Adjusting to life after spinal stroke
By Angelica Ingram
Moss Davis flips through a book that contains pages filled with pictures of his dad.
The four-year-old kindergarten student at Archie Stouffer Elementary School shares stories of visiting his dad in Toronto over the summer, stories filled with popsicle treats and trips to the water park.
Made by Marianne Davis, the book chronicles a journey that began this past April when her husband Steve suffered a spinal stroke out of the blue one morning.
Born and raised in Haliburton County, Steve, 43, was admitted to Sunnybrook hospital in Toronto and later transferred to Lyndhurst Rehab Centre, where he stayed until being discharged on July 19.
Now months later, Steve is adjusting to life back at home and working towards regaining full use of his body, specifically his right leg.
“I went in there [Lyndhurst] and I couldn’t move my leg at all,” he said. “And then when I left I could stand up and I was doing some assisted walking ... and I was pretty self reliant.”
Since moving back home Steve has progressed and is now able to get around with the aid of a walker or walking sticks and sometimes without either. He also uses a motorized scooter.
“You don’t realize from one day to the next that you’re getting better but then all of a sudden a week or two weeks later you notice you can do something way better than you could before,” said Steve.
Overall his body feels pretty good but he still suffers from nerve pain.
“I get spasms, but those are getting better,” said Steve.
He travels down to Toronto every week from Tuesday to Thursday to receive therapy. The therapists have been positive about the improvements he has been making.
The father of two was happy to come home this summer and be back with his family, but admits the transition was difficult and emotional.
“Because there everything is easier,” he said. “When [I came] home I had to learn how to do things here for the first time more or less. That was difficult for sure.”
For the married couple, roles and responsibilities around the house had to be readdressed.
A labourer with Hydro One, Steve plans to go back to work eventually.
While he isn’t sure what his future will include, he hopes running and playing sports is a part of it.
“I have a high expectation,” he said.
Throughout the ordeal the family was able to raise more than $12,000 through a crowdfunding campaign and two community events, a spin fundraiser and a benefit dance.
“People have just been amazing,” said Marianne. “We’ve been thankful that we come from a small community because in the city we’d just be names.”
The money has been used by Steve for his ongoing therapy and purchasing much needed equipment, such as the walking sticks.
Spending a number of months without his dad was “weird,” said Moss. Both he and his brother Jacob, 6, are thrilled to have their dad around the house again and ask him regularly to play, something Steve tries very hard to do.
“They don’t really give him a free pass,” said Marianne.
“I don’t really want a free pass,” replies Steve.
Looking ahead to their son Jacob’s birthday party in November, to be held at the arena, Steve is hoping to strap on a pair of skates.
“What’s the worst that can happen? You fall down,” said Steve.
The scooter has helped Steve keep up with his two sons and spend more time outside with them. The situation has also made Steve much more aware of accessibility issues and the lack of accessibility throughout the community.
While Marianne has been handling the situation with a positive outlook it hasn’t always been easy, she says.
“You have no preparation for something like this,” she said. “You are just sort of going through life and doing what you have to do ... I never considered this.”
To document the journey her husband has taken, Marianne has made a book compiled with local articles, family pictures, messages of support from Facebook and more.
The story documented in the book is not yet finished, a sign of the hope and optimism found among the tight knit family.
“There’s always worse, it doesn’t take you long at Lyndhurst to realize that there’s way worse than what you are,” said Steve.
“I think what kept me going at the beginning was I just thought maybe we’re going to come out of this stronger than ever before,” said Marianne. “Maybe we’re going to reach a part in our relationship where were closer than we ever were, where we’re there for each other. And if that’s why this happened then we’re going to come out of it better ... we are still very, very lucky people.”