Finding purpose after despair

Former teacher becomes advocate following paralysis

Lorna Turnquest-Thompson believes God has a plan for her life.

Lorna Turnquest-Thompson believes God has a plan for her life.


Tribune Features Reporter


Although she admits to sometimes feeling bitter and angry at her fate, Lorna Turnquest-Thompson, who lives with paralysis, strives to fulfil her purpose in life - to educate others and shine a spotlight on the Bahamas' disabled community.

Lorna, 58, became partially paralysed after she suffered a massive stroke in 2009. The stroke left her in a wheelchair and with the need of a daily caregiver for the period of a year. After six months, she graduated to a walker, and another year on she was able to walk with a leg brace and cane.

However, despite all her advances since the stroke almost 10 years ago, Lorna still faces daily challenges and complications from her initial paralysis.

"I still have paralysis on my left side and no longer have the use of my left side vision. To this day, I still have evidence of the paralysis, and I walk with a limp. I no longer drive; I have difficulty getting dressed as well as walking," she told Tribune Health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, with paralysis, individuals may develop sudden numbness, weakness in the face, arm or leg. This often happens just on one side of the body. They encourage persons to try and raise both arms over the head at the same time. If one arm begins to fall, you may be having a stroke. Also, one side of your mouth may droop when you try to smile.

Lorna said her journey has been difficult at times. In addition to her stroke, her marriage of 27 years ended, she had to adapt to a new home, experienced family struggles, and suffered from unemployment.

She has also often become angry and felt disappointment with how she was treated by the community.

"There are times when the (buses) would refuse to stop when they see me being slow and disabled. I can become bitter and angry about my condition, but I love the Lord and I know He allowed this to happen to me for His purpose," she said.

An elementary school teacher by profession, Lorna hopes she can one day return to her former job in some form.

"I would like to get back into the classroom to advocate for the rights of the disabled," she said.

One bright spot in the past decade, however, has been her involvement with the Bahamas National Council for Disability. A member for nine years, Lorna said she feels honoured to be able to use her very own experience of living with paralysis to motivate others.

"This organisation has given me drive, determination and purpose. As an advocate, I strive to bring awareness, education and sensitivity to the Bahamian public of the concerns, causes and challenges of the disabled," she said.

Lorna believes as long as she continues to be an advocate for people with disabilities in the Bahamas, by way of writing letters to businesses in an effort to seek donations and partnerships, and educating the public via radio talk shows and newspaper articles, she can make a difference.

"I know that God has a plan for my life. I have the support and love of my family, and an organisation that I can fight for," she said.

As for her advice to those who lead unhealthy lifestyles and may therefore be potential stroke victims, she had this to say: "Remember to cook with less salt and seasonings. Stop the sodas, candies, sugar and alcohol; drink a lot of water and exercise. Also take on walking, swimming, biking and dancing."


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment