The Holland Bloorview Foundation recently launched the changeforkids.ca campaign, which features inspirational stories of kids and youth overcoming barriers. Jason is an ambassador for the campaign and spent nearly a year at the hospital after an illness left him unable to walk or talk. I’m thrilled that Jason is my guest blogger this month and sharing his story.
Being unable to walk, talk or even breathe on my own is definitely not how I thought my life would go when I turned 16.
But that’s what happened. And because of that, Holland Bloorview has been my home for the past ten months.
In early 2015 I developed Rhabdomyolysis. That’s an illness where muscle tissue breaks down, and muscle fiber fluid leaks into the blood which eventually causes kidney damage.
My muscles weakened so much, I had difficulty breathing and speaking. Eventually, kidney failure forced me to go on dialysis for two months. First being diagnosed and treated at Sick Kids, I arrived at Holland Bloorview last April. I couldn’t walk, speak or breathe without a ventilator.
From the very beginning, the staff at Holland Bloorview made me smile and laugh, despite what I was going through.
I could barely move and I couldn’t say much, but the therapeutic clowns made me and my family laugh out loud. When I first arrived, I saw them two or three times a week. Practically every time my cheeks would hurt from laughing.
All of my therapists had me smiling too. My physiotherapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapy assistants and respiratory therapists, they were all amazing. They really understood what I had been through.
I enjoyed seeing them so much that I honestly looked forward to my therapy sessions, even though I was literally learning to walk, talk and breathe again and the therapy was sometimes painful.
I got to know them and they got to know me. They were so positive, upbeat and reassuring, I never felt negative about my illness. I never got discouraged. I knew I would recover. I knew I would get stronger and healthier, and all of my therapists felt that way too. That gave me confidence.
They were so much a part of every big moment. They were there when I first stood on my own…when I could walk with a walker…when I could breathe without a ventilator. The staff were right there with me and they seemed as happy about these breakthroughs as I was.
They also helped me do something special for my mom. For her birthday, I was determined to give her a special gift. And with their help, I walked to her by myself. I’ll never forget her face. It was a huge moment for both of us.
As I got better, the hospital’s nurses became my personal fan club. They were always so happy when they saw that I could do new things. When I became more mobile and walked around the halls with a walker, the nurses would pop out of different rooms into the hallway and cheer me on.
In November, I went back to Sick Kids to have my breathing tube removed. When I returned to Holland Bloorview there was a huge gift basket in my room – a gift from the respiratory therapists.
It seemed everyone knew I was breathing on my own and I was congratulated by so many people.
I was discharged January 28, and I’m glad to be back home with my family. I walked out the door, proud of what I had overcome, grateful for the care I received and excited about the future.
It’s good to be home again. I really missed my bed. It’s even good to be back at school with my friends. (I’ve just started Grade 11.)
But I’ll miss everyone. I’ll miss the staff and I’ll miss the time we spent together. You get attached to this place. It really didn’t feel like a hospital at all.
In fact, when I look back at my time here, the first word that comes to mind is “fun.” I know, that’s hard to believe, but it’s true.
If a hospital can make learning to walk, talk and breathe again fun, that’s really an amazing place.