From Third Hand To First

Realistically, my memories start a year ago or so. My first memories (“Damn, I want that water. Why can’t I move my legs? Or speak?”) were in the distant past, and I just spent that month or so in bed or rolling around in the hospital wheelchair.

Soon after I regained some level of consciousness in Toronto, I left my new place of residence for Freeport in Kitchener, Ontario. I do not have many positive things to say in response to my arrangements. Arm movement was limited and painful, speaking was just a series of blinks, and it was apparent that walking was going to be a long time in the making. Luckily, my parents were by my side through a lot of what just transpired and helped me through some of the toughest parts that I have had to deal with.

Hamilton was quite the refreshing experience. I moved my arms independently for the first time March, 2014. Before that, I really relied on everyone else around me for feeding, washing, and the like. Hamilton was not the first place that I got physio, but it was the first place where they expected me to be able to do things by myself. My regiment involved bicep curls, dexterity exercises, cardio expressions and other bits of physical expression. My arms came back early in my admittance, and the muscle started coming back as I progressed.

My roommate initially was this energetic Brit named Paul. He kind of took me under his wing very quickly and his friendship will hopefully be long lasting. His guidance and brotherhood was instrumental in my improvements. He hurt himself doing labour around the house and required surgery to repair the nerve fibres in his spinal chord. This left him in a wheelchair. His wife, Mary, would come everyday before she started work and would bring Paul and I a coffee. I will not lie: It did more than anyone could imagine.

The coffee in Hamilton was delivered in frozen blocks that were then thawed for the patience. It was, and realize that I am not exaggerating this, the WORST anything I have ever ingested in my entire life, and I have survived coffee from Iceland. Seriously: What were they thinking?

Anyway, I promise I will not meander around the horrible coffee any longer. HOWEVER, if it comes up naturally, I WILL EXPRESS HOW HORRIBLE THAT WAS! You have been warned.

So like I was saying, Paul and his wife, Mary, were friends when I needed someone. Around this time was the first updates to be posted so social media. It was interesting, I had a few hundred RIP’s that I had to sort through. I found this a weird combination of humbling, and hilarious. I got to see the results of a kind of internet funeral, and the subject was me. So, I posted what I considered both morbid and hilarious:

“Alive and kicking in Hamilton.”

There was quite the ruckus made for such a simple statement, and this added to my morbid pleasure.

I would like to take this moment to thank every single person who saw me up to this point. Even if you just saw me once, and I did not respond. Your presence was appreciated greatly by not just me, but my family.

In response to those who had either assumed or heard that I had passed: That is hilarious. I do not blame anyone, and I am far from angered. I am actually honoured that anyone cared and greatly overwhelmed by the community outpour that occurred. I am not going to lie, I actually find it tremendously funny. I get it, there was no way to get the information that I was still living. As much as everyone I connected now through different websites and whatnot, the new norm seems to rely on updates from the person in question. Since I was not around to say anything, speculation ran wild.

I digress: Back to Hamilton General.
I had about five different physiotherapists that I worked with on a daily bases and four occupational therapists. I had two nurses a day that would assist in my care, and about four doctors that would cycle through the floor over the four months I was there.

The Greatest Question Of All…

What Did You Have?

Probably a good place to start, seeing as everyone is curious. The easy way to answer that is Viral Meningoencephalitis. The most fun way of answering that is that no one knows. I have (successfully?) stumped every medical personnel ever since this all started. Like I said: I was expected to die. Or at least have major mental hinderances. I evaded (wording…) having a large number of the complications that I was told I would have. I do not suffer any pain or great discomfort. The major issues I face are just adapting to a situation which may just be temporary. No one has been able to tell me otherwise.

What wound up happening to me is my brain swelled forcing my brain stem to swell into my spine. My brain flooded my skull with fluid that my body could not combat. A drain was put into my skull to relieve the pressure. My symptoms are irregular and extreme, in a way. I would like to think my long term burdens have been much less extreme. What is incredibly unfortunate is that all the major functions that your body does are governed by this relatively small piece of anatomy. Processes include walking, breathing, heart beat, speech and sight.

Apparently, my medical charts and what not has a giant question mark under diagnosis. I, personally, find this hilarious. I have been managed by some of the best minds on the planet. I have had hundreds of people tracking my first few months very closely. All of this, and I still managed to slip through the cracks of this over burdened system. I have not had a followup yet with any doctor I have ever had. I have only been asked for a consultation three or four times. When it was clear that, at that time, I was in no state to visit, it was dropped. I do not blame the people that I dealt with, I just believe that the system is over tasked with very few people around to pick up the slack. I have spoken to many nurses who felt like they were being run ragged, but were not being paid enough to deal with the situation.

What did I have?

Again, it is a question that plagues me at every turn I make. Meningoencephalitis is the swelling of the brain due to meningitis. The viral describes how antibiotics cannot help me in any way, and antiviral medication has only a sliver of a chance to work. I got that diagnosis from Western Hospital in Toronto, but it is a bandage: A name to put on my chart. Though a large number of symptoms could be related to me in some ways, that was not a clear depiction of what ailed me, and definitely would not have destroyed me in this way. However, it has become my rallying call. My research has exposed a disease that is fairly unknown in this country. I am trying to educate where I can, but I only know how I responded to everything; I am unaware how the disease responds to everything. My only hope is that, with time, everything will become clearer and a version of easier. For both me, and everyone involved.

…And So It Begins

Hi there! My name is Jason Garden and I got sick October, 2013. I went to see my doctor because of a stiff neck and he said that it was just the flu. Believing I would be fine in a few days, I went home. I woke up two months later, unsure of what just occurred. I could not speak, I could not move, and I could not breathe. I had a tracheotomy put in and at least 20 machines helping me live. Apparently, I was supposed to die, but they forgot to tell me. Awake, but disoriented; my journey had just begun. Join me in the following months, as I answer questions and attempt to fill in gaps. Part of what I have gone through is nothing but a bad dream to me, but my memory is somewhat clear from February on.

Please, ask me questions! I want to help people understand. I want to help me understand. I really do believe that talking about and explaining situations will unlock memories and maybe I can figure out what the hell actually happened.

I am slowly moving posts onto this site. Update schedule is on the second and on the fifteenth. Please let me know what you think and how I can improve this site.