The story of a survivor

After a long and difficult journey, Éveline Claire Nguepi expresses her gratitude.

Originally from Cameroon, Éveline-Claire Nguepi, a physician by training, immigrated to Canada with her family in 2012. She was 39 years old. Less than two years after her arrival, she went into a hospital and came out a paraplegic. Diagnosis: Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder, which mainly affects the spinal cord and optic nerve.

Through her resilience and with help from various sources, this young woman managed to find her way back to the life she loved. Today, she talks about her profound gratitude.

« First, I have to thank the Good Lord who got me out of intensive care and gave me a chance to live and enjoy life again. He blessed me with amazing people and surrounded me with my children who I affectionately call my “professional trainers”.

For a long time, I’ve been looking for a way to trumpet everything the Centre de réadaptation en déficience physique Lucie-Bruneau has done and continues to do for me. I also have to thank the REA Foundation for giving me the opportunity to breathe easy again. »

Perseverance paid off

« Lucie-Bruneau gave me wings (and the will to keep going…). When others told me that I would never improve because I have a degenerative disease, the Lucie-Burneau team said otherwise, and showed incredible patience.

The words “thank you” are too trivial to express my gratitude to the government institutions and various programs I benefitted from.

Thank you, Brigitte Pelland, my specialized educator, for telling me about Lucie-Bruneau in 2015. You referred me to the Radisson Community Centre, where I met young people who were dealing with the same reality as me. I quickly realized that I was not alone in my predicament, and that it was possible to live this way, and to live a good life. At Radisson, I got back to physical activities, like gentle workouts and adapted yoga, which I’m still passionate about. Not to mention all the other activities, like occupational therapy, physiotherapy, kinesiology, adapted driving, the Grandparents Plus Clinic, and much more.

I also wish to thank the entire team in the technical aides for mobility and posture program. And I wish to express gratitude to my wheelchair, my companion through thick and thin. And a big thank you to the occupational therapists, mechanics, the people at reception, the maintenance workers, and all the others. Thanks to them, I can do whatever I want and go wherever I want in my wheelchair: grocery shopping, appointments, activities, outings, and so much more. I can be a mother and a grandmother in every way. In fact, I’m just a regular person. »

Learning to function again

« I wish to express my appreciation for the people who work and participate in the self-esteem group. I was in a very dark and difficult period when I joined the group. They taught me how to regain my self-confidence. To know how to say “yes,” and how to say “no.” How to steer clear of anything that got in my way. How to express the things that I care about. I went back to my daily workout, which had been part of my life for a long time. Communicating with my children got easier as it did with anyone else I encountered. I started to reach for the same goals I’d had in all aspects of my life, setting timeframes for myself and getting the resources I needed.

Thank you, Karianne Lemay. You were the one who found the tools I needed to become more functional in the place I love the most in my home—the kitchen. And you consulted a physiotherapist so that I could learn how to transfer from my wheelchair without a hoist.

Thank you, Viviane Nhu Tram Trinh, for continuing along the same lines as Karianne, and for everything you did for me. I could never capture it all here. But I will say that I will forever be grateful for the fact that I can now change on my own if I wet myself. This allows me to feel so much more comfortable in social settings. »

I can dream again!

« Thank you, Isabelle Forget, Nancy Turcot and Viviane Nhy Tram Trinh. Despite COVID, you all supported me in my role as a grandmother.

Thank you, Billy Ann Houle, my kinesiotherapist.

I also wish to express my gratitude to my physiotherapists, Elyin, Vi and Wahiba. Along with their coordinator, they have continued to provide me with rehabilitation services. There’s no question that my body is responding to their perseverance. The proof is that I’ve gotten rid of the hoist and am starting to use a walker.

Thanks also go to the occupational therapists in driver rehabilitation and Mario, my driving instructor, for allowing me to dream about driving again one day.

Thank you to my social workers. »

Reconnecting with my body

« I wish to thank Brigitte Lachance and all the people who run the dance program. I love dancing and listening to music, even if I don’t understand the words. Thanks to them, I was able to reconnect with my body. Now, I no longer see the floor as a danger, but rather as a partner. During this program, I took part in a research project and the cash bonus I received for participating allowed me to rebuild my wardrobe so that I will never forget. I danced with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and took part in a Télé-Québec documentary about how dance has a positive impact on our health (La danse au service de la santé).

I wish to thank the entire reception staff at Lucie-Bruneau, who always greet me with a smile.

Thank you to the maintenance staff who keep everything clean and are always there to clean up after me when I come in on my motorized wheelchair in the middle of winter.

Thank you to the REA Foundation for registering me at Viomax, an adapted physical fitness centre.

Thank you to all the participants in the various programs who I had the privilege of working with.

Thank you to all the managers and supervisors who work behind the scenes.

Thank you to everyone who is still working in the midst of this pandemic. You are our heroes!

And last but not least, thank you to the generous donors who support the REA Foundation. »

Eveline Claire Nguepi
Suffering from optic neuromyelitis since 2014