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A little extra help brightens Christmas for man on disability

Dec 06 2012
John Auringer says he's thankful for the Times Colonist Christmas Fund as it's hard to make ends meet on his disability pension. 

John Auringer says he's thankful for the Times Colonist Christmas Fund as it's hard to make ends meet on his disability pension.

Photograph by: Lyle Stafford , Times Colonist

John Auringer never found out who spiked his drink in a Kelowna college dorm room more than 20 years ago, but he's been living with the life-changing ramifications ever since.

A hefty dose of what he thinks was moonshine - perhaps ethyl alcohol - slipped into his drink during a party, and he was on the floor, in cardiac arrest, legally dead for four to five minutes.

"I was in a coma for five days," he says.

"After I came out of my coma, I had to relearn everything. I was totally blind - alcohol blindness - for almost two months. I had to learn everything, from tying my shoes to brushing my hair, all over again."

He was about 25 years old at the time, taking cooking classes, with hopes of one-day becoming a lawyer. The Esquimalt resident, now 44, lives with seizures and long-term damage to his fine motor skills, on a disability income that he says barely pays the rent.

It's frustrating, he admits, but he tries not to be angry. Two other people died from the poisoning, he said.

Auringer has support from family in Greater Victoria, as well as a physiotherapist to help him improve his walking, a B.C. Housing grant to reduce his rent payments and friends at the Seagate apartment where he has lived for 16 years.

The Times Colonist Christmas Fund helps him buy food and basic supplies, which he said supplements his use of food banks during the holiday season. "That really helps me."

He doesn't dwell on what happened.

"I'm not an angry person, and I don't focus on that anymore," said Auringer. "That's so long ago. I've had so many people pass away in my life in the last five years, my mother and grandfather and cousin, and what's happened to me [20 years ago] is almost obsolete."

Living on a monthly disability payment of $898 a month, though, "really sucks," he added.

"It's very hard to be on disability right now," he said, citing rising food prices but relatively stagnant monthly support.

Auringer volunteers occasionally at the Maritime Museum of B.C. His handwriting hasn't fully recovered, but he said he's remastered basics such as dressing himself and folding his clothes. He spent years in hospital and group homes in Victoria, crediting the Independent Living and Housing Society of Greater Victoria with helping transition him into his current life.




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• Call 250-995-4438

• Mail or drop off in person at the Times Colonist, 2621 Douglas St., Victoria, V8W 2N4

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