Smile Is Here Again

France and I have been married for 20 years. Our marriage proved the matrimonial vows that we’ll be together for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health and hoping till death do us part.

I had a stroke in 2009 which paralyzed me. I was completely dependent on her because I was unable to move. Life was difficult back then but I was thankful France did not give up on me. We were broke because of the expenses incurred from my treatments. Luckily her application to work in Canada was approved and in 2011, she flew to Vancouver, Canada, while I remained in the Philippines.

I was worried at first, because of my situation. I was still very weak and was dependent on someone else’s help in almost everything I did. I tried however, to make it on my own because France was not around. In her absence, this made me push myself to be independent.

In the Philippines, I really enjoyed playing basket-ball with my friends prior to my stroke. It was my way to relax, exercise and release stress. Looking back, I realized basketball took away some of my time as a family man. For example, there were Sundays I would not attend church with my wife because I would be with my basketball peers. When I had my stroke, I could no longer play basketball and my social circle changed. Instead of spending time with my peers, all my time was spent with France. This strengthened our relationship – a blessing in disguise in a sense, although, in
a harsh way for me. I had to face a new reality, waking up one day and knowing I would never be able to play the sport I enjoyed the most. This was devastating. I have accepted my fate and maybe these things happened for my own good, for my wife… our family.

France worked in Vancouver as a live in caregiver in 2011. After two years she applied for permanent residency with me while I still lived in the Philippines. When we got our permanent Canadian residency in 2017, I arrived in Vancouver with France’s help in May of that same year.

To this day, France still provides for our needs (food, clothing, apartment, medicines etc…) I am continuously working on my road to recovery since my stroke in 2009. Life is still challenging for us because of my disability and I am looking for ways that I could assist France in anyway. To enhance my recovery, I came across the Brain Gain Program here at the North Shore Neighborhood House which connected me to North Shore Stroke Recovery Centre.
When I arrived in Canada, I wasn’t sure what was going to happen to me in this strange country. Then the NSSRC gave me the opportunity to be normal again. I was really happy to find out there were organizations here, that help people like me with the same condition. I’m truly glad to be in the stroke recovery program because for many years, I had not been doing anything. I was always at home alone. I was slowly becoming anti-social, not wanting to see or talk to anyone. The NSSRC gave me hope that I could become better. I have begun to talk again, join in discussions, sing, do exercises and even play Scrabble. I’m more confident now and slowly becoming my old self, by attending these programs. The smile and laughter on my face is here again, thanks to the contagious laughter of the ladies at the NSSRC.
My thanks go out to the people behind the NSSRC, for painstakingly doing what they do. Thank you for giving us hope and life after stroke.