It was the morning of September 18, 2014. Lorraine was riding passenger in a car while her friend drove. They were on their way to pick up Lorraine’s mother from the airport. Her mom was flying in all the way from China to celebrate her daughter’s wonderful achievement — Lorraine was graduating with an MBA from Thompson Rivers University.
It was supposed to be a time of cheer, joy and laughter.
They would never make it to the airport.
While her friend was driving on the Coquihalla Highway, they lost control and hit the meridian. The vehicle flipped over. Lorraine remained conscious, but she couldn’t move or feel her lower body.
An air ambulance arrived and took Lorraine and her friend to a nearby hospital. It was quickly determined due to the complexity and severity of Lorraine’s injuries that she needed the spinal care experts at VGH.
“It was identified right away she wasn’t moving her legs, and she had a spine fracture and a spinal cord injury,” says Dr. Marcel Dvorak, Orthopaedic Spine Surgeon and Associate Senior Medical Director at Vancouver Coastal Health. “She needed surgery.”
Dr. Dvorak conducted an eight-hour spinal surgery that would not only save Lorraine’s life, but her future ability to walk.
“We did a posterior instrumentation infusion, and that involves putting screws into the vertebrae, then realigning the vertebrae to allow the fractured fragments to push back and recreate the canal that the spinal cord and spinal nerves go down,” says Dr. Dvorak.
After her successful surgery, Lorraine was slowly awoken from the anaesthetic.
“I remember waking up from the surgery and trying to move, but still there was no feeling in my lower body,” says Lorraine. “When I was told that there will be limitation on my mobility, I felt like my life was heading in a direction outside of my control.”
Lorraine was sent to GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre, a bootcamp for the brain and body.
“I was hopeful she would get some nerve recovery given that she was very early after her injury, but you never really know how much recovery someone will get,” says Marian Cayer, Lorraine’s physiotherapist at GF Strong.
Lorraine spent two months working with Marian, pushing herself every day to regain her lost strength.
“She really made a fantastic recovery in a short period of time given the extent of her injuries,” says Marian. “When she left here, Lorraine was able to walk.”
“It was like I was reborn in my life when I regained the ability to walk,” says Lorraine. “It’s amazing.”
Today, Lorraine is leading a very active lifestyle, indoors and outdoors. Thanks to the care she received at VGH, she has returned to work and back to living a normal life.
She was so grateful for the care she received at VGH and GF Strong, her and her friends ran a fundraiser to support them. They plan to do it even more.
“I feel so appreciative for what I gained from them and right now I want to pay back,” says Lorraine. “I donate every year right now.”