the Journey by liaoqinmei


									                                                                                                      sprINg 2011

for workers wITH seVere INJUrIes


New learning
curve for
injured teen                                                                      Jessica Kruger with her sister, Leah
                                                                                       and parents, David and Mary.

e    ighteen-year-old Jessica
     Kruger’s life has been anything
but typical. When she was six, she
                                        stories up a ladder when she
                                        started to feel faint and blacked
                                        out. She fell six metres, and hit the
                                                                                 parents’ reaction — my dad was so
                                                                                 angry and my mom was so upset.”

spent four years sailing around the
world with her parents and her
older sister, Leah. They visited 37
                                        ground hard — she only
                                        remembers the screams of the
                                        other painter who found her lying
                                                                                     “  Everyone experiences
                                                                                   trauma and loss in life, and I
countries and sailed every ocean on     there. In the ambulance, she                 got my share a bit earlier
earth. When they returned home to
Coquitlam, B.C., Jessica settled into
her life as a Canadian kid. She went
                                        realized she couldn’t feel her legs,
                                        and she asked the paramedics if
                                        she would be okay. “When they
                                                                                       than most people.
                                                                                    —worksafeBC young worker
                                                                                               Jessica kruger
to school, played softball and          didn’t answer me I knew that this
basketball, and hung out with her       accident might change everything.”
friends. She was happy.                                                          Today, three years later, the
                                        Jessica was taken to New                 situation is crystal clear to Jessica
She had just turned 15 when she         Westminster’s Royal Columbian            — she knows what the accident
took a summer job painting houses       Hospital. After four hours of surgery,   means for the rest of her life. She
with her sister’s company. The work     she woke up in a morphine-induced        has quadriplegia. “When most
was physical and satisfying and         fog. She recalls the doctor telling      people hear I’m quadriplegic, they
Jessica loved being outside and         her she would never walk again. “I       assume I can’t move my arms and
working up on the high ladders.         couldn’t react. I didn’t know what       legs. But that’s not what I have to
                                        to say or what to think. The most        live with,” she says. Quadriplegia
Ten days into the job, she was two      upsetting part was seeing my                          Continued on page 3
we’d love to                        getting the
hear from you                       support
If you have suggestions for
future articles, or would like to
tell your story to our readers,
                                    you need
please call special Care services
at 604 231-8888, toll-free at
1 888 967-5377, or send an email
                                    I t only takes a few seconds for a
                                      life to change forever. Just ask
                                    anyone who’s suffered a serious
                                                                             While discussions around this subject
                                                                             can sometimes be uncomfortable,
                                                                             we’re committed to exploring new
                                    injury resulting in mobility             ideas and new technology, in order
the Journey is published twice a    challenges. Before an injury,            to provide the best possible quality
year by worksafeBC’s special        people may give little thought           of life for our clients.
Care services in collaboration      to getting up in the morning and
with Communications services.       getting dressed, squeezing into          Our goal in Special Care Services
This newsletter is also available   a packed elevator, or taking the         is about more than providing
electronically on the worksafeBC    stairs if the elevator is too slow.      support to make your new life
website at                                                   manageable. We want to help
                                    But after an injury, everything          make this part of your journey as
worksafeBC                          needs to be relearned — eating,          rich, full, and rewarding as it can
po Box 5350 stn Terminal            bathing, getting in and out of the       be — from the early stages of
Vancouver BC V6B 5L5                car — even sleeping. And at first,       rehabilitation onward.
                                    it all seems so difficult.
                                                                             Over the last year, our nurses and
                                    But what we’ve learned from              social workers have been meeting
                                    working with people with differing       with workers who have been
                                    abilities is that in time, no matter     severely injured. Whether you have
                                    how daunting, it’s possible to           suffered a spinal cord injury, brain
Call if you need help               adapt. But this monumental shift         injury, or other catastrophic
our crisis line is staffed by       can only take place with a lot of        disability, you have welcomed us
professional counsellors, who       support. The staff of WorkSafeBC’s       into your homes and shared your
are available 24 hours a day,       Special Care Services is dedicated       stories with us. We have learned
seven days a week. If you’re        to providing you with this support       a great deal from you, and as a
dealing with a psychological        — not just in the initial stages of      result, have been able to respond
                                    rehabilitation, but for a lifetime,      to your concerns.
crisis and need help, they can
                                    if necessary.
provide support to you and                                                   These outreach efforts are ongoing.
your family, refer you to other     In this edition of the Journey, you’ll   In the months ahead, someone
services in your community,         meet Jessica Kruger, who at 15           from our team will be contacting
                                    years old suffered a life-altering       you to set up a meeting, and to
and alert us so we can follow up
                                    and catastrophic work injury             see how you’re doing and what
with you. Call 1 800 624-2928.      (see her story on the cover). Her        we can do to make your life better.
If you have a medical               adult life will never be what she        If you’d like to meet with us
emergency, call 911 or go to        expected, but with the right             sooner, please email contactscs@
your nearest hospital.              support, she’s discovering her life or call Special
                                    can still be rewarding, and joyful.      Care Services at 604 231-8888,
                                                                             toll-free at 1 888 967-5377.
                                    We’re also breaking the silence
                                    around sexual health for people          Jennifer Leyen
                                    who’ve suffered spinal cord injuries.    Director, Special Care Services

2    the Journey
Continued from page 1
describes which part of the spine is damaged, rather
than the extent of paralysis. In some ways, Jessica is
fortunate: while she is paralyzed below the armpits,
she has full function in both arms (her left hand works
fine, but her right hand is weaker than before).

The long road to a new life
In the hospital, Jessica’s CAT scan showed her neck and
spine were broken in four places. She was moved to the
spinal cord unit at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH).
After her first surgery, she was in the hospital for three
weeks — not as long as some spinal cord patients, likely
because she was young and healthy. But she didn’t roll
her wheelchair out the hospital door. She was moved
to GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, the largest of its
kind in B.C., where she stayed for five months.
Jessica struggled in rehab; her mother had stayed at
her bedside throughout her time at VGH, but that
wasn’t allowed at GF Strong. She was young, and
afraid, and alone. “I was up all the first night, crying. But
by morning, I’d accepted the new reality…and that
there was no going back to who I once was.”
Healing from the accident didn’t just need to take place
within the walls of rehab; the family needed to heal as                                     Jessica Kruger with her family
well. While Jessica declined to attend therapy on her                                          and golden retriever, Rolly.
own, she did go with her sister. “Leah suffered
so much guilt, and I was so worried about her. I needed
to show her I wasn’t angry, and it wasn’t her fault.”           and started as soon as she could. “It’s a mixed-gender
For the most part, Jessica’s reconciled the truth of her        contact sport, and I’m on a team with only two
new life, and she accepts the situation with a wisdom           women.” She wants to compete at the provincial level,
rarely seen in people even three times her age.                 and eventually get to the Paralympics.

“My family thinks I skipped the anger, sadness, and             She’s also in her first year at Simon Fraser University,
sense of loss from the accident. And, for the most part,        taking psychology and English courses — subjects
I think that’s what I did…because it didn’t seem worth          she’d planned to take before her accident. And, despite
it,” she says. “I decided it was a waste of time — pointless.   the physical challenges she faces, Jessica still wants to
I had things to do and needed to get on with my life.”          travel and see the world again, this time as an adult.
                                                                She took a trip to Europe last summer with a friend,
But Jessica does think about what happened, every               and is already planning a trip to India this summer with
day. On good days, she sees it as just one of those             her boyfriend.
things. “Everyone experiences trauma and loss in life,
and I got my share a bit earlier than most people.”             She even wants to teach English in a Third World
                                                                country when she graduates.
Looking toward a brighter future                                “The Third World may not be the easiest place to travel
Two big things in Jessica’s life right now keep her             in a wheelchair,” she says. “I’d need to overcome
moving toward the future with confidence.                       incredible challenges. “ But her resilience is her lifeline.
                                                                “The accident will not stop me from living my life. I’m
One is wheelchair rugby, which is sometimes called
                                                                stubborn. I generally find a way to do what it seems I
“murder ball.” Jessica learned the sport at GF Strong,
                                                                can’t, or I get help from someone.”
                                                                                                          the Journey          3
                  Simon Paradis, flanked by his son, Eli
                  and wife, Kara Stanley.

                  simon offers
                  glimpse into
                  his private

4   the Journey
s   imon Paradis is an artist and a musician. He’s
    also an injured worker, and uses a wheelchair
to get around.
                                                             part-time with his band, The Precious Littles, and he’s
                                                             reestablishing his career as a guitarist and guitar
Before his injury, he liked his job as a finishing           But his triumphs are not without adversity. Getting out
carpenter, but he enjoyed playing his guitar even more.      of bed in the morning and preparing for the day takes
In 2008, the part-time musician was getting ready to         Simon two hours. “It’s a monumental challenge,” he
shift gears — he wanted to devote more time to the           says. But, it’s also a source of artistic inspiration. A
recording studio, and less time to the hammer. That          black-and-white-photo essay titled, “Simon’s Legs,”
lifestyle wasn’t meant to be — at least, not how he          now graces an entranceway wall outside WorkSafeBC’s
envisioned it. While working on a construction site that     Special Care Services department.
same year, Simon was walking across a scaffolding
bridge. The plywood slipped underneath him and he            The project was inspired by Simon’s desire to give
fell three metres. With the fall, his dream of a full-time   others a glimpse into his private world. It records, one
career in music seemed to come crashing down.                moment at a time, the agonizingly slow routine he
                                                             follows to start his day.
Serious spinal injuries left him unable to walk — but he
also suffered complex brain injuries. He had multiple        Simon took the photos for his essay with the help of his
skull fractures: arterial bleeding, tissue damage to the     wife, Kara, and he views the images as depicting the
frontal lobe, and damage to his brain stem.                  stark reality of his situation. Simon, nonetheless, sees
                                                             in them a lesson for his son, Eli. “There is wisdom to be
Since his accident, Simon has had many barriers to           gained from this experience: even the greatest
overcome, but his music dreams live on. He now plays         obstacles in life can be overcome.”

                                                                                                    the Journey         5
Deadly pressure wounds                                                            • Reposition yourself as needed.
                                                                                  • Give your butt a break! Move
                                                                                    between your wheelchair and

p   eople with mobility issues
    know the risks associated with
painful pressure sores. Unlike
                                        come from other sources as well.
                                        • A brief, high-pressure encounter:
                                                                                    other sitting surfaces, and use
                                                                                    medically approved pillows or
                                          bumps or falls can damage the             cushions to support you while
able-bodied people, whose nerves                                                    you sit.
send messages of pain or feelings         skin and cause pressure sores
of discomfort to the brain to let         that do not show up right away.         Pressure sores often form on parts
them know to change position,           • Abrasion: this can occur when           of the body over bony, prominent
nerves damaged by spinal cord             you pull yourself across a surface      surfaces (such as hips and heels)
injuries thwart these messages.           instead of lifting (or being lifted).   that bear weight when you sit or lie
                                                                                  down for a long time. Medically
This means it’s hard to tell that you   • Shearing: this happens when the         approved surfaces or pillows can
have pressure sores until they pose       skin moves one way and the              support your body and relieve
a serious problem. So it’s important      bone underneath it moves                pressure in these areas.
to do everything possible to prevent      another way. An example of this
them, and to recognize them in the        is slouching when you sit.              Anyone with mobility issues can
early stages.                                                                     benefit from reading WorkSafeBC’s
                                        How can you prevent them?                 book, Skin Care after a Spinal Cord
what causes pressure sores?             • Check your skin twice a day,            Injury. To get a free copy, contact
Pressure sores can develop when           morning and night (ask your             Kim Lee in Special Care Services
too much pressure is placed on one        home care worker or a family            at 604 231-8888 (toll-free
part of the body over a long              member to check areas of your           1 888 967-5377) or contactscs@
period. But pressure sores can            body you can’t see).          

what would you like to know?
Here are the answers to some            your recovery.                            with toilet functions, bathing,
common questions WorkSafeBC                                                       eating, dressing, and/or transfers.
receives from injured workers.          Some product purchases must be            This allowance is paid in addition
                                        pre-approved by WorkSafeBC                to wage-loss or pension payments,
Q: I receive a pension                  before the costs are covered. Talk to     and the amount varies, based on
(permanent disability benefits).        your case manager for more details.       care requirements.
Will my spouse receive survivor
benefits upon my death?                 Q: I receive an independence              The IHMA is a monthly allowance
                                        and home maintenance                      to help with the additional
 A: Survivor benefits are paid to       allowance (IHMA) and personal
dependants of a worker whose                                                      expenses incurred by severely
                                        care allowance (PCA). What will           injured workers who cannot
death is the result of a compensable    happen to these when I turn 65?
injury. WorkSafeBC will need to be                                                maintain their home and property,
given a notification of death and       A:   These WorkSafeBC benefits do         and those who now use public
will also require further information   not stop at any particular age. You       transportation.
to determine survivor benefit           will continue to receive both the
                                        PCA and IHMA as long as you               Q: I have more questions, but I
eligibility.                                                                      don’t know who my case
                                        qualify — up to age 65 and beyond.
Q: Which of my prescriptions                                                      manager is. Who do I call?
are covered?                            Here’s a brief explanation of each        A:    Special Care Services is
                                        benefit:                                  available to answer your
A: When a claim is accepted,
WorkSafeBC may pay for the              PCAs are paid to seriously disabled       questions at 604 231-8888 or
prescription drugs and medical          workers with significantly limited        toll-free at 1 888 967-5377, or at
supplies required to help with          mobility or those who require help

6     the Journey
Your sexual health after the injury
I  f you’ve suffered a spinal cord injury, you may be
   hesitant to discuss issues and challenges around
sexual health and fertility. After all, talking about sex
                                                              While the range of
                                                              sexual function may
                                                              differ from person to
is difficult for many people.                                 person, men and women
                                                              with SCIs can have
But talking about sexual health after a spinal cord           loving and lasting sexual
injury need not be taboo. According to WorkSafeBC             relationships. And
medical advisor Dr. Ronil Lalji, relearning the               thanks to advances in
importance of your sexuality following a traumatic            fertility treatments and
injury is a key part of recovery.                             technology, people with
People with spinal cord injuries might ask themselves:        SCIs can usually become
“Will I ever have sex again? Will my relationship last?       parents. In addition,                    Dr. Ronil Lalji
How do I approach new relationships?” And even,               many of the treatments,
“Can I have children?” As part of your rehabilitation,        medications, and equipment related to sexual health
it’s important to ask these questions of your physician       and fertility are covered by WorkSafeBC.
or WorkSafeBC case manager. “Many people with SCIs
find it uncomfortable discussing sexual health and
                                                              where to go for help
sexual performance issues,” Dr.Lalji says. “But, opening      Case managers at WorkSafeBC are sensitive to all
up that discussion and finding solutions is an                aspects of recovery, including issues around sexuality
important part of rehabilitation.”                            and fertility. If you’re not comfortable talking with your
                                                              case manager, discuss your concerns with your doctor
The reality is, people with SCIs can enjoy intimate           — he or she can help you access resources through
relationships, but they might need to make                    WorkSafeBC and find out what is covered.
adjustments to how they express and act on their
sexual feelings. There are no steadfast rules about how       In addition, the sexual health clinic at GF Strong
a person’s sexual response changes after an injury            provides information and education to clients (and
— the type of injury, the level of injury, and the            their loved ones). To make an appointment, all you
medications the person is taking all play a role.             need is a referral from your physician.

   kevin Hayley was 24 years old            with the help of advanced
   and had a girlfriend, emma,              technology and medical
   whom he adored. In 2004, a               assistance coverage from
   workplace accident in a mineral          worksafeBC, the couple
   exploration camp left him                welcomed their twins, kian and
   paralyzed from the sternum               Naomi, last May. “Adjusting to
   down. He was told he’d never             parenthood is a hell of a
   walk again. “It was devastating,”        challenge for anyone,” kevin
   he recalls. “But emma was really         says. “And when you throw in
   supportive; she helped me                a wheelchair and twins, it’s even
   through it every step of the             harder.” But the rewards are
   way.” kevin and emma married             great, he says. “It’s an amazing
   in 2007. “one of the first things I      feeling to see your children
   asked after I found out I                smile at you. It’s indescribable.”
   wouldn’t walk again was, ‘Can I
   have children?’” The answer,                Kevin Hayley cradles his twin
   thankfully, was “Yes.”                       daughters, Kian and Naomi

                                                                                                      the Journey      7
The Special Care Services team assists severely injured workers with their claims
and helps them access the services and benefits they’re entitled to receive.

we’d like to meet
with you                                                                   send us your
D      o you have concerns about your health or medical
       equipment? Perhaps you’ve had the same prosthesis
for 15 years, or have been housebound during the winter.
If so, we’d like to help in whatever way we can.
                                                                        If you have questions about your
Starting in January 2010, a team of WorkSafeBC nurses                   benefits, pension, or other services
and social workers have been meeting with workers like
you who have been severely injured. Someone from the                    you’re entitled to receive, there’s a
team will be contacting you to set up a meeting at your                 chance that other readers are wondering
home or a nearby WorkSafeBC office — whichever is                       about the same things. Drop us a line at
more convenient for you. The team will want to hear how
                                                              , or call
you're doing, respond to any of your concerns, and check
to make sure you’re receiving the benefits and                          special Care services, 604 231-8888,
allowances you’re entitled to receive.                                  toll-free at 1 888 967-5377. we’ll answer
If you have any questions about this process, or would                  your questions promptly, and will also
like to share any other concerns, contact your case                     publish a sample of all the questions
manager, or call Special Care Services at 604 231-8888,                 we‘ve received (along with our answers)
toll-free at 1 888 967-5377.
                                                                        in future issues of the Journey.

8     the Journey

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