As I am asking you to invite me into your life during times of illness, fragility, and uncertainty, I think it is only proper you know something of me. Yes, I have shared my professional experiences in my bio – but who am I? What makes me tick? Why do I believe I can help you or that you want me to assist you?
I am a mother, grandmother and most recently a great grandmother. My grand daughter told me not to worry – “you have always been a great grandmother”. I laughed but was so happy to hear her say that.
I have been married and divorced and I remain friends with my ex-husband(s); yes- but don’t ask….
Family is so important to me. I chose to move from New Brunswick to BC in 1978 to start my nursing career in Prince George. Only as my children grew did I realize the importance of having aunts, uncles, and grandparents nearby. We supported BC Tel – Telus with our long-distance charges and we wrote letters. Vacations were quick drives across Canada, sharing time between both sets of grandparents. But we missed so much.
My nursing career was rewarding and varied.
My Mom was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1984; the survival prognosis was good with life expectancy of about 10 years. My Mom was 46 years old – a vibrant loving woman. I am the nurse, but I was 5000 KMs away. I packed some bags, including toys and treats, and with my 4-year old son and 7-year-old daughter, boarded the train for NB. Moving “home” was not an option at the time, but more frequent visits took place as she moved in and out of remission. In 1991 we moved to NB and I cared for my Mom during the palliative stage of her illness. I was able to advocate for her pain control medication, treatment and of course, provide hands on nursing care for her comfort.
My Mom passed in early 1992. My heart ached even as I felt the joy Mom and I shared during this time as we reminisced, sought forgiveness for actions taken as a teenager/young parent, and prepared for her end of life.
I returned to BC and started my work with the BC government outside of hospitals. A different career but one which utilized my nursing skills and advocacy for our clients.
I was also supported by my Employer to be a Community Coroner; this further enriched my nursing experience as I worked within the BC Coroners Act to investigate deaths. I worked closely with the family of the deceased, physicians, Pathologists and RCMP. This interesting experience reinforced my belief in celebrating life, caring deeply for people we love and accepting the end of life with respect and dignity.
I still find the Disney movie “The Lion King” incredibly sad and chose not to watch it on my last flight.
My father lived here in Victoria; I first met him in 1992 (long story) but only developed a relationship with him in 2004. His wife died in 2000 and he agreed to meet and get to know me. This was a slow building relationship; I describe it as no Oprah moment when we first met but it evolved into a loving, caring respectful relationship.
In 2014 we could tell his memory was slipping and his physical health was deteriorating. In 2015 we /I discussed his confusion, memory loss with his long-time family physician and he was referred to a senior’s outreach center for an assessment. This was the start of my advocacy role with my father. The physician completed the form for Dad to no longer drive but it was me who took his car keys and broke the news to him. As a former truck driver, this was extremely hard for him to accept. He felt his independence slip away. As a nurse and daughter, I met with the Community Care Office case manager and helped to navigate the system for home care support, blister pack medications, wound care as needed and physician appointments. Eventually this progressed to placement in an extended care facility.
This was a new role for me; I had been a Director of Care for 6 years in a facility ensuring quality of care, welcoming new patients and reassuring the family. I was now on the other side of the experience. My previous experience assisted me as I navigated this system.
My Dad died in August 2019. My notebook filled with my notes to Dad from our daily visits, bring a smile as I recall his love for toast and jam, Oreo cookies, chocolate, and Frankie, my Mini Schnauzer.
And now, here I am.
I am officially “retired”. I miss my interaction with people I know I can help as they face health care challenges.
- I know firsthand the confusion of medical appointments with the questions asked and answers missed.
- I know how to help ensure the blister pack medications are taken on the right day at the right time.
- I know the fear a daughter feels when her parent calls and does not know where he/she is. They want to come home; and ask how to get home. My Dad called me with these questions when he was sure he was attending a golf tournament in Florida – the sound and picture of the TV broadcast was so real to him.
My life story is not unique, but it made me who I am today.
Till next time,