It has been 16 months since Gary Baker had a major brain aneurysm rupture, and his long road to recovery continues to stretch far into the future.
Gary, an Enderby resident, was left in extremely critical condition after being rushed to Vancouver General Hospital for surgery last August. He has very limited mobility but is still able to move his entire body, substantial vision loss and is basically unable to speak.
He has undergone nine surgeries, extensive treatments and therapies and fought through unending complications and infections.
Despite the struggle, Gary was showing slow but steady improvements and had completed an application for Halvar Johnson, a rehabilitation facility in Alberta geared to people recovering at a very slow rate.
He had begun to take a few steps with assistance and communicated with his family and therapists using a blinking system to spell out words and sentences and the occasional spoken word.
“It was so amazing for Gary to be able to communicate what he was thinking and feeling. He said things that were so ‘Gary’ and every day impressed us with how intact his memory and cognitive abilities were despite the extent of his injury,” his wife Erica wrote in an online update.
But an infection at the end of July resulted in seizures, putting Gary back in ICU for six weeks where his prognosis was poor.
“But we knew Gary was still strong and we believed he would fight to come back to his family so we chose to fight for him too and to hope!” Erica said.
Gary moved out of ICU on Sept. 7 and is now stable but his recovery has suffered a major setback.
“It took him almost a year to get to the point where he was ready for rehabilitation,” Erica said. “Unfortunately it may take him just as long or longer to get to that point again.”
The couple’s daughters, Alea, Erin, Bree and Keira are attending school in Vancouver to give the family some sense of normalcy but everyone is eager to get home to Enderby.
Erica expects Gary to be discharged to a hospital closer to Salmon Arm in the next month of so and the plan is to get him home to continue his recovery.
Getting home means renovations to make the house wheelchair accessible, hiring and training care aids, finding a wheelchair accessible vehicle and finding Gary appropriate, progressive therapy – very little of which is covered by medical.
Erica expressed extreme gratitude for the support shown by friends, community, churches, businesses, organizations and strangers since the accident but she knows her family faces a very long and difficult battle.
“Every day is a struggle and as much as I am so lucky to have help and support, there are so many things that no one, but me, can do. I am thoroughly exhausted,” Erica said. “But Gary and I have been through hard times together in the past. I think those times have made us strong and resilient but the main thing that helps me to stay strong and focused is the depth of love we have. I could never let go of that. I love him far, far too much to ever stop fighting for him. And Gary is amazingly strong, too and I know he will keep fighting to recover.”