Moving on to GF Strong

Mary-Jo sat beside me in her wheelchair. We were sunbathing, by a quiet window in one of the VGH halls, a cherished pastime. Suddenly our rays of sun were blocked, her physiotherapist looked down and said, “pack up your stuff, we’re moving you to GF Strong.”

The next 2 hours were a hectic rush. Mary-Jo was off to get X-rays, to ensure her spine was healing correctly, and I was scrambling to pack up her room. Just two weeks after the accident we had been told that the waiting list to get into GF was huge, and that patients with her kind of injury can expect a stay at VGH to last 6 to 8 weeks. The progress Mary- Jo has made in just the past two and a half weeks has been substantial. Her recovery has been faster then they expected, she was moved to the top of the waiting list right away. And when a bed suddenly became available at GF strong. She was the patient whom presented the best capabilities. A small re-cap: MJ’s accident was 18 days ago, in this time she has undergone two surgeries, a total of 9 hours under the knife. Taught herself to breathe independently, activated movement in both her right and left arms, regained wrist in movement in her right arm, sat up independently, stabilized all of her blood pressure and oxygen levels. Learnt how to drive her wheelchair. Remembered every health care workers name, and encouraged each and every one of them do to yoga, on a daily basis.
So now she finds herself at GF strong about 4 weeks a head of schedule. The set up at GF is a bit more relaxed. There is less monitoring of the patients because they are trying to encourage them to do things independently. The facility is a little older and the rooms a bit smaller. But they are really proactive about you accomplishing your goals. There is also a swimming pool, so they will be doing water therapy with her. The move was a bit of a shock. She was just getting accustomed to all of the nurses and she was finally establishing a routine. There isn’t a lot of stability or structure in our lives since the accident; so leaving an environment that was somewhat familiar was difficult. Yesterday afternoon, I was working on her left wrist, and she moved it on her own. It was incredible, so lets pray, pray, pray for those fingers to wake up.

The night I came to Vancouver, I had no idea if my mom was ever going to be able to breathe on her own. The situation was grim and a dark cloud of fear and pain rained countless tears upon us. Part of me was in disbelief, in shock, in sadness, and confusion. Somebody said that it would all make sense after the fact. A statement that agreed with my mind but my heart knew otherwise. The true challenge is finding the light in the darkest moments, there is so much light. The way the community has come together is unreal, the manner in which our family became the tightest knit loving support system, and the incredible progress Mary-Jo is making. Sometimes in our busy day-to-day lives we find ourselves caught in the petty differences that knock on our doors. Open those doors with a smile, not because it could be worse, but because you already have so much that is better.

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.