Voices of Children & Families
16 years old
Disability can unexpectedly happen to anyone. In 2011 healthy 16 year old Shelby woke up to her alarm clock like any other morning but this particular morning, to an incredible shock, she was unable to move the entire left side of her body.
An MRI would reveal bleeding in her brain from a cavernous malformation, also known as a cluster of abnormal, dilated vessel in the brain.
Shelby is one of the BC Centre for Ability’s Heroes of Ability for 2014, this award to be celebrated on June 14th at Dining for Dreams has helped Shelby to reflect on her achievements. In the last two years Shelby has journeyed from losing capacity of her left side of the body, losing hope of playing music again and hope of just being a teenager again to making a tremendous recovery. In two years, Shelby learned to walk independently again, completed high-school, lives in residence at college, volunteering and working part-time.
Josh Myers, Community Brain Injury Coordinator, says that “it’s her spirit, courage and maturity; it has helped her face her injury head on and achieve her goals despite the road bumps.”
“I think everything happens for a reason now but I had so much fear and uncertainty when this all happened,” Shelby says, “it was easy to want to give up in the beginning, I really just woke up one morning and my whole left side was paralyzed.”
Before the injury, Shelby was certain she wanted to pursue a career in music. She is a seasoned clarinet player and a singer and paralysis of the left side of her body presented great hurdles.
After being medically stabilized at the hospital and a few months of inpatient rehabilitation at Sunny Hill Health Centre, Shelby was discharged home for intensive community rehabilitation with the Community Brain Injury Program at the BC Centre for Ability.
Shelby recalls one pivotal moment when she turned the corner, “I remember thinking what is the point it’s not making a difference even if I do this exercise 20 times.” Despite this, she persevered, “I remember I was sitting with my therapist it was just like the day before doing the exercises but, then I saw it, I saw my fingers curl.” Shelby and her therapists cried, Shelby called her mom who joined in their happy tears.
Although, it may have seemed like something small at that time to train her body to curl her fingers, the accomplishment of that one small movement generated great momentum for Shelby. Shelby gained incredible inspiration, “every little improvement I started to see I gained more and more momentum and it built my confidence, even knowing that I won’t be 100% better it was still encouraging because it’s a chance of having my life back.”
From curling her fingers to moving her hand and arm and then progressing from a wheelchair to a crutch and then unassisted walking, Shelby took charge of her own rehabilitation alongside the Brain Injury Program.
The fine finger movements required to play the clarinet are no longer accessible to Shelby, but knowing and playing to her own strengths Shelby started learning to play the piano. Although the crisis turned Shelby’s life upside down, she didn’t let it defeat her, Shelby says, “It gave me so much faith to believe that everything happens for a reason and taught me to have the courage to accept it and learn from it.”
Last year Shelby finished school with a full course load and was accepted into the music program at Columbia Bible College. Shelby is now pursuing music in school and in the community through a music group that travels the province twice a month.
When her achievements are celebrated at Dining for Dreams, Shelby who is incredibly humble will go forward with even greater confidence to create the future of her dreams.
Rupert and Skye
9 Years old
18 Years old
What are some things that you’ve learned over the years that you would want to share with someone who is newly injured?
How has your transition been into young adulthood?
What are your educational/career goals?
What does life look like now for you?
What’s your favorite pastime?
13 years old