Monday, April 5, 2010
..... Easter Weekend
The spring is finally here!! My journey has now taken me almost full circle and through 4 seasons. There are permanent scars marking the journey's beginning but it is the ones that lie invisible beneath the surface that know my life will never be the same.....
...... I had a busy life that became derailed the day of my diagnosis. As candid as I have been in my blogs, I did spent an inordinate amount of time convincing myself that little had changed in my world and that I was the same woman that I had always been..... but when I look in the mirror - the reality of two surgeries, months of inactivity due to a cold winter and physical pain, a head now sporting new hair that is gray and the realization that I am now into menopause..... I am clearly not the same woman. I will never be the same...... I will be better!!!
I have a number of childhood friends that I will be seeing soon as my high school reunion is coming up in a little over a month's time. One of the girls, Sandy, has written a number of times to me and said how I used to advocate for others when she knew me way back when... the other day she wrote again and told me how proud she was of me and my bid to save the nurses. I guess some things never change. Thank you Sandy for your really lovely note. Another high school friend has offered to drive me out to Ottawa for the event... he knows how tired I am these days because his wife went through a similar journey 10 years ago - he laughs that we will have a lot of time to play catch-up on the way there. Debbie has invited me to stay with her the whole weekend that I am visiting.. we were friends more than 30 years ago and we lost touch but found each other again. She has stayed with me here in London and it was like we hadn't missed a beat. Just being around her is great.... where did all the time go? I will be seeing so many people whom I will likely have to be discrete about reading name tags or searching for familiar features. I was always considered a bit weird when I was younger... Ok still that way but most people would say unique but in a good way. My guidance councillor said that I was independent and spoke my mind - when you are 16, that is not always the best approach... I have since learned some diplomacy?
April 6th 2010
My brother came to visit us for Easter and as usual brought gifts for the kids and for us... he has just lost his job but is always thinking of us and I can't convince him to not spoil each of us when he comes down. I am feeling horribly guilty but know I cannot afford to help him out without straining our already tight finances. Three kids and they all need new shoes and clothes. Chris and I had time to talk and we chatted for hours about our childhood and the crazy things that happened to us that made us who we are today, but made us outsiders as children growing up. He has never married and at 51, he will likely never make that step and is beyond wanting children. He considers himself the one who although short changed on intelligence and abilities, is still a pretty happy guy. I know he got totally ripped off right from the start and spent his entire childhood avoiding the relentless bullying he received both at school and at home..... my dad never understood why his adopted son couldn't seem to stand up for himself and why he preferred to just walk away or take it rather than hurt anyone else. Me, I was far spunkier and had no qualms about hitting one of the fellows who bullied him with a baseball bat to the shins - I was 6 years old and they had my big brother (5 years older) pinned by a bunch of fellows while one threw a penknife at his legs. I remember almost outrunning the bully until we got to my front lawn and I yelled at the top of my lungs - my mother who is nearly 6 feet tall, a good german build appeared at the door wielding a rolling pin.... he would never know that we had interrupted a pie dough rolling moment and he didn't stop to find out either!!! I always felt bad for my brother and didn't know him that well as he would spend his teen years in foster care and half-way homes.... he would never live at home again. Even though he was treated badly, he would never strike back and to this day, my brother really is someone who might have an IQ that some would say is below average and the testers would confirm it, but he will always be one of my heros. He could have turned out to be mean and vengeful but his nature just wouldn't allow for it. I love you so much and I miss you more. He just got his first computer and calls me to help him.... he is excited that he is in the now generation!! Secretly, I know he enjoys the interaction... I just tell him to play and read his books and learn all you can. By all accounts, he is still just a big kid with a huge heart... Andre the Giant was his idol. My idols were people like Rosa Parks who stood her ground against incredible odds and lived to be a ripe old age to witness the results of her actions in a positive way and of course anyone who could advocate for someone unable to do so for themselves. When I was 16, I worked with high needs children who were either institutionalized or kept at home because their disabilities did not allow them to attend schools and by age 18, I was a security supervisor at a large Ottawa hospital and spent a fair bit of time working in the psychiatric ward sitting on suicide watch... lots of great stories came out of that year and I was honored to be invited as a special guest to their monthly dinner and despite the ribbing I received from my colleagues, they figured it was pretty cool. My father often was quite perplexed that I did not pursue a career in social work and asks me every chance he gets..... but these days he doesn't remember much of anything and as his dementia worsens, he will forget all about me and the great stories we shared about the career I chose - I am (as my family jokes), my father's son - I followed in his shoes partly because I wanted to and mostly due to circumstance.... it is a field I loved from the beginning and one that has brought me incredible pride.
Miss Lydia decided that she should get her hair cut a little shorter so off we went to the hairdresser where Christie braided two 8 inch pony tails and promptly cut them off so that we could donate the hair. She is now sporting a lovely shoulder length cut. I am so proud of my children.
Tomorrow I will be attending a media gathering - MPP Andrea Horwath is in town and I will be there to once again address the media about the heath care dollars and our front-line nursing staff.... my kids are proud of me and I am honored that they realize how important this is to them, to us, to everyone. One day, maybe my children will help to make positive changes in their children's lives.
April 7th 2010
I am hobbling after getting upright in bed.... my feet are killing me and each step brings pain. In a few hours it will sort itself out and I will be more comfortable until I sit too long. I drive over to the McDonald's on Wellington road for breakfast and to leave my car parked in the adjacent lot while I make my way over to Fairview and Baseline for the media event. I am hobbling down the road and can feel the warm air mixed with moist air as the clouds above thicken into a darkening mass. I am praying that the rain holds off as do all the attendees as they begin to arrive a few minutes after I have found a somewhat comfy perch on the parking blocks running along the first of many hospital parking lots. A young man shows up with a portable dais and some sound equipment but never hooks the equipment up as there is no crowd forming to witness the event. /A\ reporter Darryl Newcomb shows up with his equipment and quickly sets up - he is covering a london maternity leave but I know him from the many trips I have made to Windsor as a cover-off tech. Next, a london Free Press reported arrives with still camera in tow and takes a number of pictures .... I get to see the one posted with his story that shows me sporting a wrinkled brow and a mouth that is forming the letter O - yikes!!! Ryan Robinson from Rogers Television is starting to set up while Jill, Linda Stratton, Andrea Horwath and Irene Mathyssen soon arrive and then, we are down to business..... so is the storm that has now produced thunder, lightening and the obligatory opening of the heavens. We arrange to meet at the ONA office just down the street and most of us arrive at the destination completely soaked!! The interviews continue and I am quoted later by Bob Smith as saying :
"The gold stars stop at kindergarten"
Marita DeVries, April 7, 2010, re: Hospital CEO's being paid based on performance
I leave to go to my car which requires I cross a major intersection, bearing in mind that we have just had a major deluge, I experience first-hand a bus driver passing in front of me and a tidal wave soaking the rest of me what I had managed to stay dry... not to mention the refreshing drink as I opened my mouth in surprise!!! You have to laugh though and I did when I realized that just like the invisible item that trips you on the sidewalk, I had to scan my surroundings and noted that a few caught the action!!
And so, I begin to close the cancer chapter as I begin a new one with a daily challenge of not just getting better but trying to better our health system. I have become an advocate for those that feel they have no voice and an activist for those who do. My neighbors have all let me know how proud they are of the work I and my colleagues are doing and say its about time that someone stood up for what was right. We all need to stand up for what is right - it makes us stronger and builds a better society....
I am grateful for all the wonderful people who have come into my life and shared with me their incredible stories and offered help when I was at my lowest. I wish to thank the supper club for their wonderful meals when I was unable to help my family. My friends who were there despite my 'not so great days' who sat and listened to me sometimes carry on.... yes, I talk a lot... still and although that has always been a sore spot with me (and others).... it is part of who I am and if that is the worst attribute I have... I will take it!! Thanks to Mandi for being a really and truly wonderful friend who wears her heart on her sleeve. I want to thank Keri for always knowing what to say and for being a tremendous support who has guided through some rough waters. Thanks to Sue, whose support, kindness and tremendous sense of humor and fun really took the edge off the first tenuous months following my diagnosis. Thanks to Tracy and her daughter Emily who have such kind and loving hearts and thank you for teaching my daughter that there are some really special people out there. To my children who took our lead and shared with us their honest feelings and became compassionate towards others in their recognition for the journeys that all of us have. To my husband, who used to be a quiet man..... who has stood by my side regardless of how the journey challenged him and to his incredible patience.... a true partner and best friend. I am grateful for all the new friends I have made and who inspire me with their humor, candidness and affection. To Wellspring who has given me inspiration in my artwork and with people whom I share my deepest thoughts and who share right back. I have been truly given a gift, an opportunity to see beyond the daily grind and to put out a new HeartWish... a wish the heart makes when it knows what it wants.
I will continue to blog my adventures because I can!! For now, I wish each of you the very best that life has to offer...... make your own HeartWish. xoxoxoxoxoxo Always, Marita