Life Beyond Sunnybrook

My apologies for not having written sooner. It’s been a busy week. TGIF to everyone! I’m seeing Tracy later this afternoon and will update you on her progress. As many of you have seen – she was wheeled outside yesterday for some fresh air!! yay!!


Tracy’s life as many of you know was not a “Leave it to Beaver” kind of life. And so as we pick up the pieces following her life changing accident, our family is trying to rebuild a new life for her. The challenge is that we all already had full and busy lives.

Lynn lives in St. Louis with her husband Darren who works for the St. Louis Blues as their on-air colour analyst. Their two kids Sammy and Tyler are at University in Missouri, and they have two dogs who Lynn plans to bring back with her after she drives back from St. Louis early October. Lynn was busy volunteering for charities, running their house and taking care of her family.

Lynn has put it all on hold and moved into Tracy’s house to take care of Tracy’s boys and Tracy’s affairs.

Our Mom – Joan lives in Ottawa has also moved into Tracy’s house to help care for the boys. Mom works with Dad – Mack at their business in Ottawa - Marketplace Newsletters. They also have a dog named Jack who Dad is now taking care of during the week and commuting to Toronto for weekends.

Me? Fortunately for me I live in Toronto, get to sleep in my own bed and be in my own house amidst all the chaos, which makes me feel a little guilty. I have started back to work this week. My employer – MicroStrategy has been incredibly patient and understanding with my time. My daughter Abby started grade nine this year, and my husband Robert has his own marketing consultancy and actually built the website you’re looking at.


Christian is 13 and he goes to Crestwood School and is growing into a handsome young man. Malcolm is 11 and goes to Bedford Park with his younger brother Thomas who will be turning 7 in November.


In between hospital visits, phone calls with friends, trying to schedule her friends’ visits, paying her bills, maintaining Tracy’s house… There are occupational therapists, speech therapists, tutors, tennis lessons, homework, bruised knees, sore stomaches, bath time, bedtime, etc etc. All the while Lynn and Mom carry this load while trying to maintain some semblance of their own lives. It is wearing on them.


Lynn and I spent 10 hours yesterday packing up Tracy’s condo in Lighthouse Point. We drove up eager to have a “break” while knowing that there was hard work ahead, and still feeling a sense of purpose fo “the cause”. Boxes in the back, we pulled up in Tracy’s big Escalade (I’m calling it the 18 wheeler), and parked. I paused and looked at Lynn with a sad sigh “I feel sad”. My memories of all the times we’d been there came flooding in…. It would NEVER be the same!

The good news is that we packed up the whole house, loaded up the car and her garage! There’s another trip in the works. Mission accomplished. And, as we were leaving I said to Lynn “on to another chapter…”


We all cope with trauma and tragedy differently. Everyone takes on their roles. Each personality and psyche reacts with different emotional responses – all developed to protect us from the pain. In our family we have every kind of personality. This can make each day – each moment even more challenging at times. This journey isn’t easy.


Don’t judge. Don’t criticize. Don’t force change. Do love. Do listen. Do show tolerance. Do show understanding. Be selfless. Be kind. Breathe and pray.


We’ve opened a new account for Trust Fund donations at CIBC. You can visit any branch to contribute. Just tell them you want to make a donation in Trust to Tracy Dort-Kyne  to this account #00002 / 6047599.

You can also donate online using PayPal. Just click here.

Here’s a poem a friend of ours from high school emailed to me yesterday:

Don’t Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit –

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.


Life is queer with its twists and turns,

As every one of us sometimes learns,

And many a person turns about

When thy might have won had they stuck it out.

Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –

You may succeed with another blow.


Often the struggler has given up

When he might have captured the victor’s cup;

And he learned to late when the night came down,

How close he was to the golden crown.


Success if failure turned inside out –

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt. –

So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit, -

It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.


Tracy’s Hero

Good morning, I’ve decided to share a post this morning from the young man who found Tracy on the side of the road. His name is Mike Hermanovsky and he cared for Tracy until the ambulance arrived.

He’s studying in Waterloo at Wilfrid Laurier University and we tracked Mike down through friends of friends. Lesley reached out to him and he graciously came to Toronto a week or so ago to talk to our family. As Lesley said to him that day, “Mike you are a hero.”

He had the courage to stop when others would have simply driven by. As it turns out, Mike is in the kinesiology program at WLU and is one of Canada’s top downhill mountain bikers. He was at Blue Mountain that day shuttling Mountain Bikers up the escarpment. Tracy couldn’t have been in better hands.

Mike is now part of our family and we are so very grateful to him…

He originally posted this to FaceBook shortly after Tracy’s accident.

It was probably my 4th or 5th trip up the hill and I was heading back down to possibly pick up another group of guys. Like usual I put Rob’s truck in second gear so I wouldn’t fly down the road or have to ride the brakes and burn them out. I drove most of the way down the hill and noticed something a little strange as I drove closer to the final left hand turn on Scenic Caves road. In front of me was a white Acura parked on the left side of the road with its 4 ways on as three Asian dudes stood on the right side looking into the ditch, one was on a cell phone. I rolled by slowly and looked carefully to my right and noticed a narrow skid mark dug into the gravel for about 30 feet. As I rolled further I noticed a woman lying on the other side of the ditch curled up like a small child with her head on the down slope facing the ditch. I kept rolling through and thought about how embarrassing it must be when roadies crash since there are always people around to see it happen, and they always look so awkward when they go down. I took another quick look at the lady and kept rolling by; I was still focused on helping my teammates get to the top of the hill.

Once I passed the roadie, I didn’t speed up, but rather I kept rolling slowly, thinking, wondering. From the two times I looked at her she hadn’t moved or budged an inch. I know when I crash I usually bitch and moan or hop and move around, something seemed weird this time. Also, the three men were just standing there, looking at her, nobody was with her, talking to her, asking her questions, seeing if she needed help. Something was wrong, really wrong, so I turned Rob’s truck into a driveway on the left side of the road, and drove back up the hill. As I came closer I started to run through scenarios in my head. Did she get run off the road? Was she just going too fast? Or did her brakes randomly happen to fail? I parked the truck on the downhill side of the road, half on the gravel, half on the road to block traffic. I turned on the four ways and stepped out of the truck.

It was only now that I really understood what had happened. The spot where the skid marks started was roughly 60 feet back from where the lady now lay still. She had ridden 30 feet on the soft shoulder of the road, hit the bank of the ditch and slid/rolled for another 25-30 feet to where she came to a stop. Immediately after stepping out of the truck I asked the three men if they had called an ambulance and one said “yes it should be about 10 minutes.” It had been at least a minute since I last saw them, they still hadn’t gone up to her. The woman lay silent with her head facing the ditch, the bank was steep so her head was below the level of her feet. Her face and neck were red and purple in some spots, the veins on her head bulged slightly. I assumed that she had been lying there for a couple of minutes. I stepped across the waterlogged ditch and knelt down by her head. She was on her side facing towards the top of the hill so I did the best I could to stabilize her head and neck.

She was breathing, she was conscious, it made me happy. I asked her what her name was, she replied with a faint yet audible “Tracy.” She was around 35 to 40 years old, she seem frustrated that I made her talk. I asked her what her last name was, she paused, her breathing was laboured and shallow. She had forgotten I assumed, but after a short wait she said “Dorch.” From that point on I said her first name every time I asked her a question so that I didn’t forget it, just in case she did later. Tracy clearly hit her head, her helmet was cracked and sitting in front of her face. The buckle, still clipped together rested on her dusty lips, I moved it. I told her my name and that I was there to help her. Each time I said anything to her, her response was “Can you please move my head, I can’t breathe.” This statement was oddly ironic, she was talking, she could breathe. I explained to her that we would both face serious risks if I tried to move her head. The ambulance still hadn’t arrived. As I waited with Tracy asking her questions I had some time to notice the half dozen small saplings that her speeding body had flattened.

I told her that I was going to feel her spine and that she should tell me when she feels pain. From T12 to T1 she seemed fine. I moved up towards her neck, looked closely, and didn’t bother to check by touching. It was clear that it was very important that I needed to make sure that her head, neck, and body didn’t move. What I saw when I looked at the back of her neck was not normal and any movement could make it worse. Again she begged me to lift her head so she could “breathe.” Her hands were up against her face so she asked me if I could move them for her. I thought this was an odd question, but didn’t see an issue with moving her hands slightly so they wouldn’t be so close to her mouth. I held her hand, moved it to the ground and placed it down gently, it was limp. The ambulance still hadn’t arrived.

I asked the men some more questions, confirming that an ambulance was coming, how long ago they called, and made sure they gave the right directions. “Who are you,” she asked. Again I told her my name and why I was there. I decided to pinch the back of her arm to see if she had possible nerve damage. I caught a good amount of skin between my two small nails and pinched as hard as I could. I asked if it hurt, no response. At this point I still hadn’t seen her move her legs or hands on her own. Still no Ambulance, but I could hear the sirens in the distance. My knees and calves were getting sore from squatting but I knew I couldn’t move.

The ambulance finally arrived and it seemed like forever before they brought the stretcher over to the ditch. By the time I got the chance to turn around and see the road there were 2 ambulances and 4 police cruisers strategically placed around the scene. A paramedic slid his hands over mine and took my spot holding Tracy’s head. I proceeded to give the paramedics all the information that I could and then crawled out of the ditch. As I stood up my calves started to cramp and I felt a sharp pain in my right knee, I had been kneeling on my stitches. I started talking to one of the police officers, gave her my information, and told her everything I knew about the situation. When I was done, the paramedics asked me for my help lifting Tracy onto the backboard and so I went back over the ditch. I held her feet as we lifted in a swift yet smooth motion. She now lay flat on her back on the bright yellow board. We began to strap her in but in the process her arm slipped off the side and dangled straight down, she still could not move it. We carried her across the ditch and onto the stretcher, it had been 20 minutes since I first laid my hands on her head.

The Paramedics wheeled her over to the ambulance and placed her in the back, they thanked me and then mentioned something to each other about a helicopter and London. I assumed they were going to have her flown to London for more specialized treatment. The ambulance left and so I went back to the Police officers and asked if they needed anything else from me. They said no, thanked me, and said I could leave. I walked to Rob’s truck, hopped in, and drove back down the hill. It wasn’t until I left the scene that I realized that I had forgotten to put on my seatbelt before I drove away.

So now its 3:35AM and I am extremely tired. This weekend involved the strangest series of events that I have ever experienced, from going to the hospital and getting stitches, to seeing the first ever mid-weekend course switch, to helping a fellow biker on the side of the road, it was just all so unique and odd. At this point, all I can really leave you with is to learn from the mistakes you make and the ones others make. Whether you decide to not wear knee pads just because you’re on an XC bike, or if you decide to go as fast as possible down a road regardless of what’s ahead, it’s important to know that there are always people that have made a similar mistake before you. Just make sure you know the right answer when you come back all bandaged up and Shane J. asks you, “What did you learn?”

It is now Tuesday, September 7, 2011 and my mind is still unsettled about the whole situation this weekend with Tracy. I realize that I did my best with the circumstances that I was faced with, and that there wasn’t anything else that I could have done for her, but I still feel a little bit empty. My concern is that I have been going about the past couple of days without any closure about the incident. I knew nothing about her, I don’t know where she went after I last saw her, and all I have is the vivid memory of looking at her bleeding eyelid as she begged me to lift her head so she could breathe. I normally consider myself an emotionally strong person, but this situation happened to break me down and leave me quite restless. It’s hard to see one of your own go down, even if they do wear lycra and spend all of their time on the road. Regardless, it broke my heart to see a person who’s passion was torn from them in a quick accident. I couldn’t leave it at this, I had to find out more. This morning I Called the Collingwood O.P.P. office and tried to find out more information about what happened to Tracy after the Ambulance left the scene. All they knew at the time was that she was flown to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto. The receptionist sent an email to the Constable in charge of the accident that day and said that he would call me with more information. It wasn’t until later this evening that I received more information from a friend regarding Tracy’s condition…

Leaky Roof

Late Sunday they had to move Tracy from her nice bright room in the CCU to the area where people having day surgery recover. She’s in a different section, but there are no windows and it doesn’t have a good smell. The roof in her room was leaking – apparently bad plumbing.

Her infection seems to have subsided with the antibiotics, and when I was there late yesterday the nurse said “no more fever”.

Mom and Lynn brought the boys in to see her after school. It went well – as well as it can go when you’re a kid visiting your Mom in the hospital with a life-changing prognosis. One by one they went to visit their Mom. First Christian who gave her a big kiss on her forehead and announced “I love you Mom”, then Malcolm who came out saying “well that went better than last time”, followed by little Thomas who brought his Mom his special blanket.

Prior to the boys visit, Tracy was anxious and emotional. The respiratory therapist put her back on full oxygen/vent, and she told me to “stop talking” – as I was trying to offer comforting words of wisdom – saying how resilient kids are, and that her boys are strong just like her… bla bla bla. She clearly did NOT want to hear it. So, I stopped. I guess it was my way to ease my own trepidation about their visit.

After the boys left, I had only planned to stay with Tracy for a little while longer, and told her that she needed to rest. She agreed, but somehow my “little while” turned into several hours. I realized on my way home that her only control right now is to ask the people who visit to do things for her – water, hair brush, rub shoulders, scratch nose or cheek, fluff pillow, bed up, bed down, read, don’t read, …

I read to her from a book written by Chelsea Handler. It’s kind of crude, and very funny. At one point she made me stop because she wanted to laugh and couldn’t breathe!

I was tired. I went back to work yesterday and then went straight to the hospital in the later afternoon. I hadn’t eaten and I just wanted to go home. But each time I’d come close to the end of the chapter she would look at me with a little smile as if to say thank you and please don’t go. So what if I was tired and hungry?…. I thought to myself. …and so I read on…..

KUDOS: To all the freinds who have spend time with Tracy recently! Thank you for all your caring and help.

VISITS: Email Lynn – she is the keeper of the schedule

REMEMBER: To be grateful for each day.

GRATITUDE: to my sister Lynn – she is the leader, the decision maker, the planner and most of all the most loving sister ….! anyone could have! thank you Lynn!!

With gratitude,

Les xo

Tracy’s Trache

Tracy Dort-Kyne and Lesley DortOn Friday September 16th in the late afternoon Dr. Peter Chu performed the surgery for Tracy to have a tracheotomy. We are all so thrilled as the tubes for intubation were very bothersome to her. We can now read her lips.

Dr. Chu came into her room that afternoon and apologized for not doing the procedure earlier in the day as planned. He went on to suggest that he was called into two emergency surgeries, and I should listen to the radio on my way home to hear the details. I did. It was a shooting and the boy who jumped off the Mavis overpass onto the 401.

Today Tracy is fighting off some infections and has been put back on more breathing support, although she gave it her best shot!! Yesterday with Cash she was feeling and doing better with her breathing and the new trache. Everyday is different.

CENTURION: Luck and best wishes to all the riders this weekend!!

VISITING TRACY: If you want to visit Tracy please send Lynn an email with “VISIT TRACY” as the subject line  Be advised that “Visiting” Tracy involves helping her. It’s not a sit down, read a magazine kind of visit. It’s hard work some days. It’s giving her water, rubbing her shoulders, putting cold cloths on her head, brushing her hair, getting nurses or doctors as requested.

Please don’t forget to send a card or a note in the mail, as per my previous journal entries.

Cherish today and every move you make.



Les :-)


Tough Day


I’m sorry I didn’t write last night. Yesterday was a very hard day with Tracy. Here are some of the highlights, if you can call them that…?

When I first got there she was sleeping. I can’t tell you how much peace it gives us to see her resting. It has been so rare for me on my visits with her. Not long after she quickly awoke asking for water, a cold cloth for her head and that that she was hungry. This is a common complaint for her, but according to the nutritionist she is getting a whopping 1700 calories a day. Probably more than Tracy’s had in a very long time, given her strict diet and work out regime. “Paulie” the nutritionist explained to me that the hungry sensation coming from her brain is because there is no longer any signals to do with chewing, taste buds and swallowing. Her brain doesn’t think she’d gotten 1700 calories!

Shortly after this the physiotherapist (Shelley) came in to do her daily movements and ‘wrap’ her legs. They moved her to a special “chair” – really it’s just a smaller version of a hospital bed that is more upright. The process of moving her can be very painful and uncomfortable for Tracy. They closed the curtains so I don’t see her grimacing.

Once she was in the chair she quickly wanted to ‘talk’ – mouth words to me. More water, brush her hair, spray in special detangler, cold cloth not cold enough, move head, etc etc.

But then there was a moment where as I was brushing her hair and telling her about how handsome Christan looked in his new Crestwood uniform, and how well the boys were doing. TEARS started flowing from her eyes. I must tell you that up to this point I had not seen Tracy cry. I had thought I wanted her to cry, but then when it was happening I realized I preferred the non- crying Tracy. She sobbed and mouthed to me “I miss my boys”. I fought back my tears to stay focused and strong. I validated her feelings and said they missed her too, but Mom and Lynn were doing a stellar job.

In the late afternoon yesterday we had a “family meeting” with the head doctors, nursing staff and extended team – social worker, respiratory therapist, etc. It was like a full court press. I had a feeling the purpose of the meeting was to “scold” Tracy for some of her demands or objections, and I was right.

There were three things they wanted to convey:

1. Tracy was to allow them to “ween” her from the vent – it would be very hard work but if she continued to refuse the lessening of oxygen she wouldn’t get moved to a trache. More about this….

2. No more water! The little spongie stick like things that we put in her mouth had been soaked with water and she was sucking on them. The doctor informed us all that these are just meant to brush and wet her lips. There was water getting into her lungs. Although Tracy vehemently disagreed!

3. Objecting to be repositioned or moved. Several times a day they need to move Tracy’s position in the bed to alleviate bed sores or pressure sores. Their believed that she was objecting. I quickly interjected to say. She’s not objecting to be repositioned, what she’s objecting to is being handled roughly or mishandled. I went on to tell them all that I’d seen it happen. Not everyone takes care and compassion to move her! I could scream!

There are so many things I want to say about how the Doctor handled this conversation with Tracy. The biggest one is that I wanted to YELL at her and say she’s paralyzed NOT retarded, braindead or deaf!!!!! I couldn’t believe the slow, condescending way this woman was speaking to Tracy. And I could tell Tracy was as much in awe as I was!

At one point, wiht regard to the vent – she said “Tracy, it’s like running a marathon or a race”…. this was her analogy!!!?? Tracy started crying (…btw… she had not cried throughout this entire “meeting” – which ended up taking 1.5 hours!) Tracy mouthed the words “I so wanted to do the race”. Everyone was quiet.

At first I started crying, but I stopped myself and reached over to touch Tracy’s head and whispered in her ear. “You have a new race sister!” It’s called the Centurion Breathing Race! Use that same drive and mental capacity to win this race. I know it’s not the one you wanted to be doing, but it’s the one you’ve got to win!! We know you can do it.

In that moment, she looked up at the doctor and mouthed “do it now”. So, with us all standing there, they decreased her oxygen level and adjusted the settings so that in essence she was (with some pressure support) breathing on her own. We all waited.

I asked her “are you ok?”. Now, she needed the board. No longer able to mouth words because all of her energy and focus had to be on the breathing. We got out the board with the alphabet, and she spelled. “I’m scared”. The doctor asked “scared of what”? – her lips moved slightly of dying.

I could hear my Mom starting to sob. I quickly leaned over to her and said. Ok, seriously Trace they are NOT going to let you die! They are monitoring all the machines. The doctor interjected and told her about the alarms that would go off if her breathing was in trouble.

I asked the respiratory therapist if, when they made the adjustments could they please stick around to see how she was handling it from now on. Tracy also expressed that she wanted to see the oxygen monitor. Somehow if she could see the numbers – (Peep, volumes, etc – we’re learning what they all mean) ….she feels better. They agreed.

ON THE LIGHER SIDE: Ok, put the tissue away. Here’s the funny part of yesterday’s conversation. When talking about the repositioning and mishandling of her when being moved. She was desperate for me to spell out. “They need to be more organized”! and “They should have an agenda”. I laughed. Here’s Tracy running the show. The good news is that the nurses agreed to put up a daily schedule for Tracy on a white board so she could know what was happening when.

HAIR: What keeps me going is to know that my sister is still who she was. She’s a beautiful woman who takes incredibly good care of herself. She had me spell out. Please call my hairstylist and ask him to come in and do my colour. I love it!! We hope to make this happen this week. :-)

BEDSIDE MANNER: You can teach and educate people about medical science, research and facts. You can teach and educate numbers, figures, stats and rates. You can teach and educate procedures, policies and practices. You CANNOT teach the ability to communicate with empathy, understanding and compassion. This,…. I’ve learned is an innate skill.

DR. ZOE UNGER: She is a resident in the CCU. Tracy values Zoe’s opinion and guidance. Tracy trusts Zoe and Zoe has taken the time to understand Tracy. Zoe is a young woman who is going to go far in her profession! Zoe was with me on the first night and has stayed with us ever since. She is Tracy’s new ‘friend’. She is to be commended. She is an exceptional doctor and human being. We all love Zoe.

We’ve created a Trust account for Tracy and her boys. To help, 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.

WWW.TRACYDORTKYNE.COM: is under construction. We hope to have a link to make online donations by next week. In the meantime, go to the bank! :-)

With love and gratitude,



Disappointing Day

Today they were supposed to do a tracheotomy for Tracy, but were not able to do the procedure because her breathing had worsened, and she has some fluid in her lungs/chest. The good news is that they moved her to a much quieter area of the critical care unit which seems to have helped her to be a little less anxious. I wasn’t there for very long today as Lynn did a long stint from 6 30 am to almost 3 pm and then Tracy’s friend Shirlee came in with Mom followed by Cash joining Shirlee into the evening.

FRIENDS: We laugh, we play, we gossip, we joke, we cry, we party, we hug, we cheer, we sing, we praise, we part, we reunite….but what I’m learning is that true friends are brave – they LOVE, SUPPORT, COMFORT, CARE and CHERISH each other!!!

RANDOM ENCOUNTERS: I have had some very interesting and poignant encounters with strangers since this horrific accident happend. Yesterday I was in the elevator leaving to go home after a very hard day with Tracy. It was just myself and another lady who was already on the elevator. Out of nowhere she looked at me and paused for a moment and said “I bet you wish you were at the place where you got that terrific tan, right now”? It was as if she knew … I replied by saying “yes, I also wish I could rewind the clock”.

It’s Tuesday – Day 9

It’s Tuesday! Day 9

TODAY: Tracy’s day today was one of discomfort, pain and anxiety. She keeps us busy as we tend to her. And the process for her to communicate is the most frustrating part for her – and us! It can take several minutes to get to the right word or sentence. She is much sharper than all of us! We clearly need to take a few spelling lessons. There are times when she desperately tries to mouth words, but because of the intubation it’s hard to read her lips. So at one point today, she scolded me as she had me spell out “Don’t say ‘ya’ if you don’t understand me”! I was busted. I apologized saying I was tired of spelling out the words, trying to figure out what she was trying to say – and then quickly stopped myself! Who am I to complain? I have nothing to complain about.

CRITICAL CARE: The Critical Care Unit at Sunnybrook is a place of sorrow, pain, suffering, triumph and miracles. Everyone has a story to tell. We have met some of the families whose loved ones are also spending time in critical care. Several who haven’t or won’t make it out, and others who have or will be moving on. Today they moved out the  young man who was pronounced braindead yesterday. Sadly he was only 28 years old but the good of this story is that the family agreed to donate all of his organs. The nurse said he will likely save at least 4 lives, and enhance the lives of several more.

FAMILY: The respiratory therapist today asked me how I was related to Tracy. I said I’m Tracy’s older sister and I’m in the middle – Lynn is the oldest and Tracy is the baby. She asked “you must be close”? I thought for a moment “Were we”? ….I replied and said we weren’t close enough, but we definitely are now!

LESSONS: So many lessons to be learned. So much to be grateful for. So many things we focus on that don’t matter. So quickly it can all change. So many devastated hearts. So much more to learn!

Good night and God Bless


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