This is a picture of my son and I on a visit to Stowe, Vermont.
We were down to visit some of my other favourite people, my sister and brother-in-law and their kids.
My son is the centre of my world, everything I do is aimed at making him happy and, in my small way, making his world a safer place. You can get a better look at him in my picture gallery. [There are some other family members scattered through the pictures, but my little guy is definitely the dominant theme!]
My son really enjoys Lego and has a sizable collection. He's very interested in Harry Potter. The books, the movies, board and computer games on the subject of Harry are sure to peak his interest. He is a voracious reader and gives my Chapter's card a real workout. Besides the Potter books, his reading has included Tolkien's Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" and he fills in with Star Wars novels.
[I've created hyperlinks to most identifiable information, rather than explain in detail here.]
I have been working at the Communications Security Establishment [CSE] in Ottawa since 1993. I am employed as an analyst. I am also quite active in my Union, including having spent six years as the Union of National Defence Employees [UNDE] Vice-President for CSE. I recently made an unsuccessful run for election as the Executive Vice President in August '08 [my campaign pamphlet can be viewed in English or French], since I only managed 11 of the possible 146 votes, perhaps politics is not my bag! That, and spending as much time as I possibly can with my son keep me very busy.
I am a former Master Seaman in the Canadian Armed Forces, having served in the Canadian Forces' Supplementary Radio System [CFSRS]. I was honourably discharged in 1993, after 16 years service, on medical grounds as a result of injuries sustained during and in the immediate aftermath of the crash of Canadian Forces CC-130 [HERCULES] tail number 130322 near Alert, N.W.T. on 30 October, 1991. There was a book written by Robert Mason Lee, "Death and Deliverance" which provides a fairly good account of the crash. The book was adapted into a TV movie, "Ordeal in the Arctic".
During the crash itself I received a number of lacerations to various parts of my body and a depressed compound skull fracture which left me delirious for most of the time at the crash site. The delirium had the unfortunate effect of my not taking appropriate precautions to protect myself from frostbite. The other survivors made a concerted effort to monitor my behaviour and keep my gloves on, but given their own injuries and the conditions, it was as losing battle. By the time we were rescued I had severe frostbite to my hands and feet. The rescuers quickly stabilized the survivors and we were evacuated to Alert by helicopter. Eventually, I ended up in Ottawa at what was then the National Defence Medical Centre. After assessments, it was determined that I would require amputations. I was given a number of options as to where the surgeries could be performed and the most promising was at the Toronto General Hospital under the direction of Dr. Ralph T. Manktelow.
On 27 November, 1991 I had the first of what were to be twelve surgeries, for seven of which I was under anaesthesia for over twelve hours. During the first surgery, they amputated my right hand at mid-palm, all the fingers of my left hand just above the knuckles, all the toes of my right foot just above the knuckles, trimmed frostbite-damaged tissue from two toes on my left foot and covered the upper portion of what remained of my left hand in a "Groin Flap", a length of skin from my groin with an intact blood vessel to maintain blood-flow. My left hand was thus attached to my groin for six weeks while blood-flow was established from my arm. Over the course of about the next year and a half, Dr. Manktelow and his team transferred my great toe from my left foot to the thumb of my left hand and the second and third toes from my left foot to the index and middle fingers of my left hand. This provided me the ability to grasp objects in a three-way pinch. Although not as sensitive as fingers would be and certainly not the most attractive hand in the world, it provides me with a level of independence that means the world to me. I have a couple of prostheses for my right arm that I only use on occasion. For the most part I function fairly well with what I have for hands. My feet require special orthotic shoe inserts to assist my gait and I only occasionally have balance problems as a result of losing both big toes.
I will eternally be grateful to Arnie Macauley, a SAR-Tech who joined the first para-rescue team to jump into the crash site, and Fred Ritchie, who led the SAR-Tech land approach to the site, and both the teams as well as all the dedicated Canadian Forces and American personnel who contributed to what was, to my knowledge, the largest search and rescue mission ever mounted. I quite literally owe them my life. I will also forever be in debt to Dr. Manktelow and his incredible team as well as all the surgical staff, nurses and rehabilitation therapists who brought me through some trying times and set me on my feet [both literally and figuratively]. They gave me hope and encouraged my will to live my life as close to normal as I possibly can.
Finally, a special word of thanks to Beth, my ex-wife. She had only known me for three months prior to the crash and we'd only been dating for one month. She stuck by me through all the surgeries and rehab, to the detriment of her University studies [she graduated, but it took longer]. We were married in August 1992. Our son was born in 1995 and and although our marriage didn't last beyond 1997, we're still friends and our son has the incredible benefit of two parents who love him dearly and work very hard together to raise him well. As the mother of my son and a sweet person in her own right she holds a special place in my heart, despite that we are not capable of living under one roof.