One Person Can Save So Many Lives...

Apr 22, 2009

This week (April 19-25) is National Organ and Tissue Donation Awareness Week. Organ donation is a matter that hits close to home. A family friend had a heart attack last August, at only 28 years of age. He is alive today because somebody gave him the gift of life... a heart transplant. Talk to your family, sign your donor card.
Here is Scott's inspirational story, written in his own words.
My name is Scott Ouellette. I'm a 29 years old. On April 22, 2008 I was playing ball hockey in Red Deer when with about 10 mins left in the game I started having a heart attack. Not knowing it was a heart attack I finished the game and was extremely out of breath. Going against My girlfriend’s advice I went home in hopes it would pass. Approx 4 hours later at 2:00 am on April 23, 2008 I finally couldn't take the pain anymore and as we went to go to the car I collapsed. At that point we decided to call 911 and paramedics arrived within mins and transferred me to the Red Deer hospital. I was lucky that night as there was a cardiologist in the ER and diagnosed me with a heart attack. I remember him coming up to me and I asked him if "I would be ok" and he said "No, you've had a massive heart attack, you’re going to Calgary".
At that point STARS was dispatched to Red Deer and I was intabated. I arrived at the Foothills hospital around 5:45am on the 23rd and placed on life support. A team of doctors and my family had decided to place me on a ventricular assist device (VAD) to run the left side of my heart as it was no longer working. After waiting the day in hopes my lungs would clear at approx 5:00am on April 24th I went into cardiac arrest. I was shocked out of it and rushed to the OR. At approx 5:30am I went into cardiac arrest for a 2nd time and saved again. The operation was done and I was out of the OR at approx 4:00pm. I really do not remember much of the next week but once I was aware of what was going on I was told the harsh reality of what has and is going to happen. I was told I had had a massive heart attack. The “VAD” was running the left side of my heart and I would need a transplant. One of my first question was if I would be able to play hockey again and they told me I should be able
I spent every minute of the next 40 days in the foothills hospital and the only thing that made it bearable was my family and friends visits and when I found out that there was a World Transplant Games. I had to spend my mothers 50th birthday in the hospital but the hardest day in there was mother’s day. It was very hard to think about all the people coming to see there mothers and grandmothers in the hospital but my mother had to come visit her son.
I was released to my parent’s house on June 4th (one day before my 29th birthday) and was happy to be out of the hospital. Being on the VAD at my parents house was difficult as I always had to have someone with me and 95% of the time it was my girlfriend Amy taking care of me. As everyday passed I was feeling better and better. It was late June when I decided I felt to go to sit around and do nothing so I tried to golf on the VAD. Some people thought it was crazy that I could do it and some people thought I was crazy for trying. By mid July I was shooting around 90. My low score for the summer was 87. If you would like to see how I did it I have videos posted on you tube (just search oly29 and there is about 13 videos). On Aug 14th Amy and I went golfing for the last time with the VAD. At approx 3:30am on Aug 15th I received a call that a donor heart has been found and an ambulance will be at my
house within the hour.
Amy and I were taken to the Calgary airport medivac hanger and placed on the air ambulance for our trip to Edmonton. We arrived in the U of A hospital around 5:30am and place in a room to wait till they were ready. As organ transport is a time game we waited till about 4:00pm till they took me to the OR. As I was saying Bye to Amy and my Parents my sister made it up there just before I went into the OR. I did not know if I would ever see any of them again. The most terrifying thing was lying on the OR bed knowing that your most vital organ will be taken out and a “new” one will be put in and you may not survive.

The transplant took 13 hours because they had to remove the VAD and when they put the“new” heart in it stopped and had to be restarted. I woke up the night of the 16th In ICU on a breathing tube unable to speak or bend my legs. When the “new heart stopped in the OR it took a little hit to the right side and they wanted to “rest” it so they could not remove the breathing tube in case something happened. I was awake and aware for the next 5 days with the breathing tube. Without going thru that I don’t think I could explain how unbelievably difficult it was to be as alert as I was and breath through a tube. Everything in your mind just wants you to swallow but every time you do it hurts. The breathing tube was finally removed on Aug 21st and I could finally speak but most importantly I could tell Amy and my family that I loved them. I was transferred back to the foothills hospital on Aug 27.

As of today Dec 16th 2008 I am back at work and playing floor hockey and engaged to be married to Amy. I have started training for the 2011 transplant games where I hope to be participating in golf, badminton, volleyball, and floorball. I will forever be grateful to the family of my donor heart who had to make a very difficult decision at a very difficult time to save my life. I received the greatest gift of all…the gift of life and I don’t intend to waste it. To everyone who helped me on this journey, thank you.
I will never forget the summer of 2008.

Scott “Tinman”

Puppy Love

Apr 18, 2009

This morning my younger brothers and my stepdad jetted off to the beautiful Mayan Riviera. In all honesty, yes, I'm jealous. What I'd give to be lying on the beach with a pina colada right now... but I've had more beach paradise time in the past couple of years than most Canadians will in a lifetime, so I suppose I don't have much right to be jealous. While they are gone, I've been left in charge of taking care of Coolie, the 150 lb Presa Canario dog. He's a bit of an intimidating looking dog, but in reality he's just an oversized, cuddly, suck up of a puppy. We had a lot of fun playing in the backyard this evening as Titan watched, feeling betrayed. Shockingly, I was only knocked to the ground twice!

Project Optimism

Apr 17, 2009

Sometimes it's so easy to fall into a trap of negative thoughts. Life doesn't always go as planned, and it's often easier to be upset than to force yourself to stay optimistic. This morning, I decided to list off all of the things in my life that make me happy, every single reason why I should stay positive. When you think about all of the positives in life, it usually overshadows the negatives. I encourage you all to try it. Sit down, write down all of the amazing things in life, and you'll be surprised at how long the list is. Life is great, sometimes you just have to be willing to realize it.

Here's a little sample of my list:
  • It's April, it's sunny, summer is coming.
  • I've got amazing, amazing friends. I can count on them when I need them most.
  • I've got a pretty great family. My brothers look up to me, my mom is proud of me.
  • I've got a good job, and a nice warm bed to sleep in.
  • My niece and nephew are beautiful, amazing children.
  • Lent is over, I can have chocolate, any time.
  • I'm falling in love with photography and I'm learning to use my new camera.
  • I've been to 9 incredible countries.
  • People have told me that I inspire them to travel. That means the world to me.
  • My puppy is my best friend, and I love him more than I thought possible.
  • I'm happily single, but I have a nice boy who comes over to cuddle, because sometimes you just need to spoon.
  • I love that I get such awesome compliments when I sing karaoke. I'm really humble but it gives me such a confidence boost.
  • I love God. I love that I'm not ashamed to let the world know.
  • I've went skydiving, climbed mountains, surfed, and done more in my 22 years than many do in a lifetime
  • I love you, for reading my blog.
  • I fly anywhere WestJet flies for $2.50 plus taxes.
  • I'm addicted to the gym... yoga, cardio.... I'm getting into shape and it feels great.
  • Today is Friday!
  • I bet somebody else will smile at the idea of this blog... and maybe make their own list! I hope!
  • This list could potentially go on forever... I must have it real good.

I could go on all day... but you get the idea. Give it a try.

Sometimes you just have to jump for joy!

In Case You Were Wondering...

Apr 14, 2009

About a month ago, 90% of the people on my Facebook friends list compiled "25 Things About Me" lists, tagging 25 people per note... much to my frustration. So, as hypocritical as I tend to be from time to time, here I am writing 25 useless facts about myself. That said, I refuse to post it on Facebook, and I will not be tagging 25 people. I've also discovered that it's not that easy trying to think of that many interesting facts about my life...

  1. I'd like to go back to school, but the financial burden is holding me back. I'm 2 weeks away from having my student loans completely paid off. I'd love to study journalism despite the fact I know my writing skills are far from on par with the industry standards.

  2. That said, I'm still not giving up my flight attendant dreams. I just need a backup plan. In January I made it through a series of 4 interviews for my dream airline... I was 1 of only 13 people out of 230 who made it to the final stage. Then the recession hit, and all hiring was put on hold.

  3. I've been skydiving, surfing, white water rafting, and I've even moved to the other side of the world alone. This summer I'm planning to bungee jump. Yet I'd never consider myself as somebody who is brave...

  4. I have probably 20 close guy friends who are gay, and about 2 who are straight. I'm destined to be single for life.

  5. I've been living with my mom and teenage brothers since returning from Australia, and I'm suffocating from lack of independence.

  6. This is only because I'm VERY independent. It's great but to a certain extent it's one of my downfalls...

  7. One of my life goals is to volunteer at an orphanage in Africa. It would be heartbreaking and emotionally very difficult, but I think it would be a great eye opener.

  8. I hate snow. I had to throw this one in because it's snowing outside as I type. I'd be perfectly content in +40, sunny skies, 98% humidity. Living in Cairns, Australia was a dream.

  9. I'm a fitness junkie. Once I start, I have to go every day or I feel guilty. I have absolutely no issue with my weight, it's just an addiction to the endorphins

  10. I'm also a junk food addict... I suppose they somewhat cancel each other out. Chocolate makes everything in life so much better.

  11. I love photography, it's such an incredible way of expressing emotions and remembering specific moment in time. That said, I by no means believe that I possess the talent, but I very much admire those who do. Project 365 consumes so much of my life..

  12. I need to make both a doctor's and dentist appointment as I'm overdue for both...but I have far too great of a phobia to do either...

  13. I'm addicted to the internet. It's really, really, a terrible thing.

  14. I can get along with almost anybody. I've lived with some of the craziest personalities and people so opposite, but I can do it. However, if you are rude for no apparent reason, I'll return the favor.

  15. I love, love, love airplanes. Ask me anything about cars and I'll give you a blank stare... but if you need to know the cruising speed or wingspan of a Boeing 747, I'm your girl!

  16. Backpacking made my personality grow in so many ways, and I learnt more in that year than I'd learn at home in 3 years. I think that everybody should take a trip by themselves at least once, even if it's only for a month. It's amazing how you can just be yourself when you are freed from the identity that you carry at home.

  17. I am a Christian. Some days things seem so hopeless but having faith will always get me through.

  18. I don't have as many close friends as I used to, but the few that I have now mean the world to me. People change, and it's sometimes easier to accept it and move on than to try so hard to make a friendship work and in the end cause it to end on bad terms.

  19. I love to sing. I'll never tire of karaoke nights. Getting on stage in front of a crowded bar is such a rush, even when you butcher the song!

  20. For somebody who fears commitment and thrives on freedom as much as I do, you'd be surprised to know that I really look forward to marriage someday, and I hope to have 3 or maybe even 4 children.

  21. I wish that I could run! I get so tired, so fast. I've been working to build my endurance and my goal is to run 1 km, without stopping. It's not much, but right now I'm out of breath after one lap.

  22. I'm really terrible with money. "Oh, my Mastercard is nearly maxed out... but I need a $600 camera, now!". Anytime I stumble across extra money I tend to put it towards travel rather than pay off my pile of debt.

  23. I'm addicted to travel. I am never happier than when I'm lost in some foreign country with nothing but a camera and passport. There is so much to be seen in this great big world.

  24. I rarely swear, but occasionally I let a few foul words slip and it's hilarious seeing peoples reactions, as they don't expect it from me.

  25. I love my life. Plain and simple, life is good. I may complain a lot, but in all honesty I know I've got it good.

  26. That's all! More than you ever cared to know, I'm sure!

I'm immature, irresponsible, lazy & loud... but I'm fun!

April Showers...

Everything that I was taught as a young child led me to believe that Spring is that time of year in which baby animals are born, flowers bloom, the snow melts, and we enjoy warm, balmy day time temperatures.
So why the heck did I wake up to 4 more inches of snow this morning? It's April 14th, nearly one month into Spring, and the snow continues to fall. Come on Mother Nature, seriously?! What message are you sending to the kindergarten students across the province who are currently learning the difference between the seasons? How will they ever trust what they are taught
when clearly the information is not accurate? Please, Mother Nature... think of the children!!
Okay, enough of my complaints. I just felt the need to vent my frusturations to you, my lovely internet friends. Judging by the forecast, the snow should all be melted by tomorrow, and I predict that by May I'll be well on my way to a golden tan. This is Winter's way of saying goodbye to us... see you again in September.

5 Years From Now...

Apr 12, 2009

Remember in 12th grade when the question "Where do you see yourself in 5 years?" was posed? I do. I remember having an in depth plan thought out, I was ready and poised for success. First I'd take a year off, find a well paying job and save my dollars for college the year after. I'd major in travel and tourism, take another year off to travel, and then land a job with a major international airline. I'd live in a beautiful condominium in the heart of the big city, and life would be perfect.
Fast forward 5 years, and where am I? 3 blocks away from the high school that I graduated from, living with my Mother, working for an insurance agency. It's funny how things don't always go as planned.
I have, however, accomplished the majority of the items on my list... I took a year off of school and worked, although rather than the well paying job I'd anticipated, I was trapped in Walmart dealing with screaming children and never ending line ups of impatient customers. I did go to college, and I did major in travel. My year off to explore the world turned into another year of working another dead end job, but I did make it to Australia and Southeast Asia a year and a half later. I returned home in October of 2008, which was far more of a culture shock than downtown Bangkok. Life, as I'd known, was so much different than I'd remembered. I was so much different. Life goes on. Having spent my last dollars in Australia, I was forced to move in to my mom's house, and here I've remained since. The airline dream? Still a dream, as hard as I've tried to make it a reality and as close as I've come (top 13 of 220 hopefuls for Emirates airline interviews!), I still haven't been able to check that one off of my list. With my 5 year anniversary of being a graduate approaching in only 2 months, I think I'm out of luck in accomplishing all that I said I would, but I suppose I've done alright!
Well, that was perhaps one of my most pointless blogs yet... "I've accomplished nothing in life"..... 5 minutes later.. "Okay, maybe I've done okay in life..." but does anybody read these blogs anyways?
So my question to you, regardless of what stage in your life you are currently at... Where do YOU see yourself in 5 years?? That's a tough one, I'm going to have to sleep on it.
Goodnight all, Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Here's hoping that everybody had a great Easter Sunday, in whatever way you and your family choose to celebrate! My mother and I are headed for sushi dinner, as a turkey for the 2 of us just sounded like far too much work...

Oh wait... update as I type... my mom has found far more interesting plans involving a certain male that she is currently interested in and is now ditching me on Easter. Thanks Mom, I love you too. Welcome to my life.

In happy news, I wasted no time celebrating Easter and the end of Lent... thus the end of my month and a half long chocolate fast. By 12:07 am, I was indulging in Lindor chocolate.

(Special thanks to Ryan for bringing over some amazing chocolate, as well as
capturing these photos of me as happy as can be!)

The Countdown is On!

Apr 11, 2009

Dearest Chocolate,
46 days... I made it 46 whole days without you! You know that saying "absence makes the heart grow fonder"? Never have I agreed more. Not a day went by when I didn't think of you and how happy you make me. Life just isn't the same without you. I promise never to leave you again.
T Minus 2 hours.
You are MINE.

Easter with Krysta and Kaynyn

This afternoon I forced my 14 year old brother to decorate Easter eggs with me, as I've never fully grown up. I'm a bit over the top with the holidays the past few months. Last year I was in Australia, far from my family during every special occasion, so I suppose I feel the need to make up for it this year. My mother and other brother were not present, as per usual, but Kaynyn and I had fun carrying out our Easter tradition, and in my humble opinion, I think that our eggs look fabulous!

Alberta's Paradise

I'll admit, I often brush aside the beauty of Alberta, stubborn and convinced that I live in a a flat, frozen wasteland and that nowhere is as great as the beach. I've got to be honest though, every time I make the 3 hour trip to the Rockies, it takes my breath away. We are truly blessed with such awe inspiring scenery and dramatic landscapes. How could anybody want to live anywhere else??
Jess, Kimmy, Jungrak, and Myself at Siffluer Falls. I rock the windblown hair look.

It's a Wonderful Life...

Apr 9, 2009

I apologize for my lack of recent updates. Since finally finding a job, my life revolves slightly less around the internet.... only slightly. So here is the past month summed up:
  1. The Job: Timing is everything. I was down to $36, my car insurance was due the next Friday, and I'd come to terms with the fact that I'd probably end up being cancelled due to non-payment. And then, for the first time in nearly 2 months, I stumbled upon some good luck and finally found a job... a good one, at that. I'm now working for an insurance agency, a refreshing change from the unstable oil and gas industry in which I'm usually employed. Oh, and I got paid the day before my insurance was due.
  2. The Camera: I was the proud owner of a little pink Canon Ixus 80 IS. I'd purchased it in Australia after my silly Olympus died from the heavy humidity of my home in the rainforest. A faithful travel companion that never left my side, Little Pink passed away a few weeks ago. It was tragic, and I was greatly upset. Everything happens for a reason though, and I think that this time it was a clear sign that I needed a new camera. So I headed to the store, and spent all of my money on a beautiful Nikon D60. It was love at first sight. We've been together for just under 2 weeks and I already am convinced that it's meant to be.
  3. The Boyfriend: Single no more. Okay... I kid, I kid. I totally had you believing me there for a minute... I'm so funny... but as per usual, I'm still a happily single lady. I did, however, have a "boyfriend" for approximately 4 hours on April Fool's Day, purely for the shock value amongst mutual friends. It was good while it lasted, thanks for the memories Ryan.
  4. The Season: I've broke out the flip flops and started wearing skirts to work. Yes, there are still patches of snow on the ground, but Spring has arrived and Winter is no longer welcome here. I'm praying for no more snow. The geese are back, so it must be Spring, geese know everything.
  5. The Chocolate Withdrawals: If you've spoken to me in the past 43 days, you are guaranteed to have heard my rant about how I'm suffering since giving up chocolate for Lent. I can proudly say that I haven't cheated, not once! Easter is 3 days away, and I'm going to make it! Hellooooo, mini eggs.
  6. The Gym: Since I started going to the gym in February, I've shed 15 lbs (which, coincidentally happens to be the exact amount I gained in Australia... curse you, Tim Tams!), prepped myself for bikini season, and I can even run 2 whole laps. Okay, that's not much, but for me, any running is impressive. My gym buddy/ex April Fool's Day boyfriend and I have started attending fitness classes.... everything from yoga and Pilate's to high energy "Boot camp" classes. I'm by no means trying to lose weight, but the endorphins are so addicting!
That's about it. I still lead a relatively uninteresting life, I just get a pay cheque these days!
Starbucks in the Park... Welcome Back Spring!