When my husband Tony suffered a severe stroke, it changed our lives forever.
At first I was terrified. I didn’t know how – or if – Tony would recover. I wondered if Cambridge Memorial Hospital (CMH) was the right hospital for us. Within hours of Tony’s diagnosis I realized CMH was the perfect place and he was in great hands.
We don’t often think of the hospital as a place of joy, laughter and friendship. . . but for us it was. My name is Yvonne and I experienced first-hand the impact of our generous community each day Tony spent at CMH recovering from his stroke.
I believe the Rehabilitation Team at CMH saved Tony’s life. They celebrated every small victory and always had positive news to share when I arrived for daily visits. CMH’s caring therapists, nurses and doctors were there for Tony, literally – every step of the way. They were there for me as well.
As family members, we’re often not aware of the technology that contributes to our loved one’s care. Behind the scenes there were so many tests – CTs, MRIs, ECGs, EKGs, and x-rays. These tests were only possible because the equipment that supported Tony’s care was available. Before Tony’s stay I never thought about who makes all this modern equipment possible.
I now know that 100% of equipment at CMH is purchased through the generosity of people in our community. People just like you and me.
Will you consider becoming one of these generous people by supporting the Trees of Caring campaign this holiday season? Your gift is urgently needed to fund new equipment that will match the outstanding care provided at CMH.
Life after a stroke is a difficult journey, so we celebrated every achievement. This included Tony’s first solid meal at CMH which consisted of his favorite, ground beef steak and apple pie. Singing was another milestone. Tony had aphasia and could only speak a few words, but somehow after the stroke he could sing complete songs with perfect pronunciation. This was very odd, since he couldn’t sing before the stroke! Tony also loved to drive and always took the wheel on our previous road trips together. After the stroke, I was the designated driver, and despite Tony’s limited vocabulary, he still managed to be a very animated backseat driver!
I recently read the journal that I had kept during Tony’s recovery at CMH. It reminded me how he had to learn or re-learn just about everything – swallowing, speaking, dressing, transferring from bed to a wheel chair, using a walker . . . and how to socialize and be part of the community once again.
Spending over three months at CMH had a lasting impact on us. Members of his care team felt like our extended family. Their attentive care, helped Tony regain a great deal of independence and encouraged him to live life to the fullest. For the next thirteen years Tony and I did just that. We travelled. . .we laughed. . . we enjoyed our lives.
We were so thankful for Tony’s care, that we both felt a strong desire to show our appreciation. For five years, Tony volunteered as part of a stroke survivor peer visiting program. It was his way to give back and do something that was important to him.
I began volunteering with the Cambridge Memorial Hospital Volunteer Association. In my current Board role as the Business Director, I oversee the Red Poppy Gift Shop, Tim Hortons and the Recovery Room Thrift Shop.
Being a Cambridge Memorial Hospital Foundation monthly donor is also important to me. It’s another way to say “thank you” for all the years I had with Tony after his stroke.
This holiday season, the lights on the Trees of Caring will remind me of Tony. I will remember his upbeat positive nature and warm smile. The wonderful therapists that supported Tony’s care will also be in my thoughts.
Most of us will experience a life changing medical event at some point in time. When we do, it is reassuring to know that we can rely on CMH for care. Please donate to Trees of Caring today.
P.S. A community tradition for 31 years, your gift to Trees of Caring is a symbol of our love for family and friends and a community display of our gratitude to CMH
To watch more of Yvonne’s story click here.