By Devan Mighton – Originally published in the LaSalle Post on April 13, 2017
Photo: From left, Philip, Diana, and Andrew O’Gorman pose for a picture at a pasta fundraiser at the Moose Lodge recently. Photo courtesy of Steve Butcher.
(LASALLE, ON) – On February 28, life changed in a matter of moments for LaSalle resident Philip O’Gorman.
The 56-year-old forklift driver was in the middle of his workday at Syncreon in Windsor when something started to not feel quite right.
“He was on his forklift and he was feeling light headed, got off the forklift, went to the bathroom, came out all incoherent,” said Diana O’Gorman, Philip’s wife.
Diana described that Philip’s co-workers, fearing a stroke, walked him to the company lunch room where he collapsed.”
His co-workers called for an ambulance and paramedics rushed him to Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital in Downtown Windsor.
Philip was doused with blood thinners, but what they thought would break the clot ended up a false hope.
“Blood thinners didn’t work immediately,” stated Diana. “So, the second day, [I] talked to the doctor at ICU and [he] said the part of the brain that’s missing the blood is shut down now … because the blood thinners didn’t break through the clot.
“My son and I just kinda looked into each other’s eyes and could see the pain in our faces and thought ‘oh, everything’s changed’.”
Like in any tragedy, there are only two roads one can follow, destruction or perseverance. For the O’Gormans, there was something to believe in.
“Doc said the parts of the brain that are still good – if they’re willing to do the work and Phil is willing to do the work – will kick in, take over, and make new pathways,” said Diana.
Philip, with the help of his wife and 13-year-old son Andrew, is battling back.
“When the doctor told us the clot didn’t break … we both had a good cry and then the next day we went back and Philip was saying more words and his leg started moving a little bit,” said Diana.
“Every single day, after that, he continued doing more things.”
“We were devastated on the first two days, but on the third day we had hope and we were like ‘okay, let’s do this!'”
It took a month for Philip to return home and his mobility is limited on his right side, but with the help of physiotherapy, mirror therapy, and the crafting of ‘thank you’ cards with Diana and his son, he hopes to make a full recovery.
“I just got myself a doctor at the LaSalle clinic there,” said Philip from the comfort of his own home.
“I have to keep going for speech therapy over at [the Regional Rehabilitation Unit on] Prince Road. I have to keep going for occupational therapy over there and it should last, maybe, two-three months to get things going back to the way they are supposed to be.”
Before the stroke, Philip and Diana were avid gardeners. Diana plans to continue the gardening as a way to keep busy during the downtime between Philip’s various therapies.
By trade, Diana is also an artist, but acknowledges that art will probably not pay the bills.
Luckily, Philip and Diana have made some good and true friends over the years.
30 years of experience; over 12 years of perfect attendance
Philip has 30 years of experience driving forklift. He had his start with Windsor Ceramic Tile, driving for 18 years.
The last 12 have been with Syncreon, a factory in Windsor that sequences parts for Chrysler.
He has made a name for himself at Syncreon as a consistent worker who maintained a perfect record of attendance for over 12 years.
When Philip and his family were in need, his friends at Syncreon, like Steve Butcher, stepped up and gave them a shoulder to lean on.
“They say you can’t live on love – well, I disagree,” said Diana. She added, “you can’t always depend on the other guy. But in this case, I’m telling ya, the other guy really came through for us.”
“[Philip’s co-workers] got together and they came to the hospital in the first week … and brought an envelope, and it was a thick one, and when they counted it up, brought it to the bank, all we needed was $1.25 and that took care of our mortgage for the month of March,” said Diana.
His friends at Syncreon were not done.
On March 31, Philip’s brother, Chris O’Gorman, put on a pasta fundraiser at the Moose Lodge in Windsor.
The O’Gormans were shocked by the level of support they received.
“I was very surprised,” said Philip.
An army, 250-strong, of Syncreon management and employees, friends and family members poured into the Moose Lodge and raised $10,000 in Philip’s name.
Not to be outdone, the management of Syncreon matched the total and also put up an additional $5,000 worth of door prizes for that night’s participants.
“They were really amazing,” said Diana.
“We really did good there; they did an outstanding party there,” added Philip.
With some immediate financial relief, the O’Gormans can now focus on healing.
“If you’ve got love, you can get through it one way or another,” said Diana.
“I am still waiting for when it’s going to get hard. I mean really hard, because so far it has been different, but it hasn’t been hard. Ok, my life changed, but it’s all one big part of life.”
If you are interested in making a donation to the O’Gorman family in their time of need, please visit: GoFundMe.com/Phil-OGorman-recovery-fund-raiser