My name is Isan. I am fifty-seven years old and I believe in second chances.

In December 2013, I was taken to the Emergency Department at Humber River Regional Hospital (HRRH) after I collapsed at a walk-in clinic. I was diagnosed with a terrible case of pneumonia. Almost immediately following my arrival, I went into cardiac arrest as well as respiratory failure. I was resuscitated and moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where I was intubated. While I was in the ICU, I went into acute kidney failure and needed dialysis. For the next three months I remained in the ICU and the health team stabilized my vital organs, regulated my blood pressure, and managed my infection, as well as my diabetes.

After three months, I showed signs of improvement and no longer required kidney dialysis. However, because I had been deprived of oxygen to my brain (hypoxia) — a problem attributed to my cardiac arrest — I had a lot of neurological damage. As well, my muscles had atrophied because I had been bedridden for so long. I now required rehabilitation.

I was transferred to the Post Acute Care Rehabilitation (PACR) unit at The Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre (TGHC) on March 17, 2014. When I arrived, I had almost no muscle movement and very little motor activity in my legs and trunk. I was also in a lot of pain as a result of peripheral nerve damage caused by my diabetes, pneumonia and kidney disease. I had not stood up or walked since I was admitted to the Emergency Department in December 2013. The nurses and interprofessional health team at the TGHC understood how important it was for me personally to regain my independence, and their hard work and dedication was clearly demonstrated by their teamwork.

In the beginning, I required a lot of help from the nurses with my meals, and with washing, shaving and dressing. Taking care of my personal hygiene was my first priority toward becoming independent. I did bed mobility exercises and began daily physiotherapy. Within the first month I was able to once again look after a lot of my personal grooming, as well as eat again on my own. There were hard times too, of course, and I must admit that there were a few times when I thought of giving up. However, with the interprofessional health team’s encouragement and motivation I found the willpower to continue my therapy.

Emily, my occupational therapist, worked with me on arm exercises and trunk control for balance and strength. She also trained me to operate an electric wheelchair. Sarah, my physiotherapist, worked on helping me gain strength in my legs, and helped me with standing exercises so I would be able to transfer from my bed to a wheelchair. The pharmacists managed my pain and provided me with all the necessary kidney and diabetes medication. The dietitians assessed and coordinated my nutritional needs. The care at the TGHC was outstanding.

My overall strength, balance and endurance improved immensely following my arrival at TGHC. Ultimately, I was able to transfer from my wheelchair to a walker, and with some assistance, to walk with my walker and do a few laps around the fourth floor. Consequently, I was hoping that I could leave TGHC walking with a cane. However, my therapists told me that I would be independent but in a wheelchair. At first I could not accept this assessment. However, after some reflection, I eventually realized that leaving in an electric wheelchair moved me closer toward my goal of independence in my rehabilitation journey.

I was discharged from the TGHC on July 3, 2014, and returned home to live with my son, Sergio. I am now doing outpatient physiotherapy and rehabilitation. With Sergio’s help, I am working toward my goal of being able to walk as I continue to make the most of a second chance.