Less than a year ago, I lay paralyzed on a trail in Riding Mountain National Park. I could not have imagined that I would be walking again and writing to you.
As I write this, I am filled with intense emotion. On August 12, my friend Arron and I set out on an advanced mountain bike trail. Early into the ride, I rounded a corner and was faced with a ditch. I braked and torpedoed myself over the handlebars. I smashed my face into the ground, snapping my neck backwards and crushing my spinal cord. My body went cold and numb from my shoulders down. I lay motionless with blood running down my face. The summer sun was searing, my mouth was dry and sticky from dehydration. I was unable to swat away the wasps flying around my face.
With Arron at my side, I lay there in fear waiting for help as there was no cellphone reception. We were soon met by other cyclists who searched for help. After hours of waiting in the heat, I was extracted off the trail by paramedics and the Parks Canada Search and Rescue Team.
I was soon on a STARS air ambulance to HSC Winnipeg. I began mentally spiralling during the flight— would I be a paraplegic or quadriplegic? I could not stand to think about how this would affect my wife and our three teenage daughters. I did not want to lose my independence and be a burden to my family for the rest of my life. I wanted to die.
Upon landing, I was quickly rushed to HSC Adult Emergency. My clothes were cut off and several tests were done, including an MRI to show the location of the spinal cord injury.
Little did I know that during my stay of just over three weeks, I would find something akin to a family at HSC.
The care and expertise of Dr. Michael Goytan, the surgeon who operated on my vertebrae and fused my neck, freed up space for my swollen spinal cord to begin healing. This highly specialized spine surgery—that requires a team consisting of specialized spine surgeons, anesthetists, and nurses—allowed me to be able to move again. Darryl, my first physiotherapist, visited me daily after surgery. He encouraged me to take my first steps. I stood up from the wheelchair; I was terrified, and I was so unsteady. My feet felt like pins and needles. I was filled with emotion and thought of dancing with my daughter at her upcoming grade 12 graduation and dancing with all my daughters at their future weddings. Darryl and his assistant Nick were there every step of the way, literally.
After over a week in Recovery, I was transferred to RR-5, the inpatient Spinal Cord Rehab Unit, where I was met with an incredible new team of nurses, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists— including Dr. Alan Casey, Director of the Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation Unit. I could see in my wife Sandra’s eyes that she felt comfortable leaving me—she knew I would be in good hands. From the welcoming demeanour of nurse John when I arrived; to the friendly unit assistants who always lifted my spirits; to the care of nurse Nicole who didn’t leave my side during a panic attack triggered by acute stress disorder—Sandra was right.
I went from being unable to roll over in bed or feed myself to walking out of HSC in just weeks. I am asking you to please help ensure that other patients have the same chance at a positive outcome. Help them dance with their children at grads, weddings, and beyond; help to ensure they can celebrate a lifetime of milestones.
Your support has allowed HSC to give me the best care possible. I ask that you please continue your support by making a gift to the HSC Foundation.
Thank you for your consideration.
To make your gift, please click here or call 204-515-5612.