I had the pleasure of visiting my friend and associate Gary Froude this past week at the West Park Healthcare Centre in Central West Toronto. Gary is an amazing story of determination, intestinal fortitude and mental strength. Along with his loving partner Gayle Dempsey, they have endured unspeakable, indescribable challenges that show no limits to what the human psyche can achieve and overcome.
Due to a mysterious virus, Gary has been virtually paralyzed and on a respirator for a year and a half. That’s eighteen months. ….five hundred and forty days or more to the point….12,960 hours. I know what it’s like to be alone in hospital staring a ceiling, but I cannot in all good conscience, compare, so of course I wont. But I know enough from personal experience, to have motivated me to visit Gary, in three different care facilities, a half dozen times during this period to check in, say hello, and ‘talk’ Muskoka for a bit.
This most recent visit was wonderful. Gary is better. He is actually able to talk. Off his respirator twice daily now for three hours each session, the change is nothing short of remarkable. You see, I clearly remember visiting Gary and Gayle with my wife Pam at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in Barrie’s wonderful Royal Vic. Gary could not talk. Have you ever read lips? We typically look to one’s eyes when we converse. Tough when you lip read. Imagine Gary’s frustration with me? “Watch my lips you idiot!” he must have thought, all the while unable to move an arm or a leg to kick up a storm of impatience. But I digress.
Plans continue to Bring Gary Home to renovate the house, to accommodate a myriad of safety issues such as wheel chair access. It’s a momentous list. Reto-fitting a yet to be acquired van for transport is a priority.
The picture you see here, I took to show what teck-advances are being made today. Gary is ‘on-line’ here browsing software (email and Skype) by BLINKING at the screen. Gary ‘left clicks’ by very slightly moving his knee, which he is leaning to do.
For strength work, Gary is strapped to a ‘tilt table’ which takes him from horizontal to vertical, so he can place his body weight on his legs. It’s helping. Recovery is slow, but incredibly, there are lights in the tunnel and they are brightening, thanks to experts, family and friends.
There are many ways to help, should you wish to pick up an oar. Best to call or drop into the CIBC in Bracebridge and make a donation to “Bring Gary Home”. Tough sledding ahead to be sure, but what a difference a positive attitude can make in life. Merry Christmas Gary & Gayle. Words do not do justice.