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Staying Strong

Time passes through our hands; a day over her three-week anniversary, incredible progress has been made. But the work ahead is indefinable. Our hearts search for stability, in a constant place of change and transition. We draw our comfort from your love and support.

As the doors swing open to GF strong a different energy pours out. At VGH patients in the spinal cord unit were sick, they couldn’t breathe properly, there were rooms that had ‘caution infectious’ on the door. The sanitary requirements were stricter, and the patients were monitored with greater detail and a higher number of check-ups. At GF strong they are educating people to deal with the reality of being in a wheelchair. Its preparation for the “real world.” This new world that we are entering has endless possibilities. Endless in the fact that you could enter with your head down only concentrating on the moment-to-moment physical state, or you can hold your head high and accept the reality but work for your goals. Mary-Jo hasn’t had the easiest transition to say the least. We aren’t allowed to sleep at GF with her, which has been difficult because since the minute she was out of ICU we were by her side night and day. Since talking to the nurses at GF I have learned that the reason they moved her was because of bed availability. She had people ahead of her on the waiting list to get in to re-hab and out of that list she was showing the most progress, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that she was 100% ready. The second day upon arrival she fainted, because they don’t monitor her blood level as closely as it had been previously. Everyone is commenting that she is the one spinal cord patient that spent the least time in the actual spinal cord unit. But aside from the minor set backs she is ready to work, with a smile on her face. It has been incredible to talk to the other patients about their experiences. A day for MJ is always full of surprises, visitors, and new things to discover and overcome. She wakes up at 4 am everyday. Then she does her visualizations, meditation, breathing exercises and yoga practice. This is usually completed by about six am. Then the nurses come for the fourth time since she has been in bed, to turn her. They do turns (which is adjusting her position from side to side) four times a night. They perform these turns about every 3 to 4 hours. After her fourth turn she usually lies there and does more visualizing, and meditations. Then the nurses come back to do wash up and prep for the day. I brush her teeth, wash her face, and do her hair. At this point we get her dressed and into her wheelchair. Where we then proceed to eat breakfast, take remedies and vitamins, go to physio, read and dictate letters, visit with all the gracious people that come to see her. Eat lunch, have an afternoon tea, visit some more, she usually has an appointment with a kennisiologist, her doctor, or an OT at come point during the day. A regular routine hasn’t yet been established, but regular routines are going extinct in everyone’s lives to some degree. She doesn’t look that different besides the obvious fact of being in a wheelchair. She can still speak, comprehend read, and eat, and move both of her arms to certain extents.

It’s extremely challenging to convey all of the day-to-day emotions, happenings, surroundings and circumstances. Basically MJ is broken. She has to completely surrender and trust everyone to take care of her. The place she is in is incredibly challenging, going from a completely independent and free soul to total dependency is in no way easy. There has been a complete role reversal from her to I. In no way am I burdened or begrudged by taking care of her. My time is spent with her in a place of unconditional love, support and devotion. I am so grateful for all of the love and support that is pouring in. Only three weeks out of her accident we are so blessed she is with us, breathing, comprehending and speaking, the fact that she can even do this is a miracle. Every movement in her arms is a ray of light. It becomes so apparent that we have a long journey ahead of us, which can only be accomplished by staying in each and every moment.

Published by Mary-Jo

I am passionate about diversity, inclusion, sustainability and community. Having raised my children in a small B.C. town as a single parent, I relied on the community, my resourcefulness and the land to sustain us. We developed a market farm,built a cafe and catering business that utilized the produce, local farmers and families to thrive. As a Waldorf school parent I became experienced in biodiversity, edible landscapes and community engagement. I gained substantial skills in leadership, facilitation, project management, communication through teaching yoga and running various business's. My role as a facilitator and trainer to individuals seeking to become a yoga teacher- whom never thought that they could stand in front of a room and speak in public, gave me insight into human nature and coaching. In addition to designing and building businesses - cafés, yoga studios and national training programs, I am a student of Social Development & Social Psychology and understand the complexity and importance of social engagement. I can handle with grace most any situation, having encountered a disability later in life. Consequent to becoming disabled and through advocacy and providing peer support I have trained and acquired extensive exposure and understanding of UN principles on disability, The Human Rights objectives, theories and principles of Universal Design and the various challenges and obstacles for those affected and the relationship to various stakeholders. After 30 years of teaching yoga, my spinal cord injury and subsequent sabbatical has allowed for the integration of my yoga and more in-depth study of the Healing Arts. I have had the fortune of working with some of the best in the field of rehabilitation, Somatic Experiencing and manual therapy including Emilie Conrad, Mark Finch, Judy Russel, Rod Stryker, Carolyn Myss, Ana Forest, & Tim Miller, Susan Harper, Mariah Moser, Herta Buller and Nature.