Tuesday, 23 February 2016


I'm sitting in the family room by the fire, I pick up the phone to call my Dad. Ten minutes latter I am staring at my phone (I mean facebook) wondering what it was I was supposed to be doing. Focus. I seem to lack focus. Theo just came in and said "oh know, you have that look...you must be blogging". No joke - I guess I can focus some of the time.

I am going to write about something that I never used to give much thought to. I don't profess to be an expert, far from it in fact, but I know a lot more than I used to, so I'll do my best. Insurance. We all have some form of insurance, and many of us have a lot of insurance. Home, auto, life, farm, medical, pet... I am sure there are more. What many don't realize is what you are really paying for, and what help you will get if something goes wrong. Theo and I know a lot about insurance now, much more than we wished we knew, and I hope that you will never need to know first hand.

Provincial laws that govern auto accidents changed after February 2010, apparently a lot changed in insurance that year. Specifically in regard to who is "at fault" when you have an accident. I remember hearing about it on the radio, but I never really payed attention. Now I do. I hope you will learn from our story, and maybe you will alter your insurance coverage. In fact, just last week I called to make changes to my policy, upped my home rebuilding costs, got the snow tire discount and upped my auto liability limit to $2 million. That last one is the most important one. Here's why.

Because my accident happened on the road/I was an insured driver, I have been able to make a SABS claim (Statutory Accident Benefits Schedule). By making appropriate claims through the adjuster my medical rehabilitation and attendant care expenses are paid for. The intent of the med rehab pot is to help pay for the people and equipment needed to get the accident victim back to their former life (or as much as possible). In my case, med rehab pays for physio, using the ekso, home exercise equipment, the non-government portion of my wheelchair, my adapted car and hopefully a new accessible house. The attendant care pot pays for the people who are helping with my everyday care, my PSWs.

We also sued the driver, this is called the "torte" portion of the law. Hiring a lawyer is essential in this situation, someone with a lot of experience to help achieve the maximum settlement. We have managed to do this in what seems like a short amount of time, and without the need to go to court. Relief. Thanks Mike.

So now there are two sources of funds to help pay for my recovery. And believe me, when someone comes knocking on my door, offering to have me be a part of a spinal cord injury trial in California - I will be there!

Having catastrophic injuries (like I do) it does not take long for costs to add up to one million dollars. So call your broker and increase your limit to $2 million. It will cost you about $60 a year. That's it. By increasing your liability limit, you have coverage for the person who is seriously injured, and they are possibly less likely to sue you personally.


No such thing as "too old"

I wanted to post more pictures about our ski day - some favorites that were taken by the official photographer who volunteered for the day - thanks Rob!

Here are Glenn and I heading out for the first run - my face says it all...what was I thinking!?!

Lots of people wanted to know how I got up the hill - so here is how - they just lift me in my bucket up on to the seat of the lift and the skis are below, just like yours would be.

This is where Glenn and Kevin had the conversation about being "too old" for this - after lifting me up onto the chairlift for the umpteenth time. I thought of this afterwards, how glad I was that they had been there on that day, that they are wise enough to know that it is being young at heart that matters. They brought joy to the seven different sit-skiers (and their families!) who were there on that day. Chances like this don't come along often, and they only happen because of volunteers like Glenn and Kevin. Thanks guys.

When we get to the top of the hill, they just toss me off the chair and then jump off themselves to catch me. And this is one of my favourites because Theo and the kids are on the seat right behind us!

This one gives you a sense of how fast we were going - here is Kevin doing the steering.

I have the outriggers at work here, and am using my body weight to shift side-to-side with what little core strength that I do have.

Here is the before-and-after of the "mom takes out son" part of the day :)

No harm done - lessons learned!

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Prescription Downhill

We have just arrived home from our first family vacation, post accident. We were at Blue Mountain for "a weekend" except it was the middle of the week. I took up the challenge to go downhill sit-skiing, so for a treat I booked us a suite at the hotel with the outdoor heated pool. This all came about because I belong to Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, a not-for-profit group aimed at making life a little bit easier for people with spinal cord injuries or those who have paralysis for another reason, such as polio. They bring people together to mentor, share information and resources. At the invitation of SCIO we went up to Blue Mountain so that I could try sit-skiing. It was the SCIO major fundraiser with members and sponsors and organizations like Ontario Track3  there to teach those who wanted to learn.

These two awesome men are Kevin and Glenn - my instructors for the day. A couple of compassionate men who volunteer for Track3. Usually they teach kids who want to learn how to sit-ski, but on this day they volunteered to teach all of the adults who wanted to give it a go. So yes, I crossed over to the dark side, rode up the hill in the chairlift and rode down the hill in the sit-ski. They didn't even offer me the bunny hill - straight to the lift! It kind of just felt like being in a toboggan on a really big hill - where I would have the same type of reaction...what the hell was I thinking. Now, for the most part, Glenn was in control of my sled from behind but by the end I was the one controlling the direction we went.

The instructors share the work while on the hill, one with the skier and one watching for any kamikaze skiers coming from above. It just so happens that the streak of red that came down the hill and was my one and only casualty for the day was - Oliver. No harm done, but I think it created a valuable learning opportunity :) As we were leaving, Glenn said that we should come again, that I had potential as a sit skier, and he would hate for it to go to waste! So how do you like that all my Nordic friends? I know; crazy! They ride a chair UP the hill! I was glad for the lift, because even going down the hill as much as I did was too much for my poor back.

Although it ended well, and we all had a great time skiing, I was very unsure about how our time away would go, and how I would fare emotionally. If you know me well, you know winter was my season. The more snow the better. I would find a way to get out, no matter how much wind or cold. Even in the dark (last Christmas I got a head lamp - went out for a ski in the dark and crossed paths with a skunk). Things are different now of course, snow and cold are no longer great. I was hoping that this sit-ski tryout would be good for me, a way to be back out in winter. And it was, but I was also sad. I couldn't ski with the kids, walk along the base of the mountain or swim in the outdoor heated pool. It seems now like I was being over-dramatic, but I'm not sure, it still hurts.

The event was fun, live auction, silent auction, little bit of networking and a great buffet. I met some people while Theo and the kids were on the hills; so helpful to talk to people who have been down this same road. Advice given, questions asked and answered - but it was not the same as at Parkwood - where any question goes. So for now, I will continue to build my network, and make a plan to try the Nordic sit-ski. It's got to be Nordic - how on Earth will I ever stay warm if I just get a lift up the hill??

Monday, 1 February 2016

Need to be ready

Sometimes something just clicks in my head. I just had a one hour nap. Theo has the kids up at the pool for swim club, so I am here at home alone where it is quiet. I was thinking about my day and about some of the conversations I had, and I realized that everything I do now, I also did while working. Okay, not everything, but allow me to explain.

This is what my day was like. 715 am wake up, get partially dressed, get up and have some breakfast with the kids. Cheer them on out the door and watch them walk down the driveway. Sit in the sun for a few minutes (it's been a while). Finish getting dressed, do my hair, pee and be ready for my friend to take me to physio. It's now 915. At physio we did some more killer core and some standing. I'll try to attach a video from today. Home to have lunch with my friend, then off with Theo to a meeting with Oliver's teacher in Seaforth. Home again and into bed for a rest. Nap. Next is dinner on my own (whatever shall I do? I may read at the table!)

I realize this is not very exciting, and it seems like it should not be that tiring, but believe me, it is. Because every time I change my location I have to transfer, using my arms. Bed to chair, chair to car, car back to chair, chair to physio bed, physio bed back to chair, chair to car, car to chair, chair to bed. Bed back to chair to eat lunch. And so on. Which is just plain tiring.

While eating lunch with Vicki today the conversation eventually got around to when I would be going back to work. I likely will eventually, but today it just hit me. I can barely do all of these minor daily tasks, let alone all of these AND an eight hour day! I definitely have come far, in terms of balance and endurance, and a little bit of mental fortitude, but I am not done. For now physio is my full time job and I need to keep working at it. Perhaps, when the time comes and I am fit, I may be a candidate for a new treatment that will get me standing on my legs, on my own! I need to be ready for that.

Can't get the video to work here so I am posting it on facebook. Hope you can see it.