I Wish I’d Never Met You

THANK YOU

First of all a HUGE shout out of THANKS to Deirdre + all the “spinners” at PURE FITNESS yesterday!!! What an awesome fundraiser with truly special, loving & generous people.

“FAMILY MEETING”

On November 15th we were all invited to a “family meeting” at Lyndhurst in the morning. We weren’t told very much – other than it would be an opportunity to have all of Tracy’s medical and therapy “team” around the table in one room. Lynn, Mom, Dad, Robert, myself & Tracy of course – all cleared our calendars and prepared our questions and notes for the big day.

Finally, we would have an opportunity to discuss the many questions, challenges and struggles in a mediated and managed forum with professionals giving us input and collaborating on the solutions. Sounds great, doesn’t it?? HA!! Well, what actually happened was not what we had anticipated – what actually happened was a very formal and rigid – 30 minutes – of each professional around the table stating the facts about Tracy’s entrée to Lyndhurst and their prognosis relative to their line of work.  There was physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work, psychology, nursing, recreational therapy, Dr. “B”and Dr. Judy. Dr B lead the meeting and it was at a fast pace. There wasn’t much time for questions or interactions as it was made very clear that there was another family coming in at exactly the 30 minute mark!!

It was a whirlwind – disappointing to say the least. We felt ripped off. My poor mother just wanted to say something at the end and was cut off as she sobbed an incredibly heartfelt “thank you.” The real goal of the meeting wasn’t for “us” but for them to give us “the date” – of Tracy’s discharge. The actual purpose seemed to be for them to check all the proper bureaucratic “boxes,” and communicate the date that we should be ready to assume Tracy’s care!

DR. LEO DA COSTA

On Tuesday November 22nd Tracy had an appointment with Dr. Dacosta at Sunnybrook Hospital. He is the neurosurgeon who operated on Tracy’s neck and spine the day after her accident – the person responsible for “putting Humpty back together again.”

I volunteered to go with Tracy to Sunnybrook to meet with Dr. D, because I knew she wanted to start at the beginning. She wanted to see all the scans and xrays that we had seen pre-op, post-op and now. She was on a mission to educate herself on her spinal injury. To gain some understanding and figure out why she’s favouring her left side? Was her head on an angle because of the surgery? Would another operation fix it? What was the deal? We finished getting her ready to go that morning and got into the Dignity ‘van’.

We first went to the Xray clinic because they wanted to take another xray of her neck  After that we made our way to Dr. Dacosta’s office – which by the way has two sets of doors WITHOUT handicapped buttons or automatic door openers!?? Huh? He called us into his cramped quarters and gave us his FULL attention. He listened, replied and interacted with Tracy with admiration. I could tell he was amazed, maybe even in awe of her. He shared the details about the hardware holding Tracy’s neck together.

There are 8 screws/bolts – 4 on each side of the front of her neck with a bar going horizontally across the middle section. On the back there is a plate going vertically holding the graft from her hip in place between the vertebrae. He went on to explain just how badly torn and ripped apart her muscles and tendons in her neck had been, and how difficult it was to put her back together again. He seemed to marvel at the fact that she is breathing on her own. It became clear that he did not want to operate again. The risks are way too high. She would need to focus and work through the pain in her neck and start building up strength in her right side. He reminded her that she’d been lying in a hospital bed for the past 2 months and even an able-bodied person would need time to rejuvenate the muscles and work to gain strength. She should be patient.

She was unbelievable during this appointment. Just before we got up to leave, she said “thank you for saving my life,”  to which he replied “I wish I’d never met you.”

DECISIONS

Where to live? Sell, buy, renovate, build… stay or go? So many questions and so many decisions. Have you ever thought about the considerations and accommodations needed for a wheelchair? And then, take that one step further and think about the added accommodations or technology needed for someone in a wheelchair who cannot use their arms or hands? Imagine the myriad of simple tasks that become overwhelming feats. And then layer that with 3 young boys who want and need mothering, nurturing, discipline and care…Now add that to the mix!! I know in my heart that we will work through all of this and find the solution, and Tracy will continue to amaze and inspire us all.

GIFTS

Christmas is fast approaching – the stores, TV, magazines, radio, and advertisements are all telling us to shop, buy and spend on “gifts.” This Christmas has taken on new meaning for our family. I definitely don’t have the same motivation to buy “things.” I seem to be questioning what it’s all about. Is it really about the “stuff?”  If you knew you could ask for any gift this Christmas – anything you wanted, what would it be? My response today would be much different than it would have been in Christmases past. Today if you asked me that same question…. I promise I wouldn’t be greedy and ask for Tracy to be able walk, or to rewind the clock and take away her injuries. I would say “please God give Tracy strength, courage, peace and hope” …I might say “please let her have some movement in her hands, or her arms” … “please let her find happiness and purpose again.” Those are some of the “gifts” I might ask for today. This Christmas celebrate the “gifts” we all take for granted every day.

Les

Hoopla

Media Attention

CBC, CTV, Global, Rick Hansen, NewsTALK 1010’s Mike Bullard have all interviewed, videotaped, photographed and spent time with Tracy over the past few weeks. The Globe and Mail, Canada’s National Newspaper, even put her on the front page as part of a major report on catastrophic injuries. She has become an awesome spokesperson and advocate for those living with spinal cord injuries. She enjoys the limelight, thrives on the attention and rises to the occasion each time. It is what has fuelled her each day. It has given her a reason to have her hair blow dried and her make up applied. It keeps her mind occupied and off of the pain, the paralysis, the prognosis and the future.

So, what happens when all the “hoopla” dies down. Where will her thoughts go when the lights, the cameras and the reporters go away? What “stage” of grieving is she really in? Could it be denial? We talk of her strength, her spirit and her being inspirational. But are we – her family – also in denial? Are we fooling ourselves?

September 4th to November 13 – 70 days, 2 and a half months, 10 weeks – that’s all it’s been since she had her accident. Is that enough time to process that for the rest of her life she will be confined to a wheelchair? Is it enough time to understand how dependant she will be forever more on others for everything. Can she really have grasped the notion of her “new normal”? And how will she cope if or when she does? Or am I wrong, and she’s already moved past this? I do hope that’s the case.

There’s always Hope

There are many people we’ve met since this happened, some who have been injured or paralyzed themselves, some who practice in the field of SCI patients, and others who are related to, or know someone with paralysis – but one common thread in the conversation is you’ve gotta have HOPE! It’s the “Secret” – that life is a self fulfilling prophecy. If you believe and put your mind into a positive space you will achieve your goals. The doctors are not always right and have often been proven wrong by tenacious, strong minded, determined patients who overcome the odds and can now use their arms, use their hands or even walk!! We have hope for Tracy and I know she has the drive to prove all the textbooks wrong!

Gratitude

I realized that I have not said THANK YOU in my recent posts. I want you all to know how incredibly grateful we are for the generosity and compassion of everyone around us – friends, family and strangers. We can’t thank you enough for your: donations, your visits with Tracy, your support, your prayers, your notes, your calls, your willingness to pitch in and your caring. It is this positive energy that helps us all to keep going. We could NOT do it without you! Words don’t seem to express our enormous feelings of gratitude and appreciation. God Bless

Lynn

I want to send a shout out to my sister Lynn Pang. The oldest of the Dort girls. Lynn has moved to Toronto from St. Louis, given up her life to become the main caregiver for Tracy’s three boys. She has been cooking (so good!), caring, driving, nurturing, nursing and loving Tracy’s boys since the accident. She helps with homework, meets with teachers, organizes activities and plans ahead for all things kid- related. She has become their advocate and their protector. I don’t know what we’d do without her selflessness.Thank you Lynn! xo

Robert

I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention how much my wonderful husband – Robert Lendvai - has done to help Tracy. He’s the marketing genius/social media expert behind this website and her Twitter profile. He’s the one who set up the online donation mechanism, he’s become the finance manager, the car salesman, the PR/Media Manager, the go-to for all things fundraising. He has lifted me up on the bad days and cheered me on, on the good days. He’s always thinking about how he can help and what’s next on the list. I can’t thank him enough! How lucky I am. xo

– Tomorrow is a new day –

les :-)

 

Not Just Any Friday

Extreme Fitness Fundraiser for Tracy at The Dunfield Club

9 30 AM – On Friday morning Extreme Fitness hosted three separate classes (step, sculpt and spin) all in honour of Tracy. Tracy has been a group exercise teacher at their Dunfield Club location since 1994, back when it was a Sports Club. When I arrived at the Dunfield, I walked into the main entrance. As I approached the front desk to introduce myself to the receptionist, I could feel an energy in the building that sent a wave of emotion through my body. This was a place that Tracy frequented – to teach, to work out, to visit, to share, to motivate, to recharge…  I had been there with her as a guest several times. Those memories flooded my mind as I tearfully explained to the young girl at the front desk that I was Tracy’s sister. It would never be the same.

I had the privilege of addressing each class to say thank you and in each room I could feel a sense of warmth and compassion. I decided to take part in Shellie’s step class and part way into the class, Jacqueline from Extreme Fitness came into the class to say that one person had come to the club and presented a $5,000 cheque for Tracy! Words are not able to capture the awesome feelings of gratitude. It’s a morning I will never forget.

CTV News with Pauline Chan

CTV News Story about Tracy Dort-Kyne11 15 AM – Pauline Chan and her camera man interviewed me at The Dunfield Club and then they followed me over to Lyndhurst to speak with Tracy. She spent time chatting with Pauline about her spinal cord injury, how it happened,  and how she is coping. She talked about how through her own fitness, she had learned to set goals for herself and how that discipline was now helping her. They then followed her into physio and rehab to see what it’s like for a “day in the life” of Tracy. You can watch Pauline’s story about Tracy here.

News Talk 1010 with Mike Bullard

At 12 46 PM after a quick bite, Tracy borrowed Robert’s iPhone and went “live” on the radio with comedian and NewsTalk 1010 host Mike Bullard. Mike’s amazing producer Jordan Whelan was a regular participant in Tracy’s group fitness classes at the Dunfield, and he took the initiative to get Mike involved to help raise awareness for Tracy.  She did a great job in her radio début! You can listen to the Podcast of her interview here. More on Mike’s incredible fundraiser for Tracy later.

Meeting the “Man in Motion”

At 4pm we all had the enormous pleasure of having a private meeting with Rick Hansen. Rick is one of the most inspirational people you’ll ever meet and a hero to all Canadians.

Rick was in Toronto as part of his 12,000 kilometer cross-country 25th anniversary tour. He requested a one-on-one meeting for one hour with Tracy – she was the only one he was visiting on Friday. He came to Lyndhurst that day just to meet and chat with Tracy. The next day he was back at Lyndhurst for a medal event with the Mayor and full court press, but Friday was different. He is a down-to-earth gracious, warm man who makes everyone feel at ease. We brought the boys and Abby to meet him and took a couple of photos, along with the CTV cameras. We then all left the room so that Tracy and Rick could chat. And that they did, for over 45 minutes!

Debbie Butt, Rick’s Director of Communications, who is a vibrant, smart and caring woman spent time with us as we waited for Tracy’s convo to end. She shared stories and insights that we will carry with us as we move forward in our journey. Rick is lucky to have Debbie, and vice versa!

Tracy – Still Very Much a Medical Patient 

Friday was a long but rewarding day for Tracy. She moved forward with each appointment like a trooper. She would just ask me “What’s Next?” But at the end of the day, it was very clear that our Tracy is still a medical patient who is fragile and has broken bones with serious medical conditions. After Rick Hansen left, she needed to get into her bed to rest. The not-so-simple process of hoisting her out of the wheelchair and back to bed had to be done gently and slowly as she was having spasms and was in a lot of pain. The adrenaline of the day had clearly worn off.

Upcoming Fundraiser – Thursday November 10th

Mike Bullard fund raiser for Tracy Dort-KyneRobert was giddy with excitement when we learned that has favorite comic, Mike Bullard, had graciously decided to turn his November 10th show at the Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts into a fundraiser for Tracy’s Trust. $5 from every ticket sold will be donated to support the long-term care of Tracy’s spinal injuries. Mike is the host of Beyond the Mic on Toronto’s NEWSTALK 1010, Canada’s top radio talk station. We’re hoping that all of our Toronto friends will join us at Mike’s show.

Our plan is to bring Tracy to the show. It’ll be her first night out since the accident. Please  Click here for ticket info.

Thanks for reading! …say thanks to God next time you stub your toe!

Luv, Les xo

p.s. We just heard that Friday was also “Pyjama Day for Tracy” at Crestwood School. Thank you to all the boys and girls that raised an astonishing $2,000. We’re so very grateful.

Tracy Dort and son Christian

The Best 5 Minutes I’ve Ever Spent with Tracy

Lesley got an email yesterday from Tammy Comish, a friend of Tracy’s. Tammy had just visited The Lyndhurst Centre the same time as Tracy was visiting with her boys. We loved her note and thought we’d share it with you. Christian is the oldest of Tracy’s kids.

 

“I wanted to share a heart warming story that I watched take place between Christian and Tracy.

Christian kept turning on his iPad while he was visiting Tracy yesterday. Tracy was getting frustrated with him, repeatedly telling him to turn it off and talk to her. Then Christian started to play an iPad game with his nose! He wanted to see if it was possible to play the game without hands. He then asked Tracy to try it. Tracy was up for it. She played the game and killed 4 of the bad guys, beating Christians record of 3 bad guys. Christian had a HUGE smile on his face as he watched Tracy play his game!

It was the best 5 minutes, I have ever spent with Tracy. I wish you could have seen it. It makes you realize that there will be happy times to come.”[/box]

I hope you’ll share this post with others via FaceBook or Twitter. We’ve created a special Twitter account for Tracy and you can follow by just clicking on the FOLLOW ME link on the left side of this page. We’re calling her new Twitter handle ” TEAM_TRACY” as the care of Tracy and her kids truly is a team effort of family and friends.

Also, let us know how you felt after reading this post….we all love hearing your comments.

It Comes in Waves

Making the Bed

As I was running around this morning going about my morning routine and “jobs,” I was overcome with sadness as I was making my daughter’s bed. It was totally unexpected. How many mornings have I woken up wishing I didn’t have to “make the beds?”  Wouldn’t it be nice to just get up and go about your day without having to make the bed? As I shook out her comforter I had to stop to let myself sob as I realized what a privilege it actually is to make the bed. How lucky I am to be able to shake out the comforter and duvet, smooth out the sheets and fluff up the pillows? Because let’s face it after the bed is made there’s a sense of accomplishment. It’s a fresh start to the day. It sets the tone for the new-ness of what’s to come. A freshly made bed. This is a task that Tracy will never be able to take pride in again as result of her spinal cord injury. It’s seems so mundane and so simple to those of us who are able-bodied, but in that wave of emotion this morning it represented something much more.

Wiping the Counter

As I was putting the dishes in the dishwasher and cleaning up the kitchen this morning, yet another wave hit me as I was wiping the kitchen countertop. I take great pride in a clean countertop. No one in our house can wipe the countertop the way I like it. I always have to re-do it. It needs to be streak free, without any crumbs or tidbits showing. I stand back to look at it to see if there are any spots I may have missed and will often re do it several times until I feel its right. I know, it’s controlling and a bit OCD, but again it gives me great comfort and satisfaction. I feel like once it’s done perfectly I can then go on about my day with a sense of order and accomplishment. But, as I wiped and re-wiped vigorously this morning I sobbed, thinking… how would I cope if I couldn’t wipe my countertop ever again? What would I do? Where would those small moments of accomplishment, order, freshness come from? Having to rely on other people to do everything for you and hopefully they get it right.

Be Grateful for being able to do daily chores!

Dispelling the Myth!

I wrote last night’s blog from a place of extreme anger and frustration, having been questioned about Tracy’s place and the ethics of fundraising. I decided this morning to re-write it, more from a factual place than an angry place. Despite the many stories and rumours, here are the facts.

  1. Cars: We are in the process of selling both of Tracy’s cars. They are both over 5 years or more old and were paid for outright when Tracy was in a better financial position. She was planning to drive them into the ground.
  2. Collingwood: Tracy has never owned a place in Collingwood. She was only ever renting. It was one of favourite places to be with the boys. It was sad to have to give up the rental property after the accident.
  3. House:  Tracy’s house will be going on the market imminently. While Tracy would love to continue living here, it’s just not a good solution giving the changes that would need to be made.
  4. Private School: The younger two boys have gone to Bedford Park Public School now for two years. Christian, the oldest also started out this Fall at Bedford but once Crestwood found out about Tracy’s accident, knowing how it would affect Christian – they immediately offered him a bursary!  Thank you Crestwood! !
  5. Employment: Tracy was not working and therefore does not have benefits, private healthcare insurance or long-term disability. She had been looking for a job for several months, and was planning to get back to her job search once the kids were back in school this Fall. But sadly, things changed…
  6. Ex-husband: As it stands now, Tracy and the children are not able to  rely on him in any way for any kind of support. Sadly, he is indifferent to the fact that the mother of his three children is now a quadriplegic and he actually adds more stress to our family with his shenanigans. He has publicly scorned the fund-raising efforts and created his own blog to try and dissuade people from donating  to Tracy’s Trust Fund.  Donation that ultimately benefit his kids. Who does that?
  7. Tracy’s care once she leaves Lyndhurst: Consider this…Tracy cannot do ANYTHING for herself. She can’t get out of bed, she can’t hold a fork, she can’t go to the bathroom, and trust me when I tell you that if determination alone could will her to do any of these things – she would! While it’s still early days, here’s just a preliminary list of the expenses she faces:
    • 24 hour care (PSWs) (approx $150k+/annually) ,
    • special wheel chair that she can use with subtle head movements or breath (approx 50-100K),
    • House – we need to find or renovate a house for accessibility (with lift for bed/bath, ramps, wireless and speech activated controls) (approx LOTS$$)
    • Physiotherapy and occupational therapy, (??$$)
    • Accessible van ($60k+)
    • 3 kids to look after – a nanny that drives ($40K/annually)
    • Prescription meds for kids
    • Unknowns…there will be many of them…

To those of you who have donated without any hesitation we thank you!  Truly!

Reality Check at Lyndhurst

Tracy’s first week at Lyndhurst started with an amublance ride from Sunnybrook Hospital. It was a dopey drowsy entrance on Monday October 17th,  followed by high fever and a urinary tract infection, mystery meals, introductions to therapists, psychologists, doctors and nurses, a tour, a new daily routine and many more “firsts.”

Among the many things that I want to share with you, the most important of them is the impact that being in a facility geared to spinal cord injured patients has had on Tracy, and all of us. Everywhere you look there are wheelchairs – most of them have people in them, but there are some sitting in hallways, some motorized, some stand-up, some manual, …all kinds of wheelchairs. They are everywhere you look. “It” doesn’t escape you. Everyone of these people has a story to tell. They are all recovering from injuries of various kinds.

But the most poignant of comments from my sweet sister is one that she made today while being interviewed by a very kind reporter from CBC News named Natalie Kalata. In a very powerful conversation she had a tearful moment and said, “all I want to be able to do is to brush my hair out of my eyes, to hug my kids, to feed myself, to be able to use my hands!” What she didn’t say to Natalie but has shared with others this week, is that she is resentful of the “parapeligics.” She has assessed the situation at Lyndhurst and has seen that the majority of patients are paralyzed from the waist down. How lucky they are, right? Interesting that we would think this way, isn’t it? Sadly, it all becomes relative. Relative to not being able to move any part of your body from your neck down. Hands!? Just hands.

The Power of Yoga – Namaste to Moksha Yoga Uptown!

This morning the amazing members like Holly & Kelly, and the staff like Daniel, Paul and Anna at Moksha Yoga Uptown hosted a hot yoga/pilates fundraiser class for Tracy. I have to confess that I wasn’t much feeling up to it, as yesterday when I visited with Tracy we didn’t have the best exchange. She seemed angry and mean, and I was hurt and felt sorry for myself and unappreciated. But I went to the class this morning because I wanted to say Thank You!  What I didn’t expect was the love and compassion that overpowered me while in a VERY hot room with people I barely know. As I went through the motions of the poses and flows, I experienced waves of emotions – sadness, anger, joy, sadness again and in the end an awesome sense of  hope and peace.  The energy of the people in the room today filled me up with the courage and strength to believe and move forward. I left behind the hurt and disappointment.

Stay tuned

Natalie Kalata is a journalist who works for CBC News and learned of Tracy’s accident from her producer Allen. Allen works out at Extreme Fitness Dunfield Club and saw the posters for Tracy’s fundraiser class on November 4th, and realized this was a story that needed to be told. Natalie met me at the Moksha studio this morning and then followed me to Lyndhurst to speak with Tracy. Natalie was patient and compassionate. She is to be commended for her ability to “connect” with Tracy while asking some very tough questions. But reporters are human too, and Tracy’s heartfelt retelling and responses had Natalie immersed in the emotion of the moment.  She paused the camera to wipe away both her tears and Tracy’s. She thanked Tracy and reaffirmed what we all already know. She said “Tracy, your strength and resilience is unbelievable. You are inspiring. Thank you for speaking with me today.” The story will air on CBC news Monday October 24th at 6pm and 11pm. We’ll also post a link to the online story once it goes live on the CBC News website.

Lights, Camera and Action

I too thanked Tracy for allowing me to barge into her room unannounced and ask her to do an interview this morning. You see, I was afraid that she might decline, since we had not prepped her for this and it was last minute. Not Tracy! This the best part of today’s blog. Tracy said to us. “I loved being in front of the camera, tell Natalie to come back and do part two when I’m home for Christmas. In fact, come back anytime as it makes me feel special and important!” Classic Tracy.

Reminders:

1. JOIN US – Group Fitness Fundraiser for Tracy - Dunfield Club – Friday November 4th, 9:30 – 10:30 am Sign up

2. VISIT TRACY wants VISITORS!!  Especially weekends. Click here to sign up

3. WRITE – the old fashioned way – to Tracy. She doesn’t get to read your posts. Send cards, notes and pictures to ATTN: Tracy Kyne, 121 RANLEIGH AVE, TORONTO ON  M4N 1X2

4. GIVE –You can donate online with PayPal or visit any CIBC branch and tell them you’d like to make a donation in Trust for Tracy Dort Kyne to this account: #00002 / 60-47599. You can also write a cheque addressed to Joan Dort (in trust for Tracy Kyne) and mail it to the address above on Ranleigh.

Remember to cherish every breath and every movement! Think of Tracy the next time you brush your hair out of your eyes or away from your face. And please share Tracy’s story by clicking on the Twitter and Facebook buttons below.

Luv, Les

Sharing Tracy Dort-Kyne's Journey After Her Spinal Cord Injury