Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Ever have one of those moments when your life is chugging along like normal and all of a sudden you see, hear or read something that makes you go ... WTF?!  Did I just see/hear/read that right?!

Well, it happened to me as I flipped through today's paper and, quite frankly, I didn't don't know what to make of it.

So let's play a little game and see if anyone else sees anything [glaringly] wrong with this picture?
FURUDAL, Sweden — Mike Danton played the hero in his opening game of the Swedish league.

The former NHL player, who served five years behind bars for a failed murder-for-hire plot, rushed to the aid of IFK Ore teammate Marcus Bengtsson, who was convulsing on the ice after a hard hit in Sunday's season-opener.  
~  ~  ~

According to Danton's blog, Bengtsson took a late hit with about 14 minutes left in the game against Soderhamn/Ljusne. He lay on the ice suffering convulsions for six or seven minutes.

``As his eyes continued to roll into the back of his head, his mouth finally opened a bit,'' wrote Danton, who is captain of the Swedish team. ``It was at that time that I jammed my fingers into his mouth and clawed his tongue.''
Anybody? Anybody at all?

Now don't get me wrong, I've been rather impressed with this guy for a while now. I'm not a big hockey person by any stretch of the imagination but I followed with interest the story of this former NHL player after he was released from prison for conspiracy to commit murder following an attempted murder-for-hire plot.

What grabbed my attention was that following his imprisonment, he returned to Canada and enrolled at Saint Mary's University in Halifax. Where, yes, he played hockey. But where he also committed himself to his studies, working towards a degree in psychology and maintaining an A average.

So back to today's story ... can anyone tell me what caused my jaw to fall to the floor?

Let's try this ... does anyone know any basic first aid? You know, like the kind Danton says he picked up learned in prison?

First aid for seizures is pretty basic and straight-forward.  It's not like you need any specialized skill to help in such a situation.
1.Stay calm

2.Prevent injury
During the seizure, you can exercise your common sense by insuring there is nothing within reach that could harm the person if she struck it.

3.Pay attention to the length of the seizure

4.Make the person as comfortable as possible

5.Keep onlookers away

6.Do not hold the person down
If the person having a seizure thrashes around there is no need for you to restrain them. Remember to consider your safety as well

7.Do not put anything in the person's mouth
Contrary to popular belief, a person having a seizure is incapable of swallowing their tongue so you can breathe easy in the knowledge that you do not have to stick your fingers into the mouth of someone in this condition.

8.Do not give the person water, pills, or food until fully alert

9.If the seizure continues for longer than five minutes, call 911

10.Be sensitive and supportive, and ask others to do the same
Anybody? Anybody at all?

How about the FACT that you are NEVER suppose to put anything (including your hand) in a person's mouth during a seizure?

Not only is such a move dangerous to the idiot person trying to "help" (picure somebody in the midst of a seizure suddenly chomping down on your hand and not letting go - that's right, I said Not. Letting. Go.), but it can actually harm the individual who is seizing - jaw and face muscles often tighten during a seizure and if this happens when something is in their mouth, they may break and either choke on or swallow the object or, if you're lucky, maybe they will only break their teeth.

Come on, people, the only thing you accomplish by sticking anything in a person's mouth during a seizure is to obstruct airflow, which is potentially life threatening. 

Sound like a plan, Stan Mike?

Now I know it seems like no TV producer out there in La La Land can get this straight, but still ... Really?

It's too bad, really. Dalton could have actually been helpful and useful had he turned Bengtsson on his side (as other players did later), to prevent saliva from blocking his airway and help him breathe more easily. Trust me, Mike, if the guy was having trouble breathing, it wasn't because of his tongue.

And he could have helped people with epilepsy in general by explaining to the media after the fact exactly why he HADN'T tried to put his hand in the poor man's mouth!

So tell me, please, what kind of first aid course, supposedly certifying you in "first aid response" teaches a person to "jam their fingers" into the mouth of a person convulsing and "claw their tongue"?

And how, exactly, is it possible for this story to get international coverage without anybody picking up on the fact that it was only by virtue of simple dumb luck that our "hero" didn't seriously hurt himself or the other player?

So, yeah, as I was saying ... WTF??!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


About our little adventure in trying to get out youngest daughter into that private school for learning disabilities ... I have only one word to say.


Okay, maybe nine words ... Thank you Lord. And Thank you Dept of Education.

And, trust me, the latter are not words you would ever often hear me say.

Next up is applying for the Tuition Support Supplement and seeing how much of a bursary she migtt be eligible for but we are definitely over the biggest hurdle...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Unintended Consequences

Oh, the irony, the title of my last post, the day before the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001, being "Hard" ... as if I know what "hard' really is.

Kind of puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

~  ~  ~  ~

I've had a deep respect for Craig Kielburger for quite a few years ... ever since I first heard about his passion and his accomplishments back when I was a member of Results. For those that aren't familiar with Craig's work activism (and I see that apparently at some point along the way he has also been joined by his brother), I would strongly recommend that you read this. And this. And this.

Yeah, I told you I was a bit of a fan, right?

What can I say, but that my own children would turn out so well ...

At any rate, my eye tends to pick out news stories where Craig's name is mentioned. Which is exactly what happened this morning, when I read this story in amongst all the other 9/11 stories in today's newspaper.

A story in which Craig writes about his personal experiences on Sept 11, 2001 and the aftershocks that he feels ten years later in a sprawling refugee camp on the Somalia-Kenya border.

You see, within two weeks of that fateful day in 2001, President Bush signed an executive order making it illegal to provide "material benefit" to terrorists - including humanitarian aid.

To say that seems logical, makes sense, would be an understatement.  But, as I constantly find myself preaching to my children, "actions have consequences".  Sometimes very unintended consequences.

And so it is that relief workers in Dadaab ten years later are experiencing a great deal of difficulty when they try to feed the starving.
Innocent Somalis are dying, including 29,000 children. But U.S. anti-terrorism laws had prevented some U.S. charities from working in Somalia, and now many - despite recent policy changes - are wary of accepting U.S. aid money for fear of inadvertently funding terrorism. Aid could fall into the hands of Al-Shabaab, a group of Islamic militants with links to al-Qaeda, and that charity might be considered an accomplice to terrorism by the U.S. government.
~  ~  ~  ~  ~
While in Dadaab, relief workers voiced the difficulties they encounter and the extreme caution with which they try to feed the starving. They also talked of how Al-Shabaab's link to al-Qaeda is likely one of the factors that have stopped people from donating to the dying Somalis.
Although exceptions have been made to the law for groups acting "in good faith," confusion about the policy still reigns among U.S.-funded charities fearful of accidentally funding terrorists.

And, quite rightly, both journalists and donors question whether the food and money is going to "alQaeda-backed Al-Shabaab." A valid concern, it presents a moral quandary for donors and a challenging situation for organizations trying to save innocent starving civilians.

And yet it's not just the stark reality that the events of September 11, 2001, have resulted in the world not responding to a humanitarian crisis in Somalia ten years later as it has to other such crisis, such as the Haitian earthquake (despite similar concerns there like corruption and disrupted supplies) that grabbed my attention. 

What really grabbed me was the parallel drawn between the reaction of New Yorkers who gathered together in candle light vigils ten years ago tonight (a reaction not that dissimilar to that not just of other Americans but of many, many people around the world) and wondered what would happen to their loved ones, their city, their country; who were really asking the question "Are we going to be OK?" and the situation in the refugee camps today.

In Craig's words:
I thought about that vigil when I was in Dadaab. The camps aren't equipped with electricity, so candles illuminate rows and rows of tents and makeshift shelters. At night, the refugees gather in the flickering light to ask about their loved ones, and their country, as well as that very question I heard in New York. "Are we going to be OK?"
Perhaps part of the reason this article struck me so was because it resonated so well with my own feelings expressed on a previous 9/11 anniversary a few years ago.
It's truly sad that so many of us have lost that sense of compassion and empathy, of being united in a common cause. Or experience. Or perhaps it's some other word that I cannot quite touch at the moment. But I know it was there. Just as surely as I know we have lost it in the intervening years. And that, I think, is another tragedy born out of that day.

So, no, I will never forget September 11. 2001. I will never forget the horror of it all. I will never forget those many who lost their lives that day or the families and friends they left behind. I will never forget that there is true evil in the world and that I saw it in action, with my own eyes, that day.

But neither will I ever forget what it felt like to see so many united in our humanity. Or what it feels like to lose that.
Or, in the words of the Kielburger brothers:
It saddens me to think that a "with us or against us" mentality might have overshadowed our compassion. In the week following 9/11, I watched shell shock and terror dissolve into an incredible outpouring of kindness.
~  ~  ~  ~
It's an unfortunate irony; a terrorist act on 9/11 brought forth such kindness in people, and when compassion is called for again, a fear of terrorism has limited our ability to help those who need it most. There are no easy answers on how to bring aid to those in the snare of Al-Shabaab, but we have to continue to find a way to help compassion triumph over fear.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


So it's been a bit quiet around here the last few weeks. Meaning quiet at Free Falling. Not exactly so quiet in my life.

Having made a very last minute (although not because it was left to the last minute) decision to try and get the Kit Kat into our local, extremely expensive private learning disabilities school, it has, in fact, been rather crazy around here.

This was something we had been contemplating two or three years ago but because our school board refuses to give IPPs to students with learning disabilities and, without an IPP, a student in Nova Scotia isn't eligible for the substantial chunk of funding available through the Province's Tuition Support Program ... it pretty well seemed out of reach at the time.

So imagine my surprise when, sitting in a meeting with the Minister of Education a couple of weeks ago on what I thought were totally practically unrelated issues, I happened to spontaneously bring this issue up in a  discussion concerning inequality between school boards and I was told that students in our particular school board didn't need an IPP to access the program.  After picking my jaw up off the floor, I made a valiant effort to move on with the meeting because, trust me, I couldn't actually say out loud what I was thinking at the time. 

You see, back when this issue had come a few years ago I had approached the Dept of Education with the fact that our Board refused to provide IPPs for LD students and was told that no, I must be mistaken, that wasn't allowed but they would check into it and get back to me. When they finally did get back to me, a few months later, I was given the brush off with some comment to the effect that perhaps my daughter didn't require an IPP. 

Given that my Mom had been recently diagnosed with a terminal condition (this was about six to eight months before she passed away), I wasn't in any position to take on the battle so I let it slide.  And then, suddenly there I was being told that this change in requirements about the necessity of an IPP had been made right about the same time as I had made my enquiries of the Department. Imagine that ... funny how no one had bothered to let me in on that little secret.

At any rate, such began the mad rush to once again check out the school and begin the stack of paperwork needed to 1) apply for admission; 2) apply to the government for Tuition Support funding; and 3) apply for a bursary.  Because given our current financial situation, unfortunately there's very little we can contribute at the moment to the cause. Although I might point out that, ironically enough, back when I had initially inquired about this (and was turned away), we had actully been in a position where we could have contributed something to the cause.

And, oh yes, lest we forget, one more little detail to be taken care of ... the person who had advised me in that meeting that students from our Board didn't need an IPP to qualify for the Tuition Support program quickly backpedalled when I phoned him up a few days later; no, of course, he hadn't said that; what he had had meant to say said was that new program parameters now allowed a student to be "working towards an IPP".  Whatever that means. 

Well, apparently that meant that I had to very quickly call a meeting of the Kit Kat's Program Planning Team at her former school (wait, did she even have a Program Planning Team??!!) to see if they would agree that she should be working towards an IPP. 

But all things come to those who wait work hard enough ... or so I hope, anyway.

The private school agreed that the Kit Kat could start with the other students the first day of school even though we didn't (and still don't) know if we will get any funding from the Province.

And the Kit Kat ... well, let's just say she's working on "adjusting" to her new reality, tenuous as it might be.  She had been completely behind this move and I had warned her to think long and hard about it before I put the works in motion because once I started, there would be no turning back. I had also pointed out that her biggest challenge in the new school would most likely be her lack of friends.  Because it's hard for any teenager to change schools and make new friends.  And it's even harder for a kid with a learning disability. And harder again still for a kid with a nonverbal learning disability.

So, while we still don't know if we will get the funding to make this work, we remain hopeful.  And if the answer is no, there is, of course, always an appeal process. Oh joy, oh bliss.

In the meantime, while we await word on that and the Kit Kat adjusts to some very big changes in her life, I have now begun the even larger stack of paper work necessary to get some additional services for the Blue Jay. Because, one thing about my kids, they never want to play second fiddle to the other. Meaning if one is demanding all of my time and attention, the other one will be sure to soon follow.