“It doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you do not stop” are the words of a famous Chinese philosopher, Conficius, who lived in 551–479 BC. Across time humanity still follows similar insights and beliefs.

Here is a very motivating poem written by one of JR’s clients:

“Step Further”Untitled

Fall enough times you learn to get up.
Get up enough times you learn how to stand.
Stand enough times you learn how to stumble.
Stumble enough times you learn how to walk
Walk enough times each step gets you further.
Further step each time you can discover,
The World.

Manuel de los Santos, one of sport’s most inspirational figures, grew up playing baseball in the Dominican Republic. His life was changed forever when a motorcycle accident resulted in a left leg, above knee amputation. After his accident he moved to France where he saw the film “The Legend of Bagger Vance”, which inspired him to take up Golf . He is now competing in high profile tournaments around the globe.

His perseverance, dedication, and positive attitude guided his recovery and despite his physical limitations, he is living his life to the fullest and enjoying every minute of it.

The following letter was graciously provided to JR Rehab by the partner of a current client:

In 1996 my husband acquired a brain injury as a result of a carotid artery dissection.  He was left with left sided paralysis, a seizure disorder, cognitive deficits and aphasia. He was unable to tell time or understand numbers, which had a great impact on things like using the telephone, banking, appointments, etc.  He could no longer work or drive. He was 47 years old at the time. We had been married almost 20 years.  After spending one month in the hospital, he then spent three months as an in-patient at GF Strong. Our lives as we knew them changed overnight.

Gradually our new lives unfolded. We had no idea what the future held, although gradually the reality of our new lives revealed itself.  Looking back, I think the medical professionals knew a lot more about our future than they told us at the time, the information was given piecemeal, over time.  In retrospect, this was probably a good thing as we would not have been able to  absorb and accept the full reality all at once..  We cried together, laughed together, and tried to make a new life for ourselves as best we could.  There were dark and frightening times, depression and much anxiety. Many times my husband referred to himself as “Humpty Dumpty: There was a large sense of loss  The sense of loss has never completely gone away, as we are both very aware of what our lives were like before the brain injury.  However, it is not our focus. Rather, our focus is to live each day as best as we can, to experience joy, adventure, discovery, creativity, love, friendship and connections with those in the world less fortunate than us.  As my husband says, “It’s the little things”.  An example would be the puppy we added to our home four years ago, a new experience for us, and one of the best things we ever did.  A wonderful companion for my husband to cuddle and love…she is an excellent listener!  We also find joy in sponsoring children in underdeveloped countries who have so little compared to children in our society.

The most frustrating and challenging part of my husband’s disability has been the aphasia.  Although over 100,000 Canadians live with aphasia (more than those with Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy), community understanding of this condition is at best limited.  An individual with aphasia may experience difficulty expressing themselves when speaking, difficulty understanding the speech of others, and difficulty reading and writing.  Sadly, aphasia can mask a person’s intelligence and ability to communicate feelings, thoughts and emotions.  It can be a very isolating condition.  As stated by Barbara Purves, Clinical Professor, U.B.C.:

Aphasia can silence people.  Many individuals with aphasia choose carefully when to take up the challenge of struggling in conversation …chatting is rarely, if ever, idle.

Many hesitate to risk having their slow, halting speech be mistaken for slow, halting thought.  Not surprisingly, many people with aphasia struggle with social withdrawal and depression so that aphasia, unlike many disabilities, can be invisible.

We experienced this isolation as we discovered long-time friends disappearing from our lives.  Interestingly, we also discovered through this process who our friends were and we were in for some surprises.  However, the end result was that we have found who our true friends are, and they have stayed with us.  They are very important in our lives and we are grateful for their deep friendship over these many years.  We also discovered the ignorance of some members of the public, and the kindness of others.  We have tried to surround ourselves, as much as possible, with friends who care, and activities that we enjoy on our own or together. We have a quiet life, by necessity, but we have grown to like the quiet.  As a caregiver, I have learned to take care of myself by keeping healthy by physical activity and social engagement.  That is a necessity to avoid burnout and to continue in the long term as a caregiver.

People with the same impairment do not necessarily have the same disability.  How you see yourself and your place in the world, after your disability, can impact how you deal with your disability.  Your social support and your determination also can impact the extent of your disability.  A balance between accepting your disability but always moving forward in one’s life is also important.  Open your eyes and your heart.  Be conscious of, and cultivate the “little things” in life.  Find joy in nature, simplicity, generosity, friends, and laughter.  Live today as though it is the first day of your life and the last day of your life.

– Mr. and Mrs. Smith

© Copyright JR Rehabilitation Services