My name is Gary Froude and I am a 68-year-old quadriplegic living at home on a ventilation system requiring 24/7 care. This was due to an incident dating back to mid July 2013 when I was stricken by what has been described as a mysterious virus leaving me in my current state.
I was lucky enough to get transferred to Toronto where I spent my first month in ICU at St. Michael’s Hospital where I could do nothing but blink my eyes.
The next stop for me was a little closer to home; in the ICU in Royal Victoria Hospital (RVH) in Barrie where I would spend the next year (almost) off and on as I recovered, and they attempted to free me of the ventilator. While at RVH, I was able to talk to the powers that be to relax their firewalls enough to allow me to use Skye. In fact, that was so far out of the norm that while at another hospital in Toronto they sent a film crew in to film a meeting we were having on Skype as it seemed to go against all security protocol.
Once I arrived at Westpark Healthcare Center, I was immediately assessed by RT, OT, PT, SLP, DP, doctors, and for devices that would assist in my transition back to my community. The AAC team and I settled with the Tobii Dynavox computer; one that now has a camera that tracks my eye movement and a switch-to-switch to control the mouse. The process was tedious to say the least, but I became more familiar with the system.
After I arrived home and was able to get myself off all the heavy drugs, I was alert enough to keep my eyes stable to begin to explore the potential of this device and I am pleased to say that I have progressed to a point where I can now receive e-mails, type documents, use excel spreadsheets, Skype, make phone calls, send texts, and create PowerPoint presentations. I have some custom mounting brackets on my wheelchair that allows me to take it with me to meetings, and it is Bluetooth compatible, so I can operate a mouse from the chair as well.
It has taken me a long time to get to this point and I do intend to be using a dictation application once I get rid of this pesky trach and the voice gets clearer. Until then, I will simply rely on others to drag and drop, cut and paste.
I am extremely grateful for CEP and the AAC at Westpark, for, without them, I fear that my sanity would be stretched to its limits. If it were not for them, I could not see myself doing nothing but laying around and not contributing to the day to day operations of the household and business.