From Paralysis to Walking Around the Block

Greg Birch’s long-standing fear of needles could have cost him his life.

Walk Around the Block Patient Ambassador, Greg Birch.

Walk Around the Block 2016 Patient Ambassador, Greg Birch.

In March 2016, Greg’s daughter said he did not look well and urged him to visit the hospital. Greg ignored his daughter’s plea, as he did not want to risk receiving a needle.

“My granddaughter was checking up on me and told me I needed to seek urgent medical attention,” explains Greg. “I stood up and it was the last thing I remember.”

His family rushed Greg to the ICU at Hamilton General Hospital and learned that had Greg waited much longer, he would have died.

Greg was suffering from several serious conditions, such as double pneumonia, an infection on his left lung and kidney failure. Finally, Greg learned he had type 2 diabetes and his blood sugar level was dangerously low. This incident left him paralyzed below the waist. It took him two weeks to start regaining function of his legs.

After a month as an inpatient at The General, Greg was transferred to the Restorative Care Unit at St. Peter’s Hospital in April, where he underwent a physiotherapy regime to regain the ability to walk. Greg was discharged in July 2016 and now requires the use of a walker. He returns to St. Peter’s Hospital every Monday to participate in art therapy for his arthritic hands.

Greg is thankful for the care he received at both Hamilton General Hospital and St. Peter’s Hospital, and is in the process of becoming a hospital volunteer.

“I told my family that I miss being at St. Peter’s Hospital. I want to help other patients the way the Hospital has helped me.”
– Greg Birch

Greg will also be supporting St. Peter’s Hospital Foundation as one of the Patient Ambassadors for the second annual Walk Around the Block.

“I’m proud to be participating,” he says. “People should support the event and donate because St. Peter’s Hospital is a fantastic place.”