March 9th

I truly believe everyone has a before and after date. It’s the date that changes everything. Sometimes its a diagnosis, or a surgery, divorce, wedding, becoming a parent or an accident. In most peoples lives its not a dramatic shift, usually an event that forever has changed a part of you.

For me that date is March 9th. The past 25 years I have hated, dreaded, hide from, denied, accepted, challenged and appreciated March 9th. This was the date that altered our whole life forever.

I started writing a book 2 years ago. To be honest I have not gotten very far. My intentions have been strong, but unfortunately my heart is not. I suffer terribly from PTSD, something that I have always had but only surfaced dramatically 5 years ago. Trying to write this book has sadly caused flashbacks, anxiety, fear, frustrations and emotional distress. I have decided to share with you an insert from my book. It is a rough draft, unedited, raw, hopefully easy to follow sketch of my March 9th, 1995.

I am not sure if I will ever have the strength to finish this book, reliving some of those moments and emotions is very difficult. I also believe my story isn’t over and maybe thats partly why I’m struggling. It has been 25 years and so much has happened in those years. Revisiting memories causes me severe anxiety, and is that really worth it?

Below is an insert from my writings, please keep in mind this is unedited and my account of the events. If i ever do get the chance to work with an editor/ author I would hope I would be guided in a way that could bring more life to my words. Thank you for reading~

March 9th, 1995 started out as a typical day. I remember putting Braden down for a nap that afternoon. He didn’t sleep and I was worried about him going to the baby sitters without any sleep. I asked him to go get his boots, and we put his coat on. He was giving me such a hard time that afternoon, it was only because he was so tired. I had to get to work a bit early that day because I had to photocopy some pages for a craft I had prepared for my after school kids.

We really needed to get out the door, my mind was set on getting him to his daycare. When we reached the car, I had placed my supplies in the backseat and then went to put Braden in the car. At that time, there was no rules or regulations around where the best place is too place a car seat in a car. Earlier that week my car had been under repair and I was having to take cab’s too work. But I finally got my car back, and i was so happy to have that.

When Paul had placed Braden’s car seat in my car he stood there contemplating whether or not too put it in the back seat. (This is something that would come back to haunt him down the road). I however preferred to have Braden in the front seat, beside me so I could reach him. This particular carseat did have a tether strap which was attached to the top of his seat. So, technically you could put the car seat in the front of the vehicle but there was no instructions on what to do with the tether strap. I know Paul struggled with this, and I am so sorry that I didn’t listen to him when he said he felt more comfortable with the seat in the back.

(There were not as many rules and regulations placed on car seats and how to properly install them in 1993. I am so thankful to know, that after my car accident there was a universal shift in the law regarding the proper installations of car seats. I like to believe our story has made a difference.)

I was a twenty three year old young mom, who was more concerned about reaching him if he needed something while I was driving.

On this day, he didn’t nap so he was very grumpy by mid afternoon and he didn’t want to get in his car seat.  He was fighting with me and arching his back so I couldn’t strap him in. I was so frustrated, he was crying, I was running late and he wasn’t cooperating. He was only being a tired toddler.  I finally got him in his seat, tears rolling down his chubby cheeks. Off we go, the sun was warm that day. It was the beginning of March so there was still a crisp cold feeling. I didn’t need my winter coat, because in the sun while driving it was nice and warm. Not much snow on the ground, it was melting away.

I had backed out of our driveway, and for a moment I heard Paul’s voice tell me to left. Take the back way, its an easier drive to get across town. I’m not sure once again why I didn’t listen to that inner voice. I probably should have. Instead I went right. I took the challenging route. I headed down our street and at the end of it I turned left. This took me to a stop sign, it wasn’t an intersection technically it was a highway. So the only stop signs were the one across from me, and the one that I was stopped at. I had felt the sun at this point, so warm. It was causing such a nice feeling of comfort. I had a cassette tape playing, one that I had had for a few years with many of my favourite songs on it.

Braden had fallen asleep, shit. Now he would be out of sorts for the baby sitter and probably give her a hard time. I knew my mom would be picking him up a little later and giving him dinner. He’d be happy to see nana and papa, they’d keep him awake for me. Paul would be there to get him once work was over. I would join them later that evening once all my children were picked up from their after school day care. Those professional parents who had long days, commuting and tired at the end of the day. They always look exhausted when they were coming in to get their children. It made me sad to see them almost dismiss their child’s pleas to listen to their stories about their day. Many time’s they’d be quieted and ushered to get their coats and boots on then rushed out to their running vans to get home for dinner. I always wondered was the money really worth leaving their children all day in the hands of others? Not having a connection with the most important people on the earth?

I sat at that stop sign, looking at Braden. Thinking too myself “such a brat, why couldn’t you have napped today?” There was a white van sitting at the stop sign across from me. There were students coming and going from the high school that sat diagonally across from me.

I looked left, checked right and then waited for the white van to proceed and make his turn. As he pulled out from his stop sign turning left onto the highway crossing the yellow line and heading down the road. I look left again, and then proceeded out onto the road to make my left hand turn. As I was just crossing the yellow line myself I heard the loudest crash ever. It didn’t register at first where that loud obnoxious noice came from, and I couldn’t see where it was because everything went black. Oh my god, I can’t see and my car is spinning. Braden, I reach my arm across for Braden and he is there. He isn’t crying so that’s a good thing. He can’t be hurt if he isn’t crying.

But he was too silent, and that silence was terrifying. He made no noise, no movement and no response to his surroundings. I looked out the front window of my car, there was another car about 30 feet ahead of me. I couldn’t see the driver, holy shit is he dead? Where is he? I couldn’t worry about that right now, my eyes returned to Braden and my thoughts resumed back to him. He was trying to scream, I could see his mouth moving but nothing was coming out. I needed to make eye contact with him, so I got out of my car and ran to the passengers side door. This was the first view of my car, the door had substantial damage. I had such a hard time trying to open that door, but when a mother is desperate to save her baby the strength comes from a fire so deep inside it nearly frightened me. I managed to pry the door open enough to get closer to Braden. He was still only looking forward with his mouth gaping open trying so hard to scream. Deep inside me I knew this was not good, but all I keep thinking was thank god he is alive. Tears were running from his eyes, and now I could see the blood trickling down his face. Where was the blood coming from, I was so confused. He was in a car seat, he didn’t leave the car so how does he have blood on his face. I knew not to touch him, but honestly I was terrified. I started looking around and noticed people coming from the high school. Some neighbours approached as well. One teacher came running across the street and went straight to Braden in the car. He could see Braden was having trouble breathing so he cautiously tilted his head back enough to provide a clear air entry. Someone from the high school  had called 911, but they seemed to be taking so long.

My bother and sister in law lived just a few houses away from the accident so my brother in law came out once someone went to get them. I asked him to call Paul at work, and to meet me at the hospital. I remember when I first saw him, what a relief it was. Amongst all these strangers finally a set of eyes I knew. He ran back to his house to make the phone calls, I didn’t’ see again until we were at the hospital.

While waiting for the ambulance I kept checking in on Braden sitting there so silently. He did not lose consciousness. Those eyes stayed open, he was searching for me. I had to be close, but I was so scared. Was he going to die? What have I done? I need to get to work, I remember being so concerned about getting to work. I’m going to be late, it did’t register immediately with me that I would not be going to work.

I was beginning to open my eyes, things were becoming clearer to me, Braden wasn’t moving. He wasn’t moving his arms or his legs, his head stayed still. The only thing I could see moving was his eyes, how terrified they were. The blood on his face was coming from an open wound on his forehead. How did that happen? He had a gash right in the centre of his eyebrows. I realized then that any noise from him would be reassuring. I just wanted to hear him scream, parents can get agitated so quickly at screaming crying children but when its taken away from you suddenly there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to hear that baby cry. Breathe.

The panic was setting in, the police arrived with ambulance and firefighters. Everyone was on scene at that moment. This is when I thought of the other driver once again. I looked back up to his car and saw the firefighters assessing him. I didn’t even think of him, I was certain at this point he was alive. My concern was not with him however, my world was crashing and I was battling with myself  to stay present. Focus.

Braden’s colour was changing, he no longer looked like that perfect cherub pink chubby baby that only 10 minutes ago filled my world with love. He was a grave shade of grey.  He was so still, his tears stopped and so did his will to cry. I will never forget the feeling of looking into my baby’s beautiful blue eyes and seeing the life slowly begin to leave, like a grey cloud coming in to block the sun from shining. Each breathe he took was further and further apart. He was like a fish out of water, gasping for a breath, struggling with every muscle he had still working for him. The battle to live was there and I could see that, my baby was not giving up.

 I was paralyzed with fear. I wasn’t able to move, I could see everything that was happening around us. The sirens were blaring all around me, people were screaming, there was a police officer trying to ask me questions. I couldn’t talk, all words have escaped me.  I need to get to work, what will happen to the children in my after school program. I told one police officer that I needed to get to work, and he looked at me with such concern “you won’t be going to work today”. I just could not make sense of what was happening, my mind was filled with so many thoughts. Where was my husband, I wish he was here. I want someone to hold me, please tell me everything is going to be ok.

The scent of the car fuel was so strong, the sirens were overbearing and the road had me pinned, I could not move. Standing at the side of the road watching countless people try to help my situation. I felt helpless, benumbed but mostly disabled. Physically incapable of moving, yet still managing to smell, see, hear and taste absolutely everything that was spinning erratically out of control right in front of me.

It’s true what you see in movies when there is a tragedy and those effected stand in the moment dazed and confused. The director portraying their world spinning around and around them while the character is still. It does happen, that feeling of calmness at the core but chaos circling around you. Knowing the minute you take one step forward the whole world is going to hit you like a hurricane. The moment you know one step from this safe spot is going to send you  into the swirling funnel of turmoil and you know its going to be painful.

Eventually the EMT’s carefully removed Braden from the car and transferred him to the ambulance. I wanted so badly to go be with him. Please can I go in the ambulance? They wouldn’t let me, I didn’t realize until a few years later that they didn’t allow me to go with them because they were not certain he was going to survive the ride. They ushered me into a police car, my first thought was “am I going to go to jail?” I had never been in a cruiser before, I was terrified. To make the matter worse, the officers front seat was covered in papers so he asked me to get into the back of the car. Sitting there, all alone wiping my tears and wanting to throw up I sat quietly with thoughts running through my head. Guilty?

Am I guilty? That’s something I will live with for the rest of my life. I will consistently fight that battle, constantly reminding myself that I did not set out that day to purposely crash my car causing my son a devastating injury.

How will I live knowing that’s exactly what happened? I pulled out into oncoming traffic that I didn’t see. The injuries he sustain may have been prevented if I had only looked one more time too the left. Why was I in that exact spot at that time? What if I had taken my time putting him in the car seat, I would have missed him coming up the hill that beautiful sunny day. I would have avoided this disaster.

We made our way sirens blaring, lights spinning red and blue. I was silent in the back seat of that cruiser. Confusion set in again, my mind was on Braden and how he was doing in that ambulance. I don’t think I had any thoughts of him not surviving this crash. He was still showing signs of life as they moved him to the ambulance. I suppose a part of me still felt he was going to be fine, he wasn’t crying, kicking or screaming. It’s terrible scene to see, your child so still in a situation which he should be physically protesting and emotionally voicing his displeasure.   It hadn’t occurred to me just how serious his peacefulness meant. I didn’t know if Paul had been called, I was hoping he was on his way and meeting me at the hospital. There was no cell phones back then, how comforting it would have been to be able to call him during that time.

Where we live there is an intersection that connects our city with all the small junctions that make up Cambridge. It’s called the Delta, it is apparently the largest intersection in Southern Ontario. There was at that time approximately 12 lanes that link to those traffic lights. In order to get to the hospital we have to go through the Delta. I had happened to look up as we drove through, hoping the light would be green. I was nervous there’d be a stall and the ambulance would  have to wait for clearance. It was surreal to see at each lane there was a police officer and a car with flashing lights blocking the traffic, giving us clearance to make our way straight through that intersection. Each police officer standing in front of their cruiser with their hands crossed guarding the way so my son could get to the hospital. I remember at this time finally realizing “this is serious”.

When I got to the hospital, the police officer led me in. I still hadn’t seen Braden. I started asking for him and they assured me he was still with us but they were doing tests to see how stable he was. They ushered me into a patient lounge which was private, as we made our way there I saw Paul and my mom coming down the hallway. Finally, familiar faces that brought comfort and security. The two people in the world who could only make this better.

I had to face Paul, I truly was terrified as to what he would say. Would he be angry with me? Is there going to be blame? As he approached I started to cry, I was so sorry. Both my mom and Paul came to me, and the first thing Paul said was “What did you do?”

That was the first and only time he ever placed blame. I don’t even think I had the chance to answer him. We had someone from the Chaplin services show up, we went into this quiet, dimly lit grey room. There was four chair’s. Very clinic, cold and dark. The Chaplin wanted to have a prayer, but our minds were on Braden. I had wondered if he was dying because the Chaplin had shown up. Paul, my mom and I along with my Aunt Ray who happened to be at the hospital gathered in a small circle standing side by side while this stranger with a bible led us in prayer.

Where is Braden? Paul went looking around for answers. He also realized his mother was going to be driving past my accident scene and knew she would recognize my car. He went to the desk and asked to use their phone so he could call his mother. She did pick up, and he told her I had been in an accident but I was fine. She asked about Braden and Paul said “we don’t know yet”.

The other end of the line went quiet, Paul heard a crash and then a slight moan. It was a noice he had never heard come from his mother before. Unfamiliar to this sound, he knew something had happened to her on the other end. “Mom, mom”…..nothing.

He hung up, told the front desk at the hospital that he thinks his mother passed out. Could they send an ambulance to his house. The told him unfortunately they can’t dispatch from the hospital, he’d still have to call 911. Try comprehending that, standing in the emergency room of our city hospital and being told he had to call 911 himself. That’s what he did, he called and asked for an ambulance to go to his mother.  He came back to the grey room, by this time the ER doctor had come to see me. They wanted to be sure I was ok. I honestly hadn’t felt any physical repercussions at this time from the accident. I remember everything went black when I heard the loud crash, and my knee was throbbing a bit. I’m not sure how I hurt my knee, maybe it was the steering wheel?  I touched it and realized it had been bleeding. As I was heading to the observation room, the trauma doctor stopped me to finally fill me in on Braden’s condition. My eyes were constantly scanning the area for him, I was becoming impatient and a frustrated. I just needed to see him, was he scared, was he moving any parts of his body yet? Things were feeling foggy again, this was too overwhelming. I felt like everyone was looking at me, everything was out of control Where is Braden?

The doctor was young, he seemed confident. He had a presence about him that made me feel safe, he looked me in the eyes, standing straight and confident. Although he was young I still felt like I could trust his diagnosis and observations. The first thing he said to me was “he is doing ok”, “ but we are sending him to Hamilton McMaster University Hospital”. He said they did an X-Ray and had some good news, “his neck wasn’t broken.” But they suspected something called Brachial plexus, which is a network of nerves in the arm pits and neck that work to move the shoulders, arms and hands. The nerve damage in his upper arm was caused by the car seat straps. Devastating. We were experiencing so many emotions. Relieved he was alive, thankful his neck wasn’t’ broken but how would he function in a world made for two arms? Baseball? Hockey? My dreams of a little hockey player was now being compromised. The sadness was debilitating, I was starting to feel the physical pain in my body. I just want to sit, my knee hurts, my jaw hurts and my little patched heart is completely shattered.

March 9th, 1995 started out as a typical day. I remember putting Braden down for a nap that afternoon. He didn’t sleep and I was worried about him going to the baby sitters without any sleep. I asked him to go get his boots, and we put his coat on. He was giving me such a hard time that afternoon, it was only because he was so tired. I had to get to work a bit early that day because I had to photocopy some pages for a craft I had prepared for my after school kids.

We really needed to get out the door, my mind was set on getting him to his daycare. When we reached the car, I had placed my supplies in the backseat and then went to put Braden in the car. At that time, there was no rules or regulations around where the best place is too place a car seat in a car. Earlier that week my car had been under repair and I was having to take cab’s too work. But I finally got my car back, and i was so happy to have that.

When Paul had placed Braden’s car seat in my car he stood there contemplating whether or not too put it in the back seat. (This is something that would come back to haunt him down the road). I however preferred to have Braden in the front seat, beside me so I could reach him. This particular carseat did have a tether strap which was attached to the top of his seat. So, technically you could put the car seat in the front of the vehicle but there was no instructions on what to do with the tether strap. I know Paul struggled with this, and I am so sorry that I didn’t listen to him when he said he felt more comfortable with the seat in the back. 

I was a twenty three year old young mom, who was more concerned about reaching him if he needed something while I was driving.

On this day, he didn’t nap so he was very grumpy by mid afternoon and he didn’t want to get in his car seat.  He was fighting with me and arching his back so I couldn’t strap him in. I was so frustrated, he was crying, I was running late and he wasn’t cooperating. He was only being a tired toddler.  I finally got him in his seat, tears rolling down his chubby cheeks. Off we go, the sun was warm that day. It was the beginning of March so there was still a crisp cold feeling. I didn’t need my winter coat, because in the sun while driving it was nice and warm. Not much snow on the ground, it was melting away.

I had backed out of our driveway, and for a moment I heard Paul’s voice tell me to left. Take the back way, its an easier drive to get across town. I’m not sure once again why I didn’t listen to that inner voice. I probably should have. Instead I went right. I took the challenging route. I headed down our street and at the end of it I turned left. This took me to a stop sign, it wasn’t an intersection technically it was a highway. So the only stop signs were the one across from me, and the one that I was stopped at. I had felt the sun at this point, so warm. It was causing such a nice feeling of comfort. I had a cassette tape playing, one that I had had for a few years with many of my favourite songs on it.

Braden had fallen asleep, shit. Now he would be out of sorts for the baby sitter and probably give her a hard time. I knew my mom would be picking him up a little later and giving him dinner. He’d be happy to see nana and papa, they’d keep him awake for me. Paul would be there to get him once work was over. I would join them later that evening once all my children were picked up from their after school day care. Those professional parents who had long days, commuting and tired at the end of the day. They always look exhausted when they were coming in to get their children. It made me sad to see them almost dismiss their child’s pleas to listen to their stories about their day. Many time’s they’d be quieted and ushered to get their coats and boots on then rushed out to their running vans to get home for dinner. I always wondered was the money really worth leaving their children all day in the hands of others? Not having a connection with the most important people on the earth?

I sat at that stop sign, looking at Braden. Thinking too myself “such a brat, why couldn’t you have napped today?” There was a white van sitting at the stop sign across from me. There were students coming and going from the high school that sat diagonally across from me.

I looked left, checked right and then waited for the white van to proceed and make his turn. As he pulled out from his stop sign turning left onto the highway crossing the yellow line and heading down the road. I look left again, and then proceeded out onto the road to make my left hand turn. As I was just crossing the yellow line myself I heard the loudest crash ever. It didn’t register at first where that loud obnoxious noice came from, and I couldn’t see where it was because everything went black. Oh my god, I can’t see and my car is spinning. Braden, I reach my arm across for Braden and he is there. He isn’t crying so that’s a good thing. He can’t be hurt if he isn’t crying.

But he was too silent, and that silence was terrifying. He made no noise, no movement and no response to his surroundings. I looked out the front window of my car, there was another car about 30 feet ahead of me. I couldn’t see the driver, holy shit is he dead? Where is he? I couldn’t worry about that right now, my eyes returned to Braden and my thoughts resumed back to him. He was trying to scream, I could see his mouth moving but nothing was coming out. I needed to make eye contact with him, so I got out of my car and ran to the passengers side door. This was the first view of my car, the door had substantial damage. I had such a hard time trying to open that door, but when a mother is desperate to save her baby the strength comes from a fire so deep inside it nearly frightened me. I managed to pry the door open enough to get closer to Braden. He was still only looking forward with his mouth gaping open trying so hard to scream. Deep inside me I knew this was not good, but all I keep thinking was thank god he is alive. Tears were running from his eyes, and now I could see the blood trickling down his face. Where was the blood coming from, I was so confused. He was in a car seat, he didn’t leave the car so how does he have blood on his face. I knew not to touch him, but honestly I was terrified. I started looking around and noticed people coming from the high school. Some neighbours approached as well. One teacher came running across the street and went straight to Braden in the car. He could see Braden was having trouble breathing so he cautiously tilted his head back enough to provide a clear air entry. Someone from the high school  had called 911, but they seemed to be taking so long.

My bother and sister in law lived just a few houses away from the accident so my brother in law came out once someone went to get them. I asked him to call Paul at work, and to meet me at the hospital. I remember when I first saw him, what a relief it was. Amongst all these strangers finally a set of eyes I knew. He ran back to his house to make the phone calls, I didn’t’ see again until we were at the hospital.

While waiting for the ambulance I kept checking in on Braden sitting there so silently. He did not lose consciousness. Those eyes stayed open, he was searching for me. I had to be close, but I was so scared. Was he going to die? What have I done? I need to get to work, I remember being so concerned about getting to work. I’m going to be late, it did’t register immediately with me that I would not be going to work.

I was beginning to open my eyes, things were becoming clearer to me, Braden wasn’t moving. He wasn’t moving his arms or his legs, his head stayed still. The only thing I could see moving was his eyes, how terrified they were. The blood on his face was coming from an open wound on his forehead. How did that happen? He had a gash right in the centre of his eyebrows. I realized then that any noise from him would be reassuring. I just wanted to hear him scream, parents can get agitated so quickly at screaming crying children but when its taken away from you suddenly there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do to hear that baby cry. Breathe.

The panic was setting in, the police arrived with ambulance and firefighters. Everyone was on scene at that moment. This is when I thought of the other driver once again. I looked back up to his car and saw the firefighters assessing him. I didn’t even think of him, I was certain at this point he was alive. My concern was not with him however, my world was crashing and I was battling with myself  to stay present. Focus.

Braden’s colour was changing, he no longer looked like that perfect cherub pink chubby baby that only 10 minutes ago filled my world with love. He was a grave shade of grey.  He was so still, his tears stopped and so did his will to cry. I will never forget the feeling of looking into my baby’s beautiful blue eyes and seeing the life slowly begin to leave, like a grey cloud coming in to block the sun from shining. Each breathe he took was further and further apart. He was like a fish out of water, gasping for a breath, struggling with every muscle he had still working for him. The battle to live was there and I could see that, my baby was not giving up.

 I was paralyzed with fear. I wasn’t able to move, I could see everything that was happening around us. The sirens were blaring all around me, people were screaming, there was a police officer trying to ask me questions. I couldn’t talk, all words have escaped me.  I need to get to work, what will happen to the children in my after school program. I told one police officer that I needed to get to work, and he looked at me with such concern “you won’t be going to work today”. I just could not make sense of what was happening, my mind was filled with so many thoughts. Where was my husband, I wish he was here. I want someone to hold me, please tell me everything is going to be ok.

The scent of the car fuel was so strong, the sirens were overbearing and the road had me pinned, I could not move. Standing at the side of the road watching countless people try to help my situation. I felt helpless, benumbed but mostly disabled. Physically incapable of moving, yet still managing to smell, see, hear and taste absolutely everything that was spinning erratically out of control right in front of me.

It’s true what you see in movies when there is a tragedy and those effected stand in the moment dazed and confused. The director portraying their world spinning around and around them while the character is still. It does happen, that feeling of calmness at the core but chaos circling around you. Knowing the minute you take one step forward the whole world is going to hit you like a hurricane. The moment you know one step from this safe spot is going to send you  into the swirling funnel of turmoil and you know its going to be painful.

Eventually the EMT’s carefully removed Braden from the car and transferred him to the ambulance. I wanted so badly to go be with him. Please can I go in the ambulance? They wouldn’t let me, I didn’t realize until a few years later that they didn’t allow me to go with them because they were not certain he was going to survive the ride. They ushered me into a police car, my first thought was “am I going to go to jail?” I had never been in a cruiser before, I was terrified. To make the matter worse, the officers front seat was covered in papers so he asked me to get into the back of the car. Sitting there, all alone wiping my tears and wanting to throw up I sat quietly with thoughts running through my head. Guilty?

Am I guilty? That’s something I will live with for the rest of my life. I will consistently fight that battle, constantly reminding myself that I did not set out that day to purposely crash my car causing my son a devastating injury.

How will I live knowing that’s exactly what happened? I pulled out into oncoming traffic that I didn’t see. The injuries he sustain may have been prevented if I had only looked one more time too the left. Why was I in that exact spot at that time? What if I had taken my time putting him in the car seat, I would have missed him coming up the hill that beautiful sunny day. I would have avoided this disaster.

We made our way sirens blaring, lights spinning red and blue. I was silent in the back seat of that cruiser. Confusion set in again, my mind was on Braden and how he was doing in that ambulance. I don’t think I had any thoughts of him not surviving this crash. He was still showing signs of life as they moved him to the ambulance. I suppose a part of me still felt he was going to be fine, he wasn’t crying, kicking or screaming. It’s terrible scene to see, your child so still in a situation which he should be physically protesting and emotionally voicing his displeasure.   It hadn’t occurred to me just how serious his peacefulness meant. I didn’t know if Paul had been called, I was hoping he was on his way and meeting me at the hospital. There was no cell phones back then, how comforting it would have been to be able to call him during that time.

Where we live there is an intersection that connects our city with all the small junctions that make up Cambridge. It’s called the Delta, it is apparently the largest intersection in Southern Ontario. There was at that time approximately 12 lanes that link to those traffic lights. In order to get to the hospital we have to go through the Delta. I had happened to look up as we drove through, hoping the light would be green. I was nervous there’d be a stall and the ambulance would  have to wait for clearance. It was surreal to see at each lane there was a police officer and a car with flashing lights blocking the traffic, giving us clearance to make our way straight through that intersection. Each police officer standing in front of their cruiser with their hands crossed guarding the way so my son could get to the hospital. I remember at this time finally realizing “this is serious”.

When I got to the hospital, the police officer led me in. I still hadn’t seen Braden. I started asking for him and they assured me he was still with us but they were doing tests to see how stable he was. They ushered me into a patient lounge which was private, as we made our way there I saw Paul and my mom coming down the hallway. Finally, familiar faces that brought comfort and security. The two people in the world who could only make this better.

I had to face Paul, I truly was terrified as to what he would say. Would he be angry with me? Is there going to be blame? As he approached I started to cry, I was so sorry. Both my mom and Paul came to me, and the first thing Paul said was “What did you do?”

That was the first and only time he ever placed blame. I don’t even think I had the chance to answer him. We had someone from the Chaplin services show up, we went into this quiet, dimly lit grey room. There was four chair’s. Very clinic, cold and dark. The Chaplin wanted to have a prayer, but our minds were on Braden. I had wondered if he was dying because the Chaplin had shown up. Paul, my mom and I along with my Aunt Ray who happened to be at the hospital gathered in a small circle standing side by side while this stranger with a bible led us in prayer.

Where is Braden? Paul went looking around for answers. He also realized his mother was going to be driving past my accident scene and knew she would recognize my car. He went to the desk and asked to use their phone so he could call his mother. She did pick up, and he told her I had been in an accident but I was fine. She asked about Braden and Paul said “we don’t know yet”.

The other end of the line went quiet, Paul heard a crash and then a slight moan. It was a noice he had never heard come from his mother before. Unfamiliar to this sound, he knew something had happened to her on the other end. “Mom, mom”…..nothing.

He hung up, told the front desk at the hospital that he thinks his mother passed out. Could they send an ambulance to his house. The told him unfortunately they can’t dispatch from the hospital, he’d still have to call 911. Try comprehending that, standing in the emergency room of our city hospital and being told he had to call 911 himself. That’s what he did, he called and asked for an ambulance to go to his mother.  He came back to the grey room, by this time the ER doctor had come to see me. They wanted to be sure I was ok. I honestly hadn’t felt any physical repercussions at this time from the accident. I remember everything went black when I heard the loud crash, and my knee was throbbing a bit. I’m not sure how I hurt my knee, maybe it was the steering wheel?  I touched it and realized it had been bleeding. As I was heading to the observation room, the trauma doctor stopped me to finally fill me in on Braden’s condition. My eyes were constantly scanning the area for him, I was becoming impatient and a frustrated. I just needed to see him, was he scared, was he moving any parts of his body yet? Things were feeling foggy again, this was too overwhelming. I felt like everyone was looking at me, everything was out of control Where is Braden?

The doctor was young, he seemed confident. He had a presence about him that made me feel safe, he looked me in the eyes, standing straight and confident. Although he was young I still felt like I could trust his diagnosis and observations. The first thing he said to me was “he is doing ok”, “ but we are sending him to Hamilton McMaster University Hospital”. He said they did an X-Ray and had some good news, “his neck wasn’t broken.” But they suspected something called Brachial plexus, which is a network of nerves in the arm pits and neck that work to move the shoulders, arms and hands. The nerve damage in his upper arm was caused by the car seat straps. Devastating. We were experiencing so many emotions. Relieved he was alive, thankful his neck wasn’t’ broken but how would he function in a world made for two arms? Baseball? Hockey? My dreams of a little hockey player was now being compromised. The sadness was debilitating, I was starting to feel the physical pain in my body. I just want to sit, my knee hurts, my jaw hurts and my little patched heart is completely shattered.

The things to come were incomprehensible. Everything I ever knew would never be the same. I was never going to be the same~

March 9th, 1995- March 9th, 2020

100 Things I Want To Teach My Daughter #52 Never Buy Cheap Perfume

#52 Never Buy Cheap Perfume

Dear Fox,

Don’t do it. Do not buy cheap perfume. This is something that I could not do even when I didn’t have enough money for perfume. I just went without. There is nothing worse then walking around smelling cheap. Lol

I know there is worse things in life that this, and in some circumstances people don’t have a choice. That’s ok….for them.
There are some very expensive perfumes out there by world class designers which smell horrible. Be careful there too.

If you choose to buy cheap perfume I know within two hours you will have a headache, I’m saying this to save you from that.

Pick a perfume that your family will grow to love, a scent that when your children smell it they will think of you lovingly. A scent that makes you distinct from the other women that may walk past your man on a daily bases. Smell is probably the most sensitive sense we have.

Smells are important, it’s amazing how certain smells can bring memories back to you. Sometimes a scent can make a person think of a family member who they love, or loved. A scent can bring back a memory from a childhood trauma, or a happy, comforting scent that makes you think of a time when you were in a good place.

I believe your perfume is the first layer of your outfit, its what dresses your naked body. Choose well my love~

#97 Dance~especially when doing laundry

# 97 Dance – especially when you’re doing the laundry.

My dearest Kailey, always find a reason to dance even when doing laundry.

When I was young my mom always had music going in the kitchen. Actually my parents pretty much had music going all of the time. Every Saturday and Sunday morning the house would be filled with music.  

Initially it was the 8 tracks in the living room. Conway Twitty, Kenny Rogers, Elvis Presley…typically it was country music. I would wake up to these country tunes just outside of my bedroom. It was comforting and the music symbolized happiness. It was peaceful, and it was routine. Routine is safe, routine is comfort. I liked that. As an adult I knew it was something I wanted my children to feel. I knew routine was most important.

Coming home from school back in grade 6, 7 and 8  it was a give in that my mom had music playing in the kitchen. She always played something while preparing dinner. After  the country music came the 80’s tunes. Then it was the beautiful melodies of Michael Jackson, Phil Collins and Lional Ritchie that filled the house with aromas of teenage youth  Dreams of love, hopes of future relationships and fantasies of  what my life would end up being. Relishing in all my world revolving around me just as a typical teenager would. 

I can’t express how important it felt to have that comforting feeling of music throughout the house while growing up. 

There was only one time in my youth that the music stopped. It was the day mom papa died. My mothers father. When I came in from school that day, there was no music and my mom was in the kitchen making dinner. I knew something was wrong. There is nothing worse than seeing your mother cry. It was such a sad day, and as sad as I was for my mom and our family…I recall being worried that the music wouldn’t play ever again.

I can remember just as clearly the day I walked in from school and heard it again…I was so happy. Thrilled because it was a feeling of safety again, that our family was doing well and we were all going to be ok. 

When you hear music, good music…what’s the natural thing to do? DANCE!!

SO this is were my word of advice comes in for Kailey. I hope you can remember our kitchen, dancing when you are all grown and have a family of your own. Please try to recognize how it made you feel to see dancing, laughing and love in our home. It was always one of my favorite things to do while making dinner, I guess my mom taught me that. 🙂

There is nothing happier than a house filled with music and dancing, remember that! If you take that with you into your own family life, my darling I promise you’ll always have a reason to smile~

I can only hope that those summer nights, those Saturday morning tunes we shared in our own kitchen will stay with you. I pray you remember our beloved Harley dancing in the kitchen with mom. I can still remember getting you and Braden to dance, typically ending in a game of chase. 

I guess I can end this post with the reason’s that make the most sense for your name…from where my family comes from down in Nova Scotia, a kitchen party is called a “Kailey or in Irish dialect its Ceilidh”. Everyone would gather at the home of a dear friends house during the cold brisk winters in the east coast and have themselves a good ol’fashioned kitchen (Ceilidh) Kailey~

The picture above was definitely taken during a kitchen ceilidh. We were visiting family in Cape Breton Nova Scotia. My grandfather is the second from the left, with my dad beside him on the right. That’s me bottom middle, with my dad. 

I am sure this picture was also taken the same night. There is a long history of boxers in my family, it wasn’t a party until the men starting putting up their dukes and the women were dancing and singing.

I believe a happy home is a home filled with music. I hope you carry on that tradition and fill your own home some day. I will end this blog by saying some of our best memories have a song attached to it. Even your birth…”Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison I loved that song at the time I was pregnant with you. It even played a part in your name Kailey MacKensey~

Love you Fox, until next time good night and god bless~

When did I stop being mom?

That my friends is a loaded question. Did I every truly stop being a mom?

NO. I have always been a mom. But I will say, there were times I was not a mom first. I was a caregiver, therapist, nurse, occupational therapist, respiratory therapist and many other rolls I’ve had to fill. Somedays…mom was the last one on the list.

I know you probably can’t in any way relate to this. I am sure if you are a mother you are sitting there maybe feeling appalled that I could even admit to that.

Unfortunately for me, its the truth. And I still wonder to this day if I made the mistake of doing it all and not reaching out for more help.

Sometimes I could say the rolls I had were much like a schizophrenic. It depended on the need, it was the mask I had to put on. Being a mom in certain situations was not what was best for Braden.

I ALWAYS loved him like a mom, I mean there is NO love like a mothers love. Nothing ever wavered that.

But if I needed to become a hard nosed meanie boots…..being a mom wouldn’t cut it. You see as a mom, watching your child struggle, seeing them cry, feeling their pain all you want to do is take it all away. Unfortunately thats not in their best interest. Taking away that pain would never help him get better. Refusing all those treatments, hard work and dedication would not bring him to a state of health and happiness. The tears he shed were all for a good cause. A necessary cause…his life~

One of the hardest things I have ever had to do as a mother is shut off my mommy and pull out my therapist, nurse, doctor, physiotherapist roles…that my friend is what I mean by schizophrenic. Watching him cry through tracheostomy changes, Nasogastric tube changes, chest tube removals, therapy appointments, needles, range of motion, surgeries and overall pain as a mother was devastating. If I didn’t have the ability to see those things as they were, to better him, his health and over all well being then I too would have been distraught, crying and angry, What good would that have been for him?

It was in those moments, and please be kind when I say “I wasn’t his mom”. Not in the sense that only sees him a baby boy that’s hurting. From the moment he was reintroduced to me, in ICU with all those tubes, wires and noises I never once saw those things. I only saw my son.

We are almost 25 years post accident, post all those experiences that have led us here. When I look back, and really think about some of the choices I made I do believe some mistakes were made. If i were to ask my mom or Paul if they felt the same, they would disagree. I didn’t want any one else’s hands on my child. I didn’t want others opinions, input or expectations placed on me. Looking back that had more to do with me and my insecurities than it did with needing or wanting the help. I really wasn’t open to others coming into my home, I was very protective of him. No one could do the job better than I. So, I did it all. And today I am paying the price for that.

I suppose when I think about it, back then the guilt I lived with was astounding. It was loud, it was the loudest noice, voice, thoughts, feelings in my mind. It’s all I ever heard. “Look what you did” “He is paralyzed because of you”….It has taken me a lot of time and energy to let that go, its not completely gone but it is something I work at a every single day.

I felt during those years that I did this to him, so its my job and my job only to take care of him.

I gave myself a life sentence, and it was the biggest mistake of all. Because of that mind frame, many more mistakes followed.

If i were to mentor my 23 year old self, suffering through the most devastating time in my life I would tell that young lady to get more help. I did have a wonderful support system. Please don’t get me wrong, my parents were amazing. The didn’t skip a beat when it came to the things we needed. They stepped up like no other people in the world. My husband is/was by far the rock in all of this. He never gave up hope and he constantly supported each phase we faced. Someday I will do a blog post on just him, he really is the most remarkable man in the world. I do remember however, not putting expectations on him. I would feel if Braden became ill, or needing tending too..regardless of how tired I was I never expected Paul to get up and tend to him. I would jump up and do it. Immediately I felt like I did this to Braden, why should Paul have to stop what he is doing and tend to him. It was a life sentence I gave to myself, maybe it was punishment? I don’t have the right to sit and relax, I did this. Get up and take care of what you did. I silently lived this way for so many years. Sad.

I wish I would have hired more people to help. So many “get togethers” in the summer time, where I would be in control of the company, food, drinks, snacks, kids, parents and Braden. I was exhausted. If Braden wanted in the pool, I had to undress him, I would change him, put him in the pool and stay close to him. Then run to get drinks or freezes for our company. I ran, all the time. Then I’d get Braden out of the pool, dry him, dress him and transfer him to his wheelchair or motorized vehicle. Then I would be off again, tending to company, trying to hold down a conversation with whoever’s mother was sitting patiently while I ran around like a mad woman all after noon.

Keep in mind I still have another child, who thank goodness wasn’t needy. Or maybe that child just new not to ask much of me because she could see in mommy’s face how tired she is. Huge Mistake.

I should have hired more help. I should have had more staff available. People to come to birthday parties with me, so I could sit and enjoy those around me. Someone to attend play dates with me, so they could tend to all Braden’s needs. He needed help interacting with other children. Someone always had to be available to help him, sometimes Kailey did, sometimes his friends did but mostly I did. I never wanted to put anyone “out”.

All those hats I wore, each one of them chipping away at the only role I should have been…mom~

To this day, nearly 25 years later I still don’t know if given the chance would I do it differently. I’m not sure. But if I was going to give someone in a similar situation advice, it would be to hire more help. Give yourself a break, and take care of you~

100 Things I Want To Teach My Daughter #54 Retirement is a second chance to follow your dreams~

Typically speaking about retirement to my 22 year old daughter would be absurd. I mean you haven’t even started your career path. As of now, you still don’t know what you are doing in life. That’s ok. There is no rush, take your time and figure it out. Explore, learn, take chances and seek adventure. Do all this in your youth, but remember there is a whole lot of life to live before you get the chance to retire.

My advice to you, even though retirement seems so far away please start planning for it immediately. Retirement is not what it use to be. Our society was way more equipped to support the aging generation back in the day, sadly those days are long gone. Today it is our responsibility to take care of our own financial freedom for retirement. It is something to consider even before buying your own home. We become accustomed to a certain lifestyle when we work hard and follow our dreams. If you are lucky, you can afford a nice car, clothes that compliment who you are and entertainment that will bring you happiness. But once you reach a certain age and you want to retire, that income diminishes. You may want to continue wearing nice clothes, going to movies, travelling to foreign destinations but if you don’t have the financial freedom those things won’t happen.

It’s amazing to be young and be able to live the life you’ve dreamed of. Work hard, play harder.

I believe both your father and I would say if given the chance for a do-over in life, we’d say that we would have planned better for our retirement. It’s just not something we thought about, we didn’t worry about retirement. But it did creep up and if we hadn’t have made some smart financial decisions previously then dad wouldn’t have had the opportunity to retire at the age of 51. Well, technically he retired from his 9 to 5 job,got himself out of the office life at a nice young age. Thankfully he can still work from home and he has the ability to work on his own. We still have made sacrifices, we are not able to take as many trips as we would like. We don’t have new cars every four years, and we don’t buy “stuff” without thinking twice. It’s all worth it though, with dad being more available we have the opportunity to do all the things we’ve ever wanted. We are truly blessed~ I wouldn’t change it for anything. Well my lovelies, until next time…good night and god bless~

I swear 2020 is going to be a great year, I’m going to make sure of that~

This my friends is one of my New Years resolutions, I want to blog again as much as I can. I want to be more creative, i am actually happier when I’m being creative. I want to get my 100 Things I Want To Teach My Daughter and have it printed into a book. I have been blogging since April 2009, its been 11 years. At the time I started I was 37 years old. My kids were 14 and 11 yrs old. Today they are 23 and 26, a lot changes in 11 years. It seemed much easier back them to come up with ideas and topics. Parenting, marriage, teenagers, grief, special needs parenting. Now, I’m just an old married woman who seems a bit obsolete from giving advice or information on the topics that I once did.

I am a different person, and I’d probably give advice slightly offbeat from who I was those many years ago. Who am I today? I need to figure that out and share it with my space here in blogger world.

What I will share today is how our experience with Airbnb went two summers ago when we rented our cottage for the whole summer. We are huge Airbnb supporters, we prefer to use Airbnb when travelling, except when going to destinations that are meant to be of luxury. It’s not always relaxing if you have to cook your own meals and make your own beds, sometimes its nice to have that stuff taken care of for you! #allinclusisive

So, two summers ago we gave it a try. We turned our little cottage in to an Airbnb and it was the most fun I have had in a very long time. It was a lot of work, i did not hire a cleaning staff because to be honest I didn’t think it was going to be as busy as it was. I had two moments during the summer were I had to clean the whole cottage within 3 hours before the next group of people were scheduled to arrive. The first time it happened it was fine, the people that had just left the cottage were super clean. They probably tidied up too much. The second time it happened I started to cry. I was so overwhelmed. The place was a mess, it was disgusting. I even had to clean the whole fridge, they had some sort of cooking sauce that leaked out into the bottom of the fridge and stuck underneath the crispers. It was awful. They had mud on the screens of the windows, a neighbour informed us that they had water and balloon fights, Normally that would be fine, but at least spray off the mud from the windows and doors. 😦

Those people were also the ones who tried to tell me we had rats running around on the counters while they were playing cards late one night. They had too many visitors as well. We have rules about how many people can stay overnight. I will say I did feel sorry for the lady, she was the only adult with some teenagers and as they were standing around getting ready to leave as I arrived, she was frantically running around trying to collect things and tidy up the bit she could. She clearly had no help from any of them.

After they left, I cried. RATS?? What the hell? I have never seen a rat. What the hell was I going to do now? I have a family coming in with 3 little boys. I called my last renter before the dirty people and asked if they had seen any rats or any droppings from rats and they said no. I calmed down, got to work frantically cleaning the place. Called my husband who then called in a company to come and check for rats, mice, spiders, ants all the things related to cottage life. We now have a company that checks in constantly for mice and other critters. And for the record, the exterminator said there was absolutely NO sign of rats on or in our property.

Considering we rented the cottage for the whole summer, that really was the only issue we had.

One of my favorite memories of renting the cottage was when a mom, her sister and mother along with their 5 combined kids showed up while I was still there. The little boys came squealing out of their car running up onto the porch, so excited to get inside and check out their new accommodations. Those little boys were so appreciative, they gave me hugs and thanked me profusely. Cutest little fellows, that made my heart so happy, Knowing that my cottage was going to be a holiday for these kids, making memories and sharing experiences just made things feel so worth it.

Pretty much every Airbnb we stayed at would leave us some sort of treat or small gift upon arrival. This was another favourite part of mine. I LOVED coming up with personalized gifts for each family/renter. I will share here a couple of my cute little gift ideas:

Our first renters was a small group of friends who wanted to get away together for the long weekend in May. I made them this basket filled with yummy snacks. S’mores for the fire pit and chips, peanuts and popcorn. They loved it, they in return left us the nicest note with a bottle of Canadian Club and a captain hat! How cute is that!!

Well i am going to leave off here, just wanted to start sharing some information on our experience with Airbnb, I’ve got more!! Will share soon.

Until next time, good night and god bless~

Returning to Blogging 2020

Dear friends, readers, fellow bloggers…I am happy to say that I will be returning to blogging this year. I apologize for dropping off and not keeping up with each of you. I promise i will catch up with everyone. I will make the effort to bring back the love I have for blogging. Life has changed, things are not the same around here. It is much more difficult to find topics around family life when your children are grown and living their own lives. All I’ve ever really known is being a mom, being a mom to a medically fragile son who is now an adult. I had a short term being a nurse. Went back to school in my 30’s to challenge myself and change who I was. I worked for about 2 years and then retired that belt due to family life, and some PTSD. So, here I am working in a new kinda field, mostly from home and unable to discuss things due to privacy. What can I write about? It’s going to be difficult, some days might just be like this…me rambling on and on. Nonetheless, I will work at it. I know I will find my niche and come back with some sort of content. SO bare with me friends, I’m looking forward to reading your content. Catching up with you~ Until next time,

Good night and god bless~

Our Ronald MacDonald House Story~

 
 In 1995, I had a car accident that left our 15 month old son paralyzed from the neck down. He was in grave condition for 72 hours, and if he were to have survived this tragedy he would be left a quadriplegic with only movement in his eyes.
We were in the middle of a catastrophic life event, and we were just young parents. Both of us on the verge of starting out in our chosen careers, seeking our own family values and finding our way as new parents.
That day however, our lives changed forever. This post is not about that, this post is dedicated to the support, encouragement and shelter the Ronald MacDonald House provided us initially and then he many years that followed.
These pictures were taken back when Kailey was just one years old (she is 22 today) and Braden (25 yrs old) would have been three. This would have been about 2 years post accident. We were asked to pose for some pictures at the Ronald McDonald House, they were using them in some of the bedrooms as framed pictures. They had chosen to photograph some of the early families that stayed at the Ronald MacDonald House back when it was fairly new to Hamilton.
You can see in the top picture we were in the dining room, Paul and I as well as my parents had spent many hours in that dining room. We have always had Sunday family dinners and thankfully for the most part during our first 4 month stay we continued that tradition. My Uncle Wayne was always wonderful with that, he would come up to the hospital with meals cooked for us…he always made his delicious spagetti. It really was a treat for our family. We had a good meal, time together and managed to continue on with a regular thing in our lives. The bottom left we were in one of the bedroom’s, I remember being so thankful for this place. It was a place were we could retreat, have some quiet time. I had a warm, comfortable bed, a shower and place to rest my weary head and hope to sleep for even a few hours without the worries of the world on my mind. We didn’t spend much time in there, but it was the best place we could have ever been. It just provided a sense of home. It was away from the hospital, away from the bells and whistles…but still close enough to Braden. The bottom right, was in the games room. They had a pool table, ping pong table, tv’s, video games and Foose Ball table. Paul and my dad use to have tournaments all the time, it was so great for them to be able to blow off some stream and stress and have some fun. They managed to still bond together and when some people came to visit we could sign them into the Ronald McDonald house and bring them to the games room to have some fun. 
In all honesty, the Ronald McDonald House was a life saver. I don’t know what Paul and I would have done without this place. Every night we would tuck Braden into bed…usually we’d get out by 11:30pm..on a good night. We’d go for a drive around Hamilton, just to settle down and unwind..we’d talk, this was usually when we would discuss our new life, try to understand and comprehend all the new changes. There was a restaurant down the road from MacMaster Hospital and some nights we’d head down there and share some wings..they were the best wings ever. I remember sitting in that restaurant, watching other people in there laughing and joking, smiling, snuggling and talking about their jobs, their kids..their lives. It was painful, I hated it. I hated that they were so happy…and we were not. I envied them, I was so jealous that they could laugh, and enjoy the time they were having. NOT us, we were sad.
I remember Paul would try so hard to keep things positive. He worked so hard to get me to smile, even though I was unbelievable sad sitting in that restaurant booth, realizing that not one person knew our son was sleeping still in a hospital bed on life support…those moments were some of the hardest. I was 23 years old, we didn’t deserve this much sadness.

It was not easy leaving Braden during this time. We never left him at night if he had had a bad day. We only left his bedside when we knew he was fine and sleeping well. Although leaving him was the hardest thing we did, everyone in our life was telling us to leave and spend time with one another. I do believe to this day, that those nights we had alone, to ourselves help save our marriage. We managed during the hardest times in our life to stay connected.

Some nights Paul and I would drive to the highest peak of the Hamilton mountain just so I could get out of the car, stand tall and pray for strength. It would be as late as 1am. I would stand there…car pulled over to the side of the road, Paul sitting on the front of this car and I would walk to the edge of the mountain, look to the stars and wonder…”Is he there?” “Is God listening to me?”…I am as high up as possible, can you hear my prayers. 
We’d get back in the car, and sometimes I would scream, cry…beg for a miracle. Then i’d tire..which I am sure was Paul’s favorite time of the day…and we’d head back to the Ronald McDonald House and off to bed we would go. Thankfully we had that bed…cause as years followed and Braden got older, we didn’t leave him often and poor Paul was stuck with night shift. Many years spent in a chair at the side of his hospital bed while Braden fought once again for his life. 
When these pictures were taken, Braden was healthy..it was a good visit. I believe we only had Kailey stay at the house with us one time and maybe only for a week. Sometimes during long hospital stays I would miss her trememdously. I wanted her to be with us, it wasn’t really a place for her. So we didn’t keep her there long…she always went with Nana and Papa. 
We were very fortunate to have that room, it was comforting to know that others that were staying in the house with us were going through the same kind of thing. I will never forget that place, I can say it really was a foundation for us, and escape…a place to lay, a place to pray~
Until tomorrow my friends, good night and god bless~

Easter 2019~

I know this is late, and I m so sorry that I’ve been a ghost. Life has been so very busy and I just haven’t gotten around to connecting. How was your Easter? We had a lovely one. The Martz family had their dinner on Good Friday, unfortunately i was not well. But thankfully I had prepared my portion of the meal before I felt sick. This meal it was my turn to make devilled eggs, and cooked ham. Easy! I wanted to try something a bit different with the devilled eggs, so i dyed them once they were cooked. I made some pretty pastel eggs. According to Paul they were a big hit, so that made me happy.

On Sunday we had our Easter dinner with my family. It’s a small group but we always have a great time. Lots of laughs, conversations, food, treats and love. Each year I try to come up with a new table setting idea, and this year I managed this one.

Cute little bunny bums digging in our flower pots. Each one had a name tag so we knew where to sit around the table. I always have so much fun with table setting.

For dessert this year I made a carrot cake. It was a recipe from a neighbour who shared it many years ago. It’s actually my favourite carrot cake recipe, its easy to make but tastes soooo good!

I want to share with you this recipe, it really is worth trying~

1 1/4 cups of oil

2 cups of white sugar

4 eggs well beaten

2 cups of flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking Soda

3 tsp cinnamon

3 cups of grated carrots

Mix oil and sugar together, add beaten eggs. Add flour, salt, baking Soda and cinnamon. Blend in carrots. Bake at 350 degrees in greased pan for 30 mins. Until done.

Cream Cheese Icing~

8 oz cream cheese

4 tblsp of butter

2 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups of icing sugar

Mix together with electric mixer till smooth.

I hope you give this recipe a chance. I know you’ll love it!

I hope you all had a lovely Easter, we had a wonderful one! Until next time my lovelies good night and god bless~

The next time you want to take me away from my job, feel free to fill in where needed~

Living with a C2 Spinal Cord Injury. Lately I just feel the need to share what life is like with those who are living with or who may be caring for someone with a Cervical Spinal Cord Injury. 
When my accident first occurred 20 years ago and Braden was injured, I remember a minister coming up to visit Paul, Braden & I. The minister who married Paul and I actually became a wonderful support to us and would come to the hospital just to pray with us. I need that, at times that was all I needed. Anyways I can recall during one visit him saying too me, “Well you’re gonna have to care for him regardless for the next 5 years, its just going to be in a different way now”. He nailed it, although it was only a statement probably one he had planned to say to me. It really changed the way  I looked at becoming a caregiver to a C2 Quadriplegic child. 
I was mommy first, and love always prevailed over any god given situation that may have landed on our laps. Whether it be pneumonia, lung collapse or even just a common cold. Something that would have required a simple cough syrup or decongestor in a healthy child would continue on into full blown ICU visit. Complete with life support, IV antibiotics and chest physiotherapy with postural drainage and suction. 
I was always a mommy, endless snuggles, kisses and hugs but when treatment was needed the therapist came out. 
Parenting a child with C2 Spinal Cord Injury was certainly challenging but like that minister said, I would be parenting him regardless. Even though we were given extra duties during his childhood being a mommy was always first.

Let me tell you how things have changed being a caregiver to an adult (child) with a C2 Spinal Cord Injury.
Most days I’m a caregiver first, and a mom second. (In my heart, I’m always mom)

When he became an adult so much changed. It wasn’t about fighting pneumonia any more, or just focusing on physiotherapy it became about many other things. 
Much more scarier things.

Let’s take a look at the things those with Spinal Cord Injuries need to be aware of…

Autonomic dysreflexia. This scares me too death, potentially life-threatening medical emergency that affects people with spinal cord injuries at the T6 level or higher. For most people, AD can be easily treated as well as prevented. The key is knowing your baseline blood pressure, triggers and symptoms.
Autonomic dysreflexia requires quick and correct action. AD can lead to stroke. Because many health professionals are not familiar with this condition, it is important for people who are at risk for AD, including the people close to them, to know all about it. It is important for at-risk people to know their baseline blood pressure values and to be able to communicate to healthcare providers how to identify potential causes as well as manage an AD emergency. 
Unfortunately this condition can come on very quickly, so consistent supervision is necessary.

Some of the signs of AD include high blood pressure, pounding headache, flushed face, sweating above the level of injury, goose flesh below the level of injury, nasal stuffiness, nausea and a slow pulse (slower than 60 beats per minute). Symptoms vary by individual; learn yours.

Considering the severity of this condition may I stress very loudly this is one reason why I am available to Braden at all times. 
When you have to live like this or with someone who may be threatened by this condition then maybe you won’t be so quick to judge where my time is placed.

Here’s how an unaffected bladder works: 
Urine, the excess water and salts that are extracted from the bloodstream by the kidneys, is piped down thin tubes called ureters, which normally allow urine to flow only in one direction. The ureters connect to the bladder, which is basically a storage bag that does not like pressure. When the bag is full, pressure rises and nerves send a message via the spinal cord to the brain. When one is ready to empty the bladder, the brain sends a message back down the spinal cord to the bladder, telling the detrusor muscle (the bladder wall) to squeeze and the sphincter muscle (a valve around the top of the urethra) to relax and open. Urine then passes down the urethra to exit the body. 
It is a rather elegant process of muscle coordination just to go pee.
After paralysis, however, the body’s normal system of control goes haywire; messages can no longer pass between the bladder muscles and the brain. This leads to high bladder pressures, incontinence, incomplete emptying, and reflux — along with recurrent bladder infections, stones, hydronephrosis (kidney distention), 
Most people with a Spinal Cord Injury use indwelling catheters which allows the person to empty their bladder. However with Braden having an incomplete spinal cord injury at a C2 level, he does have feeling when needed to go to the bathroom. He does however have some residual effects leaving him with some urinary problems. 
Due to his lack of physical ability to toilet himself, he does use outer catheters that are not invasive. This catheter is connected to a 900ml leg back. Yes this makes life easier for us, it is still very important to stay available to Braden at all times due to needing to empty is leg bag. You see, if he doesn’t get the leg bagged drained when full, then he can get himself into some serious medical problems one being Autonomic Dysreflexia. If the urinary bag is full and he is needing to empty his bladder again, where is the urine going to go? He will get backed up and the pressures from not being able to empty his bladder will cause severe pain and discomfort. 
Again, for this reason my job is too remain close and available to him at all times. Until we have fulltime assistance for him, this will remain my job. IF by chance you want time with me, by all means find someone to cover my job. Then please pay them according to the pay scale of PSW’s or RPN’s. Thank you for your help!~

Bowel accidents happen. 
Those living with Spinal Cord Injuries sadly have bowel problems that can effect their whole day.
The best way to prevent them is to follow a schedule, to teach the bowel when to have a movement. Most people perform their bowel program at a time of day that fits with their lifestyle. The program usually begins with insertion of either a suppository or a mini-enema, followed by a waiting period of approximately 15–20 minutes to allow the stimulant to work. After the waiting period, digital stimulation is performed every 10–15 minutes until the rectum is empty. Those with a flaccid bowel frequently start their programs with digital stimulation or manual removal. Bowel programs typically require 30–60 minutes to complete. Preferably, a bowel program can be done on the commode. Two hours of sitting tolerance is usually sufficient. 
But those at high risk for skin breakdown need to weigh the value of bowel care in a seated position, versus a side-lying position in bed.
Constipation is a problem for many people with neuromuscular-related paralysis. Anything that changes the speed with which foods move through the large intestine interferes with the absorption of water and causes problems. 
For almost 20 years we were fortunate that Braden had the ability to feel when needing to have a bowel movement. However over the course of those 20 years consistent constipation took a toll on Braden and he did end up with some very serious health problems.
When we were dealing with bathroom routines, it was something that would take up too two days for him. We lived some VERY challenging years, where bowel movements became the biggest stressor in our family life. Braden actually almost lost his life eventually from poor bowel conditions. We in Cambridge DO NOT have the proper medical professionals to deal with a person who has a C2 Spinal Cord Injury. This left him vulnerable to the system and Paul and I lost and confused.
We had a very scary moment in life a few years back, Braden did almost die. He came through surgery with a colostomy. Initially they were going to reverse it, once he healed from the surgery and all the damage done by years of constipation. It didn’t take long to realize the how much easier life was about to get with this new appliance added to Braden’s body. It was a blessing in disguise. 

Deep Vein Thrombosis
People with spinal cord injury (SCI) are at particular risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) during their acute hospital course. Deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body, most often in the lower leg or thigh. This can result in a life- threatening danger if the clot breaks loose from the leg vein and finds its way to the lung, causing a pulmonary embolism. 
Someone who may be sitting all day as well has an increased chance of DVT. Its important for those living with SCI to have continued therapies to decrease that risk. Many times throughout the day range of motion should be done to help increase blood flow, circulation, prevention of pressure ulcers and to relieve muscle tightness or spasticity. 
This is my job and I do need to be available to him when he feels sore or tight. Range of motion is done periodically throughout the day. He has always had that done, even during the school years. I had someone hired to attend school with him so he could have continued therapy throughout the day. 
Again this today is my job, and very much a part of my daily duties. SO if you are wanting my time away from my job please feel free to send someone in who can fill that job requirement and don’t forget a private kinesiology therapist charges anywhere between 35-50.00/hr. If you don’t mind paying for that too, again Thanks~

Depression is common among people who are paralyzed, but it’s not normal — becoming discouraged, grief-stricken or sad is normal, but depression represents a condition that is a health problem unto itself. Most forms of depression, however, can be treated.
Depression also affects health and wellness: People with a disability who are depressed may not look after themselves properly.  They may not drink enough water, take care of their skin, manage their diet. It affects one’s social world sometimes friends and families are tuned out.
Thoughts of suicide often occur when things look most hopeless. In spinal cord injury, risk is highest in the first five years after the injury.

Many factors contribute to depression. These may include the effects of disability — pain, fatigue, changes in body image, shame, and loss of independence. 

So again the next time you want to pull me from my day please make sure its not on a bad day. Just because we choose to show our happy selves to the world doesn’t mean it comes easy. If I am away from my job on a down day, how am I being available and helpful to my loved one? 
Remember that please!
You will also never be given a reason or rhyme as too why I cannot leave my place of work, “why” you may ask?…because its none of you business. I have protected his/our privacy for 20 years doing the best I can to give him his right to peace. If there is something you need to know then we will tell you, if not don’t question anyone living this life. Just trust there is always a good enough reason.

Exercise 
Once again this is the most important part of anyone living with a SCI daily/weekly routine. There’s this thing we do everyday and I believe most people living with spinal cord injuries follow the same routine. Exercise and physiotherapy has always been and always will be as a mom my most important activity for Braden. Daily…if I had my choice I would have him working each day for at least an hour on physical rehab. When he was young it was a lot easier, it was just part of his daily routine and he didn’t know anything different. When he became an adult his views on therapy changed, I will never stop pushing him to do more. 

Every morning we do range of motion (stretching his limps to loosen the muscles), and if through the day he has any kind of pain we again go to the mattresses and do some stretches. Its important, to me the most important. 

There are SO many elements to caring for someone who has a spinal cord injury. You need to remember they have an injury. When someone is born with a physical disability their body is already formed to suit the needs of their challenges. NOT that it makes It any easier, and it certainly doesn’t mean their needs are different. I am not taking away from anyone who has/is suffering from a physical disability. All I am saying is that when a person has a C2 Spinal Injury, its a life long goal to rehabilitate as much as you can. Especially with a level as high as a Cervical 2, that kind of injury is catastrophic. It effects your whole body, and every system in it.

Eating well is even more essential for persons who are paralyzed. Because of changes that occur to the body after trauma or disease, it’s more important than ever to understand the role nutrition plays in maintaining health.
After a spinal cord injury, most people lose some weight. The injury puts stress on the body as it uses its energy and nutrients to repair itself.
 Stress ramps up the metabolic rate; the body burns calories faster. Moreover, many newly injured people are not able to eat a regular diet. As muscles atrophy, the weight loss continues — for about a month. Later, the problem isn’t too few pounds, it’s too many. People living with SCI are more prone to inactivity, and thus don’t burn calories. That’s the pathway to obesity.
My experience with nutrition is a bit different as Braden was only a baby at the time of his injury. He was put on a high caloric diet once his trach was removed. We left the hospital with strict guidelines to “fatten” him up any way we could. We remember being in ICU with Braden, and he wasn’t taking in enough calories. This was actually one of the most difficult parts of our journey. Once he was injured, with is injury being so high he lost his will to thrive.
You can not force feed anyone, not alone a 2 year old who is fighting for Autonomy from his mommy. Fighting to be independent yet not able to do anything on his own, we had geared up for a small war every single time we sat down to eat a meal. 
I laugh when I hear parents talking about their children’s diets, how they are not letting their kids eat fast food, things like MacDonalds. Let me tell you when your child is trying to survive lying in an ICU hospital room and they refuse to eat the hospital food. It’s amazing how quickly you’ll run to grab a cheeseburger happy meal inorder for you medically fragile child to reach his calorie count for the day. 
Still today one of my biggest parenting/caregiving challenges is making sure he continues to hit his calorie intake. He is grown up enough to worry about this himself, and he does take nutrition very seriously. He is actually really good at watching his weight and trying new things to help with his calories. But he still doesn’t have the will to thrive. SO that can be difficult.

Chronic Pain
Pain is a signal triggered in the nervous system to alert us to possible injury. Acute pain, the result of sudden trauma, has a purpose. This kind of pain can usually be diagnosed and treated so the discomfort is managed and confined to a given period of time. Chronic pain, though, is much more confounding. It is the kind of alarm that doesn’t go away and is resistant to most medical treatments. 
Pain is a complicated process that involves an intricate interplay between a number of important chemicals found naturally in the brain and spinal cord. These chemicals, called neurotransmitters, transmit nerve impulses from one cell to another.
There is a critical lack of the essential inhibitory neurotransmitters in the injured spinal cord. This may “disinhibit” spinal neurons that are responsible for pain sensations, causing them to fire more than normal. This disinhibition is believed to be the root of spasticity, too. 
Following injury, the nervous system undergoes a tremendous reorganization. The dramatic changes that occur with injury and persistent pain underscore that chronic pain should be considered a disease of the nervous system, not just prolonged acute pain or a symptom of an injury. 
Repositioning and sometimes cold/heat therapy treatment is needed throughout the day for pain. So there again, really…if I need to explain how leaving during the day could effect his day and his health or even comfort than you’re not that bright~

Respiratory

As we breathe, air is brought into the lungs and into close contact with tiny blood vessels that absorb oxygen and transport it to all parts of the body. At the same time, the blood releases carbon dioxide, which is carried out of the lungs with exhaled air.
Lungs themselves are not affected by paralysis, but the muscles of the chest, abdomen and diaphragm can be. As the various breathing muscles contract, they allow the lungs to expand, which changes the pressure inside the chest so that air rushes into the lungs.
This has by far been the biggest struggle in our lives and in his recovery. His lung health has been the most work, the largest triumphs and the hardest thing to over come. His lung care has taken the most amount of our time, and still continues to dictate pretty much the kind of day he is going to have. We take his lung health the most serious, and is always forever on the forefront of life. Braden does have paralyzed diaphragm that is probably his biggest disability. If he could breath better I know his recovery would have been even better. 
This area of life has taken up most of our time, and it continues to add stress, fear and uncertainty to our life.
I recommend you do not come at me when we are having a bad breathing day, I dare you too. You will see a side of me that you never knew ever existed, and I can say with complete confidence no one has had to witness that. Maybe my immediate family has, but not one friend or outside family has had to defend themselves from the lash they’d get. SO again, the next time you want to take me from my job, you better have a registered Respiratory Therapist on stand by. Cause you sure as shit are not qualified or even capable to take on that responsibility. 

Sepsis is a life threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to an infection injures its own tissues and organs. Sepsis leads to shock, multiple organ failure and death — especially if not recognized early and treated promptly. In individuals with paralysis/spinal cord injury, an infection might begin as a urinary tract (bladder) infection, pneumonia, or as a wound, pressure ulcer or other infection. If the infection is not controlled locally, it can spread throughout the body. Sepsis is then diagnosed. Septic shock is severe sepsis with a drop in blood pressure leading to organ failure. Both sepsis and septic shock are life threatening. Sometimes sepsis is called blood poisoning or systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS)
Lets go back to you taking me from my day, do you have any idea how many times this past 20 years we have been threatened with a pressure ulcer that could potentially fatal. NO you don’t you want to know why? Because its none of your business, we don’t need to share every single battle or illness he has fought. We have been very careful to respect his privacy, but with that said for one minute don’t you think something like this doesn’t have a profound effect on our lives.

Skin Care

People with paralysis are at high risk of developing skin problems. Limited mobilitycoupled with impaired sensation can lead to pressure sores or ulcers, which can be a devastating complication.
The skin, the largest organ system in the body, is tough and pliable. 
It protects the underlying cells against air, water, foreign substances and bacteria. It is sensitive to injury and has remarkable self-repair capabilities. But skin just can’t take prolonged pressure. Unrelieved pressure on the skin squeezes tiny blood vessels, which supply the skin with nutrients and oxygen. What’s your thoughts on that? You think its a great idea to be away from my job hours on end, especially when he is sitting in a position that’s causing him pain and discomfort?
Once again its most  important to be available all hours of the day. When someone has a C2 Spinal Cord Injury anything can pose a problem. They are not capable in most situations to correct the situation they are in. REMEMBER??? Paralyzed from the neck down???

Why does it seem that some people think just because I am home during the day with Braden that I am available to come and go as I please? I decided to share this post with you because my feathers have been ruffled and I am just not sure what more I can say to make it completely clear. I am NOT available to leave as easily as some of you are. Making plans for me during the day is NOT easy, having to cancel due to any of those above issues is quite common. So unless you plan on having someone who is qualified to come into my home and take over my job, then don’t even think to put any expectation on me. 
I am not sure why people don’t understand that my day job is an attendant care. I am being paid to be available to ALL his needs. There is NO difference between me doing this job or if we were to bring in a private attendant care. TO them it would be a full time job that they can not leave because they need too. To them it would be considered a full time job and everyone around them would respect that. Just because I don’t need to leave my home to do THAT job, doesn’t mean its any less of a position that needs to be filled.
Not only is there care demands, lets not forget he has a life that he lives too. Complete with his own jobs, volunteer hours, medical appts., friends, social life, therapy appt. the list goes on and on. Then there is the house duties, laundry, cooking, cleaning…helping with absolutely anything that requires a two handed task. 
Now I don’t want to come off sounding like he isn’t capable of independence. He is one of the best self-directed care people you’ll ever meet. He will someday be completely independent from me. Its a choice that I am still doing this job, and when you think its ok to pull me from it I have to fill that void with an outside employee. I then have to pay that person out of my cheque. MY money….how is that fair? Do you employ someone outside of your job to come in and work for you, then take the money out of your very  own cheque to pay them? Let’s not forget leading up to them working for you…there has to be a training session. That costs too…
We have 4 years until I plan on retiring from this job. We are doing our very best to make it work for all of us. 
The reason I say I am more of a caregiver today while working with Braden is because he is an adult. I have to respect his choices. I may not agree or like some of his demands or choices with his care or life, but as a caregiver I need to listen and offer advice when asked. If I throw my mom hat on during some of his care routines, and try to trump him as a mom….he kicks my ass out that door pretty friggin quickly. I have learned that if it wasn’t me in there getting him up in the mornings and being available to his daily needs, it would be someone else. If that person were to speak out against him or his ideas in a negative way…they’d lose their job. 
It is one of the hardest things for a mother to do, and to be honest I am looking forward to the day I can be just mom. When I am not working in such close proximity of him and we can have a mother/son relationship. 
This post my friends is not to be taken in ignorant way, I mean no harm to my family and friends. I just know that many of you do not understand what my life entitles so I wanted to share a glimpse. I am open to discussing anything you may take away from this, I would be more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have~
To my family thank you for all you have done over the years to help Paul and I in our times of need. To my friends, thank you for the things you’ve done and shared in on our journey. 
Until tomorrow my lovelies good night and god bless~ xo

People with paralysis are at high risk of developing skin problems. Limited mobilitycoupled with impaired sensation can lead to pressure sores or ulcers, which can be a devastating complication.
The skin, the largest organ system in the body, is tough and pliable. 
It protects the underlying cells against air, water, foreign substances and bacteria. It is sensitive to injury and has remarkable self-repair capabilities. But skin just can’t take prolonged pressure. Unrelieved pressure on the skin squeezes tiny blood vessels, which supply the skin with nutrients and oxygen. What’s your thoughts on that? You think its a great idea to be away from my job hours on end, especially when he is sitting in a position that’s causing him pain and discomfort?
Once again its most  important to be available all hours of the day. When someone has a C2 Spinal Cord Injury anything can pose a problem. They are not capable in most situations to correct the situation they are in. REMEMBER??? Paralyzed from the neck down???

Why does it seem that some people think just because I am home during the day with Braden that I am available to come and go as I please? I decided to share this post with you because my feathers have been ruffled and I am just not sure what more I can say to make it completely clear. I am NOT available to leave as easily as some of you are. Making plans for me during the day is NOT easy, having to cancel due to any of those above issues is quite common. So unless you plan on having someone who is qualified to come into my home and take over my job, then don’t even think to put any expectation on me. 
I am not sure why people don’t understand that my day job is an attendant care. I am being paid to be available to ALL his needs. There is NO difference between me doing this job or if we were to bring in a private attendant care. TO them it would be a full time job that they can not leave because they need too. To them it would be considered a full time job and everyone around them would respect that. Just because I don’t need to leave my home to do THAT job, doesn’t mean its any less of a position that needs to be filled.
Not only is there care demands, lets not forget he has a life that he lives too. Complete with his own jobs, volunteer hours, medical appts., friends, social life, therapy appt. the list goes on and on. Then there is the house duties, laundry, cooking, cleaning…helping with absolutely anything that requires a two handed task. 
Now I don’t want to come off sounding like he isn’t capable of independence. He is one of the best self-directed care people you’ll ever meet. He will someday be completely independent from me. Its a choice that I am still doing this job, and when you think its ok to pull me from it I have to fill that void with an outside employee. I then have to pay that person out of my cheque. MY money….how is that fair? Do you employ someone outside of your job to come in and work for you, then take the money out of your very  own cheque to pay them? Let’s not forget leading up to them working for you…there has to be a training session. That costs too…
We have 4 years until I plan on retiring from this job. We are doing our very best to make it work for all of us. 
The reason I say I am more of a caregiver today while working with Braden is because he is an adult. I have to respect his choices. I may not agree or like some of his demands or choices with his care or life, but as a caregiver I need to listen and offer advice when asked. If I throw my mom hat on during some of his care routines, and try to trump him as a mom….he kicks my ass out that door pretty friggin quickly. I have learned that if it wasn’t me in there getting him up in the mornings and being available to his daily needs, it would be someone else. If that person were to speak out against him or his ideas in a negative way…they’d lose their job. 
It is one of the hardest things for a mother to do, and to be honest I am looking forward to the day I can be just mom. When I am not working in such close proximity of him and we can have a mother/son relationship. 
This post my friends is not to be taken in ignorant way, I mean no harm to my family and friends. I just know that many of you do not understand what my life entitles so I wanted to share a glimpse. I am open to discussing anything you may take away from this, I would be more than happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have~
To my family thank you for all you have done over the years to help Paul and I in our times of need. To my friends, thank you for the things you’ve done and shared in on our journey. 
Until tomorrow my lovelies good night and god bless~ xo