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)...

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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"


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