My Life – A New Beginning, Written by Lynn Eyland
I was living at Quinpool towers using a wheelchair in the 90s.
I was asked by my social worker if I would be interested in moving to an apartment on Kane Streer. She explained that the apartment was totally accessible, the halls were wide and the bathrooms could accommodate a wheelchair. The apartment building was designed by a man who, as a quadriplegic, wanted to live as independently as possible in a totally accessible environment. He and his sister, who provided home care support, lived on one side and the other apartment was for people with disabilities. People would assume it was a small options home but it was actually an independent apartment.
I agreed to at least see it, and when I did, I never looked back. I moved in, initially sharing the apartment with another gal named Heather. I always felt like she wanted to live on her own, but she had MS like me so we tolerated each other.
My best years at Kane Street were when I shared the apartment with Danny and Debbie. Danny was in a wheelchair and had some speech and vision problems. He attended a daily workshop called ‘New Leaf’ where he would paint ceramic sculptures. He has a passion for cars and music.
Debbie had epilepsy and night seizures, for which she needed a night attendant every night. She had a service dog which added an extra bit of excitement to our home. She would always tell people that having her dog was like being responsible for a three-year old child!
I was in a wheelchair because of my MS. I kept the access-a-bus busy. I was off to exercise classes, swimming, MS meetings and ‘Conductive Education’, which is a March of Dimes program designed specifically for people with neurological motor disorders.
We had the supports we needed; meal preparation, housekeeping and personal needs. More importantly, we were a family. We celebrated our birthdays and holidays together. We laughed and cried together.
But life goes on, and sadly Danny died and a few years later, Debbie moved away. I found myself alone.
I saw everyone around me doing something…living their lives and my depression started. All I could think was, “I have to get out of here!”
My older sister helped me look for an apartment. We toured a few, but most would’ve turned me into a hermit. Transportation would’ve been very difficult and some were old and unsuitable. Then I discovered Northwood.
So I moved into Northwood Manor in May 2015. I was tentative at first. I worried that an ‘institution’ might not offer me the freedom I needed to live my life. Boy was I wrong! I immediately decorated my apartment with my art and photos. I got to know the staff and routine, and then began to meet my neighbours and community. I relaxed into my new life, a new beginning!
Within a month I met my boyfriend Dennis, and life has never been the same – in a good way of course!