It was in August 2010 that we noticed my father, Shuja Haqqi, was beginning to lose his balance. Even with his walker he would struggle to stand on his own. Not wanting to wait, I had him rushed by ambulance to The Credit Valley Hospital where he was admitted from the Emergency room and observed for four days by a Neurologist. It was determined that the best course of action would be to send him to the Acute Rehab Ward, 1D, with the goal of being released mid-September.
Things seemed to be going well, but only a few days before he was to be transferred to the slow-stream rehab department, he suffered a heart attack and was taken to the ICU. After two very intense days, my father was moved to the 3B Cardiac Ward and slowly began to recover.
At the end of September 2010, just as we were beginning to have hope that he might be coming home, he became very ill with a viral gastrointestinal infection that had spread through his ward. Upon weathering the 4-week illness he suffered a major stroke, paralyzing the right side of his body and affecting his left arm and leg as well. For any family member these are dark times, but for me it was particularly difficult. My father is my best friend and my brother and I were overwhelmed with just how sick he had become.
Over the course of the next few months, he was also diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Dementia and then, after being transferred to the Complex Continuing Care ward, it was discovered he was also suffering from Dysreflexia due to spinal stenosis.
Like any parent, my father has always wanted what is best for my brother and I, and one of the things that he made very clear was his wish that I be married. With my father unable to leave the hospital, however, it would be impossible to have him attend my wedding outside of the hospital – let alone travel to Pakistan for the ceremony.
So, in the early hours of January 23, 2011, in accordance with Islamic laws, I married my wife Nadya – who was in Islamabad, Pakistan - over Skype from a space especially prepared for me by the Complex Continuing Care unit staff of The Credit Valley Hospital. My father was overjoyed that he could be a part of my wedding and I am so grateful that the care and kindness with which the staff has treated my father, was extended to his family as well.