Every Day is a Gift
It was my last deployment before my family and I were set to move to Ottawa.
There I was, Commanding Officer of a Canadian Navy warship, at sea about 150 miles off the coast of California. I had finally found time to get to the fitness room to fit in my regular workout for the day. I remember putting on my headphones and getting on the treadmill.
Then everything went dark…until I woke up in the naval hospital in San Diego.
Read the entire Tim Kerr story below.
I was only 43 years old. I was in great shape, from my time in the military. I ate well. I exercised. But I suffered a brain hemorrhage and a stroke that day.
The road to recovery hasn’t been an easy one. But after more than a year of intensive rehabilitation at Elisabeth Bruyère Hospital, I’m told by people, now, that you would never know I had been the victim of a stroke. They tell me I’m lucky.
But I know my survival and rehabilitation isn’t a matter of luck. It’s a result of the exceptional care I received in the hands of Bruyère’s talented medical staff.
After my crew saved my life, by rushing me to the naval hospital ashore, doctors told me I would need to travel elsewhere for my rehabilitation. Even in San Diego, my neurosurgeon knew of Bruyère’s incredible work and reputation. They recommended that I seek care in Ottawa.
Once stabilized, with my wife by my side, the Canadian Armed Forces flew me to Ottawa and together we began our journey with my stroke rehabilitation. We knew the road ahead of us would be long – but we also hoped we were going to be in the very best of hands.
It was hard not to feel discouraged, in the days that followed my stroke. My body felt like it belonged to someone else. I couldn’t use my left side or even sit up straight. I was in a wheelchair. And I was undergoing countless tests to try and determine the cause of my brain hemorrhage.
But the staff and volunteers at Bruyère believed in me. They explained every step of my treatment, outlining my recovery in stages. I began to see a glimmer of hope, and I gained a little bit of strength with each passing day.
We celebrated my daughter’s eighth birthday in the hospital. As I sat in my wheelchair watching her dance around a conference room, I initially despaired, but then resolved to do everything I could to recover for her and my older son. My family needed me.
Bruyère’s stroke rehabilitation program is second to none. Offering both in-patient and out-patient services, the team serves people of all ages – from those in their twenties to those in their nineties. And they are making some truly exciting strides in care.
As time passes there is an increasing integration of technology into stroke treatment plans. Video games to build balance skills are incorporated into rehabilitation. Doctors are exploring ways to use virtual reality to enhance recovery. These new technologies allow for more seamless care between the hospital and home, bridging the gaps for stroke patients returning to daily life.
These technologies would not be possible without the investment of supporters just like you and me. Until I was a patient at Bruyère, I had no idea that government funding is only for the staffing and infrastructure of a hospital. It’s donor dollars that purchase necessary equipment like vital signs monitors and diagnostic imaging machines.
I can say firsthand how important these tools are, in the hands of medical professionals. As I increased my core strength, over my first month at Bruyère, I could feel my progress starting to accelerate. Before long, I was back on my feet with the assistance of a walker and a cane!
I continued my rehabilitation at home as a Bruyère outpatient, visiting physiotherapists and doctors frequently in the months that followed.
Today, I say that I’m almost back to where I was before that fateful day at sea. My body feels like my own again. In fact, on May 25th and 26th I embarked on the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend Lumberjack Challenge (4 races, 59.2 km over the course of two days) to help raise both awareness and funds in support of Bruyère.
I didn’t truly understand the important role that Bruyère plays in our community until I needed rehabilitation. As someone who has benefited so much from their expert medical care, I’m now determined to raise awareness for the hospital and give back to the same institution that gave me so much.
Having a stroke at only 43 years old showed me that a lot of things are outside of our control in life. But what is within our control is what we do with the time that we are afforded. Today, I choose to help bring attention to the importance of having these types of facilities available for people in need.
I can’t imagine what my life would look like today, were it not for Bruyère. And I, like you, want others to have that same access to world-class health care when they need it the most.
None of us wants to imagine that we or a loved one could ever need the services that Bruyère offers… But tens of thousands of patients each year rely on its life-saving and life changing care and rehabilitation. Your kind support ensures that patients of the future will have somewhere to turn.
I know so many families like mine will have you to thank when their mother, father, grandparent, or child returns home healthy and happy.
Thank you again, for your critical support.
Stroke survivor and grateful patient