I was a former military lineman and was working a telecommunications job in the private sector. I was also a drummer in a band most weekends. Things were good. I had been to see my doctor for a physical exactly 2 weeks before I got sick. I’d complained about a pain in my side, felt like I pulled something. Doctor was not concerned, all looked good, I was healthy.
June 2013, it was vacation time! The boys and I were going fishing and headed out for the season opener. 3 days into our trip, a Thursday morning I woke up sweating with some real sharp pain in my side. As we’d closed up one camp, stacked wood and moved to the main camp just the day before, I thought I’d just pulled some muscles. I generally wasn’t feeling great, so that Thursday morning I did not go out fishing with the guys. I stayed up at the camp and crashed. It seemed to get worse throughout the course of the day.
Friday morning I was no better, but thought I’d pulled something the day of the move. I felt like I was whimping out not going fishing with the boys. The crew came in for lunch Friday afternoon. The patriarch of our camp took one look at me, went and got the first aid kit and took my temperature. Without missing a beat he told somebody to go pack up my stuff and get it to the boat. He was taking me to hospital now. We drove 10 hours to the local hospital where I live. It was a brutal drive, I was sick the entire way. I tried to drink and would vomit, I couldn’t keep nothing down. I walked into the hospital myself, I handed my drivers license and health card off to the reception nurse and, thundered in like a bag of hammers!
I woke up six weeks later in mid July, in ICU. I could not move, I could not talk, I had a trach. I could not do anything. But I tell you, I knew my legs were gone. I had suffered septic shock. I had 2 strokes, lost my spleen and on June 18th both of my legs had been amputated below the knees to save my life. As it goes, my mother, who also lives in the small town I am from was contacted when I was admitted to the ICU. I was intubated and transferred to the city hospital. My poor Mum had to make the decision to amputate and sign off on the surgery.
Over the next few weeks my fingers on my left hand started to get dark and became necrotic. Early August my fingers and thumb had to be amputated to the palm. At the end of August, I was transferred to the Ottawa Rehab Centre (TOH-TRC).
The good thing there is it takes you out of your head, there are others. We had our own little posse going. I met some really great people! In October 2013, I had to have the tips of three fingers on my right hand amputated. It was about a week or so after that I suffered a third stroke and lost vision in my right eye. You can’t begin to imagine the anger and frustration. I played guitar, was a drummer. I did two tours in Afghanistan and came back without a scratch! All in all, I was in hospital and rehab for just under a year.
I am grateful to the best doctor at rehab Dr Nancy Dudek. She arranged with the rehab centre’s engineering team to help me with tools to keep me drumming. They asked me to bring my drum kit in! This team made a huge difference for me in the recovery stuff.
I have two great kids and they were still pretty young at the time, so you move forward and you persevere. I still live out in the country, still fish and I play with 2 bands. We have four wheelers, target practice and winter sleds. I still do most of what I did, sometimes I need help and stuff might take me a little longer.
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