Why Volunteer

Why Volunteer

Why do I volunteer?

I have asked myself this question so many, many times.  It is making time to do something that has no paycheck, sometimes I have to work a nine hour day for free. Sometimes I have to deal with people I want nothing to do with or I feel embarrassed to see. During an active volunteer season I spend a lot of time away from home and my family.

There are many other reasons, better, more selfish reasons I volunteer.  I believe very strongly, that people should give their time to something that aids and/or brings awareness to something others can not see and/or talk about. It is so very important to remain humble and appreciate the life we are living.  Our lives, especially as we get older, remind us that our time here is so short and we need to help those who can not help themselves. We need too help those that think they shouldn’t ask for help. I need to volunteer and do something selfless so I can remind myself that others depend on me. I depend on them to love and appreciate me, that in spades is payment enough. Money will not help me when I pass. My name on a plaque will not cure my sisters disease but it will help us find that cure. Show that I was a soldier and advocate for her and her struggle. Volunteering helps me step up and out of my box as well, and for that I am very thankful.  I think without my pleasure and experience meeting and working with so many volunteers I would have become a far more bitter and cynical person.

Volunteering is also very fun, I have had the honor of sharing and celebrating so many successes that are not my own. I have had fine meals with brilliant, selfless and lovely individuals.  I have rubbed shoulders with passionate, highly educated and deeply caring people over the years. I have made some dear friends some of whom I could even say are like family now. I have met great leaders and great mentors on this volunteer journey.  Let my legacy be that I did all I could to help people who could not help themselves. It is worth more to me than any amount of money can pay for. Selflessness for humanity, it really is, I believe, what we are truly all here for.



Inside Out

Inside Out

Move beyond the pain of being a misfit;

I hear what you say and see how you feel.

All this depth keeps me too serious;

Where am I going what is my purpose.

Why do I even bother;

For me, my time is short, valuable.

I am not always okay, even when my pride says otherwise;

Tell me again how lucky I am.

Tell me again how I should count my blessings;

My minimum wage is not worth the price I have paid.

I must not give in to my shame;

I can not allow my energy to be misused.

I must not take myself for granted;

I own this life I lead, I must become my best.

Shed all fake reconciliation and stretch my soul;

March to the beat of a drum never heard.

I will live on another day;

As I shed another snakes skin.


Please Wipe My Mouth

We traditionally celebrate Easter by eating a Turkey, being with family and hiding a basket with eggs and treats from the Easter Bunny for the kids. So I was thankful that in spite of my moms aching back she came out to see Cara and share in some tradition with her granddaughter and me this year. I unfortunately have a sinus infection and can not go see my dear sister until the infection is healed. Cara with her Multiple Sclerosis has had issues with breathing and choking and has had to be ventilated more than once so I will not risk getting her or any one else where she lives sick with my infection.

So our mom went to go and spend some time with her and when she went to give her a kiss, like she always does, she noticed that she had food caked around her mouth from lunch.  I wonder how short staffed some of these homes are, not finding the time to  completely wipe someones mouth after eating a meal. My sisters skin on her face was dry and flaky again as well, may I remind you that she has MS, she can not wipe her own mouth any more, so she certainly can not put face cream on her dry skin. This saddens and frustrates me to my core. We take for granted the fact that if we have and itch we can scratch it. People in the medical profession honestly want to help but simply do not have the time.  Changing someones brief would definitely take priority over making sure someones mouth is clean just because of time.

We are at for front of many great solutions to the many issues that someone with MS has to deal with.  We have re-purposed a pill that was once used for acne to slow down relapses and it is working, the more relapses the worse the disease can get. This is not true of all MS suffers, sometimes the disease doesn’t debilitate completely like my sisters has, but I am sure it sits in the back of their minds as a possibility. There are a lot of funds being raised by volunteers and people affected by this crippling disease that go straight to research for the cure and a better quality of life. The sad thing is, is that I do not see any of this affecting Cara.  Day in and day out she lays stiff in her bed or in her chair, and she can’t even get a regular massage or an occupational therapist to see her on a regular basis. We would have to pay for these things out of pocket because they are not covered by any type of funding.

Something has to change.  Hopefully in Cara’s lifetime. I so desperately want to say to her that it will improve for her and the cure is available now.  Cara would need rehab in order to learn to walk and use her muscles again, as she has atrophied from lack of use and being in one position to long. I am pretty sure she would not have any issues with this.  I think even if she could not walk again, just to know that the quality of life could improve in the extended care institutions and homes, that would be enough for her. Really this would be enough for most of us. It is not only MS patients that suffer it is anyone that resides in these places. Some of the people living in an extended care environment have to live many years like Cara has before they pass. I sure don’t want that for anyone and neither would Cara.

Thank you for reading this and if you are so inclined, give to the MS Society, we raise funds through various fundraising events such as then MS Walk, Bike Tour, Golf Tournaments and Burgers to Beat MS through A&W. I personally am raising funds through The Jaymen Built MS Walk this year in May my Team is called Cara’s Corner.


Auxiliary Living

Auxiliary Living


I was just thinking; About life in long term care…


We speculated as children  my younger sister and I, about what we would do if one of us became paralyzed. Our lack of life experience lead us to believe that if that happened it would justify suicide. Cara was suicidal for five years after she was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and I had a flat out nervous breakdown, thankfully we still lived together at this time so we could help each other.

Fast forward to more recent times.

I attended a conference for Multiple Sclerosis about seven years ago. I watched a video made for our government to advocate for a change in long term care environments.  I could barley watch it I cried so much and I think I was still overwhelmed about the seriousness of Cara’s disease at that time.  I wish I could say a lot has changed, but I can not.  It has really stayed the same.  I feel comforted only by the fact that I am capable of speaking up now on Cara’s behalf. There is so much more to Cara’s life with Multiple Sclerosis, however it is hard to see past her outer image.  She is still my little sister, and she still depends on me and her family for answers when it comes to the type of care she is receiving.  Sometimes all I can do is weep with helplessness and then get angry because I feel like there is nothing I can do.  I am very afraid that she may never here the words; They found a cure.

Talk about humility

I can only imagine what food tastes like every day for her, living in extended care, all pureed and/or thickened so she can swallow it easier. Then after every meal she has to wait for the support workers to put her in her bed, change her diaper, put her pajamas on or change her clothes, and brush her teeth. All that depends on the urgency level of each individual that lives there in long term care.

Basic needs are always met with skill and resourcefulness in our medical system, we are lucky to live where we do, our medical practices here in Canada are stellar compared to many other countries.  That really doesn’t matter does it though, because based on Cara’s oral hygiene I question if brushing her teeth twice every day has be followed through with.  We will never know unless we put cameras in her room now will we?  She paid a lot of her own hard earned money for ‘perfect teeth’ and now, we can not even brush her teeth with a regular tooth brush until she gets some major dental work done.  I am not bashing the medical staff because I understand due to staffing issues, medical policies and funding peoples hands really are tied.

There is no real form of entertainment or socialization for someone that once enjoyed and extremely active life and if there is it based on availability and funding. Cara looks forward to taking her medication just so she can socialize. I just know that crushed up pills in apple sauce or yogurt is not for faint of heart.  She takes these drugs and vitamins consistently every single day and night.  Her once a week bath is the highlight of her week unless nobody puts moisturizer on her face, then she has so endure dry itching that she can no longer scratch or stop from happening.

What about touch?  What about movement?  Our bodies are made to move and be nurtured, not sit or lie every single day all day.  How much television can one watch? Especially when that is really the only thing for her to do.  The age gap is huge between Cara and the other residents, it makes a difference for someone in her generation compared to someone 30 to 50 years her senior.  So any entertainment the Recreation Department does is geared towards seniors and not a highly creative 44 year old who was diagnosed with two eating disorders, a mental illness, thyroid issues and multiple sclerosis. (The thyroid and mental illness were diagnosed after the eating disorders and MS, while in long term care.)

Being hypersensitive, I constantly feel like throwing up when I have to visit a hospital or a setting like a hospital.  I do not show it, that would be rude and insensitive. I even learned to give her a needle so she could be a case study for an experimental drug for MS, that was a long time ago now. I just brush her teeth and put coconut oil on her dry and sensitive skin when I go to see her now. We are a little nervous still because she had her thumb dislocated by some staff while being transferred into her bed even though her screams of pain were heard.  She went more than a week before she was treated and that was after family pushed for it!  As a caregiver I still feel hateful towards the treatment of some diseases because of the bureaucracy and stigma that goes with it all.

Cara’s thumb being dislocated was a while ago now, we are forced to let it go and move forward. Even though nobody took responsibility for the accident and nobody was really reprimanded to my knowledge.  I would sincerely like to see some progressive changes in long term care for my sweet sister and anyone else that has to enter an extended care environment.  We need funding, tenacious advocates and communication with our government.  At least with that trinity of activities we can hopefully become empowered enough to make a huge difference for Cara, she has been waiting many many years for these changes and I still feel like weeping when I tell her not enough has been done yet and we are working on it.