20 Years with Patty

Oaks pictureIt has been a 20 year struggle for Patty but – together we finally made it.  Patty is where she needs to be right now.  Patty is stable and living at the Oaks – a program of Shepherds of Good Hope where she knows everyone’s first name and will gladly chat with anyone around her, usually with a huge smile on her face.

Patty’s life wasn’t always this harmonious.  If fact, her strife began at a very young age.  Patty was a wild child who knew few boundaries.  She was the youngest of 7 children who had a knack for getting into trouble.  At age 12 she experimented with alcohol and soon made the use of it routine. Then at 17 Patty’s behaviour became more erratic and this was the beginning of her bipolar disorder/schizophrenia.  She would experience manic episodes where her drinking and drugs would fuel a frenzy of inappropriate behaviour. Patty was well known to the police.  When her illness took over she began stealing cars as a new challenge and she became very good at it.

Patty paid the price because of her illness and she was incarcerated for 10.5 months.  When she was released from prison she tried to integrate into the mainstream but her illness kept getting in the way.  Without the proper help and medication Patty was spiralling out of control.

Then the unthinkable happened.  It was Friday, December 13th 1985 and Patty decided to hitch hike to her next adventure when she was struck by a transport truck.  Patty managed to live but her right leg needed to be amputated. Her whole world was forever changed.

Wheelchair bound now, Patty turned to Shepherds of Good Hope for help.  Shepherds of Good Hope staff were able to have Patty assessed mentally and medication was prescribed but Patty would refuse to take it.  Years came and went and Patty bounced from hospital emergency rooms to mental health care facilities and back to Shepherds of Good Hope again and again.  By this time, Patty’s face became very familiar to everyone at Shepherds of Good Hope.

Shepherds of Good Hope made room for Patty every time she showed up at the door which was very often.  We solicited the help of other agencies across the city in providing her with the care that she needed.  We believed we could eventually find Patty the help she needed but it was a struggle, time and time again. We were never going to give up on Patty.

No single agency in the city of Ottawa had the answer to help Patty so something new had to be tried. That is when Shepherds of Good Hope collaborated with the city of Ottawa and other partner agencies on a treatment plan for Patty. It was decided that Patty would be brought to the Oaks residence,  a supportive living facility of Shepherds of Good Hope.  Here she would become part of the Managed Alcohol Program where her craving for alcohol could be stabilized in a contained environment and her safety could be assured. With the collaborative effort of other partnering agencies we were able to address her health care issues, her mental health care concerns and provide support 24 hours a day by the personal support workers and Shepherds of Good Hope front line staff.

At the Oaks, Patty has found her own community who treat her like family.  She is out of harm’s way and is thriving for the first time in her life since she became ill all those many years ago.  She is mentally and physically stable and now loves to do crossword puzzles and enjoys the thrill of bingo games with the other residents around her.  She even helps out by wiping down the tables in the dining room after meals.

Patty’s journey has been difficult but thanks to your support we never gave up on Patty. Each and every day hundreds of people come to us seeking help, and while their paths will be different than Patty’s, we will never give up on them because we believe that a life with dignity should be accessible to everyone.

Would you please consider giving so that we never have to turn anyone away. Your gift means that we can continue to provide for Ottawa’s most vulnerable men and women, because each life is precious and it is never too late for a life to be saved.

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