Friday, March 2, 2018


Well now that it's March, I can't avoid the inevitability of this any longer. For those who don’t know all of the details, this guy here is having surgery on March 20th. BIG surgery. He’ll be getting both femurs cut below the hip, rotated, plated and screwed into place. He’ll also have his calf, adductor, and hamstring muscles cut and lengthened in each leg. For six weeks he’ll be casted from the knee down with leg immobilizers from the groin down. He’ll spend that time lying, and eventually sitting, with his legs straight out in front of him.

Luckily this surgery will take place here in Victoria so we’ll be able to focus our energy on Asher’s recovery while not having to be away from the other kids. He’ll spend about a week in hospital and then continue his recovery at home. We’re hoping that by the 3-4 week mark he’ll be able to handle school for short periods of the day, but that will not be without its challenges. By all accounts this will be an incredibly long, painful process. We have been warned he will not be himself for at least 6, if not 12, months. While we are trying to go into this with very realistic, informed expectations, it is difficult to actually comprehend what it will be like. Spending half a year in the NICU suddenly seems very different from spending half a year (or more) with a child who is not only in pain – but understands why and likely feels the frustration and unfairness that goes along with that.

We did not enter into a decision about this surgery lightly. We have some doctors we place the utmost trust in who have recommended that 8-9 years old is the ultimate time to have this surgery in terms of skeletal development. We’ve been talking about it and weighing the pros and cons for over a year. Asher’s hips are not so far gone that they are irreparable – in fact his hips looks pretty amazing for a child who has never walked. But the muscle tone in his legs is really starting to wreak some havoc, so we are crossing many fixes off of a list of items that unfortunately need to be attended to - sooner rather than later to ensure the best outcome.

We are very lucky we have family who is around (or traveling) to help out with Nolan and Rio in the time Asher is hospitalized. I am also very lucky to have a boss who has allowed me to take as much time as I need to be with Asher for the duration of his recovery. I’m not actually sure how we’d manage if either of those things weren’t a possibility.

After the surgery we're hoping to set up lots of short visits with friends to help keep his spirits up once he is home, but still unable to go to school or participate in normal daily activities. In the mean time, if you want to send him an email or a card wishing him well it would be much appreciated. Just comment here and I'll get you contact info.

Despite this surgery feeling like a massive, unscaleable mountain, I know we will get through this. But any positivity you want to send the way of our family in the coming weeks and months would certainly be appreciated.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Government House Donor Tea

As many of you know, I was the parent speaker at the recent Children's Health Foundation of Vancouver Island's donor appreciation tea. What an experience! I got to speak in front of 150 donors, and meet/sit with the Lieutenant Governor of BC. Government House is as stunning as you would expect, and the entire experience was something our family will never forget.

I've been asked by several people to share my speech, so here it is (plus a bunch of pictures)...


Good afternoon Your Honour, Lieutenant Governor Guichon, and dear friends of the foundation,

I am honoured to be sharing my story with you today. You may recognize me and my family – my husband Jordan, daughter Rio, and twins Asher and Nolan, all of whom you’ll soon meet – from past print and video campaigns for the foundation. This however, is my first time speaking to this many of you in person!

We first began our relationship with Children’s Health Foundation nearly eight years ago when Asher and Nolan were born more than three months prematurely. They had a very challenging stay in the neonatal intensive care unit, suffering many serious complications including a brain hemorrhage for Asher. I wasn’t even able to hold them until Asher was 3 weeks old and Nolan was 6 weeks. Despite all of the setbacks, after 5 months and two days they remarkably managed to come home from hospital on the exact same day. In their first feat of twin telepathy, they showed us they really are better when they’re together!

I still remember that day so clearly. The pure joy we felt was indescribable; however in addition there was fear. How would we take care of these extremely fragile babies? There was also so much grief – for what we had been through already, and for what we knew was still to come.

But before I could feel too lost, the early intervention team from Children’s Health Foundation entered the picture. First came our infant development consultant with home visits. When it soon became clear that Asher wasn’t meeting his physical milestones, we began to see a physiotherapist. Shortly thereafter came an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, and a social worker, not to mention their many referrals to specialists: all eager to support us in any way they could. We couldn’t have asked for a more committed and knowledgeable team to anticipate any need our boys may have.

At just over a year old, Asher was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. It was difficult news to hear, but not unexpected. What was a bit more unexpected - but completely fitting because they do everything better together - was when Nolan too was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at close to three years old.

Now when I look back at those first five years of their lives, it’s all a blur. It was more challenging than you can probably imagine. But through it all, we had one constant – our early intervention team. Whether preparing for a consult with a new doctor, or writing endless grant applications for medical equipment, one of those amazing people was always there holding my hand – often figuratively, but also sometimes literally.

In fact one of my most vivid memories is walking into an appointment at the QA site one morning. We had been going through a particularly tough period and when I saw our team, I burst into tears. They ushered Asher and Nolan off to therapy, then promptly took me to a quiet corner, brought me a cup of tea, and sat reassuring me that I could do this, no matter how hard it all seemed. The amount of care they took of ME and the rest of our family was just as important as the care they took of our boys.

So as you can imagine, as our boys were close to starting kindergarten and being discharged from their services, I was terrified. Who would I run my questions by? Who would give me advice and reassurance? What would I do without my safety net?

Our very wise physiotherapist, when posed with those questions, answered me with the best advice she could’ve given me: “It’s your turn now”, she said. “We were there to support you and help you prepare for doing this on your own. You’re ready”.

And she was right. I knew how to advocate for my boys because I had almost five years working with the best teachers. They helped me find the tools I needed, both within our community and within myself, to educate others and fight fiercely to ensure my boys exceed their potential. And they definitely do! They are in Grade 3 in a typical classroom with tons of friends and interests. Despite the challenges they have overcome, and new obstacles that they’ll continue to face, I can proudly say that all three of my children are some of the brightest, kindest, most well-rounded kids you will ever meet.

Sometimes, though, I still become overwhelmed. When life becomes too full of logistics, and medical procedures, and everyday tasks that others get to take for granted, I remind myself that we can get through it. We have a solid base that helped us get to the strong, thriving place we are today. And we have Children’s Health Foundation to thank for that.

So that in turn leads me to all of you. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for the support you have given us and will continue to give to others through your generosity. We refer to ourselves as the Trousdell Five – but the reality is that Team Trousdell is actually much bigger and better than just the five of us. It also includes all of you.

We have a small token of appreciation that we want to share with all of you. We joke that in our family our love language is food. Eating is definitely our favourite pastime. For each of you we have a small utensil we hope you will use at your holiday dining table and remember the impact you have made. It reads “spread the love”, so please know – our family feels your love. Thank you.

Members of the Foundation and the Honorable Judith Guichon (on my photo left)

The gift I mention in my speech - a cheese knife that reads "spread the love"

Saturday, November 11, 2017

I'm Still Here....

I'm still here, just maybe not very regularly in this space. When I realized I hadn't posted anything since July it kind of shocked me.

I'm not sure what I'm doing with this site, truly. Blogging for me isn't a priority for now. Writing essays maybe still is. So for now I'll keep this as a place to link to old essays I've written, share any advocacy we're doing, and....other than that I'm not sure.

Trousdell Five is doing well - great even - just maybe the days on reporting on us have come to an end...

Friday, July 14, 2017

Two Wheelin'

When our kids achieve milestones, especially ones we didn't expect them to achieve, we feel pride as parents. This goes for any of our kids, not just those of us with special needs. But, boy, can I tell you that when your special needs child achieves a milestone you did not know they were physically capable of - well, basically your heart explodes right out of your chest. Literally at this moment I am looking at my exploded heart all over the desk in front of me. Ok maybe not literally. But you get it.

This week, Nolan was in "iCan Bike" camp. It is a camp for special needs kids who - you guessed it - can't (yet) ride a bike. They have an amazing progression of skills they teach the kids over the week and the development is truly astounding. They work with the kids for 1.25 hours per day. At first I was worried that would be too short of a time period but by the end of it realized how exhausting it is and how hard they were all working!

Nolan started this camp riding a two wheel bike with training wheels and toe clips, facing two major challenges:
1. Balance
2. Foot position.

In fact let's try that again - those are major challenges he faces not only on a bike, but in life in general.

I could write a novel about how his progression happened over the week but I'll spare you. Let's just say there were times of excitement and times of doubt (for both of us). And then he just got it. Like GOT IT. All of a sudden it clicked.

Here's the proof...

There are no words to describe the way I feel about this progress. Truly. How incredibly difficult that must have been for him to master blows my mind. He didn't get frustrated, he didn't give up - and he nailed it. It's "just like riding a bike" is NOT "just like riding a bike" when you have CP. But yet, here were are.

Nolan has been rewarded for all of his hard work with a new bike and a "helper" handle on the back for us parents until he really, really gets it. But most importantly, he's been given the best gift I could've wished for - an enormous sense of pride in himself. No reward beats that. 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

VIctorian's Rally!

People keep complimenting me on "making it happen" for Asher to meet Tegan and Sara. Well thank you, but that's only partly true. Yes, I started the process with my original facebook post - but then my fellow Victorians (and truthfully many others from outside of Victoria) ran with it. Community of Victoria, you made this happen! Click here for a nice little piece on Victoria Buzz. 

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Asher's Big Night

Well I feel like this night deserves a lot more than just a clip of our second Sawatsky Sign-Off, but in the mean time click right here to see Asher's dream come true meeting Tegan and Sara!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Sawatsky Sign-Off

Well, Asher kind of blew up on Facebook, so the result was us being contacted by CTV to film a "Sawatsky Sign-Off". What an experience! If this doesn't melt Tegan and Sara's hearts I'm not sure what will.

Get this tissues here