Sneak Peek at 150 Stories for Independent Living Across Canada #1–Lynn Mullally’s Story
Lynn Mullally’s Story
“This is certainly not the retirement I envisaged – but my life is meaningful and fulfilling.”
Until 3½ years ago, I lived my life as a healthy, able bodied person. I worked for 35 years in social work, raised two daughters, and fostered several teenaged girls. I had moved from the east coast, after obtaining my degree in Ontario. I ended up in Victoria via Fort Nelson for a few years. My life was successful and mostly good – I was now set to enjoy retirement!
On January 31, 2014, I awoke with agonizing pain in my groin. I went to emergency and was admitted and put on a morphine drip. When I tried to stand, my right leg collapsed – I was paralysed from the waist down on that side. After a series of tests, I was told that I had spinal stenosis, a buildup of calcium on my spine. The calcium had grown inward and compressed my spinal cord by 80%. The specialist said I might improve, or I might never walk again! I was devastated.
After one month, I was sent home in a power wheelchair. I lived alone, so life was extremely challenging at first – all I could do was transfer in and out of my chair. But the Red Cross brought me equipment, occupational therapists helped me problem solve tasks, and my daughters and friends helped out. I got through those first month’s and gradually became able to care for myself and my home.
I had long term benefits through my employer, which helped pay for medical expenses. Three years of acupuncture helped restore movement to my leg, and Tai chi classes became my physio. I currently am able to walk a couple of blocks with a walker, and never use my chair at home. I live completely independently.
I have had emotional ups and downs; I’ve gone through depression and anger to acceptance of a new normal. I became involved with the Victoria Disability Resource Center, where I serve as board chair and also volunteer extra time. I am involved again in my community and with my profession. This is certainly not the retirement I envisaged – but my life is meaningful and fulfilling.
** We will post one story every day this week from the wonderful people associated with the VDRC who decided to share their stories. Stay tuned for a new one tomorrow!