Friday, November 18, 2011

To Canada & The Canadian DOC Contingency With Love

On August 15th I accompanied my mom on a trip to Toronto, Canada so that she could see her oldest friend (they'd been friends since they were four) and my mother's older sister.
We returned home on the 20th and I called the ambulance for her on the evening of the 21st. You know the rest of the story, so I'm not going to rehash it.

Anyway, it's taken me a while to write this post for many reasons, mostly emotional.
I'm not going to post mom pics from this trip or go into much detail regarding our time in Canada together, because as much fun as we had, it still makes me cry when I think about it.

But I will say our trip back to my mother's homeland was a gift for all parties involved and I am so grateful for that time.
I wish I had done a few things differently, but I'm still so incredibly grateful to have been given such a gift.

I was going to use my in Toronto time to see the see family, sneak some work in if possible, check out the city, because the last time I'd been there I was maybe 16.
I had sky high hopes to visit The Banting House, which was a 3 hour drive.
But since II didn't have access to a car and the train drop-off was no where near the Banting House, I didn't make it, which totally bummed me out.

I had also planned to check out the University of Toronto & it's historical significance to the discovery of insulin, and later meet up with a few members of the Canadian Diabetes On-Line Community which I was thrilled about!!

So, I took the subway to U of Toronto, armed myself with a map and began my long trek by foot to discover my diabetes history.

As I walked miles and miles around the University, I started to feel really low, and I was just about to sit down on a bench, when out of the corner of my eye I saw this:

Had my blood sugar not gone low at that moment. I never would have seen this sign.

I actually went into the building after my blood sugar went up, and I have to say, I was disappointed.
For some reason I expected U of Toronto to make a bigger deal of the men who saved my life.

After I left that building, I continued my journey and about 7 minutes later I
saw a small plaque on a building and decided to investigate further.

Had I not had a map and actually knew where it was, I never would have seen it.

Then I went to the other side of the building and this is what I saw.

And once again, I was happy, but really sad and pissed off at the same time.

COME ON University of Toronto, trim the damn hedge and have some pride!
Seriously, what the hell??

I continued onward, looked for the word "Banting" on my map, and found the location of the following:

A Hero's plaque with little fanfare.

I can't believe I found it and I can't believe that no one seemed to give a shit.

I couldn't understand why no one seemed to care about Banting & Best.
I expected the City of Toronto & it's university to have banners, streamers and a damn marching band to celebrate our diabetes heroes.
After all, millions of lives were saved, and hadn't we just celebrated the 90th anniversary of the discovery of insulin??

After the letdown, I decided to continue exploring and I found some things that reminded me of home, except they were.. you know, " Canadianized."

Canadians have some interesting tastes. FYI: I didn't try the pickle chips but I really wish I had because I think I would have LOVED THEM!!

But I wasn't super interested in the chicken chips at all.

I continued my tour or Toronto and thought I saw a familiar face across the street......

Could it be???

I think I see........


Turns out I did see Clifford!!!!

Later I saw something else that reminded me of a familiar face.......

Can you say Scott Johnson????

I walked by things I wish I'd had time to see.

Like the above sign. I wish I'd known Carrie Fisher's One Woman show was in town, because I'd have bought tixs!

Cut to a few days later, when I was all dressed up and ready to spend the evening at Gretsky's with some friends I'd never met in real life.

Right down the street from Gretsky's I saw one of my all time favorite things ever!

A place whose members and name had inspired me since I was a child.

I could feel Gilda Radner & John Candy's spirit!
But I had important people to meet and had to walk past and not go in. :(

The front doors to Gretsky's

Walking into Great One's restaurant doors, I knew he Canadian Contingency of the DOC was on the other side and I was stoked!

I went to the rooftop and it was packed.

I walked around looking for people wearing insulin pumps and a seeing eye dog.

Finally, a woman walked up to me and asked: Are you Kelly? And I said: I sure am!

Turns out it was Ilana, and we hugged, walked around & found a tiny table on the rooftop.
We started chatting and were quickly joined by Scully & Virtue B and the conversation was just non stop.
Soon Jaimie, Larry & awesome type 3 guide dog Keeta joined us and we went inside, found a table in a quiet room and the the conversations continued, as did the continuous beeping of all of our pumps.
And if I remember correctly, the waiter had to come by like 5 times before we were ready to order.

The CanadianContingency explained the whole Putene concept to me (fancy word for cheese fries) and we discussed life, life with diabetes and everything in between.

We laughed, and then laughed some more and we had a blast!

Around 11 the evening ended and we posed for a group picture.

Ilana, Scully, Virtue B, your's truly, Larry, Keela & Jamie

Then we hugged one another, said our goodbyes, talked some more, hugged and said our goodbyes again.

We walked outside and one by one, we went our separate ways until finally it was Ilana and I.

Who might I add, went went out of her way to make sure I got on the right subway!
The next day I met Jaimie for coffee at Tim Horton's, the Canadian equivalent to Dunkin Donuts.

The coffee was OK, the Timbits (munchkins) were better, and the company was the best!
Once again, a fellow DOCer made sure I took the right subway, and I went back to my mother's friend's, had dinner and packed to go home. And the next day, I went home, and the next day after that, shit hit the fan with my mother's health, and it went down hill from there.

Through it all I received notes from my Canadian DOCers letting me know they were thinking of me and pulling for my mom.

They wrote me beautiful emails, comments and sent direct messages on twitter & facebook during her illness and after she died.

So to the Canadian DOCers - Thank you for bringing a smile to my face, both in Canada and at home.

Thank you for being there and understanding all that these past few months have been, and never once mentioning or asking when I was going to post about our meet up.

I love you guys and am so grateful to have met you both on line and in real life - And I can't wait until we meet again!


Nicole said...

Not sure if you saw this already but you may be happy to know that their is now a monument to Sir Banting & Best at the U of T

victoriacumbow said...

There's so much I want to say in this comment! FOr starters, I loved the Clifford reference, and the Scott Johnson post made me laugh! As for the DOCers, I'm so happy you were able to connect with them! I've only been able to do this once, and I cannot wait to do it again (and hopefully you'll be part of that). As for the Banting/Best thing, I'm disappointed, too. This was such a HUGE discovery and it still is! I can't believe more was not done to recognize those men. But lastly, I'm sorry the memories of the trip are bittersweet, but I'm glad you were able to go! Oh, and you look fantastic in that green/white dress!

Jamie Naessens said...

It was us who were privileged to have met you! You took time out of your busy-ness to spend some time to see us! I loved meeting with you, and know that Larry and Keeta (the wonder dog - and where is she looking?!) loved the adventure too. We may have dill pickle chips (come back and try some!!) and our smarties rock But seriously, the visit was so much fun, and we should do it again!

Penny said...

Aw, D meetups are the best. I am so glad you went. And you know what kelly, I am glad you are a wonderful daughter who took her mother to Canada. You are. You should know that. She knows it. Love to you dear friend.

Ilana Lucas said...

Aw, Kelly, this was a lovely write-up. I'm so glad to have met you; it was my very first D-meetup ever and I was so close to turning around and going home because I couldn't find anyone and then I saw your friendly face. It was an awesome time and I'm just sorry that it's linked to painful memories. There's now a small exhibit called "Insulin: Toronto's Gift to the World" at the MaRS Centre, which is at least a bit more of a tribute (along with the new $100s that have insulin on them - a fitting tribute to how expensive it is). Jamie and I are trying to find a time to go see the exhibit.

In any case, of course I saw you to the subway. You made my first D-meetup totally awesome, it was the least I could do to not leave you stranded on the street.

You should totally come back sometime. Nobody can resist the allure of Timbits and ketchup chips for long...

Scully said...

Thanks for the very beautiful write up! I couldn't have summarized it any better. I'm glad you had a good time while you were in canuckland despite the tragedy of what followed.

I sure did laugh at the picture of the dill pickle chips. They are one of my favourite chips!! and ketchup chips were a staple in my family growing up.

Hope you're doing well. thanks again it was amazing to meet a DOC celebrity!