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Julia & Kirk’s Story

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. My husband spent nine weeks in the ICU, and has now been moved out of that unit.

When I spoke with the coordinator in the ICU, she said that I should contact you to share our story. The list of those we’d like to thank is very long. The doctors and nurses in the ICU, all the therapists – physio, occupational, respiratory, and speech – the social worker, the custodian.

And thanks to all of your amazing donors! Thank you for giving from your heart, to make our community hospital the best it can be!

My husband Kirk and I retired in this community in part because we knew there was an excellent hospital close by.

Our journey began back in November 2020, during the height of the second wave of COVID. Kirk started to feel quite unwell, with sudden fatigue and muscle aches. He booked a COVID test for the next day. However, the next morning he woke with more severe symptoms.

We called the testing centre, who said he should head straight to the Emergency Department given he had a previous case of Guillain-Barré Syndrome, which causes rapid onset of muscle weakness – and can cause life-changing paralysis.

I can’t tell you how awful it felt to drop my husband off at the door outside the Emergency Department and watch him limp away, unable to join him due to COVID restrictions.

After intensive screening tests and a CT scan, the Emergency doctor confirmed our worst fear: Kirk had a recurrence of Guillain-Barre Syndrome. It was a frightening time, but one thing I can tell you is that from my perspective, the system works so well. Kirk had to be transferred to a regional hospital for advanced treatments and it was a seamless transition that occurred within hours.

We had to stay in touch by phone and text. Within days Kirk wasn’t even able to do that anymore because his hands were so weak. Despite receiving specialized treatments, the paralysis kept spreading throughout Kirk’s body. He needed to be put on a ventilator and was given a tracheostomy in order to keep breathing. He had a PICC line inserted and a feeding tube. He was unable to speak and barely able to shrug his shoulders.

Mercifully, with another round of treatment, the paralysis finally stopped. Kirk entered the long recovery phase of his illness. He was transferred back to STEGH, and the ICU team was phenomenal. They really rallied around Kirk and took ownership in his health. They helped me get designated as Kirk’s essential care person so I could come and visit even during the COVID restrictions.

It really felt like everyone, from the custodians, to the nurses and the doctors, were all cheering for his recovery. The staff even liked to keep surprises for me!

I could feel the excitement in the ICU just before I walked in the room and saw Kirk wave at me for the first time. The same happened on the day Kirk was first able to speak to me.

Those are the little things that mean so much.

The ICU staff really came to feel like family – especially during a time when extended family wasn’t able to come and visit.

I want to give you a big thank you! Kirk is doing so much better and is in recovery in the Continuing Care Unit now. It’s so comforting to know he’s just 10 short minutes away.

I know Kirk would say he’s truly blessed. Through this experience, the staff have treated him with such kindness and compassion, respect and understanding. It truly means so much.

Thank you again for everything,
Julia