Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Okanagan Mom Opens Up About Losing Her Sons To Fentanyl

Okanagan Mom Opens Up About Losing Her Sons To Fentanyl

The story below is about a Facebook Friend of mine. It is posted on the KelownaNow Website - Please take a moment to read it . . . help save a life.

It's only been three months since Laurel Keating received a phone call about her son. It's the call no mother or father ever wants to receive and she's experienced it twice.

Her son, Corey passed away on Monday, May 22nd, 2017. During that May long weekend, six people in Kelowna died of an overdose from the same substance - cocaine laced with a deadly dose of fentanyl. Corey was one of the six.

“The coroner told me it was fentanyl and cocaine and said to me, 'If you don't have any more questions, Laurel, I have five other people I have to tell the same thing to,'" said Keating.

Without breaking confidentiality, the coroner told Keating that the ages of the people who died ranged between 20 and 50 years. Corey was 35.

Everyone knew him as fun, kind, pleasant and well-spoken. His mom and others who knew Corey thought he was doing well, that he had his life on track. He had a good job and a house where he and his high school sweat heart, Yvonne were raising their 13-year-old son, Jordan. He didn't smoke or drink. He’d been clean for two years, until he had one bad slip. 

Left to Right: Corey, Jordan and Yvonne.

"So Corey for the May Long weekend, he was all alone," said Keating. "Everybody left. I was gone, Yvonne and Jordan were gone, he was ditched. I think it just really got the better of him, his loneliness."

Keating was away with a friend in Arrow Lakes.

His girlfriend, Yvonne and his son Jordan were out of town camping.

His sister, Rebecca, lived in Toronto where she worked as a nurse.

Originally, Corey planned to camp with his younger brother, but his brother changed his mind at the last minute.

"God I didn't have any idea," said Keating. "I had no idea the state he was in."

Later, Corey's counselor told his family that she'd spent most of Friday with him because he was not doing well.

Corey had also reached to his sister Rebecca to ask for help getting out of Kelowna.

"Rebecca my daughter, she's a nurse. She said she was going to pay for him to get into a really good program on the Island somewhere," said Keating.

Rebecca tried to contact Corey again on Saturday, but couldn't get ahold of him. No one could.

She tried him on Sunday and still, there was no answer.

"I started texting him and calling and even posted on his Facebook which he hates, and said 'Cory this is an emergency. You need to call me right away or I'm going to get the police involved,'" said Keating.

On Monday, the police pinged his phone and found him at his house. He'd died earlier that morning and was found in the kitchen with a naloxone kit beside him.

"Well they said he was gone, and I freaked out," she said.

Keating's son, Adam, had also died of substance use prior to Corey but was in the hospital at the time. Because he was so far away, Keating was never able to properly say goodbye to her son, Adam, and was determined to do so with Corey.

Adam Keating and Corey Keating

"So we did go and I did see him," she said. "We couldn't touch him or anything, I couldn't hug him, I couldn't go near him. It was really hard."

The RCMP officer told Keating that Corey had given himself one dose of naloxone but it wasn't enough to bring him back.

"He had given himself one dose and was attempting to do the second when he obviously knew there was something not right with what he did or thought he was doing," she said. "But it wasn't enough. It was a fatal dose of fentanyl."

The BC Coroner Service also told Keating that Corey had no alcohol nor any prescription drugs in his system. It was cocaine with a lethal dose of fentanyl.

"I thought, 'That goddamn fentanyl.' I was in shock. I actually was in shock," she said.

Now, Keating wants to get the message out there - just how how deadly the drugs are right now - that any drug can be laced with fentanyl.

"It can happen to anybody. It's not going to happen to me because I don't do anything, I don't smoke pot, I don't do any pills, anything," she said.

"But there are people that recreationally use certain drugs that can be mixed with fentanyl. That needs to stop. If people are still doing recreational drugs once a month or year, stop."

According to Keating, Corey was extremely health-conscious. She also said he criticized people who did any drug right now because it was so risky.

"He was in the middle of the opiate crisis and said, 'Mom anyone that does anything like that is stupid.' But the addiction doesn't matter," she said. "It's the addict that thinks it's not going to happen to them, it does."

Keating saw Corey for the last time on May 13th and talked to him on the 17th.

"He told me his plan. He was going up to Alberta to get retrained for his job and get more money and just his plans with Yvonne and Jordan," said Keating.

Now that she's lost two sons to substance use, Keating is speaking out to try to get people's attention on the deadly issue of opioids.

"I don't want people to forget about these kids and people that have died," she said. "It's murder, the families are devastated, kids left as orphans."

After a few months, Keating is slowly getting back on her feet, but it's been an arduous struggle, she said.

"All of a sudden I realized it was the third week of July and I thought, 'This is ridiculous, I was supposed to do a lot of stuff and help people,'" she said. "I hadn't even cooked a meal and was just starting to think, 'Oh maybe I'm going to make some soup.'"

Talking to other people hasn't been easy either. She's around a lot of moms who want to share about their kids, but who are uncomfortable asking Keating about her kids.

"I get it. People don't know what to say to people like me who've lost my kids."

But Keating just wants to be acknowledged, she said.

"I still want to talk about my kid - my dreams and his dreams."

Recently, Keating connected with the Moms Stop The Harm group, which provides support for families who've lost a loved one to substance use.

Moms Stop the Harm

Thursday, August 31st marks International Overdose Awareness Day. In Kelowna, the Moms Stop the Harm group has events planned throughout the day, including a candle light vigil in honour of loved ones lost to the opioid crisis. The candle light vigil runs from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. this Thursday, downtown Kelowna at the sails.

To learn more about the group in Kelowna, visit their webpage here.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Whispers in the Wind

Whispers in the Wind

Poem by Franklin Steer

Flowers Of My Heart

Whispers in The Wind 

Wind is the breath of creation
And its children are the breezes
That swirl the clouds
Into soft cotton images
Wherein summer hillside contemplation
Reveal hidden dreams
Trapped within our recollections

The breezes’ younger siblings
Drift through darkened winter hallways
Down early morning chimneys
Through the tiny cracks they seep
Into our places of solitude,
And invade with reminders of their Holy parentage:

All this motion is the whisper of God.
As He is, it is not seen,
And touches all at once
Without favor.

Speaking -
The leaves excitedly touch each other
With a gentle nudge
To repeat the message in the wind
And its youngling breezes.

They whisper between themselves,
Swelling with softness the echo of creation.
In this rustling lives a peace
That reflects the joys of repose,
And the reward of the space
Between dreams, sleep, and our awakenings.

From wonder within awe,
The might of these murmurings
Build into a deep roar,
Reaching into every soul
The very foundation of our exultance
Is held tight by this intimate caress.

Touching gently like love,
With love, it is love.
Reaching out from our very creation.
Touching creation
Loving our creation
Touching our love.
Touching its creation

Kaleidoscopic gifts that light bestows
Upon the entwining leaves
Warm the heart as though cradled
Within the arms of love itself.

I see so much in the breeze,
So much in the wind -
Reflections of my heart.
Extensions of my soul.
The sparkle of the love
Behind engaging eyes.
The sweetness in a smile.
The softness in a touch.
The warmth that is shared
From within an embrace.

Love whispers like the wind.
Love whispers from the wind.
Love is witnessed within the wind.
Love travels on the wind.

My heart reaches out for love
And rides along the wind -
In every rustle of a leaf,
In every moan of every gale,
Searching for the place
That holds its final home;
The heart that stirs my love
Like the wind stirs the leaves

The sound of the trees
Is the song of the breeze,
And the sound of the pleas
In my loves longing search.

All that sing a song of the wind
Whisper the yearning of my heart.

When you hear that gentle whisper,
Know that it holds the yearning within my heart. 

Franklin Steer
© FOMH / Flower of My Heart

Friday, August 25, 2017

Happy Birthday Grandpa

Living with Pain - A Long Rough Road

Living with Pain - A Long Rough Road

Be Strong

by Stacey Kuhns

Living with Pain - A Long Rough Road - Be Strong
Stacey with Service Dog Henson

As I embark on the road to a healthier lifestyle I reflect on the trails that got me to this point in life. After much research, reading, and just plain living, I realized that I have been dealing with the same health issues since I was a child.

Back then, doctors would have never guessed what was going on and no one ever looked at my issues globally, taking the entire body and its systems into account.

College is when everything came to a head for me and I was extremely sick, physically and well as depressed. My mom came down to the school a few times to take care of me and take me to and from the hospital. Still, no one figured out what was wrong with me. Doctors seemed stumped.

I got to the point where I assumed being in pain throughout my entire body was normal and something I would have to live with the rest of my life.

While working in law enforcement, I spent a year in a wheelchair, thinking I would never walk again. I still came to work every day (except when I had medical appointments), and I feel continued to work at 100%. When Defensive Tactics classes became a requirement for the County of San Diego, my doctor advised me that I could become permanently injured if I took the class. It didn't take the County long to decide I could no longer do my job (even though I was an investigator and they have since put those classes on hold). Anyway, water under the bridge. Point is, I had to retire 9 years early, giving up a 21 year career and losing a lot of pay.

It took until my 40's until I was diagnosed with one of my diseases and until my late 40's until a pain management doctor finally put the pieces together for me, diagnosing me with my second disease. That diagnoses also made me permanently disabled in the eyes of the state, but I do not receive a monetary payment for being disabled. I was not medically retired from work either, as they felt my conditions were not caused by the job. I do receive Medicare as my sole benefit of my "settlement".

It has been a long rough road. There is no cure for either of my diseases. There are lots and lots of medications that supposedly help ease the pain a bit and make me "comfortable." Some days, that is a laugh as comfortable is not even in my vocabulary.

Many days I wanted to die and felt there was no reason to go on. Why live every day in intense pain. What does being here serve when I can barely dress myself or get undressed by myself? And chores and grocery shopping...sometimes I cannot wait to get back out to the car so I could burst out sobbing.

My diseases are two of the long list of "invisible diseases*." People don't believe you are really sick. They think if you lose weight, you will be cured. If you just go out and exercise a lot, you will be cured. I was advised by my doctors to swim (as walking is extremely painful for me.) I love swimming but one hour of water aerobics would put me in bed for two days with excruciating pain. I persevered, went to counseling, cried a ton, and luckily have an amazing group of close friends who helped me and supported me. (You all know who you are). I also had many friends who dropped out of my life because of all this. People that I felt were almost family, that I had known over 20 years. I don't get it, but whatever. And I even had family members pull away because I was no longer the one doing everything for everyone and was no longer superwoman.

I am so thankful to Ed who loves me unconditionally and accepts me and has provided me with adventures I never thought I would be capable of doing. I am so thankful to my amazing parents for always being there for me, for Ed who loves me unconditionally and accepts me and has provided me with adventures I never thought I would be capable of doing.
Ed and Stacey
I am so thankful for the people in my life now and those who have remained by my side. I am thankful to the trainers at Kindred Spirits Dog Training who made me feel that training my service dog was possible (even though there were times I was overwhelmed and wanted to give up). I am thankful to David for suggesting a service dog might be a help to me. I am so thankful to my amazing parents for always being there for me, for Ed who loves me unconditionally and accepts me and has provided me with adventures I never thought I would be capable of doing. For Chuck who has always been there. For my amazing girlfriends old and new who I love so much.

I know that eating right and exercising as much as my body can handle will provide wonderful benefits for me. Losing weight has never helped my pain levels but I am finding alternative things that are helping. I am getting good medical care.

I plan to keep keeping on. I plan to live each day as it comes and listen to my body and do what I can.
I plan to keep keeping on. I plan to live each day as it comes and listen to my body and do what I can. I hope to keep volunteering (as I have come close to quitting so many times due to how physical the job is and how high my pain levels have been), and I hope to keep learning and growing with Henson, eventually completing the Therapy Dog class and taking him to make others feel better, even for a short time.

For all those suffering invisible diseases. I get it. I am with you. Be strong. Never give up because there are so many people to reach out to, people who really do care. Hugs!

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*According to one study, more than 125 million Americans have at least one chronic condition (defined as a condition that lasts a year or longer, limits activity and may require ongoing care) and nearly half of those have more than one. These chronic illnesses often share one major characteristic: they are not visible to an onlooker; thus the term “invisible illness.”

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Birkenstock - Good Sandal - Horrible Customer Service

Birkenstock - Good Sandal - Horrible Customer Service
Birkenstock - Good Sandal - Horrible Customer Service 
I ordered a pair of Mayari Birko-Flor Graceful Toffee Size: EU 41 / US 10-10.5/8-8.5 Width: Regular on August 15th for an event I am attending on August 25th. Part of the purchase price included shipping cost. Since I live in a rural area twenty miles from the nearest town, I do not mind paying the extra shipping cost as it saves me the time and cost of a forty mile trip.

I was thrilled when I was notified by email that my order would arrive on August 22th. However that joy evaporated quickly when I open my package. Birkenstock had sent a pair of brown Gizeh!?!

Birkenstock - Good Sandal - Horrible Customer Service
Birkenstock Mayari
After double checking my order, I confirmed that the error was on the company’s side and immediately email them at the email address provide. Birkenstock did not even bother to respond. (Super bad customer service)

On the 23th, I called Birkenstock’s 800 number. Nickey, the Customer Service Representative, confirmed that I had ordered the Mayari not the Gizeh and said she was “sorry.” Unfortunately, there was nothing she could do until after they received the Gizehs back!!!

Birkenstock - Good Sandal - Horrible Customer Service
Birkenstock Gezeh
I explained that I had wanted the shoes for Friday; I explained that I would have to spend my time and gas to make a forty mile round trip to the UPS store; I explained that I would have to lose a couple of hours from work to drop of the shoes – all because of an error Birkenstock made!

Again Nicky stated that she was "sorry" but she could not help me in any way. She emailed me a return label and stated that they would ship out the correct shoes only after I returned the ones they shipped to me in error. Nicky made it seem that they were doing me a favor by supplying the return shipping!

After spending $102 to have a pair of sandals shipped to me, I expected better customer service. I would not recommend that anyone order shoes from this company via the internet. If you want the shoes drive to a store that stocks them. You will have to make the trip anyway and not be charged for shipping that does not deliver as promised!!!!!

You can buy the same shoe, online at Nordstrom for the exact same price but with free shipping!!!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Family Camping - Lake Hemet

Family Camping - Lake HemetLake Hemet, one of the most popular vacation spots in Southern California for waterpark play, camping, fishing, RVing, festivals and weddings.

Photos from our weekend: