Robyn’s Story: I Will Come Back Stronger

Robyn moved to Salt Spring Island with her dog, Chevy, in September 2020. Originally from Nanaimo, she has lived in different parts of the province, but says she was drawn to the island to be a part of a smaller community and a slower lifestyle.

“I love the beaches and community here,” says Robyn. “I really like to hike and be outside with my dog. I also enjoy exploring and finding the little nooks and crannies of the island—it’s so magical here.”

On a Sunday afternoon at the beginning of January, Robyn and her partner Jamie were planning to celebrate the launch of Robyn’s new life-coaching business and the signing of her first client. They thought they might take their dogs out for a walk. Robyn was in the shower while Jamie’s five-month-old puppy Petey played nearby.

Suddenly, Robyn saw a mirror that had been precariously leaning against the wall start to fall towards Petey. Instinctively, she jumped out of the shower to try and stop it from crashing into him and smashing on the floor.

Robyn slipped on the floor and slid into the mirror.

“The glass lacerated the entire muscle belly on the front of my right shin, down to the bone. I was in shock—I didn’t feel it,” recalls Robyn. “I only looked down because I saw blood. My partner and I looked at each other, and we knew I needed to get to the hospital.”

Jamie wrapped Robyn’s leg with some clean socks and applied pressure.

Once she arrived at Salt Spring Island’s Lady Minto Hospital, Robyn was optimistic. She thought she would get a few stitches and go home. “My spirits were high because I was still in shock,” she says. “I was so wrong.”

The wound wouldn’t stop bleeding. After four hours at the hospital, Robyn learned she would be transferred to Victoria General Hospital (VGH) by ambulance, with Jamie following in a car behind her.

Robyn asked if she could be transferred to Nanaimo so that she could be close to her family. She was told the trauma was too severe. She would need to go to VGH, one of three level-two trauma centres in B.C., and the nearest one to Salt Spring Island.

“That’s the moment I realized how serious it was,” she says.

When Robyn met Dr. Kelly, an Emergency Department physician at Victoria General Hospital, she was still bleeding. The wound was too large and extensive to manage with local anesthetic, so Dr. Kelly and her team put Robyn to sleep in the ER trauma room, using procedural sedation.

“There are multiple techniques used to control large, bleeding wounds like Robyn’s. Having the right equipment available, including an Electrosurgical Unit, meant that our ER team was confident we could stop her bleeding,” says Dr. Kelly. “It also meant that she did not need to be admitted to hospital, and could safely return for urgent surgical repair in a few days.”

As part of the Emerge Stronger campaign, donations to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation are helping fund a new Electrosurgical Unit. This important piece of equipment is critical to treat trauma patients like Robyn.

“Dr. Kelly was amazing. She had such a light heart and brought some humour to the situation, which I really enjoyed.”

Robyn says she was comforted by the care she received—especially by those who went above and beyond to brighten her mood.

“Everyone was so supportive, from the paramedics to the staff at both hospitals,” she says. “When they heard my story, caregivers kept asking to see pictures of the wound and the puppy. They called me a hero for saving him. Meanwhile, I was thinking they were my heroes.”

Robyn stayed in Victoria, and returned to VGH two days later for surgery. Dr. Zarzour, a local orthopedic surgeon, repaired her muscle, and told her to prepare for a 12-week recovery. He also told her he didn’t know if her leg would ever regain its full strength.

An active and upbeat person, Robyn says it has been both a physical and mental challenge to be immobile and confined to her living space. “I’m used to being able to go out and explore with my dog and do things, and I enjoy that,” she says.

But Robyn’s positivity and optimism is relentless. She plans to use her recovery as a chance to take some online courses and emerge stronger from her accident, not just physically, but in every part of her life.

“I just keep telling myself that I will come back stronger from this,” she says. “I have a spiritual side. Slowing down and focusing on recovery has given me a chance to really look at my life. I will never take my body for granted again.”

Robyn is grateful Victoria General Hospital’s world-class trauma care was available when she least expected to need it.

“Accidents happen so fast. It’s so important to have the equipment and services readily available when you need them. You just never know what’s going to happen—what kind of injury or illness you’re going to have to deal with,” says Robyn. “This whole experience has made me so appreciative of modern medicine and our medical system.”