Sentimental Saturday – Celebrating The Anniversary Of My Death!?

Celebrating the day I died? A bit melodramatic? Probably. Real? Certainly.

On October 10, 2010, at 5:00 a.m., my wife received a phone call from the Intensive Care Unit of our local hospital. “Mrs. Hadden, we think you should get here as soon as possible. We don’t know if he is going to make it.”

With a scream and a scurry, my wife, along with oldest son Chris who was staying with his Mom that night, raced to the hospital, arriving just as the ‘Code Blue’ was called.

The nurse attending to me that night later told me that my heart rate and breathing began to decline in the early morning hours of that day five years ago. To quote the nurse, “Then you were gone, you went cold. That’s when I called the code.”

I had been struck down by a cold. Well, actually it started with a cold but I had been struck down by a somewhat rare neurological condition called Guillain-Barre Syndrome, or GBS. It was something I knew nothing about and could not even pronounce when I was diagnosed.

Even after my resuscitation, I was left in a quadriplegic state. I could move nothing from my neck down. Doctors told me that I would recover and estimated the recovery time to be two years. The recovery was frustrating and too slow for me. Things I did all my life like getting out of bed, feeding myself, going to the bathroom were gone, taken from me. All sense of independence was stripped away.

Yours Truly being taught how to walk again in the halls of the hospital with my physiotherapist Dawn in November 2010

Yours Truly being taught how to walk again in the halls of the hospital with my physiotherapist Dawn in November 2010 (photo by Ellen Hadden)

I was fortunate. As swiftly as the disease had caused my ‘decline’, my recovery, fortified by a lot of work and effort, not just by me, restored my mobility. The two year recovery timeframe that was estimated became four months.

I don’t usually share much personal information but today is special. It represents for me five years of bonus time during which I have been able to walk a daughter down the aisle, see grandchildren born and grow, travel with my wife, hang out with my kids. That’s what makes family history!

Happy Thanksgiving!

It’s the Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, an annual tradition of enjoying the bounty of the harvest season.

We are beginning our feasting today by attending a dinner with some of Ellen’s cousins whose company I very much enjoy.

Tomorrow, we gain some additional weight by having dinner with those of our kids who can attend at my son’s home (I think there will only be three of six present) plus at least one, but hopefully more, of our grandkids.

I have much to be thankful for! Most of all, I am thankful for the doctors, nurses and therapists who aided me four years ago when I inexplicably developed Guillain Barre Syndrome (GBS), a condition I had never heard of, nor could pronounce, let alone understand. The condition caused my total paralysis, (well, at least from the neck down) and for a moment or three, my death.

Those medical professionals were able to resuscitate me in the Ajax-Pickering Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, and help me over the next several weeks begin to regain my strength. They taught me how to walk again and become mobile. They returned my sense of independence to me.

I am thankful that I have been blessed with these past four ‘bonus’ years, with many more yet to come (I hope!). I am thankful that in the past four years I have been able to ‘hang out’ and do some traveling with my wife, hold my grand daughter, walk my eldest daughter down the aisle and sing at her wedding. I am thankful that we have been able to continue to offer help and encouragement to all of our kids as they work hard to establish their own niches in this often overly-harsh world.

I suspect we all have much to be thankful for and that is my, at least, partial list. What is on your list?