It Takes a Village

Last summer one of my Dale friends looked at me quizzically and asked, “what happens to us if Dion’s health worsens and you need to take care of him?” I thought about it for a moment, not wanting to skirt the question, deny my role or belittle the obvious concern felt, finally responding with “we’ll deal with that if and when the time ever comes. The Dale is so much more than me and I’m confident we’ll get through things together”.

As I sat in the hospital with Dion this week, I thought of that conversation. I also remembered how a visitor to the Drop-In recently asked me what being the Director of The Dale has taught me about trust. The truth is that the last four years have felt like one big trust exercise. I have needed to trust that our vision was right, that giving up our “walls” would prove to be wise and not foolish, that we would have enough resources, that delegating responsibilities to a variety of community volunteers would work.

You know that trust building game where you have to fall back into the arms of your team? Well, the arms of The Dale team are strong. The kitchen is run by an amazing group of volunteers, coordinated by Souad. Souad has stuck with me/us through a lot. She calls me in to help sanitize a sink or taste the food, but rarely am I a cook. It isn’t uncommon for community members to show up before Joanna or me to get things started at the Thrift Store Drop-In. The breakfast on Wednesdays is entirely prepared by two very faithful core volunteers. I could go on.

In the autumn of 2012, Joanna Moon took a giant leap of faith to join me on staff. Since then I have gained a sister-like friend and work partner, one who showed up at the hospital, bought me chocolate, delivered cards filled with the well wishes, prayers and love from our beloved community, prayed with me AND staffed everything this week at The Dale. She did it without question and for that I am so, so grateful. I also don’t take for granted that it was hard work.

Not only did the regular crew carry on as usual, friends also sprang into action to offer additional support. Sanctuary sent some of their staff to help. I’d like to send a big shout-out to Kim, Sam, Beth, Simon and Greg for being present. And thank you to those who wanted to be around even if you couldn’t.

With Dion in the hospital and now at home slowly recovering, I’ve been witness to what I always knew would be the case: The Dale has carried on without me, while simultaneously being with me. I was back at the drop-in today, keenly aware of the truth that it really does take a village.

p.s. The number of family and friends who were also our village this week is large. I’ve focused here on The Dale, though I could write pages about the depth of support we have felt in all spheres of life.  My gratitude runs deep.



Update 2

Early this evening Dion was finally moved out of the Emergency Department into a regular room.This is good for a number of reasons: he feels less disconnected because his phone has a signal, he will have access to physio and occupational therapy, and he has a window. As anyone who has been in hospital knows, time seems to stand still, so having a view helps you remember that the world continues to move.

Important to note is that Dion remains in isolation because he entered the hospital with a respiratory infection. Anyone who enters his room has to wear a mask, gloves and gown. Until infection control is convinced the risk has been eliminated, this will continue. We hope of course this will change soon.

Dion is in better spirits overall, though still fatigued. His appetite is low. He was able to stand in order to be transferred to a chair, but we don’t know what walking will look like yet. The medical team seems hopeful that he will get back to his “baseline” with time. They also plan to have a respiratory therapist investigate the elevated diaphragm.

The outpouring of prayer, sending of good thoughts and care has been overwhelming. Thank you. We will continue to rely on the strength of all of you as we navigate this set-back, as well as the uncertainty of the terrible disease that is MS. The Biblical story of the paralytic man who must count on his friends and their faith to be lowered through the roof to meet Jesus and receive healing is not lost on me. I don’t know if that man had a partner/caregiver, but if he did I imagine that they too would have needed to be touched by Jesus. I know I do, as does Cate.

In gratitude and much peace, Erinn




A Health Update

For those of you who haven’t heard yet, my husband Dion was admitted to hospital yesterday. At around 6:30 am it became apparent that I needed to call an ambulance. Dion had a significant fever and couldn’t move or stand on his own. I tried to help him up, but couldn’t.

The update is this: a viral infection seems to have exacerbated Dion’s Multiple Sclerosis related symptoms. We’ve long known that even a simple cold could wreak havoc on Dion’s system, so he has worked hard to avoid getting one for close to five years. Unfortunately during that time Dion transitioned from relapsing/remitting to secondary progressive MS. This is our first chance at seeing what a cold can do to his current scenario and it hasn’t been pretty. Having said all of this, the medical team is still discerning exactly what is going on.

Dion’s fever is under control, though at times erratic. He was able to transfer to a chair today, but has not fully regained use of his legs. He is tired. Added to the mix is that Dion’s breathing has been laboured due to an elevated diaphragm which is constricting his right lung. We are still waiting to hear a variety of test results. He is understandably frustrated, tired and wanting to get home.

As for me, I am working to be present to Dion’s needs, which includes being his advocate in the hospital. I am admittedly weary and sad, anxious about what this all means more long-term. While my body does not struggle with MS, it carries a portion of its weight. I am able to feel simultaneously strong and weak at times like this. I am not exaggerating when I say that Cate is being a trooper. Pray though that she find space to share what is so easily internalized.

I know many people are eager to know what is going on, so this felt like an appropriate way to spread the news efficiently. Thank you to all who are praying and sending good thoughts. We are aware of this huge cloud of people who surround us with love, longing and hoping for Dion’s healing. Pray that we might have what we need to face each moment, as it comes, with grace and the knowledge of a peace that passes all understanding.