After undergoing a major accident, numerous surgeries, and extensive rehab, I have earned a new name- Barb 2.0 as I am essentially a rebuild!
In July 2016, I was in a major motorcycle accident. My pelvis was destroyed and detached from my right hip, my left humerus was broken in three places, I broke my right wrist, and there were a few cracked bones in other places in my body. However, one of the most significant injuries was severe nerve damage to my right arm after rupturing two nerves in my shoulder.
On the day of my accident, I was rushed to emergency at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH), where they saved my life. I underwent emergency surgery to install a plate to repair my fractured left arm, right wrist, and the installation of an external fixer to stabilize my broken pelvis. Six days later I underwent a four hour surgery to install pelvic plates and a bridge to reattach my pelvis to my hip.
I was a patient at KGH for close to three months; approximately a week in ICU, a couple of weeks on the fourth floor with the remainder of time spent in the Rehab wing. In effect, KGH became my home. My memories of that time, although foggy, are those of kindness, compassion, caring, and the maintenance of my dignity. I received encouragement that pushed me just the right amount to begin and continue my healing journey. There are no words to express my thanks for the care I received during these months.
I was a challenging patient, as I was not to walk for an extended period of time. The specialized equipment, lifts, and chairs that I was able to access at KGH allowed me to remain in Kelowna, near the people I loved most and who loved me most. I needed my support system more than ever and cannot stress what an impact having them close to me played on maintaining my mental health during such a difficult time.
While my orthopaedic injuries were healing, the nerve damage in my right arm was not. I developed what some refer to as ‘stroke arm’ with almost no movement or feeling at all. As my deltoid and bicep were essentially dead, my arm began to separate from the shoulder. I am right hand dominant and had to learn to do everything with my left hand, which is more challenging than most might imagine.
I returned home at the end of September with a wheelchair, a walker and other accessibility equipment. I had been referred to the Vancouver General Hospital by KGH rehab for cutting edge nerve surgery. Although the surgery has proven successful, at the time, I was informed that nerve recovery would be lengthy, and with work and no guarantee, I might regain function in my right arm.
I began my rehab at home and my kinesiologist eventually set up a program for me in the kiddie pool at the Kelowna Family Y. The YMCA is truly a welcoming facility, with an inclusive and accessible environment. I felt comfortable and was able to be quite vulnerable in front of others there. I soon learned that I was able to do things with my arm in the pool that I couldn’t on land. Also, the elevator and pool lift gave me assurance should I ever need them. I eventually graduated from the kiddie pool to the lane pool, and then onto aqua fit in the deep pool. My kinesiologist developed a workout plan for me in the gym, and over time, the staff at the Y updated my personal workout plan.
I have stayed consistent with my rehab at the Y, and I credit access to the facility and staff with assisting me so far along in my healing journey- orthopaedically, neurologically and emotionally.
The Y gave me the tools and equipment I needed to strengthen and rebuild my body and mind after such a life changing experience. In fact, I was able to return to work as a Secondary School Vice Principal for one and a half years.
Now that I have retired, I swim six days a week at the Y, and I am happy to report that I can play an adapted golf game fairly well. My right arm, although not perfect, is functional and I am able to write with my right hand again. Some days remain difficult and I still have to manage my pain on a daily basis, but I am beyond grateful and fortunate to live my current life.
I have the deepest respect for both the Kelowna General Hospital and the YMCA. I am living proof that both institutions can make a profound difference in someone’s life and eventual future. I sincerely thank them for helping me to survive, recover, and rebuild into Barb 2.0.
Many successful recovery stories like Barbs are made possible through the help of Kelowna General Hospital and YMCA of Southern Interior BC. The Lake Life Lottery is the first of its kind, aiming to make health and wellness resources more accessible than ever, bringing healthier futures to our communities. Funds raised through the lottery will support the YMCA and KGH Foundation. Learn more and purchase tickets at lakelifelottery.ca.