Thank you doesn't even capture how much I appreciate every person's compassion, support and willingness to go above and beyond for me.
The first few months– Alicia’s perspective
I heard the crash from the house.
I will never forget running to the end of the driveway and seeing our ATV on its side, my husband, Chris, on the road and his brother trying to help. Chris was bleeding from his head and struggling to breathe.
It was so bad that a helicopter had to take him to London. A neighbour drove me to the hospital there and the entire 30 minutes I had no idea what was happening.
I was so relieved when I arrived at the hospital – Chris was alive.
But Chris needed emergency surgery in the next few hours or he would die from his severe brain injury. The forms, decisions and possible complications of the surgery were overwhelming. I was alone, doing what I thought was best for my husband, while trying to keep up with his changing condition. At one point, they made the call that he was going in for surgery and told me to come say good-bye just in case.
I didn’t see my husband awake after that surgery until three weeks later.
You see, Chris got in his accident on March 21, 2020, a few days after the very first COVID-19 lockdown and hospitals had just implemented restrictions on visitors.
Then Chris was transferred to the Acute Medical Unit at St.Thomas Elgin General Hospital (STEGH) and I was finally able to hug my husband.
Well, after a bit of work. I first arranged for a change of clothes to get to Chris. Then, considering Chris’s condition, I worked with Patient Experience and the unit to arrange a one-hour visit at lunch every day to see him.
Our very first hour together was emotional. I got to talk to him awake and see his surgery scars and the piece of skull that was removed to save his life. Chris was beyond happy to see me. I was so happy he recognized me, although he didn’t understand why he was there – he wanted to go home.
These were the only three weeks of his four months in the hospital where I regularly saw Chris. I cherish those hours and all the staff at STEGH for being so caring and understanding during a really hard time in my life. And, of course, for taking such great care of my husband. I thank every doctor, nurse and staff member with my whole heart.
The next few years –Chris’s perspective
I won’t lie to you, I don’t remember a lot of what Alicia does.
My very first thoughts were about why I was in the hospital. I didn’t realize what had happened and wouldn’t understand the severity of my injury for some time.
What I do remember is Alicia being my constant. Her visits are what I looked forward to every day. I couldn’t wrap my head around COVID-19and didn’t understand why no one else could visit me while in hospital. I am so grateful to the staff for making her visits possible for me – you don’t realize how important family is when recovering from a serious brain injury (or any injury, really).
Since my time at STEGH, I have done a lot of hard work to recover both in the hospital and at home: re-learning to walk, attending recreational therapy, physiotherapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy; undergoing further surgery to replace the right side of my skull and briefly trying to work again.
I wasn’t prepared for how long it takes to heal the brain –it truly is a marathon, not a sprint. There are ups and downs, but Alicia has always been there to help me get through the hard things and keep looking forward. I am also excited to share with you that I just got my licence back, a huge milestone in my recovery!
Now I look forward to getting active again and being in the outdoors including spending as much time as I can with my family.
I want to finish my story with gratitude. I was at STEGH during a time when I wasn’t capable of taking care of myself, but I always knew I was in good hands. Thank you doesn’t even capture how much I appreciate every person’s compassion, support and willingness to go above and beyond for me.
We are so lucky to have this hospital in our community, I hope you see the importance of helping where we can to keep it so amazing!