Former CONNECT resident Janet and her husband Larry kissed winters in Kelowna goodbye for the California sunshine.
“We are very excited about our next adventure,” said Larry. “We plan to spend the summers in Kelowna and the winters in Hemet, California.”
The golden-skinned pair chose California because they love to be in the sun, but also because Janet’s physical and mental health is best in mild, sunny weather.
With seven children between them now scattered throughout Canada and the United States, Janet and Larry were adjusting to life as empty nesters when she suffered an aneurysm 3.5 years ago.
Bedridden in the hospital and unable to walk or talk, her prognosis was grim and there was talk of sending her to a long-term care home.
“When I was told that she likely wouldn’t recover past the point of being in a hospital bed, I knew they were wrong because I could see little improvements every day,” said Larry.
Thanks to her physiatrist and neuropsychologist, Janet got a chance to be in a rehab group she technically wasn’t qualified to be in. Larry said she took advantage of the opportunity and showed enough promise to be recommended as a candidate for CONNECT.
It was Christmas Eve when Janet moved into CONNECT in Lake Country, just north of Kelowna. It was a day Larry describes as scary, but full of anticipation and gratitude.
“The team at CONNECT was great because we would set a goal, approach the team to get their input, and they were always supportive and interested in helping us reach it.”
CONNECT’s Life Redesign Model is centered on residents setting goals and being supported to achieve them. It’s about interdependence, social capital, getting back to the community and residents redesigning their lives.
Since moving home in November, 2014, the couple is thriving and continues to see improvement every day.
“We are doing well since CONNECT,” smiled Janet. “We love each other. We are closer now to each other and to God.”
Larry reiterates the point and insists their communication with each other has never been better.
Larry has been documenting the journey through a blog, which he contributes to religiously. He was writing every day for a while, less when Janet moved home, and more frequently since moving to California. The blog has connected them to strangers going through similar experiences.
Larry said one of the challenges since moving home from CONNECT is creating activities for the two of them and for Janet.
“There are days when I feel we should be doing more, but most days are good,” he says. “Janet can easily pick from a list of activity options, but she is still challenged in initializing ideas.”
Their church community in Kelowna has been a big support, providing Janet with opportunities to participate with children and helping in the kitchen.
Janet’s goals are to continue to walk and talk better, although Larry insists she’s too hard on herself and needs to better acknowledge how far she’s come.
“I don’t realize it sometimes, but I am lucky,” says Janet “I want to share my story and let people know that with the right help and people pushing you forward, you can recover.”
“Recovery can happen and is happening even years after the injury,” added Larry. “We take life one day at a time. It’s not about poor me, it’s about what we do with today. I have never been interested in looking backwards. We are moving forward together.”
To read Larry’s blog about their journey, visit brainaneurysmsurvivor.com.