My name is Tim Kerr. I am a 28-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and a stroke survivor.
This coming weekend I will be taking part in the 2019 Scotiabank Charity Challenge at the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend, racing a total of 59.2 km (2km + 5km + 10km + full marathon) to raise raising support and awareness for the Bruyère Foundation, which supports the Elizabeth Bruyère Hospital Stroke Rehabilitation Unit and other critical health service facilities in the National Capital Region.
In 2012 I suffered a brain hemorrhage and stroke, and was a patient at the stroke rehab unit at Elizabeth Bruyère Hospital for over three months. It was a long and hard journey, but with the love and support from my family, friends and the men and women at Bruyère I managed to recover very well.
Now that I am able to, I want to give back to this incredible community health care team here in Ottawa, raise awareness of all of the great work that Bruyère does, and ensure that other people in need have access to the stroke rehab and other critical services provided by Bruyère.
Let me tell you my story…
In 2012, I was Commanding Officer of HMCS ALGONQUIN, a Royal Canadian Navy destroyer. It was a dark June night, and we were at sea, over 150 miles off the coast of California, 150 miles from the nearest land and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in San Diego, conducting a two-month deployment. After a long day on the bridge, I headed back to the ship’s gym for my regular workout on the treadmill. I remember putting my headphones on, and turning on my iPod. The next thing I remember is waking up in the US Navy hospital in San Diego, having suffered a severe brain hemorrhage and serious stroke. I was 43 years old.
I was found at the foot of the treadmill, the alarm was raised and my ship’s company provided the critical initial treatment and made the life-saving decisions and actions to get me to the nearest hospital in San Diego as soon as possible. After being stabilized in San Diego and then the Ottawa Civic Hospital, I was ready to begin my rehabilitation, and I was privileged to be admitted as a stroke rehabilitation patient at Elizabeth Bruyère Hospital in Ottawa.
With the stroke I had lost the use of my left side and balance, and couldn’t even sit up straight. I was a patient on the 4th floor of Bruyère for over three months. My recovery was slow and very hard, and there were some very low times. But I wasn’t alone. I had the support of many people – my family, friends, the RCN and Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and the team at Bruyère – all of whom pushed me, motivated me, and reminded me just how important it was for me to recover.
I owe a great debt to the nurses, doctors, physio and occupational therapists of the Elizabeth Bruyère Hospital who worked with and for me to allow me to get to where I am today. They gave me my life back and changed it for the better.
Bruyère is so important to our community. The services and staff at Bruyère help us move forward with our lives, no matter what circumstances we may find ourselves in. Some of you likely know someone who has benefited from the exceptional care provided by Bruyère – stroke and other rehabilitation, the exceptional complex continuing care at St. Vincent’s Hospital and the essential palliative care at Elizabeth Bruyère Hospital. As well, Bruyère’s Research Institute supports researchers and students striving to improve the health and care of aging people, with a particular focus on cognition and mobility, equity, health systems and services, primary and community care, and promising practices.
And so, I’m asking you to please help me in my quest to support Bruyère by supporting me at the Tamarack Ottawa Race Weekend. Please contact me directly to find out more.
This post is also available in: Français (French)