A few days before Christmas, Mike woke up with a numbness in his hands and his neck was sore. On Christmas eve, the pain had become intense and Mike had not been able to urinate. He went to the emergency room with his Dad in Orillia (Mike and his partner Courtney were visiting family for the holidays). Once there, Mike was given a CAT scan and doctors noted what appeared to be blood in his spine. He was swiftly taken by ambulance to St. Mike's in Toronto for an MRI which showed a hemorrhaging tumor in his spine.
Mike met with numerous spinal surgeons who all agreed that it would be best to try to stabilize him before operating so as to reduce the swelling in his neck and lessen the bleeding.
On December 30th, Mike underwent surgery to have the tumor, (aka a "cavernoma"), removed. The surgery was a success but the nerve damage from the bleeding and the degree to which his spinal cord had been injured from the pressure of the tumor was and is still unknown. Subsequently, Mike lost the feeling and use of three of his limbs. He remained in the ICU at St. Mike's for another 2 weeks to recover and stabilize before being transferred to Hamilton General, and ultimately to the rehabilitation centre where he is currently residing.
At the rehab centre, Mike resides in an electric wheelchair and is undergoing physio therapy for 5 hours a day. Additional healthcare is helping his mind and many other aspects of his life. Family and friends constantly visit, which is greatly helping with morale. Many have generously dropped off food which has contributed to Mike's much needed weight gain. He's more than halfway back to his pre-injury weight!
From a mobility standpoint, Mike can now move his left arm and all 5 fingers. His core strength is coming back as well.
Mike's main goal is to be able to pick up his son again.
He is also focused on gaining the ability to transfer himself from his chair to the bed without the aid of an electrical lift / hoist.
Mike has been working hard in physiotherapy with these goals in mind. Amazingly (but not surprising to those who know him), he has been able to maintain a positive outlook - knowing that his attitude is paramount in continuing to heal and ultimately regain as much mobility and strength as possible.
Care So Far
Mike's recovery thus far wouldn't be possible without his amazing surgical team at St Mike’s, led by Dr Cusimano, and by the staff at the Hamilton Health Services Rehabilitation Centre. The nurses and physio staff have been instrumental in Mike's improvements so far. The knowledge gained here will help Mike adapt to the challenging stages to come.
Mike's had to leave his job at Textbooks For Change where he acted as General Manager, compiling used textbooks from Ontario students and facilitating their repurpose to East African universities. Mike dealt directly with universities in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania, as well as led a team of warehouse and logistics staff based in Hamilton.
At the moment, Mike is focused on his recovery, but he is hoping to be able to return to T4C in some capacity in the future.
Now the Easy Part...
Mike and Courtney need our help.
The costs associated with returning home from the hospital are daunting, to say the least. They involve major renovations to their home, a new vehicle, expensive equipment, as well as private personal support for the foreseeable future - and likely for the rest of Mike's life.
Nobody should have to go through what Mike, Courtney, their son Fox and both their extended families have already gone through...
But let's make coming home easier - if even in a small way.
If you have a minute, have a look at some estimates below which have been provided to the family. It will give us all an idea of some of the imminent costs which are right around the corner.
Thank you to anyone who has read this far and for any bit of financial commitment you can send along. Whether or not you are in a position to support this cause, we humbly ask you to pass this along to friends and family online. Every bit really does help!
(...to name a few)
Used Accessible Van :
$ 50 000
$7000 + an additional $12 500 to rebuild front porch so that it is flush with the front door (there is currently a step from the porch to the interior of the house).
(Fortunately, the Canadian Gov't will cover 75%)
Accessible Bathroom Reno :
This includes knocking down walls in the house to broaden the bathroom footprint enough to make it accessible.
It also entails the need for an accessible vanity and roll-in shower.
Indoor Lift to Access Basement :
Accessible Front Door to House :
Ongoing Private Personal Support Worker Costs :
$25+ per hour
*the govt only provides the bare minimum here.
- Howard Nuttall
- Ana Braga
- Miranda Clark
- Nicole Riddell (Nesh)
- Debra McKay
Organizer and beneficiary
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