My name is Sharon, I am 64 years old and I am in the Post Acute Care Rehabilitation (PACR) unit at The Salvation Army Toronto Grace Health Centre (TGHC). In October 2013 I began to notice that my left leg was losing strength and progressively getting weaker causing me to lose my balance. When I went to see my doctor, he order a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan. The scan showed that there were a few spots on the left side of my brain. However, I was told that nothing could be diagnosed with any certainty without a biopsy. My biopsy was completed at St. Michael’s Hospital. The biopsy revealed that I had a cancerous brain tumor. You cannot imagine how devastating this news was to me and my family. Along with the bad news, after my biopsy, I found that what little mobility I had had in my left hand and leg was now diminished further and was minimal.
I was transferred to Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (SHSC), where I remained for a few months undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments. This resulted in further decreased use of the left side of my body, which affected me greatly as I am left handed. My life had changed so much – instead of being active, working and caring for my family, I became completely dependent. I required help to feed myself and needed to use a mechanical lift to transfer from my bed to a wheelchair.
My treatment team at SHSC determined, because of the absence of any physical improvement after my treatments, that I needed PACR. So, I was transferred to TGHC. When I arrived, perhaps because of the challenges I had already endured with my illness, I had some reservations about the quality of care I was going to receive. However, within a few weeks I began to improve, and I realized how dedicated the nurses and the interprofessional health team were to helping me regain my independence.
The care at TGHC is excellent, I certainly cannot complain. Dori, my occupational therapist, has trained me to use my right hand, and I am now able to drink and feed myself. With her assistance, I’m learning to operate an electric wheelchair so I will be able to get around. Laura, my physiotherapist is helping me to improve my strength and balance. I am now able to sit up in bed on my own, and with the assistance of a caregiver I can transfer from my bed to a wheelchair. My overall strength is slowly returning and with help from one or two people I’m also able to stand.
Now that I have a little more independence, I like to participate in recreational activities. I go to a baking class where we make muffins and cookies and socialize. I also take tai chi classes for endurance, a stretching class called On the Move, and I also attend the Roman Catholic Mass, which is held monthly at TGHC.
I’m married to a wonderfully dedicated man who is so committed to me and comes every single day to be with me. All five of my children are equally dedicated and on the weekends when I return home they are there to care for me and to support my husband. I love being able to go home and be with my family. The nurses and the interprofessional health team are helping me to regain my mobility and independence so I can return home to stay.
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