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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


In case you've gotten here from my social media pleas to help my son Asher meet Tegan and Sara - here's a little bit more about him....

Meet Asher.

Asher is seven years old. He is a younger brother to big sister Rio, and an older brother (by one whole minute) to identical twin Nolan. Asher is also a big Tegan and Sara fan. 

Oh sorry, did I say big? I meant HUGE, gigantic, enormous, #1 fan kind of guy. Need an obscure lyric? Unsure which album a song is on? Want a random fact about the Quin twins? Asher is your man. 

Now can I tell you a bit more about him? You already know the big stuff - Seven. Identical twin. Big fan. Yadda yadda. But lets go a little deeper…

Asher and Nolan were born more than three months early. For the first several weeks they literally fought for their lives. They needed to remain in the hospital for nearly half a year, and survived seemingly endless complications. Despite all the obstacles they did overcome, at four days old Asher suffered a massive brain hemorrhage that would alter the course of his life. 

At a year old, Asher was diagnosed with quadriplegic cerebral palsy as a result of his brain injury. Despite regular physiotherapy and endless patience and resilience from him, Asher is only able to partially use one arm and relies on a power wheelchair and adult assistance for day–to-day life. He sees specialists, wears leg braces, is on medication to help with his symptoms, and has regular invasive procedures – but keeps smiling. 

This kid, I tell you. He’s funny, he’s charming, and he’s brilliant. He has tons of friends, participates in many activities, and is thriving in a typical classroom at school. He is unbelievably strong, wise, and most of all happy. 

Due to his limited physical capabilities for play, Asher has always most loved reading and music. He taught himself to read at age 4, and from then on his singing escalated. Put that kid in front of music and lyrics and he’ll sing his little heart out for hours on end.

Enter Tegan and Sara. 

With the release of Heartthrob, his dad introduced him to the sisters and he was hooked. At first mostly fascinated by them being identical twins, he soon became a huge fan of their music  and them in general. He just adores them, plain and simple. I’ve had to explain to him many, many times why he can’t marry one or both of them – but have assured him they’d love to be his friend if they were ever given the chance. 

So here’s where you come in.

I genuinely don’t think anything in this world would make Asher happier than a chance to meet Tegan and Sara. When we saw them in Vancouver in October 2016, he was absolutely mesmerized. We wished he could have been closer than the wheelchair section near the back, but he was so happy to just be in their presence. If he could actually meet them though? I really can’t even imagine! Many months ago I asked him if he ever got to meet Tegan and Sara, what he would want to do. He replied “Just go for a walk and chat”. MY GOD have you ever heard anything cuter?

I have advocated for many things for him and his brother (who also happens to have CP as a result of his prematurity) – therapy, inclusivity, equipment – you name it. But I can honestly say nothing like this. This would seriously make all my little boy’s dreams come true. So from a mom who would do anything for her kids, I have to ask:

Can you please, please, please – pretty please with a cherry on top – help Asher meet Tegan and Sara? If there is any remote way you could make this happen I assure you – I wasn’t joking when I said they would want to be his friend. I can promise you that they would be as thrilled to meet Asher as he would be to meet them. He’s that amazing.

So you totally want to make this happen don’t you?! Our family would forever be in your debt and you would know how happy you’ve made this incredible little boy - talk about a feel-good memory for all involved. Please think about it. 

With sincere appreciation for your time and consideration,

Tracey Trousdell – Asher’s mom

traceytrousdell at gmail dot com

Friday, March 31, 2017

Downs and Ups

As many of you know, it hasn't been a great week. Last Saturday, just before leaving for our final ski trip/spring break adventure, Jordan took a misstep in the garden. BAM! Like that, all plans changed and off we went to the ER with a rapidly swelling, incredibly painful, right knee. His good knee I might add - not the one that has already been through a major injury and three surgeries.

After both an x-ray and a CT scan to ensure nothing was missed, it was determined it was "just" a bad sprain. He was fitted for an immobilizer (a brace that runs from crotch to calf to keep his leg straight) and crutches for the next 6 weeks. He was also given the somewhat grim, but realistic prognosis that it would be six weeks like this, with more like 6 months of recovery.

Now before you think "oh poor Jordan...but it could be worse" let me stop you right there. OF COURSE it could be worse. And you know how I am sure of that fact? Because we've been through worse. Several times actually. So in the grand scheme of things we know this is just a little setback. But we weren't immediately thinking big picture when we were faced with the immediate reality of WHAT NOW?

Cause you know, for starters, there's Asher. How does a man on crutches help take care of Asher? Well, he doesn't. So that's large obstacle number one. But then there were further challenges - like this happened on spring break when he was going to be our childcare. And Rio and I had a girls weekend planned for months. And he can't drive. And he can't shower or dress himself. Oh and he works on the third floor of a building with no elevator. So ya, could definitely be worse but certainly could be better. The bottom line is that when a parent of a child with intense physical needs goes down unexpectedly, life kind of falls apart.

So there were a few days of a pity party. I hate feeling sorry for us but sometimes life is just hard. So I cried and stressed and vented to friends and my guts were a mess - but I worked out a plan. We dealt with our respective jobs and childcare. I more or less figured out that being a single parent for the next bit is going to be a lot of work but certainly possible. We brainstormed ways a sitting Jordan could lift Asher so Rio and I can still go away today, and Jordan even figured out how to get himself showered and dressed without me. I've gotta say, having an accessible shower and shower chair have worked out really well for us! And also, this little dentist office toy - wow, who knew it would become an honest to goodness accessibility aid for a very tall man who has no way to touch the floor!

So the pity party is over. The next few weeks are going to be rough, but not impossible. And instead of focusing on the fact we seem to have bad luck, I'm focussing on a whole bunch of really exciting things that all seemed to happen to me at once the other day -  choosing to look at that as a sign from the universe that even though some bad things seem to keep happening to us, some truly wonderful things happen too.

So, life is pretty great - challenges and all. Sometimes I just need reminders of that. And who better to remind me than these three.

Happy Friday and enjoy this beautiful spring weekend! We plan to.

Thursday, February 9, 2017


Our friends at Firefly by Leckey are at it again! I introduce to you the new FIREFLY SPLASHY, a portable bathseat designed by the awesome company who brought us Upsee, the GoTo seat, and the PlayPak. As with their previous products, I was thrilled to have Asher test drive one and tell you what we think.

“What is the Splashy?” you ask? Well in the words of Firefly themselves, in their handy Splashy Activity Guide:

The Firefly Splashy is a lightweight bath seat, designed to sit low in the bath to allow your child to benefit from being immersed in the water… Splashy’s design is based on the GoTo seat, with additional new features to allow your child to participate in bathing.

A recline feature means that even children with reduced head control or sitting ability are able to use Splashy. We have added interchangeable foam supports which can be used as a headrest, lateral, pommel or anti slide support. Splashy has a five point harness which can be configured into a three point pelvic support to make washing a little easier. Splashy has a comfortable, warm touch foam covering available in three colours.

Here’s a few infographics, just in case you like pictures better than words:

So now that I’ve given you the background on the product, let me tell you a little about what we think of it. Maybe I’ll let Asher show you himself:

We love it, how about I start there?!

It really is lightweight, simple to assemble, easy to configure for your child’s needs. And it even looks good! As usual, I am incredibly impressed by the craftsmanship of Firefly products. It is incredibly well made, durable, and no attention to detail has been missed. All of the strapping is soft and comfortable, making it nearly impossible to pinch your child’s skin in one of the clasps. And let me tell you, when you have a squirmy child who cannot sit on their own, pinching their skin otherwise happens way too often.

As you can see, we used it in our large shower for the purposes of trialing it – only because our shower is so big and it was easier to make the necessary adjustments. However, I did include a photo of it in our tub to show how nicely it fits:

This photo is also a good illustration of how we chose to configure it. Asher doesn’t like chest straps, so we went with a three-point harness rather than five-point. But he also has a really difficult time not scooting his bum, no matter how well he is harnessed, so we used three of the five included bumper pads to prevent his bum from scooting forward or off either side. I felt like Asher was completely safe and secure, and given all of the options for where the strapping and bumpers could be placed, I have no doubt other families could configure it in a multitude of other ways to suit their child’s needs.

In full disclosure, this will not be Asher’s primary bath seat. He predominantly showers, and will continue to use his Rifton HTS bath chair for that. However, it has been a long, long time since Asher has been able to have a bath, so now when he does, we can say YES! thanks to the Splashy.

Additionally, have you ever thought about how a heavy child who can’t sit on their own can bathe while on holidays? No, you probably haven’t if you have a typical child. But for those of us whose children can’t sit, that is a struggle, and something that always needs to be considered when traveling outside our home. When Asher was younger we would shower holding him, but now he is far too heavy for that. Thanks to the Splashy, that problem is now eliminated! We can take this with us, whether it be staying at someone else’s house or a hotel. With one click it folds up to be flat, light and easily transportable – either to be packed in your car or just put away in a closet when not in use. 

Once again I can truly say that Firefly has exceeded expectations with this bath seat. It’s easy to use, safe, and I wouldn’t change anything about it. Well actually I take that back – if I could change anything it would be that this seat existed about six years earlier, making life in a tiny bathroom with a baby/toddler/preschooler who couldn’t sit oh so much easier!

So now Firefly, since it seems to be in your mandate to design amazing special needs products that don’t already exist, I challenge you to this – how about a portable toilet seat for those kids who are toilet trained but can’t sit on their own. That’s not too much to ask, is it?!

Thank you Firefly for this amazing opportunity. This bath seat will be well used – by us, but no doubt countless others.

To check out more details, including shipping and return policies, click here.  

Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Windy City

Chicago. Oh my. You exceeded our wildest dreams.

When I started planning this weekend in August as a surprise for Jordan's upcoming 40th, I had so many hopes. Would I be able to get Blackhawks Canucks tickets? (Yes). Would I be able to get a table at Alinea? (Yes). Would I be able to keep it a secret from Jordan? (Yes). Would I find a hotel in the perfect neighborhood? (Yes). Would all else fall into place with jobs and babysitting and and and? (Yes, yes it all did). Would we perish in some Trump-related terrorist attack? (NO!) But I still didn't imagine that we would have so much fun.

The city itself - beautiful. An amazing mix of old and new architecture perched on the edge of a great lake and on either side of a river make it a sight to behold. It's clean, it's easy to get around, and despite knowing otherwise, it felt safe. Police presence was strong, but non threatening. I could have walked around exploring for days.

Alinea*. Well. I don't even know which adjectives to use. Unbelievable? Exceptional? Outstanding? Yes, yes, and yes. Basically Grant Achatz is a culinary god and deserves all the praise he has received, and then some. And on top of an outrageous meal, the service was impeccable. Light-hearted, friendly, and completely non pretentious, yet our every need was anticipated. Worth every single penny (and trust me, it was quite a few pennies). Seeking out three star dining is now at the top of my bucket list.

The Canucks Blackhawks game. So the Canucks lost, but come on, I was sort of expecting that. That said, it was probably the most fun game I have seen live. The Canucks looked good, and playing a team as good as Chicago, that was great to see. And I've gotta say those Chicago fans love their team. I mean love their team. Apparently in some cities outside of Vancouver the fans love their team all the time - who knew?! And despite having to put up with four Blackhawk goals, it was hard to not sing along to Chelsea Dagger when the crowd was just so happy! I kid you not when I say 99% of the fans in that arena were wearing player jerseys, and the other 1% were in Cubs gear. I've never seen anything like it.

So ya, to say this was the weekend of a lifetime doesn't really do it justice. When I am lying on my deathbed, Chicago will be one of the features of my mental slideshow.

*If you want to know more about Alinea - watch Netflix "Chef's Table > Season 2 - Episode 1". Prepare to be amazed!

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Real Advocacy

In case you missed it, recently I was featured on a CTV news clip talking about the teacher and support shortage in BC schools. You can see the clip here.

I received such nice feedback about the clip. "You're such a good mom. What a wonderful advocate. You're so articulate.  You looked so great, especially the white coat!". Lovely, heartfelt compliments that I truly did, and do, appreciate. But the truth is, none of that news clip illustrates Real Advocacy. 

Real Advocacy is not a news clip. Or a perfectly styled family photo shoot for a print donation campaign. Or a pre-recorded video for a telethon. Or a newspaper spread. Or any of the "public facing" advocacy we've been featured in. And not to take anything away from that - we always have been, and will continue to be, happy to share our story in order to help others relate. But it's not the true part of where my Real Advocacy is focused. 

Real Advocacy is found behind the scenes. Usually late in the evening when the kids have gone to bed, or early in the morning after tossing and turning all night. It's found in endless emails and phone calls. It's found in having to step outside yourself and be the bad guy when your natural instinct is to be the likeable one who doesn't stir things up. It's found in grant writing and applications.  It's found in going above someone's head when they haven't been professional. It's found in sometimes boring, sometimes pointless meetings. It's found in seemingly endless bureaucracy. 

But mostly, it's found in tears. Anxiety. Stress. Loneliness. Exhaustion. Defeat. And sometimes self-pity, despite your best intentions. It's also found in regret and self-doubt when you worry you may not have done enough. 

In short, nothing about Real Advocacy looks pretty. And worst of all, it definitely doesn't feel pretty. 

So next time (and I can pretty much promise you there will be a next time) you see one or more of us advocating in a way that looks shiny, confident, and articulate, enjoy it along with us. But try to remember that the Real Advocacy happens quietly, tearfully, and very unceremoniously in the background.