Speech Number Seventeen?

Sad and sickened by the events in Orlando on Saturday, President Obama spoke to the nation from the “James Brady Press Briefing Room” because this that how much gun violence is a part of American life. Even the room the President talks about gun violence from, is named after a victim of gun violence.
In his post mass shooting address, Obama said we have to decide if this is the kind of country we want to be.
I wonder if Obama ever thought to himself that mass shootings speeches would be such a big part of his presidency job because you know at this point he has hosted 12 state dinners and given 16 mass shooting addresses, so right now the white house is more Kleenex than it is good napkins.

The President made a powerful point. America has to decide if this is the kind of country it wants to be. Every time it happens it seems like America has already decided this is exactly the kind of country America wants to be because we know how this always plays out.
We’re shocked. We mourn. We change our profile pictures. And then, we move on.
It has become normal, but I am sorry it’s not normal. We shouldn’t allow this to be normal. It’s not a normal thing to have the same thing happen to us over and over and over and doing nothing to change it.
When I was a child I never tied my shoes and would trip on my shoelaces. One day my mom pointed out to me that I was falling all the time because of the shoe- laces So, I tied them and moved on. I knew I had to tie the shoelaces to change something. I could have said to my mom “Why are you bringing shoe laces into the conversation? Why are you blaming the shoelaces for something the sidewalk did to my knees? Who even says there is a connection between shoelaces and falling anyways? You are violating my rights to keep my shoelaces untied.”

I didn’t say that because I realized after falling a lot, there was a connection between my shoelaces being untied and getting hurt. That’s why I didn’t say that to my mum.

This is clearly a complicated incident. There are elements of terrorism, mental health, but it is glaringly obvious America needs to make it a lot harder for people who shouldn’t have guns to get guns.

To many of us it seems crystal clear but there are still people who think we are wrong to try to bring that up. They insist this is not about gun control but about radical Islam. They say in 9-11 they used box cutters. Terrorists didn’t use guns, they used planes to kill thousands of people. And as soon as we realized they could use planes as weapons, we worked together as a society worked our damnedest to make it harder for them to ever do it again. We locked cabin doors, we expanded the no fly list ,we even make everyone pose for x-ray nudes now.
What we didn’t do was say this has nothing to do with airplanes it has everything to do with radical Islam.

No. What we did instead was regulate air travel to make it harder for the terrorists to do the damage. Even when fighting Isis we fight the ideology itself. We fight to reduce their resources but most importantly we attack their weapon stores.
Why do we do that?
Because by removing their weapons it decreases their ability to hurt us.

Because everybody knows Isis without guns is basically a blog.

So the irony of the situation is that people who say there is no connection between America’s gun laws and terrorism, well do you know who does see a connection?


An Alqueda spokesman said, “ America is easily awash with totally available firearms. We can go to a gun show at a local convention centre and come away with fully automatic assault rifles without a background check and most likely without having to show an identification card so what are you waiting for?”

That’s like selling terrorism like new cars.

So what are you waiting for?

When people say to me it’s not about guns, it’s about terrorism, no it’s about terrorism and it’s about guns.
There were two other gun incidents on the weekend that did not involve terrorism. A man was stopped just short of the L.A. Gay Pride Parade with a car full of guns. A 22 year old singer was gunned down while signing autographs.

Just because there is a problem with terrorism doesn’t mean there also is not a problem with access to guns.

I get that Americans love guns, but it comes at a cost.

This year alone 23 people in America have been shot by toddlers. You realize we have not reached the summer yet.

The truth is, I know where this argument always ends up. The 2nd amendment – do not infringe on our rights to keep and bear arms. But as much as the NRA wants you to believe it’s an absolute, it is not, and never has been, because America does regulate guns. For example, the Orlando shooter could not get a machine gun because America banned those in the 1980s because it was obvious they made it too easy for one person to kill multiple human beings. Time after time we have seen that assault weapons have the same fatal capabilities.

America, it is clear you need to ask yourselves the question, do you want to be a country that takes reasonable measures to protect its citizens or should we tell the president to prepare speech number 17..

Trevor Noah, The Daily Show.

Community Action Employment Plan

 If opportunity doesn’t knock, then build a door.

That is exactly what is happening for the estimated 83 percent of individuals who are eligible for services through Community Living BC, and are unemployed.

That door is being constructed via a three-year Community Employment Action Plan for adults with developmental disabilities who wish to work in their communities.

The Plan was launched in 2013.

Opening that door to employment opportunities puts those with developmental disabilities on a pathway of meaningful work that pays a living wage.

The goal of the Plan is to increase the employment of individuals served by CLBC by 1200 people over three years, from the current estimate of 2200 participating in employment.

How did this initiative come about?

Many years ago self-advocate leaders became disenchanted with their situations, performing menial tasks in segregated settings, usually without competent salaries.

Their refrain became “real work for real pay”.

Over the past number of years, young people leaving school and their families have almost increasingly been asking for real employment, elevated from the traditional menial, low-grade jobs that people with developmental disabilities were assumed to fit into.

There have been small numbers of people, who, with the support of their families, service providers, educators, and employers, have worked at rewarding jobs, earned a paycheck, made friends with co workers and gained confidence and satisfaction from a sense of belonging. Most importantly, paid employment means a higher quality of life.

Between 2007 and 2012, as awareness of the importance of employment grew, Community Living BC undertook a number of initiatives to build capacity and momentum.

The Customized Employment Demonstration Project concentrated on the value of individualizing the employment relationship to meet the needs of both the employer and the employee. Eight projects were funded for four years and the results were telling. Employment was possible for people across a wide spectrum of disabilities and that adoption of customized employment provided a real promise of success.

Reinventing day supports, those that promoted daytime activities, a comfortable home and leisure time with friends led to a deeper understanding of the need to move these supports towards employment. This shift came as a generation of youth experienced (at least periods of) inclusive education. Being marginalized or summarily excluded was not going to be accepted anymore.

BC Employment Development Strategy Network, in collaboration with Douglas College continuing education, developed curricula and began training staff to increase their competency in supporting people to find and keep work.

A number of service providers and practitioners joined together to create EmployNet, a hub for learning, sharing, and collaboration in advancing best practices in employment supports and to help employers improve the bottom line by employing a diverse workforce.

In spite of people’s efforts, progress over the years had been incremental at best.

It was time to build on the work already done and develop a sector-wide employment plan. They wanted to make a real impact.

In 2012, CLBC engaged individuals, families, service providers, CLBC staff, school and government representatives and employers to develop a three-year employment plan. The consultation culminated in a provincial employment summit that took place in Oct. 2012, with over 150 attendees from around the province and the Community Action Employment Plan focuses on building that door to inclusive employment situations.

The Plan focuses on shifting attitudes towards a belief that individuals with developmental disabilities have a valuable contribution to make in the workforce.

Every community is different. The Plan tailors solutions to the unique characteristics of a region because the nature of work opportunities differs in each region.

Approximately 600 youth leave school and become eligible for CLBC services each year. These youth are a priority for employment services where they can transition with their peers and receive services that will support their personal goals instead of determining them.

CLBC will increase the number of adults with developmental disabilities that it employs and contracts with.

Social enterprise and self-employment have the potential to provide many adults with developmental disabilities the opportunity to pursue meaningful work. CLBC will better support individuals pursuing this option and creation of a self-employment program at post-secondary institutions.

The Ministry of Social Development has made improvements with BC Disability Benefits to make employment more attractive option for people to pursue.

A full copy of the plan is available at http://www.communitylivingbc.ca


Mapping Self Advocate Assets

Mapping Self Advocate Assets in the Community

What if we closed down all the local programs for a day, gathered self advocates in a room and got them to share stories of where they are welcomed, where they are encouraged to share their gifts and with whom?

Thanks to a grant from BC Ideas, self advocate Ted Decker’s suggestion came to fruition with the Inclusive Research Project to Map the Self-Advocate Community.

We engaged in community mapping around strengths, contribution and appreciation for diversity.

“We want to talk about where we are depended on and where we would be missed,” said Decker.

The project brought 150 self advocates together in three cities, Vancouver, Vernon and Victoria to talk about being welcomed and valued in these communities.

Decker, and the self advocate group he is part of, suggested that this would be great information to share with service providers so that they know there are other options, places where people with developmental disabilities feel welcomed and have opportunities to contribute. They might start thinking of where and how they and their staff might share their own gifts.

Given that some of this messaging comes directly out of school systems where parents are not made aware of the potential richness of the lives of people with disabilities, these events would also provide information to teachers, schools and parents.

Our work began with a small award from C.L.B.C.’s Safeguards Committee several years ago, as one of four projects looking at support networks. That project became part of the “Belonging to One Another: Building Personal Support Networks” booklet.

We developed a curriculum that has been presented in about a hundred workshops. This led to working with focus groups on “Support Networks: A Plain Language Guide for Self-Advocates.”

The mapping process emerged from a world café, with lots of leadership opportunities.

Two co-facilitators, one with and one without a disability, and a graphic facilitator led the events. At the end of the day an action plan was created to recognize the places an people on the map and to encourage their participation. We also opened up the room to the public to walk through our map of the lives of people in their communities who were developmentally disabled.

A second project, “Cheryl’s Star Raft Salons”, is a partnership withDavid Wetherow and Cheryl Fryfield, a new self advocate leader who brought great ideas to the table. It is exciting to work with Cheryl and David, one of the most significant elders in our movement, as we look at ways self-advocates can develop networks. This is a conversation that is oddly new, and brings a different lens to relationships that before, were only seen in one light.

It’s great to see how excited people were, from congregations, employers, co-volunteers and peers from high school who wanted to know how to stay in touch.

Our website has had 45,000 hits and the two most popular posts are about how the ways we support people with disabilities are changing.

We’ve led workshops as far south as Nashville, as far east as New York State and as far north as Fort St. John and connected with other innovative projects in the U.S., other provinces, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. People are impressed by what is happening in B.C.

We are a world leader in this movement.

All of this has grown out of that original small project. It is great to have so many conversations with so many people and wonder what we are generating, because we’ve learned not to be surprised at what a small seed might grow into.

It also challenges you to recognize how other people see and experience the same community. Learning how to ask what communities have to offer begins a process of building and developing. It brings knowledge, skills, and capacities out into the open, where they can work together to everyone¹s benefit. As the web of assets grows, so does the potential for the community.


With contributions from: Barb Goode, Shelley Nessman, Cheryl Fryfield, Maggie Vilvang, Aaron Johannes and http://www.101friends.ca



Stepping Forward to Inclusiveness

For students with developmental disabilities, overcoming obstacles has been the story of their lives.

Often those success stories ended when high school did, because university life was largely off limits for these students.

‘STEPS forward’ is providing a new chapter in the lives of these BC students who can now continue their education after high school, improving their options and life choices with regard to work, career planning, social connections, community involvement and living arrangements.

The impetus for inclusive post-secondary education came from young adults with developmental disabilities who wanted to continue their education after high school and who lobbied their families to support them to go on to college or university and to take the same courses and participate in campus life in the same ways as their siblings and peers.

In 1999, the families of these young adults came together to share ideas and explore inclusive options happening in other places across Canada. They heard that in Alberta young adults were pursing something called ‘inclusive post-secondary education’. Today, most post secondary institutions in Alberta have inclusive initiatives.

‘STEPS Forward’ was formed in 2001, to move young people away from the alternative, exclusive programs that limited their options, and onto the pathways used by everyone after high school.

‘STEPS Forward’ went from supporting one student at Emily Carr University of Art and Design to supporting multiple students at University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and Simon Fraser University. The students enjoy the typical university college experience; selecting a concentration of studies, participating in activities, clubs and events, and working in co-op placements during the summer months.

Each student is supported individually. They meet with service providers and school personnel, attend orientation sessions and receive assistance in the transition from high school to college or university. Support staff are provided to each student, and help the student enrol in select courses, identify potential career paths and concentrations of studies, modify course materials or exams, adapt duties at volunteer or job positions and help them engage in campus activities. Regular meetings are held with students, family, and campus staff and after graduation, the student is assisted to find employment based exclusively on their interests and passions, and to maintain that employment.

Thanks to ‘STEPS Forward’, developmentally disabled students are learning, laughing, and working with their non-disabled peers.

They are finding out who they are.

“My passion is to make it unremarkable for students with developmental disabilities to learn, develop careers and pursue their passions alongside other students at post-secondary institutions,” said Tamara Hurtado, Executive Director of ‘STEPS Forward’.

“We should not be afraid to think outrageously, creatively or have ‘unrealistic’ expectations, as they are the motors to driving change in the inclusive life outcomes for young adults with developmental disabilities transitioning to adulthood.

Hurtado said that inclusive education is not a program, a place or a classroom, it is a way of understanding and living in the real world where there are people of all different sizes shapes colours and abilities.

She explained the values and beliefs that underpin inclusive post secondary education.

“Young adults with developmental disabilities want to learn and belong to post secondary campuses alongside other young adults,” she said. “In doing so they will reap the same benefits from the experience. These benefits are the natural result of authentic inclusive participation in courses, activities, clubs, communities and paid valued employment.”

This works two ways.

“It benefits not only the student, but also the campus community. It is an enriching experience for everyone,” said Hurtado. “ It builds capacity for diversity at these institutions. We have heard from faculty members how having a student with a developmental disability in their class has made them better teachers. One professor shared with us that his class is full of students but he has been lucky to have one true learner in his class and that was a student with developmental disabilities.”

Hurtado said the greatest single challenge to inclusive post-secondary education has been the fragility of year-to-year funding over the previous 12 years.

“We are hoping that going forward young adults and families will be able to choose inclusive post-secondary education as an option secure in the knowledge that support will be funded for this transitional pathway to adulthood.”

The biggest surprise for the ‘STEPS Forward’ organization has been how everyone has embraced this idea and have gone from initially wondering what this was all about to pushing for the service to be able available at their local college or university. The next chapter of this story is to expand inclusive access to all post secondary institutions across British Columbia.

For more information, go to http://www.steps-forward.org




Letter to Santa; Don’t bring gifts this year.

Dear Santa
I hope this letter reaches you before you head out on Christmas Eve and use your magic and head-of-the-curve technology to visit over 150 million houses overnight, delivering presents to over 2.1 billion children, knowing exactly who is on your naughty and nice list.
This letter might seem strange, shocking, even un-Christmas-like, but I want you to think about it.
Please do not deliver presents this year. Not the kind that are found in stockings and under the tree, to be played with, built, ridden on, viewed, eaten, smelled, or collected.
What we need this year, the world, is something that will require all your infinite magic and all your miracles and most importantly, all your love for the children in our world.
I really think everyone will opt out of receiving individual gifts this year in favour of the following list.
For all the sick children in the world, those whose lives will be cut short by illness, accident, crime, nature, please make sure that the North Pole exists in Heaven, so their souls can come to you and spend the day, where they will have a sense of the divine, a hint of the beyond, a whiff of the transcendent, where everything they imagined is real, enchanting, sacred, and wondrous. Where the joy felt by little boys and little girls on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day is felt in their hearts for eternity.
That the joy and innocence and wonder find again those whose goals have become to terrorize our world, and that their lives are rewound to their infancy or childhood where they found security and happiness from their mother’s touch, where they played and sang and laughed, felt hope and playfulness and always, love, never hate, and ensure their lives go in a direction where they are not corrupted by evil and violence in the name of religion or culture or race or Holy Wars.
And while you are using your magic to rewind lives to do-overs, give that gift to ensure the addicted do not take the first drink, hit, snort, or shoot up and if it’s too late, that we embrace them in their pain and trauma and treat them for their sickness and not their criminality.
And finally, before you return to a forward motion, rewind the cycles of child abuse that impact too many, so that innocence is preserved and the cycle is no more.
That the world understands perversity and molestation, rape and pedophilia are not acts that remain isolated to one time and that those afflicted with the desire to harm and hurt and behave towards others only to satisfy themselves cannot be rehabilitated and should not be released back into our communities.
That the rich embrace giving, benevolence, and value relationships over acquisitions and simplicity over excess.
That people understand we are all the same no matter what color we are, no matter what our vocation is, whether we wear blue collars, white collars, or no collars, whether we have a home or not, whether we are fat or thin, disfigured or beautiful, and it doesn’t matter what gender we are, what gender we choose to be, who we choose to love, or, who we choose to worship, all that matters is we all practice the Golden Rule and hold that as most precious in defining how we live.
That Bibles are not thumped and every scripture or sacred text is not used to promote intolerance and hate.
That everyone finds something to have faith in, and even atheists feel the possibilities of the eternal, and sceptics and agnostics hear the music of ‘Silent Night’ or ‘Alleluia’ know there is something greater for them to rely on.
That we understand all animals are sentient beings, who have intrinsic value in their existence, life and beauty, and that they feel hurt, they love, they grieve, they feel sadness, fear, and joy, and they don’t want to fight nor should they be made to for sport and money. They do not want their babies to be taken away or to be butchered nor should they experience the terror of a kill floor or the trauma of abuse.
That minimum wage doesn’t mean minimum respect.
That we know, we believe, that when we talk to our loved ones in Heaven, they hear us.
That we take the politics out of leadership, the worship away from celebrities, and the sides out of marriage and those vows, our covenants to one another are cherished and remembered especially when life together gets difficult. And if they must be broken, that is done with dignity, sacrifice and respect.
That every person has four walls and a roof to call their own and if not , we who do help them get theirs without delay.
That every person has access to clean water, nutrition, and medicine.
That we all practice forgiveness.
That veterans are honoured at all times and we strive to send no one in their place.
That sons and daughters honour their mothers and fathers and hold sacred their family unit, the one they came from, and that they try on the shoes walked in by their parents, and are humble for it. That people realize estrangement breaks hearts and crushes souls and the collateral damage robs children of their heritage. Love and forgiveness trumps hate and grudges, every time.
That fathers be fathers mothers be mothers and both know your children need each one of you and remember, in times of conflict, the love that brought you together and created those who depend on your love and care.
That in the middle of the ‘I need’s’, ‘I want’s’, ‘Can I have’s’ are little boys washed ashore, dead, when all they were looking for was the life most of us have. That there are no borders for those little boys nor should there ever be.
That we live our lives free of road rage, bullying, pettiness, violence, gossip, back stabbing, avarice, ego, and replace those with compassion and empathy.
That we understand laughter is the best medicine.
That we protect our air, trees and water.
That we have faith in humanity, in human potential, and most of all, in the power of our imaginations.

And finally, for my Christian friends, many of us have lost the miracle of the birth of a baby boy in Bethlehem amid the crowded store aisles, in the tinsel and wrapping paper, in the baking and decorating, and we forget that it all started in a tiny little town, and the simple cries of a newborn baby, in a manger, in a stable, with our Messiah. And He brought some miracles to us from the Kingdom of God.

That we all have hope and courage despite the evil in the world and good will come one day, hope for redemption, justice and true happiness.

Please Santa, if you can grant these wishes, we can skip the rest and be grateful for it.

Signed: Sian Thomson on behalf of all the mothers who worry for our children and their future.

December 2015

Knee Slappers and other horrors.

Rod Duggan is a good friend of mine who I have never met in person. We got to know each other through recovering from knee replacement surgery, which, for those of you who have never had a pain in the knee let alone someone sawing it in half, drilling holes in to it, hammering spikes into it,  after ripping all your tendons in half, and stapling the thing back up the size of a sleeping bag zipper, you have no idea what real pain is. And I have given birth several times so I can say that.

Just don’t tell us to “walk it off”. This surgery takes a year to recover from, if you have no complications. It’s not funny, which is why we strive to  be.


We “met” on a Facebook page dedicated to those who were going in for or coming out from TKR or total knee replacement surgery. Our group is the underbelly of the knee support Facebook groups, kind of like the Hell’s Angels of the titanium knee community, and we all wholeheartedly agree that laughter is the best medicine and judging by the penis in the X-Ray of our cover page, we are all a little immature.


Now we do warn the slight of heart thinking of joining us limping delinquents that we are who we are by the introduction: Clinical and Non Clinical Rude Crude and at times socially unacceptable way of taking your mind off the knee replacement without worrying about having a good time and sharing jokes. Of course we still care and want to answer questions about the TKR but just enjoy having fun along the way. Please, if you find a post not to your tastes, just move along to another post and ignore the offending one.
There are lots of laughs, an excess of raunchy humor and a lot of TKR information and experiences by caring people with a taste for a bit off the wall and risqué brand of humor. If thats not what your looking for, this may not be the page to join, seek another and good luck.
Now, did ya hear the one about the TKR replacement that…………………….

Rod Duggan is a funny guy. Hilarious in fact. He has made my laugh take over my sobs on many days when I was ready to self amputate my leg because it hurt so much (and go bang it over the head of my orthopaedic surgeon since the voodoo doll didn’t appear to be working). With his permission, I am going to share a couple of his stories, in his words, about his recovery from this satanic, evil, tortuous medical procedure known as TKR under conscious sedation.

Heeeeerrrrrrreeeee’s Duggan….

After spending the night in “Day Surgery” they shoved me into the hallway in the ortho ward so that was a plus. It was crazy busy but I was headed in the right direction. I could not see the man but there was a guy talking loudly on his cell phone using language that would not make his mom proud. He was loud and obnoxious and after 15 minutes of F this, screw that and various terms that showed he was adept at foul language I had had enough and yelled down the hall “Hey buddy, do we all have to listen to that language? Go outside”

Every able body on the floor started clapping and he just left. Many thank you’s were shouted down the hallway and the nurses thanked me. I have no problem with swearing, but those around you don’t need to hear it!.

I suspect this helped my room assignment as I ended up in the ward right by a window and it opened for fresh air! I could see the ocean and sky. Now that is a treat.

In the room were 3 other people.

Fritz, a 91 year old German guy with a hip replacement that seemed very “old world strict”


Mike, a late 50s guy that seemed as crazy and fun loving as me


Agnes, an 86 year old German lady that spoke no English and was suffering from dementia who had a knee replacement.


This poor lady was not doing well. I had seen her on my various travels in the hospital for Xray etc. She was chanting and wailing in German. Any time a nurse came by she would yell in German Nein Nein! This was a 24/7 thing.
Many of us here have our troubles but could you imagine the shear terror of not understanding mentally or verbally what was happening? This was torture to this poor lady. Only one person came for a visit and it was a worker from her home. No family or friends at all. It was all very sad. It turns out she was also restrained to the bed by her families orders. Why would you even consider a TKR for this poor lady?

Around 3 AM she had a huge episode of loud German chanting, it was quite the show. Well it woke up Fritz and he started yelling at her in two languages, Mike woke up and asked if I was enjoying the show. I figured with the two Germans having a war I would aid the situation by singing Jewish folk songs! (I have no idea why I know Jewish folk songs).


So now you have a room of four people, one German senior female chanting, a senior German male yelling in two languages, a late 40s Canadian guy singing Jewish folk songs and another guy just laughing his butt off. About 30 minutes after it started we all settled down and fell asleep.

The next morning Mike was told he could go home as long as his bowels worked. All he had to do was pass wind and he could go home. Game on!


Around 9 AM the chanting started up again and Mike was doing what he could do to complete his exit requirements. Mike needed a witness to his impending fart so asked me to verify it. I was putting together a cheer for him, he started to fart, I congratulated him, he did it again, so I cheered and passed wind myself. Well right about this time Agnes had a moment of comprehension and started yelling “He’s Schwein, a SCHWEIN” and just went on and on at the top of her lungs. Mike was laughing and farting, I was laughing and farting, Agnes was freaking out and poor Fritz was just wondering what planet he was on. The poor nurse rushed in, quickly assessed the situation and told Mike he was discharged and left.


I was able to go to my hotel that day and then came home a couple of days later.

All in all it was an adventure, the food sucked but people watching was at an all time high. I wish Agnes the best in her recovery.


Ok since I am grumbling about pain I will just put on my big girl panties and deal with it!

Here is another episode from my original hospital stay that lead to my TKR. Like many great stories (Star Wars) I started in the middle, so here is part of Episode 1.

After being abruptly transferred from my semi private room with a great room mate into a ward with 3 other guys I was settling into my new routine. I had been waiting 3 days in the hospital for surgery as everybody else was hurt worse than me. I was promised the next spot. The doctor walked in and said I could go next but…. Could I wait 1 more day as a man was injured badly. He had crashed on his mountain bike and managed to shred the skin off of his, well, hmm, how shall I say this? Ok he got his “johnson” shoved into the handlebar and peeled the skin off it like a banana. (Delete mental image).


I gladly gave up my surgery spot for that one!

Now in my ward was a dude that puked every 15 minutes like clockwork. Every time he did this I made noises like a kookoo clock. I tend to be sick if somebody else is so I had to take my mind off of the real noise. It was the the halloween version of Westminster chimes It turns that I had shared a 1.5 hour ambulance ride with him. That was fun….


Another older gent that was very nice and he did not say much.

Then.. there as dementia dude. Why do I always end up in a ward with a crazy person? Birds of a feather perhaps.

During the day this guy was ok, very loud and lots of very loud visitors but I just hit my happy button for more drugs and zoned out to some vintage Pink Floyd. The 60s all over again!

Now night time would come about and this guy would get a tad weird. He would wake up yelling that he needed a phone. He would just keep yelling about a phone until the nurses would come in and settle him down. Then he would start doing the same thing but he would need to know which way North was. ( maybe he needed to contact the mother ship?). They would settle him down again.

Then the real entertainment would start! He would decide to make a break for it and run out of the room. Well, try to run out of the room. As he escaped he would rip out all his tubes and monitors run to the end of my bed and do this strange spin and fall down, gown open and his old man butt hanging out right at the end of my bed.


Now this would happen 3-4 times per night. Each time the grand finale would be a spin at the end of my bed with his naked butt looking up at me.


Very Circ de Soleil inspired.


I had to figure this out.

So it happened that I was awake and reading during his first episode of the evening. I grabbed my glasses so I could see the show from my front row seat. The opening scene of ripping out his tubes had begun. He jumped up and hit his stride and trailing along behind him was his urinary catheter hose. He reached the end of the hose and physics took over. The hose tightened up as it was well attached at both ends! And he would spin around due to the sudden tug on his…. and then fall down! Ouch bloody ouch! I don’t know if they attached it with duct tape or Gorilla glue but it was attached well. Every time he ran away his catheter jolted him to a stop. Kind of like a leash on a dog! I can’t imagine the feeling of such a thing.


Well at least I knew what was going on and could just lay there waiting for surgery.

And yes there is a story from the surgery. Lets just say some doctors need to work on right and left a bit more. It makes a difference.


After my original accident I had to grow enough bone to accept a joint replacement. The doctors and physios were intent on saving my knee so I had so much physio it was crazy. One of them was hydro physio at the pool. This is an incident that happened during a trip to the locker room at the pool.

Our town has an excellent pool and our population is about 6000 people many of them are seniors. The local lions club had donated a swimsuit dryer to the pool and it was installed the week before. I was in the locker room along with about 8 other men most of them over 70 years old. A service technician came in and started repairing the dryer as it was not working properly. He was laying on his back looking up into the machine which hangs on the wall. Now remember, this is a locker room, did I mention the old guys were post swim and naked?

This was a great opportunity for the old guys to offer assistance so they all gathered around the poor service tech, no towels or shorts, just letting it all hang out. Now the service tech looked up from the machine only to be staring up at a half dozen totally naked seniors that had no compunction to cover up, I am sure this was the stuff of nightmares to him as they were all asking questions and offering advice while closing in around him.

Just imagine the view from his angle and this being your first job of the day. I doubt that tequila could get him to unsee this job!


Thanks Rod. Until next time, keep eating cookies.

Sian Erith Thomson

Mental Health in BC.

The B.C. Ministry of Health website says one in five British Columbians, or approximately 882,000 people, will experience some form of mental health disorder this year. It is also estimated that between one and three per cent  have a developmental disability, and that 30 to 40 per cent of those have co-occurring mental health issues known as a dual diagnosis. In fact, developmental disability is the most common disability in psychiatric hospitals; yet the needs of people with mental health disorders and dual diagnoses are largely unmet. This is not just about the people who are experiencing these problems. It is about our society and its well-being, because we all suffer the consequences of these short sighted, money grubbing, misdirected and careless decisions made by our provincial government.

 The Ministry of Health website also says: The Province of British Columbia is committed to a comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based system of mental health and addictions services. These services focus on health promotion, prevention, treatment and recovery, and support individuals’ and families’ resiliency and self-care.

 I say that’s crazy.

 I don’t mean to insult front line workers and mental health caregivers who I know are working diligently with the staffing, funding and mandates they are given to address the needs of this population. I do, however, mean to insult the government for lack of funding for much needed services that keep families intact and individuals safe from poverty, suffering, trauma, victimization and neglect.

 We have people who are not being productive as they could be, we  have people being incarcerated instead of medicated and/or receiving adequate therapies, whose recoveries are cut short because of lack of funding, or “cost effectiveness” as the government likes to put it. We have people homeless, addicted to drugs to ease their mental anguish, incarcerated or victimized for and by crimes that stem from disorders that could have been treated, and we have children in foster care that costs more than the continuum of care would have, and ultimately, individuals and families in distress.

 I should mention that the cost of dealing with untreated mental illness is in no way effective and those costs are just coming out of other Ministries, those that run the jails, shelters, welfare budgets, child protection/foster care, law enforcement, courts, and morgues.

Rich Coleman says “I think we are actually doing a pretty good job.”

 I say he has lost touch with reality.

Maybe he would like to tell that to parents in Kamloops who had their three youngest children removed by the B.C. government after they gave shelter to their violent, mentally ill adult son, who had been turned away from government care. He was living in a secure youth residence, with 24-hour supervision, but when he turned 19, making him an adult, the ministry was no longer responsible for him. There was no other government agency or community agency to house him. He left the home as soon as his siblings were apprehended, he is now charged with assaulting a police officer and robbery, only two of the three children are back  home. The other had a nervous  breakdown over the incident.

Would it had not been more cost effective to keep him housed and stable, rather than tossing him into the void that exists especially for young adults who have mental illness? We would have saved money on foster care and now the treatment of the other child, and avoided tossing him like garbage into the criminal justice system. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident, and families all across our province are desperate for help and not receiving anything but lip service on a website and a smug retort from the Minister responsible for Housing and Social Development. And for those whose conditions have costs them their families, friends, and caregivers, they are left to join the others without voices in this province, many you see on the streets. This is not indicative a pretty good job.