Since meeting at the National Theatre School of Canada in the early 1970’s, Michael and Susan have lived and worked and raised children and grandchildren in Canada. To know them is to love them. And right now, they need our help. They are private people – so it has taken a long time for Susan to be comfortable sharing the harrowing story that changed their lives forever.
In Susan’s own words:
“ You probably know Michael as an actor. Or maybe you know him as a friend, an acquaintance, a co-worker, a father, a grandfather, or a husband. My husband. I am Susan Hogan and I am married to this extraordinary man. We have been each other’s best friend for decades.
On Feb. 17, 2020, everything changed drastically in our world. Michael was in Vancouver participating in a Battlestar Galactica convention, and at dinner following his day’s work, he fell and hit his head. Hard. He went to bed that night not realizing that the impact had caused a massive brain bleed. He was unable to be woken the next morning and was taken to Vancouver General Hospital and emergency surgery performed. It took 57 staples to close the part of his scull they had to remove in order to reach the damage.
The accident left him with complete paralysis on his left side, memory loss, cogntivie impairment and an inability to swallow.
Then things became incredibly more difficult during the COVID pandemic with visits by family being restricted then denied and no care team (physiotherapist,
OT, speech therapist, etc. ) allowed in.
Needless to say, this life changing injury has sent a tsunami of heartbreak through the family. And with recovery relying heavily on contact with family as critical members of the health care team, the agony of separation is indescribable.
Susan has been exhaustingly researching Michael’s frequently changing medical conditions, and is in daily contact with his doctors, nurses, specialists, and social workers.
On June 18th Michael was moved into The Berkley Care Centre in North Vancouver. Susan is allowed limited supervised visits - socially distanced, no contact, no touching, not even a smile can be exchanged given the mandatory face masks. For someone with a brain injury that face, that smile, that contact with a family member is critical grounding for them. To be denied that is torturous.
Susan has finally been able to find and get permission for a physiotherapist to go into the facility 2 or 3 times a week. Michael still cannot stand and needs an overhead lift to be moved from the bed to the wheelchair. He still requires a feeding tube into his stomach. He has regained his speech and is largely coherent and cognizant but there is a long long road ahead.
Though it is hard to imagine, I think it’s fair to say it is unlikely Michael will be able to work again but he is ONE TOUGH guy, so it also wouldn't surprise me if he found a way! But for these past seven months, Susan has also been unable to work, given the circumstances . She is facing an uncertain future to navigate other than knowing that the financial demands will continue to be great. There are the known costs of the Long Term Care facility, a customized wheelchair, a private physiotherapist to tend to him there, and ongoing costs of medications, foot care, adaptive clothing etc. And if he’s able to come home which would be far preferred - an overhead lift to move him from bed to wheelchair, a hospital bed, ramps, one to two live-in care-aids, renovations to accommodate the wheelchair including doorways and bathrooms, and a vehicle to accommodate the wheelchair.
It is impossible to accurately assess the ongoing and future financial demands so the "goal" will likely be a moving target. The real goal is to have Michael back – that sweet, funny, teasing, impish spirited bright light and brilliant actor and friend. And if at all possible, one day back in his home on Bowen Island with his dog Harley, his family, and treasured parts of the life he knew. But practically speaking, the goal is to give Susan a way forward without the crushing financial weight of the ever changing costs for his care.
Of course, in these times there is increasing need and decreasing income due to Covid 19. But thanks to this platform any help you can provide for Susan and Michael as they navigate this new and difficult landscape will add up to a significant difference in their lives. Considering the formidable contribution to theatre, film and television they have both made, I felt it worth asking.
Some folks without credit cards or not wanting to send money over the net are asking for other options to give. You can send funds directly via:
Mail a cheque payable to Susan Hogan
Michael and Susan Hogan
c/o Shari Ulrich
PO Box 152
Bowen Island, BC V0N 1G0
Thank you so much for listening and please share far and wide.
And Susan sent me this today.....
"Just sitting at the coffee shop, where Michael and I would come every morning. We would sit at the same table every day. It came to be known as "our" table. No one else would sit there:) We would talk about our dreams, plans, places we wanted to travel to, things we wanted to do to the house ..... People would often stop and say "what could you guys POSSIBLY have to talk about after all these years?" But we always did. We would be laughing our heads off about something, an audition gone bad? ... and he has me in stitches, tears rolling down my face"
That was our relationship. We were part of each other. Two halves of a whole.
Now I sit here alone. An empty chair across from me. My heart aching
And the tears are back. Not in laughter now though.
Not shared with him.
Missing him. So much.
- Lauren Shear
- Mr J G Strickland
- Andrea Chin
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