Monthly Archives: August 2013

The United Nations Decade of Road Safety

The U.N. has named 2010-2020 as the Decade of Road Safety.  What most people don’t know is that Canada actually had a 10 year plan too.  I was called the Road Safety Vision and it took place from 2000-2010.

The goal was to cut Motor Vehicle Collisions Involving Impaired Driving from 34% to 17%.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada currently puts that number around 40% (depending on where you look – it goes provincially, so I averaged it and then still went low).

Is it any wonder that we couldn’t adhere to the Kyoto accord when we can’t even adhere to our own goals?

There’s More Cost Than Just the $1000.00 Fine

I swear that if I hear that one more time from someone that thinks they know how the system works….well, I hope that you will all be my email jail buddies.

So let’s just break down  their costs versus our costs shall we:

 

Fine                                                                                                                   $ 1000.00

Court Costs                                                                                                            $ 3000.00

Lawyers Fee                                                                                                            $ 5000.00

Ignition Interlock                                                                                                  $ 1000.00

Miscellaneous Fees                                                                                                $ 1000.00

____________

Total                                                                                                                        $11,000.00

 

Ambulance Fees for and 11 year old girl and her mother                                    $    500.00

The Costs to bury and 11 year old child                                                            $10000.00

(John here –  a special thank-you to Erb and Good, they reduce the material costs of a childs funeral by half.  Even if that were not the case I would still use them as they are a tremendous group of compassionate professionals.)

The Cost of a child’s life                                                                                    PRICELESS

Why do we find it so hard to do?

You’re at a party and somebody goes to the front door and says they’re heading out.  They have been drinking.  You ask them if they’re okay to get home and they say, “Oh, I’m actually walking.  I thought I’d walk home and use this gun to randomly shoot at passing cars on the way home.”

What would your reaction be?  You’d stop them right. Or call the police if you couldn’t stop them.

Same scenario.  You’re at a party and somebody goes to the front door and says they’re heading out.  They have been drinking.  You ask them if they’re okay to get home and they say, “I’m fine.  I only had a few and it’s only a couple miles on back roads.”

What would your reactions be?  Be honest with yourself.  It doesn’t make you a bad person to hesitate. Even now, I would probably hesitate for just a second.  As a society we see guns as weapons and cars as tools.

The real difference between the two scenarios is that it takes a person to load a bullet in a gun to make it a lethal weapon.  It takes a loaded person to turn a car into a lethal weapon.

The Best Laid Plans

Have you ever heard the saying, “If you want proof of God, just make plans.”?

Has it ever occurred to anyone that, if there is a God – I won’t discuss the particulars of my religious nor political beliefs on this website – that He is saying the same thing.  “If you want proof of Man, just make plans.”

We have free will to make choices.  You can argue until the cows come home over how we gained that attribute but the fact remains we have free will.

And just look at what we’ve done with that free will.  Every chance we get, we seem to use it to kill each other and excuse the behaviour and choices that of the few that are so destructive.

 

 

Rehabilitating My Faith in Humanity

Most of the last 2 1/2 years has been about Rehabilitation Therapies.  I make jokes about being very Canadian and being held together with duct tape.  So my days and weeks are spent going from one therapy to the next and trying to find my way back to some things from my previous life.

Before the crash, I was  a physically and mentally strong, capable, independant wife and mother of 2 children.  John (my husband of 20 years this September) and I made a deal when we had kids.  You can’t have 2 CEO’s in a company and therefore, I was the CEO of our home.  That is not to say that he didn’t do more than his fair share, it just meant that I organized our home life, social life and the schedules of our social butterflies.  I also taught fitness, spin and yoga as well as worked out for my own sanity.  I was the staff.

Now I have a team just to get (and keep )me upright and functioning.

For the past 2 years I have spent 2-3 mornings a week with Kerry.  She is my Rehabilitation Therapist and has become a very important part of my life and a good friend.  She has been helping me stay organized and sane.  She has been with me and helped to re-introduce me to some of the formerly everyday activities that now just overwhelm me completely.  She helps calm me down when I reach critical mass and end up on the floor crying because I am so confused and frustrated and when no one else seemed to understand what it felt like inside my brain now.

I have spent 2-4 mornings a week with my physiotherapists – first Tanya and now Miriam, as well as the rest of the amazing staff at Pathways.

I used to see a grief counsellor, Dena, once a week but now see a psychologist once every other week.  I see Sheila, my Speech and Language Pathologist (without whom, I would not feel at all comfortable even beginning this website. I can edit myself here and not worry as much about ” engage brain, put mouth in gear” .  This doesn’t always work in this order).

I go to a massage therapist twice a week to deal with the build up of scar tissue that I have holding me together.  It’s a delicate balance because we’re pretty sure that it is only scar tissue that is holding me together. He keeps trying to convince me that he’s giving me “spa massages”.  I’ve heard of Thai massage, Swedish massage but, until the crash, I didn’t know that there was a Marquis de Sade massage (actually, Lance, without you on the team I know that I would be walking like a bent tree – if at all, so thanks despite the grief you get as the only male on the team )

And I have a case manager that helps fight with insurance, organize specialists  for me to see,  and who arranged for most of my therapists.  I used to have Alison who left when she had her own beautiful, precious baby girl (whose gift is still sitting in my laundry room – it’s okay though – I bought a 3T).  Now, I have Danielle who has been getting a bit of a trial by fire I’m afraid.

I will not live long enough to thank you guys for everything that you have done and put up with.

But what I have really need rehabilitated is my faith in humanity.  I have been heavily relying on the good people at Free the Children (Gracie’s charity of choice).  Each year, they have allowed me to help them with We Day (I know that I slow them down but they not only tolerate me, I have been welcomed by them)and I have gotten to meet some amazing young people that really, truly do want to make the world a better place.  Unfortunately, We Day is only once a year here.  Since last week, when I really got a bug up my tookus, I have been exposed to a lot of people that have rehabbed my faith in humanity.  First there was Donna Eberwine-Villagran from the World Health Organization in the U.S. who I emailed, totally asking for help in who to contact there since they keep better statistics on Impaired Driving than we do here (another day, another blog).  She replied within 10 minutes with a couple of places to start .  By the end of the day, she had sent me 4 more emails with reference materials and 1 which included a contact at the U.N..  When my husband came home that night he set up this site – either  in support, or just so that I would leave him in peace???  My nephew, Adam, who put me in contact with Katie Starr from The Record (that’s not to say that the rest of my nieces and nephews are not the most amazing group of young people that I know, just this week, Adam knew Katie’s email address).  Katie, who took the time to take the idea to her boss and get permission to run the story.  Dave M (can you cold call by email – do any young people know what a cold call even is?) who also lost his son in a crash.  Within an hour of emailing him, we were talking on the  phone and we were both offering help with our individual projects. Now, I need to thank all of you that are reading this blog and passing along the website (since it’s growing, I have to assume that you are spreading the word).

You have all given me the fix I needed to rehab my faith in humanity.  I can run on this therapy session for some time.  So, Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Sorry, it’s really long today, but I will try to do a really short one tomorrow.

“Maybe you just need to move past this anger.”

I don’t know about you but I am developing a list of things that people have said to me that have made me go “WHAT?”.  I think some day I may put it into an instructional book of what not to say.

This one may be right at the top of the list.  I’d love to move past this anger.  I was never an angry person (okay sarcastic, yes – angry, no).  I have always been able to find the humour in a situation.  I’m really struggling with this one.  Now even my humour is angry.   I think that it’s because people just don’t understand how hurtful this crime is for the victims.  First, we have a loved one ripped away from us so violently and then we get told that they/we don’t count.  So, I thought perhaps I would put it into another scenario that most people could relate to.

Imagine that your Father/Mother/Husband/Wife/Sister/Brother/Son/Daughter/Best Friend/ Loved One runs out to the corner store to pick up milk.  What they don’t know is that at the same moment someone is in there robbing the store.  He/She has a gun in their pocket but they don’t intend to use it.  In fact, they have never held a gun before.  Your Loved One opens the door setting off the bell announcing a new customer.  It startles the robber, the gun falls from their pocket and accidentally goes off.  The bullet ricochets off of the pop machine and hits your loved one, killing them instantly.  The robber is caught but they are Impaired by alcohol or drugs.

How would you feel if they were only charged with shoplifting?

That’s why I am angry.

Politics, Religion, and Money

They (whomever they are) say that you should never discuss politics, religion or money with your friends.

That is a sentiment that I subscribe to (okay friends and family, you may laugh now).  The truth is though that you would be hard pressed to find anyone that truly knows my spiritual beliefs.  And if you polled my family members (John’s family included) and friends they would each tell you a different political party that I support mostly because I am of Irish descent and we love nothing more that to “stir the pot” in political discussions. Even my husband of 20 years doesn’t know who I have voted for (that’s why it’s a secret ballot).  And as for money, most of the people that know us neither know how much/little we’ve made year to year nor how much this crash has cost us (in dollars and cents – they have a vague idea of what it’s cost us personally and I hope to God /Allah/Buddha/Ghanesh/ No One -that’s for the Atheists- that they never know because that would mean that they’ve lived it too).

This blog will attempt to follow the same format because the truth of the matter is that drunk drivers do not stop, take a survey, read your answers, make a decision based on those answers and then ram their vehicle into you.

I may discuss any one politician or party if they are truly willing to help with our cause but my greatest hope is that they will put aside petty differences and realize that we, the victims of drunk drivers, for all of our differences – age, ethnicity, religion, province, jobs, marital status, sexual orientation – we have the most important thing in common.  We have all had someone that we loved ripped from our lives.

For spiritual beliefs I will not say what I believe either (my grandfather was an Irish Catholic who married a Scottish Presbyterian.  If you look up the history of Ireland, you can understand why their marriage could only work if religion became a private issue, not to be discussed openly).  The only thing that I will say – and this is more of an observation than a religious conviction – I have found myself wondering if Atheists don’t have it backwards.  They don’t have any belief in God but I’m pretty sure that if I was God, I wouldn’t have any belief in Man.

As for money, now that I will be discussing, probably ad nauseum (can’t remember the spelling on that. sorry if it’s wrong).  I’ll start with the fact that Impaired Driving costs Canada $20,000,000,000.00 to $25,000,000,000.00 EACH AND EVERY YEAR.

Opportunity Cost

We have all seen the numbers – 1500 people killed annually by Impaired Drivers, 20-25 Billion (yes, that’s supposed to be a B) dollars spent annually (again not a mistake), 35-45% of Motor Vehicle Collisions involve alcohol (haven’t really been able to budge that one in 15 years other than up) – but no one talks about the opportunity costs.

What are opportunity costs?  That is what we have lost that we can’t really put a dollar value on.

For example, what if one of the 4 people killed today was going to find the cure for cancer in 5 years? or what if one of the 4 people killed on July 24th last year had just figured out the cure to MS and was heading into the lab to write it all down?  What if one of the 4 people killed on January 10, 2000 was about to find out the secret to stroke prevention?

Do you know a diabetic that is only alive today because of insulin injections?  What if Frederic Banting (discovered insulin) had been killed when he was only 20 years old?  What if Chris Hadfield,  Wayne Gretzky, Getty Lee (Celine Dion, Justin Bieber, and Carly Rae Jepson are just too controversial but I’m pretty sure that Rush gave us the definitive way to identify each other as Canadians – simply play the first four notes of Tom Sawyer on a guitar.  Every Canadian in the room will pick up their air guitar for the next 4 notes.  We can’t help it.), Ken Dryden (think Canada vs Russia here, not House of Commons.  Whatever would we watch on TV during a hockey strike if Canada had lost in 1972?), Roberta Bondar  (showed little girls across Canada that they too could kick a&$ in space), Romeo Dallaire (representing all of Canada’s Peacekeepers and bringing attention to the Rwandan genocide ), Craig Keilburger or Marc Keilburger (I mentioned them as an “or” because I truly believe that, as siblings, they are much more successful as a whole than as 2 halves ),  William Shatner or James Doohan  (Kirk and Scottie from the original Star Trek series – I’m trying to be inclusive),  what if they had been killed by drunk drivers?  You’ll notice that I skipped politicians.  That’s because half of you would have reason to be upset and the other half would say that we would be better off.

Are you getting my point?  We may never know what we lost and may end up suffering greatly because we were just too complacent to try to fix it.  Just because you haven’t lost someone or had someone injured by a drunk driver doesn’t mean their not taking something from all of us.

 

PS – Please don’t read anything into my choice of Canadians to play the “what if” game.  If you don’t like my choices then feel free to substitute at will.  It’s 2am and I can’t get to sleep, so brain function is well below even my normal.  I’m lucky that I could even come up with that many when I’m this tired.  For that matter I’m lucky if I can remember my own name when I’m this tired.

A thank you and a correction

I know that this is the second post today and I won’t normally do this but I wanted to thank Katie Starr for her story in the paper.  I was worried about how it would get portrayed (not so big on the trusting of peoples’ motives anymore) and she did a wonderful, respectful piece.

There was one mistake, which I know most people make, which I feel the need to correct.

The other driver was only charged with Over .08.  He wasn’t found  not guilty of Impaired Driving Causing Death or  Impaired Driving Causing Bodily Harm, the Crown Attorney didn’t even charge him with those (I have since learned that that is more often the case than not in Canada).   He pled Guilty to the Over .08 charge and was given a 1 year licence suspension and a $1250.00 fine ($250.00 over the usual fine “because of the seriousness of the outcome” (paraphrasing the judges words there , not mine – I think that I would have preferred that they didn’t add that.  It was just another slap in the face that they put a $250.00 price tag on Grace’s life).

That is kind of my issue with the law and the system we have for enforcing it.  As any of you know that have been tossed into the mire we call the Criminal Courts, it’s broken.  We actually have the laws in this country, their just written in a way that you could drive a truck through the loopholes.

Thank you for reading the second post today and I will refrain from doing this too often.

Big Shoes to fill

I did an interview today with an intern from our local paper.  She is a friend of my niece and nephew.  One of the questions that keeps coming up is, “Describe Grace. What was she like?

Wow, where to start.  Probably at the beginning.  Grace was born 3 1/2 weeks early at about 4am (excuse the possible inconsistencies in the timeline – I was just a little pre-occupied.) in the spare bedroom at my mother’s house.  So not in the birth plan.  We were at my father-in-laws birthday party and had left to pick up our older daughter from Gma’s house and then go home.  Hannah was already asleep and I, the DD that night (me), was too tired to drive the 30 minutes home.  So, just to be safe we stayed.  Funny, it just occurred to me that I don’t think that we ever got another invite to stay over again.  Must be a coincidence.

We never made it to the hospital.  We never even made it out of the house.  For all the myths out there about how to sober up quickly, I’m pretty sure that John was stone-cold sober the second he heard me say, “We’re having this baby HERE  and we’re having this baby NOW.” Yep, I actually said those words in capital letters.  Think Linda Blair’s voice in The Exorcist.  My head may have even spun around.

That was Gracie’s introduction into the world.

Not much changed actually.  One of her favourite things to do was to slide across the tile floor into the living room and announce, “Yo, yo, yo. Gracie’s in da house.”  – pretty much sums up her birth.

You can ask anyone that ever met her.  Everyone has a Gracie story.  I could use up every blog with another story.

So the question becomes, how do you sum up a person in a couple of sentences – or a pair of shoes?  You don’t.  I guess that’s why I am hoping that we get multiple shoes for each person.  Because to each of us left behind, our loved ones meant something different, something individual.  What you remember most about them, other people may not remember at all.

I want to tell the complete story of who was lost.  I want the world to see a person and a personality, not just a number. At least as much as I can without actually having them there in the shoes.

PS – Grace actually did have big shoes to fill too.  Size 11 Ladies , “to match her age”.