare system I went through, and tried to see where I could contribute positively. I was interviewed and accepted to be a volunteer patient partner with UHN. I joined a self-improvement 10 week seminar, private physio and swimming lessons, plus I joined a Bible study class every Tuesday night at All Saints Greek Orthodox Church. As my involvement with life increased, so did the quality of my spirituality and faith along with every other aspect of my life. I began to have more confidence, be more positive, have better relationships and continued to push and find ways to increase my independence both financially, physically and especially emotionally.
I realize how important it is for other people that have been recently injured to be able to see someone else in their situation being engaged in all aspects of life and how motivating and healing that can be. To be out on conventional transit, eat out at restaurants, be able to generate an income on their own, and most importantly have the confidence to be seen out participating in life. If I can help one person looking down at the floor to look up and say hi with a smile sooner than they would have done on their own, then I know I’ve managed to do something a lot of people don’t get to do, and that is having a continued positive impact on someone’s else’s life. For me that’s a blessing.