Tag Archives: Lesley Dort-Lendvai

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One year ago today…

One year ago today Tracy’s life changed in a instant.

“Isolated, by itself, what is a minute? Merely a measurement of time. There are 60 in an hour, 1,440 in a day. At seventeen, I had already ticked off more than 9,000,000 of them in my life.

Yet, in some cosmic plan, this single minute was isolated. Into these particular sixty seconds was compressed more significance than all the millions of minutes marking my life prior to this instant.” from – Joni: An Unforgetable Story by Joni Eareckson Tada

Thank you to everyone who has donated, supported, participated, visited, volunteered and cared!

The journey continues…..

Journey

The Next Chapter Begins

It’s been 9 months…

HOMECOMING: Tracy moved out of Lyndhurst Hospital yesterday and back into her house on Ranleigh Avenue to be with her boys. She decided this was the best move for her at this time. Modifications were done to the basement to make it an accessible living space and she now has her own team of personal caregivers.

Tracy Dort-Kyne and her 3 boys

So here’s the scoop….I have not written a blog post over the past few months because my relationship with Tracy (and my Mom) has been very strained. As you can imagine Tracy’s accident turned all of our lives upside down and we all naturally took on the roles best suited to us.

In the beginning we rallied for her without hesitation. It was instinctive. We did what we needed to do to help her survive and made decisions that we all felt would help Tracy have the best quality of care and quality of life possible – all things considered.

We all seem to refer to these past nine months as a “journey” that we are going through. As with many journeys there are, have been and will continue to be bumps in the road, delays, frustration, fatigue, intersections with more than one path – choices!

These are just some of the challenges one encounters on a journey. Combine this with strong personalities, priorities, personal values, temperament and family history and you have a recipe for major turmoil. The “rallying” our family did in the beginning becomes the tearing apart of the family. The crisis that triggered the journey exposes the best and the worst of whom we are as humans – our reluctance to want to forgive, our inability to want to acknowledge our deepest flaws…and so on….

And so the “journey” continues…

I hope for much healing and forgiveness for us all as we move forward.

Les

p.s. While Tracy is now back home, she’s still eager to have visitors. She’s continuing to use Lotsahelpinghands to manage the schedule. You can sign up here to visit Tracy at home!

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My Aunt

My daughter Abigail has been hard at work on a speech she’ll be giving tomorrow in her Grade 9 English class. After rehearsing it tonight in front of Lesley, Grandma Joan and I, she graciously agreed to share it will all of you…

Robert

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Life is precious, and that is not something that I really understood, until I was forced to.

Comprehending that life is precious and every second that we are here is a gift, is not something that a teenager often stops to think about. In a world where we focus so much of our attention on the negative it is often hard to see the good and the beauty of our world. We don’t often think, “Isn’t it amazing that I can walk, I can see and I can hear, we take for granted the things that we have.”

I’m not saying that I walk around being constantly amazed by my life, and I’m not saying it’s easy to be optimistic all the time, but we can choose to focus on the good things in our lives, instead of constantly focusing on the bad. I get it, it’s hard being a teenager, heck, it even, for lack of a better word “sucks” sometimes. But I hope that after you hear the story I am about to tell you that you’ll live your life with a little more optimism.

The wind rushes past, the trees are a blur and before you know it you’re speeding down a hill. Biking. Your body is used to this kind of exercise, but you’re still out of breath. Then just as you turn the corner you feel yourself flying through the air. You crash to the ground, yet there is no pain, no feeling at all. This is what happened to my aunt on the day that changed her life forever.

She was found in a ditch off the side of the road in critical condition. Then my Aunt Tracy was airlifted to a hospital in Toronto from Collingwood. My Mom received a phone call about the accident around 5:00pm on September 4, 2011.

“Quadriplegia, paralysis of four limbs” This is the prognosis, that has been given to Tracy.

This means my aunt will never open another door, brush her own teeth, or even hug her children, without the help of someone else. She will never write a letter, go for a walk or shake someone’s hand. It is hard to imagine not being able to move, it is something I often think about, and it is not an easy topic. This condition is life altering. And after seven months we now know just how hard it really is.

Never again will our lives be the same.

Although this heavy weight is on my Aunt’s shoulders. She chooses not to dwell on this fact. She is pushing forward, she makes sure she is their to attend as many fundraisers she can and thank people for their support. I wish I could summon the same strength she has within. She inspires me to keep going, to look at life with passion and to find the beauty in every small moment.

Although, when I first heard the prognosis, I can remember being speechless like the wind had been knocked out of me.

What could I say? What could I do? I was sad but I was also angry and resentful, angry at the people around me, angry at god, angry at myself.

Why? I wanted to know why this had happened to my family! Why did this have to happen the week I was supposed to start high school?  What lesson was this supposed to teach me? I was also angry at myself for being selfish, I wanted and needed my parents but yet I knew my aunt needed them more

My Aunt is 41 years old. She has three boys, Christian 13, Malcolm 12 and Thomas 7.  The fact that my Aunt has been raising these three boys with no husband for the past six years astonishes me. My Aunt’s life was not easy, she experienced a very painful divorce from her husband and still she’s managed put her life back together and built a beautiful house in Bedford Park.

My Mom often comes home from the hospital and recounts the tales of the day. There are hard days and there are times my Aunt does not feel so strong, but what I think makes her so inspiring is that she wakes up the next day with a smile on her face and ready to fight. She doesn’t let her condition paralyze her mind or her soul. She has faith. She knows that this is major setback, a big bump in the road, perhaps a mountain, but she wants to make it!

Although we have had many struggles and trying times, it has brought us closer as a family, and taught me many things. The first of which is that we must be grateful for everything we have and seize every opportunity we can in life. It has also strengthened my faith, I believe that there is reason this has happened to us! The relationship between my mother and her sisters had strengthened and that is not to say that there isn’t sadness and anger but every day my family learns to over come it.

My Aunt is my hero. When I think of her situation, I am saddened, and I often find it hard to explain. Yet when I think of how she is dealing with it I want to be strong for her, to push on and be the best person I can be. If she can put a smile on her face, I can make it through High School. If she can have optimism and look forward to her life, then I can too.

I’ve learned a lot about who I am after this accident. Seven month’s later and our family is still learning new things and new skills to coup with this tragedy. I have come to realize that family is one of the most important things in your life and that good friends make all the difference. I have become more understanding, less judgmental and although I always knew it I’ve realized there is much more to life than my own small world.

This accident may have changed who I am but it will be for the better, and I know that with my Aunt’s spirit and my brave family we can get through this.

So the next time you get up in the morning and you want to complain about how early it is or the test you have the next day, think about how lucky you are to even be able to get out of bed.

Abby Lendvai

Please leave Abigail a comment and let her know what you thought of her speech.

Never Give Up!

I spent last week in Miami at my company’s annual customer conference and sales kick-off. While I had hoped it would be something of a respite from the challenges of the past five months, Tracy was never really far from my thoughts — especially after listening to the inspirational words of Nando Parrado our keynote speaker.

I’m sure most of you are familiar with the story. In October 1972 a rugby team from Uruguay was flying to Chile for an international match. Their plane crashed high in the Andes Mountains and the survivors endured 72 unmanageable days of hardship, starvation, frostbite and even an avalanche.

Nando told us about how those two and a half months changed his life completely. His mother and younger sister passed away in the accident, and Nando made a superhuman effort to survive including a hellish 11 day mountain trek across the Andes to find help for the other survivors.

Nando told his amazing story in a best-selling book called “Miracle in The Andes” which was recently made into motion picture called “I AM ALIVE.” His story really resonated with me. It’s a message about perseverance, choices and never looking back. He told us to “never ask why,” because there are no answers, and it’s not helpful. Our family continues to try and be strong for Tracy, but there are days when our “humanness” overcomes and our emotions take over – anger, sadness, despair and more recently exhaustion.

Nando signed books after his talk and I was eager to get a copy for Tracy. We were asked to write the name of the person we wanted the book inscribed to on a little yellow post it note. I wrote Tracy’s name and when I reached Nando he smiled, looked up at me and asked “who is Tracy?” He could clearly see my conference name badge – Lesley Dort. I was overcome with emotion in that instant and sobbed as I retold Tracy’s story. He leaned over and very gently held my hand. We talked about Tracy and her will to live. It felt to me like we were the only two people in that room, even though there was a huge long line of people waiting behind me.

His inscription to Tracy was “Never Give Up.”

Nando’s story is inspirational and the message of resilience and a positive attitude gives me hope. If he could survive two and a half months in the Andes and live to tell his story, we can help Tracy to transition to her new life as a quadriplegic.

My husband and I continue to believe that she has a calling. Her story, just like Nando’s, will inspire others to be better and do better in their own lives.

Resolutions, Nanny Search, New Board and Little Angels in Markham

As I watch the programs on TV and listen to people talk about their New Year’s resolutions, I wonder about them. Isn’t a resolution really more like a wish? We wish to be skinnier. We wish to get in better shape. We wish to be a nicer person. We wish to be tidier and if we’re lucky,  we change our behaviour to actually make the “resolutions” come true.

My resolution and my wish is for continued courage, hope, resilience, tenacity, determination and drive for my sister. My resolution is to never take anything for granted and to always be grateful – for everything!

Some of you have asked about the number of visits we’ve had to Tracy’s website. We launched the site in early October and as of December 31, 2011, we’ve had over 160,000 visits. Robert says that pretty good.

NANNY SEARCH

We’re  searching for a Nanny/Caregiver for Tracy’s boys to move in and work alongside Lynn and/or Mom. This person will ultimately live with Tracy and the boys when Lynn returns to St. Louis and Mom heads back to Ottawa.

Requirements for this full time live-in Caregiver/Nanny/Housekeeper:  drivers license (car will be provided), duties will include – managing all aspects of care for the boys: meals, homework, school, appointments, laundry, activities, social outtings, clothes, driving to/from school or activities, etc.  Must be a self starter with lots of energy, patience and compassion. Must clear a police background check. If you know of anyone please have them send me an email at Lesley [dot] Dort [at] rogers.com

TRACY’S TRUST FUND :: BOARD OF DIRECTORS

We’ve decided to assemble an informal board of directors to provide some oversight of Tracy’s Trust Fund and the money you’ve  generously helped us raise. While the Fund is still relatively small, we think it’s important to have a team of pros helping us manage disbursements. We’ll be assembling the board in the coming weeks and I’ll share more about this soon.

SPECIAL THANK YOU TO MRS. TORSHER’S GRADE 3 CLASS

In late November, Robert received an email from Maureen Torsher, a Grade 3 teacher at St. Justin Martyr School in Markham Ontario. Maureen had seen Tracy on CBC News and was touched by her story.

“Yesterday my Grade 3 class was on a field trip, and Tommy, one of my students, said, ‘My mom said teachers get too much chocolate.’ And he’s right. So today I talked to my class, told them about Tracy’s accident, and have asked them to make donations instead of buying me any teacher Christmas gifts. I will send them to your website to make donations if that is ok. Keep well, prayers for all of you.”

As my Mom likes to say, “we are surrounded by Angels!”

Mrs. Torsher's Grade 3 Class fund raising for Tracy Dort-Kyne

 

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 :-)

 

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!