Tag Archives: spinal cord injury

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. http://tinyurl.com/trust4tracy

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…

Update on Tracy from Lesley

Thank you all for the incredible outpouring of love and prayers for my sister Tracy. We have all been overwhelmed by your compassion and caring!

It will be a week tomorrow that Tracy had her cycling accident. Tracy remains in the critical care unit at Sunnybrook Hospital where she will be for several months.

Our family has rallied! Mom and Dad flew in from Ottawa on Sunday night, Lynn flew in from St. Louis on Monday afternoon, followed by Darren on Thursday night, and luckily Robert and I live here – so I was able to be with her after she was airlifted to Toronto on Sunday.

Mom and Lynn are living at Tracy’s house taking care of her boys – Christian 13, Malcolm 11 and Thomas 7. Lynn has done a terrific job of organizing the boys with back to school and trying to normalize things with routine.  She is amazing! Thankfully Gladys – Tracy’s nanny/housekeeper – remains a constant.  They are a loving handful those 3 little guys!

We are all taking shifts sitting by Tracy’s bedside at the hospital. The good news is that Tracy is still Tracy!  She is definitely giving all of the nurses and doctors a run for their money. She does not like the intubation that is helping her breath, and has much anxiety. She is keeping us all on our toes! We’ve developed a way to communicate with her – it’s a bit tedious and slow, and she often gets frustrated with us but it is working – for now.

What you can do:

TRUST FUND: We are going to be setting up a Trust Fund for Tracy and her boy’s care. Tracy is a single Mom and her ex-husband does not provide her or the boys any financial support. . We hope to have the information for yoU by the end of this coming week.

GOOD OLD CANADA POST SNAIL MAIL: Please send cards and notes – and write down a memorable time you spent with Tracy – funny, touching, or otherwise. Include a photo. If you don’t know Tracy directly but know someone in our family – include the information about the relationship. We are going to take them to the hospital and read them to her – so please keep them UPBEAT!  MAILING ADDRESS: ATTN: Tracy Kyne c/o Lynn Pang, 121 RANLEIGH AVE, TORONTO ON  M4N 1X2

NO FLOWERS please.

VISITORS: We are allowing close friends and family to visit. The CCU is a very restricted area. If you would like to visit Tracy please send an email to me – Lesley.dort@rogers.com. And if/when the time is right we will make arrangements. We hope to eventually to use Skype and Facebook.

FOOD: Thank you! Yes we have already received some yummy packages along with many other generous offers to provide food for family and boys. We are accepting the offers but are trying to manage it. She does have a freezer.

With love and appreciation,

Lesley and Robert

lesley.dort@rogers.com rlendvai@gmail.com