Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Good wishes and getting better by lots and bits

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Nick Ternette is a community activist who recently had both his legs amputated. This is an account of his life in recovery.

This is an update to let you all know that I am still in hospital and slowly recovering. I'm finally starting to eat more (which is good!), but the doctors are still concerned that one of my wounds isn't healing properly. Last weekend I had another CT scan and the results seem to be that things are, in fact, looking better.

I receive physiotherapy five days a week for my upper body and am up to lifting five pounds. I am also learning to transfer from my wheelchair to the bed and back, which is quite a challenge. Now that I am eating more I hope that within the next week or so I will be able to get up and about in my wheelchair, both for exercise and for recreational activity. My room gets pretty boring.

The hospital has a routine that I'm still not completely in sync with. I still have times when I'm uncertain about what day or time it is. And the nurses! They love to take blood from me any time there's a potential problem. I feel like a guinea pig sometimes. I take six pills in the morning and three pills in the evening. I'm given a thorough sponge bath early each morning prior to the doctors' rounds at about 8:00 a.m. Because HSC is a teaching hospital, the doctors always come in a group. When they examine me they determine what kind of bandages I might need that day (depending on how the wounds are healing) and whether any other interventions (i.e. antibiotics) are needed.

The best medicine is visitors. They help pass very long days. My wife Emily has been here to see me nearly every day, lending her constant support. Her encouragement has really kept me going. The support of others has also been wonderful, but please keep coming. I truly enjoy the company.

On another, more political note: What do you think of Gary Doer's resignation and his acceptance of the Canadian ambassadorship to the United States? My suspicion is that he was well aware of the ambassador appointment before he resigned. No question, I think he'll do an excellent job representing Canada.

I, like many others, I'm sure, watched with great interest the coverage of the passing of Senator Edward Kennedy. I found the memorial service to be dignified, especially the eulogy given by his son Patrick. It actually made me cry.

"ö "ö "ö

Thanks again for all the cards and support. In particular, I would like to relay something that happened over the weekend. The manager of The Madison, an apartment building at the end of our street that houses a variety of (mostly) men who are having some problems and need affordable housing, came by our home and gave Emily an envelope. She was told that the residents had taken up a collection in order to help us with our situation. This was immensely moving to me because these people have many problems of their own and very low incomes. To make the effort to give to us is just amazing.

I would like to leave you now with two things that I received. The first was a card that was dropped off to Emily by Richard North and Chris Vogel. The card was a thank-you card rather than a get-well card and here's what it said:

"Like many in Winnipeg, we have been thinking about you, and want to thank you for a lifetime of advocacy that has provided a strong voice for the left in this city. Thank you also for seeing beyond your personal anguish and providing a fair and dispassionate account of your experience of our health-care system in Winnipeg. Best wishes from your neighbours... "

I also received a letter earlier on in my recovery from a fellow from Chile. I would like to share the entire letter with you:

"Sorry for sending you this very modest contribution, but we are in half pensions plan only. The main thing is to wish you a healthy recovering and continue your commitment to the society. Let me write a few lines in my own English in order to explain why we care about you. For long years we shared with you during our marches along the streets or political-cultural meetings. I do read your interesting letters to editor (I also send letters once in a while).

"I came here as a refugee after I spent two years in the filthy military jails of dictator Pinochet in Chile. I was chief of police in Santiago for democratic President (Salvadore) Allende and commander in army forces as well. But I was washing dishes and cleaning floors here for a few years.

"However, I was active as volunteer for the MFL, Labour Choir, Manitoba Solidarity with Cuba, helping in election campaigns for Howard Pawley, Chilean Association. I am critic to the police services of Winnipeg but they do not want to hear that. This is why I quit LERA years ago.

"Wish we had more resources to co-operate more to you now that you need it. We admire what you do and it is disgusting that they never consider your name for the Order of Manitoba, something you do deserve. Recover and continue writing your comments in the Free Press.

"In solidarity,

"Francisco Valenzuela-Guevera"

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 6, 2009 A12

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