October 13, 2017


The first time I saw him was nearly fifteen years ago on Hallowe'en night. Fort Liard's kids were making their rounds on a snowy night, going door-to-door collecting candy. A tiny white pup struggled behind, trying to keep up. Not many days after, the bylaw officer showed up at my house. He knew I was looking for a dog; would I be interested in that same little white ball of fluff?

I was.

It wasn't easy at first. I was up every couple of hours to let him out to pee. His bladder was so tiny. I was exhausted. It got better, of course. Now, fifteen years later, it seems like we've come full circle. He's not the same little white ball of fluff, but he needs to be let out every couple of hours throughout the night. He has difficulty getting up. He spends most of his days sleeping. He can't get up and down stairs anymore. Walks are limited to short, slow strolls to the mailbox. It's a far cry from the adventures we used to have together.

Nanuq was my adventure buddy. We went places together and saw things. We explored. Just him and me, out in the wilderness, sleeping in the alpine or huddled under the trees at night. I had his back and he had mine. I kept him from being swept off by a falcon, and he stood his ground around bears, warned me that I was hot on the trail of a pack of wolves, and kept me from being trampled by bison twice (ignoring that I was only out to give him his evening walk and wouldn't have been in that situation otherwise).

My kids have known him their entire lives. Little do they know that some of my parenting techniques were practiced and refined during Nanuq's puppy-hood. Seeing them suffer with their first big loss is perhaps what makes this as hard as it is.

 Today is Nanuq's last day.

This afternoon, a vet will come and, with Nanuq's family gathered, we'll watch the aches and pains of an aging dog drift away. I'll miss him terribly and while I don't know what happens when a good dog dies, I hope that his spirit gets to go on many more adventures.

 He deserves it.  Good boy.

June 17, 2015

We were not alone.

We didn't really know how to ask for it, but when Jade was having her seizures and when we were struggling to beat them, we had a lot of help. It came out of the woodwork.  It came from friends, neighbours, medical professionals, acquaintances, strangers, and other parents who were or still are fighting childhood epilepsy.

Even small things were big things for us. And, still, I don't really know how to express my gratitude to all those who helped us - sometimes before we even realized we needed it.  Even when people couldn't help but wanted to, it was amazing just to know that we were not alone.

It was that kind of support that helped us to achieve an outcome like this, which was recently covered by Dave Croft on CBC North.  The article was shared widely, even making it onto the front page of

And it was this coverage that made it even more clear that WE WERE NOT ALONE.

In response to the article, Fawn has been contacted by numerous parents and guardians who are losing their children to epilepsy. There are far too many.

Fawn was also contacted by Jim Abrahams from the Charlie Foundation.  If you're not dealing with childhood epilepsy, you might be familiar with some of Jim's work. If you are dealing with childhood epilepsy and, in particular, the ketogenic diet, you are undoubtedly familiar with some of Jim's work.

Jim has been telling stories of battling and overcoming childhood epilepsy for a while now. If you haven't seen this Golden Globe-nominated movie he directed (starring Meryl Streep), you really should.

Jim closed his message to Fawn with the following:
"Thank you for sharing your story. I can promise that as a result other kids will get better."
He's right.  Sharing our story helped us, too. Sharing our story helped us to realize that we were not alone.

Thanks, Dave Croft, for helping us to tell our story so other kids can get better, too.

July 03, 2014

The Tooth Fairy Mystery

The moment the 7am alarm went off in my room there was a knock at the door.  It was Jade.

"The Tooth Fairy didn't come and take my tooth."

Ah, yes, Jade's second tooth.  The tooth we thought would never come out.

The big front tooth that crept across her gums until it was parallel with the floor but hung in there for weeks and weeks until it was finally - and painlessly - dislodged by an apple.  

The tooth the Tooth Fairy kept reminding herself that she had to collect when Jade was asleep because she didn't want another close call like last time when the Tooth Fairy remembered the very first tooth just as she was crawling into bed. The tooth that, in spite of the constant self-reminders, the Tooth Fairy completely forgot about when she crawled exhaustedly into bed after a busy evening of cooking and cleaning and packing lunches for summer camp the next morning because she's single-parenting while her wife is singing on tour in places like Yellowknife and Iqaluit and Ottawa.  That tooth.

"That's weird," I said with a genuinely sad and perplexed look on my face. "Are you sure?"

"Well, the tooth is still there," she said.

"Hmm..." I muttered as I walked off down the hall and she went into the bathroom.

It was then that the Tooth Fairy hurriedly snuck outside wearing nothing but her pyjama bottoms to raid the change tray in the truck for a couple of measly quarters and dimes and then raided the change tray in the minivan for quarters and loonies.  The Tooth Fairy felt horrible for the oversight and wanted to do whatever she could to make amends for her failure to do her job properly. Deftly, the Tooth Fairy snuck back down to her room and inserted the mitt-full of coins under the lowest of her two pillows - one layer below the tooth-bearing pillow sandwich - and exited the room, leaving the tooth behind. 

Strolling back down the hall, with Jade still in the bathroom, I asked, "Are you sure the Tooth Fairy didn't leave anything?"

"I don't think so."

"Did you look under both pillows?" I asked.

We walked into her room together and she checked under the first layer.  The tooth was still there, safely tucked into the giant zip-loc bag where she had placed it.  But under the second pillow? An entire three dollars and twenty cents!

"But why didn't the Tooth Fairy take my tooth?"

"I don't know. I guess it's a mystery."

We've been discussing this mystery all day.  It just doesn't make sense.  Why would the Tooth Fairy leave the tooth behind?

Mysteries are good.  I like mysteries.  Jade likes mysteries.  Little sister Halia likes mysteries, too, judging by the number of possible reasons she's concocted for the oversight.  In the end, Jade concluded that there's only one way to find out and that's to demand an explanation from the Tooth Fairy.  Smart kid.  That's why Jade wrote a note this evening asking the Tooth Fairy why she left the money and didn't take the tooth.

And so, the Tooth Fairy began writing this blog entry, which should take just enough time for Jade to fall fast asleep, at which point the Tooth Fairy will replace Jade's note with a note of her own.  The note will probably blame the oversight on the hired help (one just cannot find good substitute fairies these days) and will thank her for keeping the tooth safe until she could come to collect it herself.  She might even let Jade keep the additional dollar and twenty cents for her troubles.

She might do that. Or she might just take the tooth and let the mystery linger...

December 29, 2013

Kissing Ketosis Goodbye?

Around that time that Jade's seizures were at their worst, I wrote this entry on Finding Strength.  (Go ahead and read it.  This post will be waiting for you when you get back.)

That was a little over five years ago.  Five long years and just a little before we started Jade on the ketogenic diet.  Thank goodness we were able to find the strength to get us through the storms because the good times have arrived!

Long-time readers of Michael's Meanderings will know that we achieved seizure-freedom for Jade a few years ago and last September she had a squeaky-clean EEG.  We owe so much to the ketogenic diet and to the team at BC Children's Hospital who helped us to administer it - but gosh darn it the diet is a pain in the butt (still better than the seizures, though) and after so many years of having to kowtow to the diet's demands, we dreamed of a day when we would be free to prepare a meal without having to weigh every ingredient to the tenth of a gram, or plan our every waking moment around Jade's snacks and meals and supplements.

Well, I am pleased to report that the day has come.  Actually, it has been several weeks now, but it takes a while to do the wean off the diet and I didn't want to jinx anything.  Jade is out of ketosis and appears to be thriving.

Here she is, being allowed to eat as much protein as she wants for the first time in five years.

I'm tickled by how much she enjoys being able to eat new foods and by how much she enjoys eating as much of it as she wants.  She has so much more energy! She's growing (She's very short compared to her classmates: A "side effect" of the diet)!  I'm also tickled that we don't have to use the scale anymore! She can eat when she's hungry and isn't constantly begging for food! We don't have to prepare multiple meals at supper! We don't have to lug her meals around with us or prepare them in advance!  Oh, the freedom!

So much freedom, thats we're going to Disneyland! I kid you not!  While possible on the ketogenic diet, the logistics of traveling from Whitehorse to Disneyland while administering the diet sounded as reasonable as packing the car for a weekend trip to Mars.

Now, we're not out of the woods yet.  Yes, she's off the diet.  Yes, she appears to be doing well, but that doesn't mean there aren't things going on in that noodle of hers that we can't see.  We'll be going back to BC Kids in February for another EEG and, hopefully, everything will look great.  If not, well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.  For now, we'll revel in the glow of what feels like a fairy tale ending and hope that there's no sequel.

Halia's 10 Helpful Tips for Good Table Etiquette

This evening, we had a discussion on good table manners.  Halia, age 5, had these helpful tips to share:
  1. Don't hum.
  2. Don't pick your nose.
  3. Don't touch your eye.
  4. Don't touch your bum or your vulva or your penis.
  5. Don't suck on your Kleenex.  Even if it's tasty.  Mine is pretty tasty, actually.
  6. Don't stick your fingers in your cup.
  7. Don't mix food with your drink.
  8. Don't eat the ceiling.
  9. Don't eat like {name of friend}. Grabs fork with both hands and begins shovelling food into her mouth.
  10. Don't sit in a "W". Kneels and splays both feet out to the side so her legs make a "W" shape.
Should I ever have the opportunity to dine with the Queen, I feel that Halia's advice will serve me well.