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Will You Join Team Brody?

February 10, 2021

“We all want a healthy, happy Brody”

Brody Thomson lives with severe autism and seizure disorder. He has been a patient at HSC Winnipeg since October 2020. “At HSC, they look at meeting the needs of the individual; they strive to minimize Brody’s challenges,” says Joan Leslie-Thomson.

Imagine having every hospital beep, word, and groan amplified. Imagine feeling each fluorescent light pulsating through your body; imagine if every time you heard the word “okay”, you were filled to the brim with rage. Imagine not being able to communicate any of this, all while being critically sick.

Brody Thomson doesn’t have to imagine—this has been his reality since October 2020. Twenty-four-year-old Thomson lives with severe seizure disorder and autism which causes his senses to be quickly overwhelmed. Thomson, who speaks very little, relies on the care of his family, the familiar comforts of his home, and the ability to take medicine for seizures, anxiety, rage, pain, and to sleep. This all changed in October when he stopped eating and had to be admitted to HSC Winnipeg.

Brody Thomson is working hard to get his strength back. “From greeting Brody with a high-five, wave, or a little dance, all of the staff on GH4 take time to brighten his mood. Brody recognizes them and is grateful for their help and genuine care,” says Joan Leslie-Thomson.

“Brody lost the colour in his lips,” recalls Joan Leslie-Thomson, Thomson’s mother. “He went from independently eating to having zero interest in food and being unable to take his medicine. Brody has lost over 100 pounds since September.”

Brody has endured a multitude of tests and procedures to determine what is causing him to refuse food. While health care practitioners at HSC work tirelessly to answer that question, there has been no doubt that every staff member on HSC’s GH4 ward has gone above and beyond.

“Speaking as a mother of a child with special needs, this situation has been extremely difficult. However, we continue to make it through—and Brody continues to make progress—thanks to the care we are given. Brody’s needs are extremely high, and everyone is doing their utmost to make Brody feel comfortable and at ease. We are all on Team Brody,” says Leslie-Thomson.

Brody Thomson (front row, righthand side) in his younger years with his parents Joan and Bob, his twin brother Quinn, his older brother Caelan, and younger brother Riley.

Like many people who live with autism, Thomson is greatly affected by his surroundings. Certain tones of voice, words, and too much stimulation will make Thomson rage. Thankfully, the staff on GH4 understand the need for Thomson to have his own room, both for his own safety and the safety of others.

“I call Brody’s hospital room the HSC Hilton Suite Condo as it’s our home-away-from-home,” notes Leslie-Thomson. “To help with Brody’s recovery, I have been able to bring familiar mementos, adjust the lighting, add peaceful music, and help ensure that the word ‘okay’ isn’t used. Being able to create this environment has been instrumental to Brody’s rehabilitation.”

A glimpse at Brody Thomson’s “HSC Hilton Suite Condo”, equipped with twinkle lights, soothing music, and some mementos from home.

Also integral to his rehabilitation is the loving presence of his mom.

“During his stay, Brody has had six COVID-19 tests. Because I can be present, I am able to communicate to staff that he requires a sedative to help him with the swab. This is just one example of how vital it is that I can speak on behalf of Brody. Having me here has lessened his fear, stress, and agitation,” says Leslie-Thomson.

Not only do the staff on GH4 provide exceptional care for Thomson, but they strive to meet his mom’s needs as well. One night, after Thomson fell asleep, Leslie-Thomson laid pillows on the floor to sleep next to her son. A unit assistant came in, lugging a hospital mattress with shampoo, lotion, and towels for Leslie-Thomson.

“You wouldn’t know that we are living in a pandemic and that our unit was an Orange Zone, other than the staff wearing PPE and heightened sanitization measures, because I couldn’t sense any stress among staff—the care and compassion is out of this world. Everyone puts Brody first,” says Leslie-Thomson.

“Everyone is making a tremendous effort to make sure their time with Brody is a success. We are all on Team Brody!”, says Joan Leslie-Thomson.

While there is no discharge date scheduled for Thomson, he is in good hands.

“Everyone on this unit is like family—this unit feels like home as soon as the doors open. Nobody wants to be in the hospital, but this is the place to be if you must,” says Leslie-Thomson.

 

Not all heroes wear capes; they wear scrubs, white coats, uniforms, PPE, and the day-to-day clothes of a parent caring for a sick child. Please consider a gift to the HSC Foundation to help us bring comfort to those in our community when they need it the most. To give, please click here or call 204-515-5612.

 

By Natasha Havrilenko