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Monday, 19 December 2011

My Brain AVM Story: Leaving Ottawa

I was in Ottawa today, and it brought back a lot of memories. It's almost 11 years ago to the day that I walked out of the Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre after being in hospitals since the end of May. I'd be going home for good.

Ottawa, December 21, 2000


My last day at ORC was marked by my infamous tantrum about a day nurse that lied about me at a previous meeting being scheduled to represent Nursing staff at my discharge conference. Administration eventually declined to send someone from Nursing if I refused to have her there. This was fine, as far as I was concerned. My psychologist read Nursing's notes, and the nurse who'd thrown me under the bus (as far as I was concerned) didn't get to speak. It was a win-win for me, really. The whole sordid story behind that is here:  http://www.girlwiththecane.com/brain-avm-4/

All of us on the unit were leaving that day, because the unit was closed over Christmas. Some people would be returning in the new year for more inpatient therapy, or for outpatient therapy. I wouldn't be, so I said good-bye to all my friends: Nick and Angela, and Helene, and Alison, and Katie. Some of them I'd see again. Angela and I spent a week together at her home in Ottawa in the next year, and I saw Katie a few times when I went to Kingston to visit my sister. The others slipped off my radar. I've tried to find some of them through the Internet, and haven't been able to. Angela kept in touch with some of them, as she went to ORC for outpatient therapy. But some even she lost touch with some of them. Perhaps they wanted to forget that time in their lives.

I said good-bye to all my physiotherapists and occupational therapists, and my social worker and my psychologist, and the doctor that oversaw my team. I was nervous. The hospitals were friendly places for disabled people. The buildings were accessible and people were okay with me moving slowly and I knew that if I had a seizure I was surrounded by people who knew what to do. I knew that the "real world" wasn't always like that.

Good-Bye Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre


I walked into ORC using a cane. I was shaky and I didn't get very far before I needed to use my wheelchair, but I walked in. I was a lot less shaky when I walked out, but my wheelchair was right behind me. I needed to use it when Dad took me to the mall so that I could do my Christmas shopping before we left town.

Today, nearly twelve years later, I did my Christmas shopping without a wheelchair. I walked into McDonald's without my cane, in fact. We don't need a disabled parking placard for Dad's car anymore because I simply don't qualify for one.

It's taken a lot of hard work, and I know that there's still hard work to come. But things are very different than that day that I walked out of Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre, and that really struck me today.

I think I needed to remember that today - that I've faced challenges before and worked hard and gotten to a good place, and that I can do it again.

What reminds you that you can get through the tough times, when you need that bit of encouragement?

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