Working hard to walk away from a stroke

A stroke left Mo Srivastava unable to get out of bed. But five weeks after arriving at Providence for rehab, he walked out under his own steam.

Working hard to walk away from a stroke

Mo Srivastava got sick during a work trip to Mongolia last year. He doesn’t remember much about how he got back to Canada, just that by the time he did, he knew he needed to get himself to a hospital. That is where they determined that he had contracted meningitis. It’s also where they expressed concern, given the swelling in his brain, that he might have a stroke. Which, very soon after that, he did.

Mo was completely paralysed on his right side. He couldn’t move his hand. He could barely move his leg. He could not, under any circumstances, get himself out of bed. He was scared, and he was sad.

“More than anything else, I was just terribly resigned to it,” he says. “I thought to myself, if this is what it’s going to be, I don't think I'm going to deal with it very well. I just didn't think I would have the patience and tolerance and tenacity to live as a half-paralyzed person.”

After about 10 weeks in the acute care hospital to which he’d first gone, Mo was transferred to Providence Healthcare. He had progressed to the point where he could sometimes swing himself up and out of bed, but he would immediately fall over if he did. He was effectively still bedridden. He was also, however, in one of the best places you can be if you are recovering from a stroke.

Providence is known for its excellence in stroke rehab, twice achieving stroke distinction status from Accreditation Canada. They are known for taking in patients with the highest level of disability and achieving the biggest improvement in their condition.

Valerie McWhinnie, a clinical educator and stroke and neuro rehabilitation physiotherapist at Providence, explains their philosophy: “Every stroke patient is different. Some can walk but can’t communicate. Some can talk but have serious mobility issues. Some are going to recover completely or almost completely, and some sadly won’t. But everyone is on a journey back, and it is our job to help them along the way.”

In Mo’s case, it turned out that he would be able to journey very far. Between his physiotherapist and occupational therapist, they worked him very hard. There was a lot of effort, a lot of sweating and, in the end, a lot of laughing as well.

“A big part of working with them was their willingness to make a personal connection with me,” he says. “They were friends, but friends who wouldn’t let me give up, and knew exactly what they were doing. They were wizards, really, with the things they did and the things they helped me do. That really is a world-class institution.”

Five weeks after he arrived at Providence unable to even get out of bed, Mo Srivastava walked out under his own steam. He had canes, but he managed it. Since then, the recovery has continued. His right ankle has taken the longest, but he is now able to move it. He figures he has another six months or so of work to do, and his journey back will be complete. He says he is proud of himself, and extremely grateful to the stroke rehab team at Providence for all that they did.

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