March 18, 2013
Leonard was a very typical teenager. Loved dearly by his Mom, Dad, and three siblings and especially close to his one brother Ezra, he is a fan of rap music, Family Guy, and hanging out with his friends. Growing up in a rural community, Leonard also liked to hunt, fish and train the family dog.
But one day, Leonard’s life was changed forever.
I remembered reading Leonard’s file before he came to St.Amant. Some things you never forget. Leonard suffered a serious brain injury a year and a half ago. He spent four months in hospital and underwent many life-saving medical interventions that basically kept him alive.
Through several surgeries and unfortunately some resulting complications and infections, Leonard fought to live.
Calling Leonard a fighter, though, really wouldn’t accurately describe him. He is so much more than a fighter. Leonard has the kind of smile that lights up an entire room, he is funny, smart, determined and is the kind of person that people like to be around.
When I met Leonard he was still in hospital where he was recovering. As Coordinator of Nursing Services it was my job to determine if he would be a good fit to live at St.Amant’s River Road Place.
I’ll never forget how he was sitting in a chair, he couldn’t really move, he wasn’t making eye contact or moving his gaze. Leonard had lost his ability to eat solid food and needed a feeding tube to sustain his nutrition, he had also lost his ability to speak and he wasn’t making any effort to communicate in other ways. But yet, there was something about him, that just made me think that there was more we could do for him.
Hospital staff had concluded that Leonard no longer needed hospital support and they referred him to St.Amant for longer term rehabilitation. His mother was determined she had high hopes that St.Amant could do more, she looked at me, nodded her head and said, “You’ll get him walking and talking, I know you will”..
The road to St.Amant…
Leonard moved to River Road Place in June of 2009, and as with all people at St.Amant, an individual planning meeting was held with Leonard, his family and all of his service providers (nursing, school, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech-language pathology, dietary, psychology…).
This critical process is part of what makes the care at St.Amant unique. It allows all of the people involved in Leonard’s life to determine a support plan to meet his medical needs and support his goals and meet his medical needs. Leonard began attending school full-time at St.Amant and was supported by a coordinated team of residential and clinical staff.
The road home…
Leonard started using a pommel walker in the summer of 2009, but only stepped with his left leg. He started moving his right leg and really stepping reciprocally by December 2009.
You can’t underestimate the love, devotion and confidence of a mother. Leonard’s mom spoke with his therapists and reiterated what she had told me at the hospital. “Leonard will walk again,” she told them. With that in mind, his physiotherapist would remind Leonard at every session that they had promised his mom that he would walk again!
Finally success by April he was able to walk without a walker and just needed someone walking with him to steady him slightly. Shortly after that he began to walk on his own! Around the same time, Leonard no longer required a feeding tube and began eating on his own.
Leonard is still in the rehabilitation phase and the team at St.Amant are constantly kept on their toes by his light-hearted teenage ways. He likes to play practical jokes on unsuspecting people and knows where all the candy jars are located in the building.
The future is not known for Leonard, but likely he will return home or to a community group home someday soon. His hard work and spirit of determination will surely help him fulfill his goals and lead a very meaningful life.
Because of you…
Your previous gift this year helped create heart warming stories like Leonard’s and for that we thank you, Leonard and his family thanks you.
We believe that creating opportunity for individuals like Leonard to achieve their full potential, is a basic human right and not a gift. But to help ensure that is a reality for individuals at St.Amant, will you make a second gift to the St.Amant Foundation this year? Your generous support can make the difference.
Co-ordinator of Nursing Services