Sunday, 24 February 2013

Most Valuable Dad - by Madison Sands

When I was little I wasn’t the typical “let’s play Barbies and then have a tea party” kind of girl. I had short messy hair, rode a two wheeler up and down the street, and was often mistaken as “Oh, what a cute little boy!” As kids, our mom and dad always had me and my brother and sister in all kinds of sports…track, cross country, soccer, ball hockey, rugby etc.

When I was 3, my mom put me in summer dance, but that only lasted about two weeks after she realized the only reason I went was because McDonalds was right beside the dance studio. A few years later, my parents put me in speed skating. But after refusing to wear those stupid tights, they wouldn’t allow me to compete. It wasn’t until I was eight years old when my dad came home and told me he finally signed me up for ice hockey.
My dad has always been a big part of my hockey career, and he is the main reason I got to where I am today. He would specifically work the night shift so he wouldn’t miss a game. He was my number one critic, and if I sucked, oh, I’d hear about it. Even though he wasn’t on the bench coaching, his opinion was most important to me. He was always hard on me, but I knew that it was only to help me get better. For example, when my dad picked me up from elementary school, he’d make me run laps at the high school track while waiting for my siblings to be dismissed. Or days when I was sick and had a game, he would toss me a bottle of Tylenol and say “take this and let’s go!” as I’d be throwing up in a bag on the drive there.

Most parents brag about their kid’s with their report cards, or honor roll list. My dad would pull out my stats and show them my point total. He’d show up to my class and tell the teacher I had an “appointment” and take me to the rink for stick and puck to prepare me for the big game I had that night. And every year at parent teacher interview when the teacher was explaining to him the things I needed to work on, his response was “Yah, but have you seen her slap shot?” 
At tournaments he was the first to jump on the hotel bed, start a towel fight in the pool, and everyone knew when Mike Sands was picking MVP (Most Valuable Player) for the opposing team. It wasn’t the star of the game who got it, but the one who tried the hardest.

He is not your typical dad, he is more like a friend. From day one he was always there. He taught me how to hold a stick, tie my skates and even throw a punch. And his motto, which I am sure my brother, sister and I will pass on to our children, was “If you aren’t practicing, someone else is and when they meet you they will beat you!”
This past September I left home for university to play the sport I love. It was very difficult at first because I left behind the man that I love suffering with something I’m not able to help him with…and he was always there to help me. But reminiscing helped me realise that it’s what he always loved watching me do, and what he was preparing me to do for all these years.

                           Madison - 8 years old playing for the Ridge Meadows Barracudas
                     Madison - 18 years old playing for Mount Royal Cougars in Calgary Alberta
                             Mike, Molly and Madison cheering for the Vancouver Canucks
                                  Cheering for Madison and her team this season at UBC
Mike watching Madison and Nathan play a game of scrimmage with their friends this past Christmas break at Pitt Meadows Rink - with Leah

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Don't Judge a Man by His ALS - by Erin Sands

I’ll never forget my first day of university… ahh sweet freedom! I felt so independent living on my own at the UFV dorms in Abbotsford. A brand new adventure and I was out in the real world.

On my first night away from home I decided to go for a run to scope out my new digs. I didn’t know the area at all so I just started running, not knowing where I was going or where I would end up. Fortunately, I came across a track. I was so excited because I absolutely love running at the track. The stadium lights shone brightly and I was thrilled at my discovery.
The only problem was there was this big fence that gave no access to the prime running real estate!

I figured they wanted to keep out all of the thugs and hoodlums who up to no good. But I was just a sweet, innocent girl wanting to go for a run so I decided I would hop the fence. As I began to scale this thing and I noticed that there was barbed wire at the top. I thought to myself “they must really want to keep these bad kids out”. All of a sudden two cops with big flashlights came running out at me. They yelled “WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO YOUNG LADY?”
I told them with desperation in my voice “I just want to run on your track!”

They looked at each other puzzled and the officer then said, “This is not a track…. This is the Matsqui prison!”
I’ve come to learn to never judge a book by its cover, or a track by its bright lights. The same can be said for my dad. Most people talk to him like he is either deaf or a 3-month-old baby. Even people he knows well, will come over and yell very slowly “HELLLOOO MIIIKKE, DO YOU REMEMBER ME?” Oh great, now they think he has amnesia too!

ALS does NOT affect your brain. My dad may not be able move his body, down a quarter chicken with fries at Swiss Chalet or sing the lyrics to “I wear my sunglasses at night”, but he is still the same big kid who taught my brother and me how to play nicky-nicky-nine-doors, the brainiac who helped me with all my homework and the wise man who always has the perfect advice. He’s still the guy who encourages me when I am down and makes my stomach hurt from laughing at his hilarious jokes.

Today is my 24th birthday and I am so thankful for every single year and moment I have had to spend with this amazing man. From the first day I was born he has loved and taken care of me and ALS has never come in the way of that. He may be different physically, but he will always be the same old daddy!
So two words of advice - Don’t ever judge someone by their appearance and if there is a huge fence with barbed wire it’s probably not a good idea to try hopping over it. You may just be breaking into a prison.


Sunday, 17 February 2013

General Hospital - by Mike Sands

Hospitals have been around for a long time.  Up until the beginning of the twentieth century most hospitals were run through religious organizations. It was at this time in history that the public realized that government run hospitals were necessary to ensure a more egalitarian, structured medical system.  Formal hospitals were set up with access guaranteed to the public – provided the client was willing to pay.  In Canada in the early 1960’s, we moved to a publicly funded system  as we realized health care was a necessity for all, not just a privileged few, unlike in the United States where  it’s still pay as you go, or as Groucho Marx said, ‘’In the U.S., a hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.”

As a Registered Nurse, I’ve been associated with the hospital setting for many years. I worked at Riverview hospital for 12 years. Riverview was a hospital for the mentally ill.  Mentally ill people often find themselves on the outer parameters of society, as they often do not fit in or conform to society’s mores.  I found this job to be very rewarding and very interesting.  I particularly found it enjoyable and refreshing how many of them would speak their mind; they would say things that many of us thought but were afraid to say.  I remember hearing one story of a nurse coming in a patient’s room to give him his anti-psychotic injection.  As the nurse walked in the room, the patient yelled at the nurse, ‘’ they treat us like dogs around here.’’  The nurse yelled back, ‘’That’s nonsense, now rollover!’’ The only problem I had working in a hospital was that whenever I wanted to call in sick, the boss would say, “Oh you’re sick, why don’t you come into work and well take a look at it.‘’

With the onset of my ALS, I knew my days of serving patients were now going to be reversed.  My second taste of hospitalization came last week when I was admitted to get a feeding tube put in.  With ALS, the muscles in your throat become weakened.  Swallowing becomes difficult and the need to supplement your eating becomes necessary. The surgery only lasted 15 minutes. I was then wheeled back to my room. With my dire diagnosis of ALS, the doctors are more liberal doling out the pain medication.  So I pretty much had free reign with the morphine. The adage ‘’too much of a good thing is not good ‘’ fits this situation.  Although I was pain free and giddy as a schoolboy, morphine decreases your respirations.  It makes you feel like there’s an elephant on your chest.  Never again will I be tempted by the allure of morphine. The guy in the next bed was on the same ‘morphine trip’ that I was on. As his wife sat by his bedside, his eyes fluttered open and said to her, “You’re beautiful.”  Flattered, she continued her vigil as he fell back  to sleep. Later, he woke up and said to her, ‘’You’re cute.’’ Startled she said, “What happened to beautiful?” He said, “The morphine is starting to wear off.”

My last night in the hospital, I was transferred to a room with 3 patients suffering from Alzheimer‘s disease.  I looked across the room at a man tied at the waist to the bed. He was struggling feverishly, (to no avail), to get out of his bed.  I thought of the irony between the two of us, me, unable to move a muscle and in control of all my mental faculties, and him, strong as an ox and not in his right mind.  Oh what a team we could have made with his brawn and my brains. We could’ve been a contenda.                                                              

         I used to have a drinking problem, I had two hands and only one mouth...problem solved!