Sometimes, things just have a way of working out for the best, even after the darkest of hours.
An assault on a train platform this spring was one of the scariest experiences of Bob’s life, but he has since experienced incredible kindness, progress and even a change in his view of the world and those around him.
After two brain surgeries in just two weeks, Bob, 55, was able to leave Regions Hospital and go to the Medical Respite wing at Catholic Charities’ Higher Ground Saint Paul. The program is one of two medical respite sites operated by Catholic Charities. Last year, the two sites helped 275 individuals experiencing homelessness recover from illness and injury in safe, supported, medically-supervised settings.
“The nurses I dealt with there—every one of them were top notch, couldn’t get any better,” Bob said.
At Higher Ground Saint Paul, Bob was able to continue with his recovery and receive help not only for getting his health in order, but the rest of his life as well.
“They made me feel like I was worthwhile,” he said. “They made me feel cared for. It has been a -godsend all the way.”
When he recovered enough to care for himself, staff at Higher Ground Saint Paul helped him find a home. He now makes his home at St. Paul Residence and receives support services from James Gillham. Bob has a single room there, and while he appreciates the security of a door with a lock, he’s hoping to be able to move on in the coming months as he gains strength and independence.
“This is good,” Bob said while sitting in his new home. “I like it a lot. Jim is a great guy. He has helped me check into some other resources and opportunities.”
Bob still must go to medical appointments and physical therapy. He has swelling in his legs, and has weakness on his right side. His hair is growing back where it was shaved for brain surgery.
Bob is likely to smile and joke about having a bad hair day.
He is unable to drive because of seizure risk— and public transportation brings up memories of that fateful night, but Bob carries on. Despite his challenges, Bob is moving forward with hope.
“I am hoping strength will come back on my right side, because right now I can’t even lift a gallon of milk,” he explained.
Bob is not alone in his struggles. According to a Wilder Research study, three out of every 10 adults experiencing homelessness have experienced a traumatic brain injury. These injuries result in problems with headaches, concentration or memory, understanding, excessive worry, sleeping or getting along with others.
Homelessness wasn’t something Bob thought he ever would identify with.
He had a house in Maplewood and his own contracting business. When his relationship went south, heartache made everything too painful. He let go and lost his possessions and his health, shrinking from a solid 185 pounds to 130 pounds.
“The house just made me think too much of her. I let my business go, I let everything go,” he explained.
Now, Bob is coming back into the sunlight and working to rebuild his life. “In one year, I’d like to be back on my own and back to work again. I want to get back to the things I like to do again, like hanging out with my kids.”
Every day, Bob is working toward that goal of regained independence and health.
“These programs that have been offered to me, they’re stepping stones to help me get where I want to be,” he said. “It’s meant to help you along the way to get you on your feet and that’s what I’m going to use it for.”