Like many Canadians, playing hockey is one of my passions. I was pretty good at it too, playing triple-A hockey.
Until my brain injury. That changed everything.
But thanks to Easy Street, at Misericordia, life is getting better. I’m playing hockey again – something I didn’t think I would ever do. I play power wheelchair hockey every Sunday. I love it. I’m involved again in the community.
In April 2009, I suffered an accident and ended up in a coma for more than two months. My family was told that my sight, hearing, speech, memory and mobility would all be affected – if I even survived.
I did survive. However, my speech was weak, my vision was blurred, I had trouble concentrating and I was confined to a wheelchair. I needed a lot of help to do everyday things. Feeding myself. Showering and dressing myself. I had to learn basic things including how to get around in a wheelchair.
And with much help and perseverance, I started to re-learn some of these skills.
That’s when I was referred to Easy Street at Misericordia to help with my recovery.
Easy Street is a rehabilitation program that features a re-creation of a community. It has a bank with an automated teller machine, a car and gas pump, a restaurant and a grocery store.
Through a team approach to assessment and treatment, outpatients like me practise independent living skills. I have access to a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, social worker, dietitian and speech and language clinician. All of these health care professionals work with me to determine what treatments and supports I need to help me re-learn every day skills and integrate into the community.
My occupational therapist at Misericordia Health Centre’s Easy Street worked with me so that I could start to learn to live on my own again. In my second year of recovery, she thought I was ready to try a power wheelchair. This was another huge step in regaining my independence.
There is nowhere else in Winnipeg to learn and practice the skills needed to operate a power wheelchair. Not only does Easy Street teach the skills of using the chair to get around, a partnership with Winnipeg Transit gives people like me a chance to manoeuvre the bus system, giving me even more independence.
People suffer debilitating injuries and illnesses every day. A stroke. Arthritis. Multiple Sclerosis. Vision problems. Injuries and illnesses that affect our ability to dress ourselves, walk, cook, shop, bank, use a computer, and participate in even simple activities like card games. Getting used to doing things in a different way because of these new realities is a challenge. That’s why Easy Street was created.
I love coming to Easy Street. It’s helped me 100 per cent. I continue to make progress, especially with the mobility. I’ve started to walk a little bit and I have a goal to walk unassisted some day.
I have begun university classes and hope to obtain my psychology degree.
Because of Easy Street, I have been transformed from someone struggling with a brain injury to someone who is a thriving member of the community. I am truly grateful.
- Kevin Linklater