One day, out of nowhere, I felt dizzy and almost drunk like; so I went to my family doctor for a check-up. I had an MRI which showed a cyst located in the middle of the brainstem (you can see in the pictures below – YES! That large bubble).  I met with the surgeon the next day and was told to wait because they don’t operate that area of the brain due to the risks.  I waited for a week not able to hold anything down, not able to concentrate, or I would get really sick. Things got even worse the longer I waited, I could no longer walk straight and my speech was really slurred.  I said to myself, a person can’t live like this so my choice was the surgery at St. Mike’s in Toronto.

The plan was to drain the cyst so I would not have so much pressure on the brain with little damage to me.  So I had the surgery and was left with the left-side weakness to my body.  I was doing very well.

After a week I had an emergency surgery because I was going into a coma.  The cyst bled even more and a different surgeon had to perform the surgery to save my life.  This unfortunate event left me quite disabled.  From being 180lbs I went down to 140lbs in a week.  I could not move a finger because I was so weak and due to the residual damage in my brain.  I could no longer walk, eat on my own, speak, write, feel my left side, and half of my face was frozen.

I made the decision to go to Hamilton General Hospital to be closer to my family.

After a month, I had surgery yet again because the cyst started to bleed.  The surgeon told my wife that I had a 6% survival rate because I was weak and 3 surgeries on the brainstem are unheard of.

I survived!

After the surgery, I remember being told I would no longer eat, walk, and/or speak because of all the damage in my head.  After a month I was transferred to a Rehab center in Hamilton.  The first thing they wanted to do is bring my weight up, so I was on a liquid diet via a feeding tube 24hrs/day.  After 6 months the tube was pulled from my stomach to everyone’s surprise.  I was also able to eat with some assistance and my speech also improved and now I am understood 97% of the time.

For a year and three months, my life was at the hospital.  I was told many things which made me realize that no one knows what your body is capable of doing if you want it hard enough.  My daughter was 17 months old when I was diagnosed.  My time with her was ripped out of my hands. Thanks to my parents, without them I couldn’t get this far on my own.  Currently, I’m not able to walk, feel my left side, my right side of my face is frozen, I have double vision, and still not able to write.

You don’t know what life can throw your way.  You just deal with it to the best that you can and don’t look back.

Anita and I have booked a flight to Cologne, Germany for an adult stem cell procedure on Jan 16 2010, something that’s not available in North America.  This is a very expansive procedure and being that we are living off one income, this has put a huge strain on our finances.  We obviously have to borrow and worry about it later.  I decided to swallow my pride and ask for help.  The procedure does not guarantee that this will work but my research shows very positive results.  I can only hope that the procedure will work, as I want with all my heart to go back to normal.  Thank you for all your help and I hope my story has inspired you.


3 thoughts on “2008-2009

  1. Hi Greg I hope you have a speedy and successful recovery, and will keep you and Anita in my thoughts! Hope the donation helps! God bless you and your family!
    Paul Siofer

  2. Hi Greg,

    I used to be your neighbour. You must be so proud of your progress. It is so nice to see the photos of you walking with your daughter. She has grown up so quickly. Keep doing what you are doing – you’re doing wonderfully!

    Sincerely, your old next door neighbour

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