Injured just months apart in life-threatening accidents, Ron and Kyrstyn Roberts relied on HSC for compassionate, expert care
“When Paul came to wake me up, my pillow was full of blood and my wrist was flailing back and forth. I did not know the extent of my injuries—I knew I was in shock,” recalls Ron Roberts.
For Ron and his loved ones, the 2021 Easter Long Weekend is one they will never forget. A familiar scene for many cottage owners, Ron and his good friend Paul were working on Ron’s cabin in Kenora. After a long day of work, they ate and watched a hockey game before going to bed—except Ron didn’t remain in bed.
In his deep sleep, Ron walked to the cabin’s patio doors (which led to a 11-foot drop as the deck was under construction), unlocked three locks, and fell to the ground, breaking his back upon impact. With three broken vertebrae, multiple broken ribs, a broken collar bone, a shattered wrist, and a large gash on his head, Ron—still fast asleep—walked back into the cabin to grab a blanket and Paul’s shoes before venturing to his in-laws’ cabin on the property where he eventually laid on the bed, continuing to sleep.
After a panicked search, Paul discovered Ron at 8:30 AM and began the nearly three-hour drive to Winnipeg as they did not want to put strain on Kenora’s hospital considering the pandemic’s toll. Ron was initially seen by another hospital before it was quickly determined that he needed the care of specialists at HSC Winnipeg.
Ron underwent two procedures: a 12-hour-long back surgery where two metal bars were placed along his spine, as well as a plate inserted into his wrist.
Ron spent just over a week at HSC before he was able to return home and continue to heal. Little did he know that he would return to HSC mere months later—this time as a patient’s parent.
On July 12, Kyrstyn Roberts dove off her cabin’s dock—something she had done countless times. However, it was her first dive of the year and, considering the extreme lack of precipitation in 2021, the water was significantly lower. Kyrstyn hit the bottom of the lake head-on and broke her neck. Upon making impact, her neck cracked the C5 vertebra, only to snap back and crack through on the other side—a clean break.
Because it was a clean break, and because Kyrstyn has strong muscles thanks to her athletic lifestyle, she didn’t realize that her spine was completely broken through. Other than feeling tingling in her fingers, Kyrstyn experienced muscle pain in her shoulders and neck due to her head being supported by those muscles. Kyrstyn carried on and finished her work week before taking her mom’s advice to see a doctor. Upon initial assessment at the local hospital, it was believed that Kyrstyn had jarred muscles. It wasn’t until she received her CT scan results that they determined she broke her neck and would need surgery at HSC. “I was shocked—I wasn’t expecting that news,” recalls Kyrstyn.
Once at HSC, Kyrstyn was under the expertise of Dr. Michael Johnson, orthopedic surgeon. “I was nervous, but Dr. Johnson was very thorough and had great bedside manner. He and his team were excellent with helping me calm down and reassure me,” says Kyrstyn.
After a 10-hour-long spinal surgery where Kyrstyn received pins, rods, and plates, she began her healing journey. Kyrstyn learned she had “unlucky luck”—if she hadn’t broken her neck all the way through, she could have become paralyzed from the pressure on her spine.
Both Ron and Kyrstyn Roberts share harrowing experiences in 2021—they even share similar scars. In addition, the Roberts share deep gratitude for the care they received at HSC.
“Dr. Neil Berrington, his team, and all the staff who looked after me at HSC were amazing. I can’t say enough good things,” says Ron.
Thanks to the skilled staff at HSC, the Roberts family can look forward to many more summers together at the cabin.
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By Natasha Havrilenko