Mystery illness keeping Comox Valley man in hospital bed
"I've been wanting to go home for awhile," Isaac LeBlanc says as he grins at his big understatement.
LeBlanc, a 27-year-old Comox Valley resident, has been in hospital care for well over a year, after he started suffering from neck pain in late 2011.
His condition quickly worsened and within a matter of weeks he was unable to speak or move his body from the neck down.
LeBlanc spent time in hospitals in Vancouver and Victoria as medical professionals tried to diagnose what was wrong.
According to his mother Wendy LeBlanc, Isaac has been diagnosed with a rare form of multiple sclerosis called Marburg, but she adds there's still a "big question mark" beside the diagnosis.
Isaac is now at St. Joseph's General Hospital and is able to speak — though with obvious effort — and move his arms and hands. However, he still cannot move his lower body, basically from his chest down.
Slowly, but steadily, Isaac has been improving. Wendy notes he recently had some sensations in his feet for a short while, and he's building his strength back through physiotherapy.
She adds Isaac can't live in an apartment or house unless it has wheelchair access, and she hasn't been able to find suitable accommodation in the Valley.
Thus, she says, doctors suggest Isaac to go to a long-term care facility during this part of his recovery.
"They want to send him to an old folks home — which is not good," says Wendy. "He's like 'I don't want to go there Mom, I don't want to go there.' "
Isaac's father owns a duplex in Courtenay, and Isaac lived in one of the suites before he became ill. Because the existing bathroom and bedroom are upstairs, Wendy wants to add a wheelchair-accessible bathroom and bedroom to the lower portion of the suite.
She would live in the suite next door so she can take care of Isaac.
She's researched BC Housing's Home Adaptations for Independence program, which will provide up $20,000 for home adaptations to help low-income people with disabilities in B.C.
But, she says quotes for the work have come in between $46,000 and $52,000.
She plans to fundraise for the remainder of the cost, and plans are in the works for a fundraiser May 4 at the Lower Elks Hall.
Wendy hopes to have live bands, a potluck meal and poker tournament during the event and is looking for volunteers to help organize as well as volunteer bands and donated items to be given away as prizes. Anyone who would like help out can call Wendy at 250-218-6489.
Wendy and Isaac say they are very thankful to the community for the support they received last year when Wendy chose to stay with Isaac during his time in Victoria and Vancouver.
"I could never have been there for Isaac if they didn't do that — I could never have done it myself because of being on disability (income) myself. I mean I would have probably had to stay in my car," she says, adding she told Isaac she would be there for him in the beginning. "I wasn't leaving his side, I would have been in the car if I had to.
"I'm so grateful for everything (the community) did and I could never, ever have done it without them."