Have we learned any lessons

I’m sitting here at the beach looking down the valley at the smoke looking out at the water I probably shouldn’t be out but I am having a coffee watching the ducks bob along and I’m wondering have we really aren’t any lessons.

I’m wondering since there’s been less activity both at the shores of the water edge and on the water with less people tossing garbage polluting the waterways although sad that it’s because our forests are all burning up and we’ve lost towns and communities will this reprieve by this time next year have been enough to help our waterways.

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Will we have a learn to respect on my hands and our waters and all that nature provides us for without it we can’t survive and yet we disrespected so much and have for so long has this year been enough between Covid and it is continuous rampage to our unprecedented heat waves and our fires in another corners of the world floods and all kinds of devastation how we learn the lessonsWill we have a learn to respect on my hands and our waters and all that nature provides us for without it we can’t survive and yet we disrespected so much and have for so long has this year been enough between Covid and it is continuous rampage to our unprecedented heat waves and our fires in another corners of the world floods and all kinds of devastation have we learnt the lessons.

It weighs on me more than most people can begin to understand my connection to it sometimes I don’t even understand but I know I have always been very connected to it I have always had a great deal of respect for it for our forest for a rivers or streams and it’s been very hard this year to see what’s happening to it all and I just don’t know if enough have learnt what they needed too.

Its much the same with the advocating at work with dementia and around dementia it bothers me greatly that for 30+ years people have been advocating and were still talking about the same things, as all those before us, the typical, stigma, language, lack of resources, and the list goes on should advocacy not have moved on to different things by now. Oh yes there is the evolving pieces being advocated for like rehabilitation, better pre and post diagnostic supports, human rights, and more, but why has the messages not been heard, acted on, why is it so hard to get actionable and tangible progress made. It feels like it mostly comes down to it being controlled by the big players and it’s all about money. And just like our basic society and the mess it’s in money and power seem to control if and when the right things will or can be done.
I don’t generally talk politics or religion, but there is so much political unrest in the world as well, again driven by money and power, and even right here at home a Federal Election just weeks away, I have heard people saying they don’t like either leaders of our two main stay parties, so typically we go back and forth electing one then the other, for decades know people unhappy, well I am going to think outside the box and I hope others do as well, this time I’m voting for the third of four parties, I’m going to think and go outside my comfort zone. I think about the saying, and I just heard it again the other night about advocacy work, but it applies here too, and that is “ if nothing changes, nothing changes, or if you keep doing the same thing and keep getting the same results at some point you have to do something different. In this case if we keep going back and forth between the same two parties then we will get the same things, so opting for leaving the comfort zone, voting for a party we’ve never given a chance too, the other two parties have made such a mess of this country over the last number of decades, that putting someone totally different in might shake the others to go back to the drawing board. Voting someone else in at this point in my opinion couldn’t give us any worse, in the short term anyways.

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My mother used to tell me when I was growing up that I was born in the wrong era but I should’ve been born in a different time than I have was in living in a different time than I am and the longer I spend time in this world the more I believe she was right.

It’s quite likely why so much of the time I feel like I don’t fit in because truly I did belong in another time but I’m here and I try to walked along as best I can although that becomes more of a challenge all the time.

I feel and think so deeply and with so such emotion and I see things in different ways than other people and I can’t and don’t understand why that is except it maybe that’s a gift that was given to me, and maybe I shouldn’t question it. I do know that this point in time and with everything sitting so precariously I keep saying that it’s like the whole world is operating on some kind of tilt like it all earth itself shifted on its axis.

Things will be different going forward that I know for sure will they be better I don’t know I only have to believe that they will, too believe that somehow the people on this earth have finally learned that they were given a gift in all the other earth provides us and that if they don’t take care of it they will be the cause of the human extinction, we will cause our own destruction we will cease to exist only because of our own doings we will become our own undoing. So things will be different, better or worse maybe things will ride out being this way for a while. Exactly as we’re living now mostly in isolation also having to distance from others having to spend time and quiet contemplation maybe all these things are meant to have us stay this way until people do get the message until the lessons are learned but whatever and however I just know things will be different in the coming time not this year I don’t think. I’m just riding this year out. I just know things will be different in the coming time not this year I don’t think so I’m just riding this year out. I think things will also be very different for me personally going forward in the coming time and I don’t know if it’s better or worse either, but I do know it will be different . I don’t know what the path is it’s going to be laid out before me but I know there’s going to be a path very different than the one I have currently been on I just have to embrace it and I to trust that as much as I belong in a different era and as much as I was born at the wrong time in the wrong place that I will end up being exactly where I meant to be and maybe there’s a reason why I was born and was placed in this era at this time and maybe this next path will reveal a lot more. I have complete trust in God or the universe or the spirits or the angels or whatever you prefer to call it and I am going to be on the path that I meant to be on I just have to be patient and sit back and wait and it will all be revealed in its time right now it’s just a time of quiet time for me and I’ll just try to make the most of that quiet time.

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Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

Emotionally Done

This morning it’s raining, something to celebrate, hopefully it will rain for days, we need a week of steady rain, although they are cautioning that if it’s not enough rain and the lighting slated to come with it could actually worsen things…. and you wonder how much worse can they get, yet you know they can always get worse….we are surrounded by out of control fires, the covid 19 is again hitting us hard in this region, more restrictions for us, hospitals are in code orange and struggling to manage, And a Federal Election, its too much for most to manage, its overload on our body systems. People are tired, stressed, scared, and their health is being effected. I think the long term effects are going to be more than people think.
For me I am emotionally drained, while trying to manage the further lockdowns and shut in living, due to the smoke living in darkness most of the time, and now having to say my goodbyes to my sister in law, which fills me with sadness. The steps that had to be taken to be allowed in to see her and say my goodbyes, was more steps and checks due to covid, and it was confusing, not set up to be easy for people that may be older or have any sort of difficulties. Nonetheless I could not imagine not being able to see her. I can’t imagine the difficulties for all over this last 18 months who couldn’t say goodby to loved ones, so I am grateful that I was able to make the trip on Thursday.
It has been a difficult number of months, trying to focus mostly impossible. My advocating work slowed to a crawl, with the added pressure of beating myself up for not doing as much as I normally do or contributing in the ways I normally do. Admitting that we are again having to admit that once we what we were managing to do and maintain we no longer can. It’s just another of the ever changing and challenging aspects of living with Dementia, but at least now even though its difficult to admit to and even though I end up feeling bad, like I’m letting people down, I do realize that I must ensure my own well being, or taking time away to focus on my well being will not be a temporary thing it will become permanent. The rain has already stopped.

I have booked three days in a small cabin on the waters edge in the northern part of the province for three days at the end of this month, sometimes it can’t be about $$$ all the time, sometimes ones will being trumps the money aspects, the well I shouldn’t really spend the money, I can’t really afford to spend the money, sometimes ones well being trumps all so for me to get out of the smoke, to hopefully enjoy some sunshine, I will likely have to up my vitamin D intake this winter as I definitely did not get adequate sunshine this summer. It will be money well spent and so much more affordable than I could have hoped for at $ 80. per night, I think its a steal, and the best part my little Pheobe gets to go with me, she needs a change of scenery too.

I have and will be focusing on getting through the rest of this year, it’s been such a hard one. So hard actually that I was actually mad at my husband for leaving me to have to manage through life and especially these events like the smoke, heat, fires, pandemic alone. I wasn’t angry for long, more sad knowing that having him here would make life so much better. it does at times make me think about how extremely tired I am from trying to do life alone, and the isolation of the pandemic and then the heat, smoke and fires and now more isolation due to the resurgence of the pandemic has brought it into sharp focus. If you have beloved, cherish them, life is stopped short far to often and having to go it alone, might look great from the other side, but its not, all those insignificant things that we fret over, fight and argue over, we would give anything to be able to still do, so hug your loved one, you never know if today is the day your world gets turned upside down.

I was talking to a friend yesterday who called from the USA, and I treasure our friendship, and we talked about how sometimes we think we just want to fade into the background, not be tied to zooms, meetings, to agendas and just start living our life as our doctors encourage us to do. It’s not that we don’t love our advocacy work, working with various groups and organizations, but sometimes it takes so much of our time we forget to live today, in the present. We forget to go out and do the things we truly enjoy. When is it time to do that? Its a hard thing, we truly love what we do, we love all the people we are connected to, but when you are tied to your computer all the time it takes away from living in the moment. However I believe I have always tried hard to maintain that balance, and get out for my walks, and into nature as much as possible however the circumstance here have stopped me from doing any of those things, and thats what has contributed to my being emotionally drained. So I am focusing solely on getting to the end of 2021, alive and as intact as I can, emotionally, mentally, physically.

I don’t know what comes next, or to what degree, I can only get through one day at a time. Life will not go back to what it was two years ago, something different will unfold, I will embrace it and walk it whatever that path may be.

Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress


I’m not sure if it is the almost two years of the pandemic and the account the effects of adding the unprecedented heat, then never before seen fires, and smoke, which just created more isolation for me. But somewhere in there I became actually aware that I don’t fit in anywhere. It’s a strange feeling, I tried to explain it to my sister, it’s like everyone has their place, like their community of people, be it family or friends, that circle, that place that feels like home, like you are part of it and the people within and vice versa. I wonder where I am supposed to be where is home for me? I’m searching for that place, I’m searching for that community or my people. Who are they, where is that.Maybe I’m a modern day hobo, who doesn’t have a place, that wherever they are is it, but they drift and never really have that sense of community which is often our friends and family, the greater community we live in. Somehow maybe due to the pandemic, maybe this is one of the effects surfacing from ongoing isolation, I now and for a while now feel like a misfit, like I don’t fit anywhere. Like I can’t or don’t relate or fit in most situations. It is if I’m honest somewhat frightening of a place to be, but as always I’m trying to find the joy in it. Trying to look at the freedom it gives me to go out, one we are thru all that is happening with the pandemic and fires etc, to explore different groups, clubs, organizations, until I find my place, my people. I’m adrift without my people. I used to have a great social network, I don’t have any now. The world seems like a very strange place to me. I’m sure much of what I’m feeling will end up leading me to people who I will fit with, in a place that will be good for me heart and soul, or perhaps I just have to embrace the gypsy in me and just be free.
I am also much more emotional about things and things effect me on a much deeper level, whether it’s things like how the fires are effecting my beloved forests and animals, or the impacts on those I care about, so I feel things on a much deeper level.
I am not sure if it’s the isolation or changes in my dementia or perhaps a combination of the two. I just know that I am in a place I never saw myself in, trying to manage through it all, at times feeling like I’m just tired of trying to manage everything alone, but somehow I do.
At the moment I’m telling myself all I have to do is get through today, that’s what I focus on, I have decided I will not be putting pressure on myself to do or make decisions regarding anything until I get through 2021, whether on a personal level, living arrangements, my advocacy work, I will only be doing what I feel I can manage, when I feel I can.
yesterday was a very productive day for me and it felt good, packing more of the things I want to have ready to go should need be, my essentials I already have in my vehicle, but have some other things ready as well. I may not need them, but we are sitting in the midst of a melting pot at the moment, so a lot of unknowns in a situation that keeps changing moment by moment it seems. I then took all my plants off my deck, they had a rough go with the heat but I had just brought them back to be looking pretty good, but had to remove them from my deck, because if we get evacuated they would become a fire hazard with ash and embers falling, so sadly they are gone, but before I did a had a visit from a butterfly got some lovely photos, they like zinnias, I cried watching it, talked softly to it, and when it was done I carried on dismantling my pretty little deck. Hauled it all too the dump, I have done my part. I spent two hours at the hospital, while they tried to do tests that my specialist wanted on my lungs, but they were not able to complete because the equipment would not calibrate properly, they said the poor air quality in the hospital because of the fires were interfering with the calibration of the equipment. The tests are rescheduled for Sept. Thursday I am going to the coast to say my goodbyes to my sister in law, we have had a lovely and close relationship and Although the trip will be a long day for me, especially since driving will mean detours, alternate highways and possible reroutes due to the fires and as it will be an emotional it will be good to be able to give her one last hug.

This year has been one that is still unfolding, and seen many changes for me, as for many others, I am hoping that my people, my place is revealed. Until then self care, extra rest. We still have 3.5 months of 2021 to get through, I am making my way through it one day at a time.

Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

A Different Kind Of Day

Yesterday morning I woke the smoke in the air very visible, even though I was a seven hour drive away. I busied myself getting my things ready for for heading home today. After a. Shower and relaxing, I was planning to go have a coffee with my sister, when outside with Pheobe that piece of me that my mom taught me to pay attention too kicked in. In a matter of moments my plan changed, my gut instincts were telling me I needed to head for home. I couldn’t pinpoint why, but it was coming through clear and strong. Normally if I am travelling I start out early in the morning, it was already 10 am five hours past my normal start time to travel. I loaded my car, stopped at my sisters momentarily and then headed off.

I knew that the situation at home is what they were telling us would be a catastrophic weekend where the fires are concerned, but Friday, they phoned my specialist wants my tests done Monday morning, I have other medical appointments throughout the week.
I have driven this drive a thousand times, I’ve been driving it since I was 16 years old, but yesterday’s drive was unlike any I have taken over these roads. I wasn’t sure if I would go all the way or part way, I was just going to go by how the day was. When I left Fernie, it was smokey, I was surprised driving how thick the smoke was in different areas, none the less Pheobe and I were enjoying the drive, our first stop was at the the the peaceful Little Rock gardens in the woods to place my memory stones in the memory garden, I made one for my husband and my mom while I was at my nieces. My supplies were limited, but nonetheless I am happy I got to place them in the garden, we spend time in the creek the water so clear, cool and beautiful, I even got Pheobe into the water, and soaked her down, she didn’t even mind, so I think it was a welcomed cool down for her from the heat. A nice walk through the forest and a energizing rest, the air was good there, off we went, and we didn’t have to go far to be in thick smoke again, the Kootenay Pass enveloped by smoke. The traffic was almost non existent, it appeared people were finally heading the orders to stay away from our area. Temperature were varying, a pleasant 25 / 26 Celsius, for the first part of the drive.

The areas where fires have been recently very visible and one area that on my way there, had a lighting storm as I drove through apparently a fire started, you could see the retardant dropped by the planes and the scorched trees along the road side, the retardant was now on the road. The difference in a week. It saddened me to see the fire damage. The temperatures took a steep jump to the 30’s , but with lighter traffic we were able to stop and stretch and have cool off periods in the provincial parks that are normally too busy.

Christina Lake was completely socked in, the lake barely visible, and we were now into the hot temperatures, my air conditioning not working, of course my main concern would be my dogs comfort, my common sense told me I needed to ensure she could stay cool, so I stopped and bought a block of ice, placed it in her car seat with her, it only took her a few minutes to realize this was a welcome addition, so our windows down a hot smokey breeze and a dog cuddled up to a block of ice, we continued on, stopping every hour to stretch. It was such a relaxing drive despite the heat and smoke, it was eerily quiet on our normally extremely busy highways this time of year, so we were able to relax and enjoy. The hours slipped by as did the miles. We stopped in a little town of Beaverdell at a roadside food outlet and enjoyed a piece of pizza each, Pheobe loves pizza, a walk a stretch, water and heading off for the last stretch to home.
The smoke became increasingly thick, as we were headed into the last little stretch the lakes that normally welcome me, we’re not visible, it became so dark, not dark like night but a dark I hadn’t ever seen before, my headlights came on, it was surreal, it felt war torn, Vernon was hidden from view by this thick thick, grey, orange, thick smoke, it was disorientating. I cried as I drove into town seeing my town like this, knowing the next few days could be worse. A silent prayer driving those last few minutes. Getting home everyone in my building was waiting for me, as I drove in I could hear the chants, christine, christine, they were there to welcome me home. They are what makes it hard to change living arrangements. A hot shower, a chat with another friend who lives here who also has younger onset dementia, we talked about how it’s effecting us, and those effects are real, it’s a lot for our brains to try to process, it sends our brain going into high drive. These events, are causing an inability to concentrate, to focus, to control emotions, high anxiety, short fuses, and people without dementia are feeling those things but they are magnified for people with Dementia. We are trying to be supportive of each other through this. I am grateful that she came into my life.
A hot shower and we were off to bed where we slept a good 9 hours, waking up the air is better at the moment, although expected to worsen as the winds pick up today, so the next day or two will be wait and see, embers are falling my car is covered, my tests first thing tomorrow morning, and then wait and see, I am ready to go at a moments notice if I need to, and if my doctor advises that I need to go again I will.
I can’t imagine what all this continuous stress is going to do for people but I am focusing on getting through on day at a time, not apologizing for being emotional and sensitive, but being positive that the other side of this good things will come.
we have the added stress of covid increasing new restrictions, but truthfully that pales in comparison to the stress and uncertainty of the fires. I’m going o repack and add some treasures to my emergency kit, while I’m home.
please stay well, stay safe, be kind, kindness is such a needed gift to provide others.

Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Living well with Dementia Silver Linings

Friday the 13th

Good Morning,
Yesterday was very Smokey here, the heat is on, and sadley our province is feeling the impact of climate change with fires raging and emotions and stress running high. Yesterday I wrote something I’m sharing here, not to cause controversy, but because I along with a lot of others are listening to and seeing everyone pointing fingers at what’s happening in our fire fights. And I am not about to say they are right or wrong, and I understand that people’s emotions and anger has to be directed somewhere.

We have to remember when fires are being fuelled by these conditions, conditions we have not seen before. The people who are working are doing all they can. They don’t want to lose a house or community they too have families and would likely rather be home than spending 14+ hours per day doing all they all the while being at the mercy of Mother Nature, people pointing fingers and trying to place blame help no one, we need to support these working so hard, place blame later if you must, but now is not the time. There is fires storms around the world everyone is scared and tired and stressed beating up those doing the work just creates more stress. People are feeling like no one is doing enough, but there are many communities being impacted, resources are being deployed to various parts of Canada and the world, we ourselves have teams from Australia, Mexico, and clear across this country, but there is also unseen fires burning in other areas of Canada, and globally. This type of work is so extremely dangerous, and unpredictable. Sending people in to risk their lives in these conditions who are not trained is dangerous as well. Years ago they pulled people out of the pubs to go fight fires, many lives were lost in those days due to lack of knowledge of what these fires can do. This year we are seeing fires behaviour we have never seen, making it all the more dangerous and topped with conditions we have never seen. I am sure there will be much learnt and understood. The one thing I do know is people all need to start doing more to get our province and our country healthy again, and forget worrying about the cars on the road creating climate change, each and everyone of us need to look around our homes and property’s and see if we are doing what we can, what are we planting or not planting, what are we consuming and not consuming. Every one of us can make a difference. Also why when we new and we’re told this could be a bad year because of the dry conditions are crews having to spend days removing things that are ignition sources from in the yards of the neighbourhoods they are trying to save. People have to take responsibility that many have not or could not be bothered or whatever the issue to ensure that those things were done. That is the responsibility of each home owner, yet there they are spending countless resources and time doing what should be done each spring. Perhaps it’s time to put together neighbourhood work bees again to ensure neighbourhoods have these things done.
I am deeply saddened by the blame game, I’d rather we all learn and help to ensure things like this have less of a chance of happening. I’m deeply saddened over the loss of communities and history, and lives, I’m deeply saddened that so many are feeling the strain, I think we will all be feeling it for a long time, and with the accumulated stress from the pandemic post traumatic stress is going to hit many and many likely won’t even realize that’s what it is.
This weekend they have said will be “ catastrophic in nature, high temps, high winds, fir behaviour that is very erratic, we are all sitting holding our breath.
It is Friday the 13th a day that many say is bad luck, but I am choosing to believe it is not a bad luck day, but instead a good omen, ( I hope today I may be able to be right, I’m asking the universe for help in this).

So today regardless of if you think someone is to blame, remember on many levels we are all to blame, so let’s try to be kind, to show compassion and understanding, not stand in judgement. We are all feeling the impacts, we are all feeling the stress let’s keep that in mind and let’s also remember, that every time someone is saying negative things whether they are right or wrong it has a terrible impact on those who are actually the boots on the ground risking their lives everyday, they deserve our respect and gratitude whether we think any bureaucrats or departs there in are to blame. And even though you may think it won’t effect the moral of those on the front lines it will and does.
Please be kind, the coming days are going to be tough.

Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

Time for an update

Photo by Brett Sayles on

I left home Sunday morning to a safer place amidst the fires and heat of home, today is Wednesday 2 in the afternoon. The air is clear here the temperatures are much cooler than home although today and the rest of th3 week will be warm for even here. However, a nice breeze, cooler at night ability to sleep with the windows open. On Monday afternoon my body in response to what had been and is still to some degrees with the difference being the smoke and the heat, my body decided to start showing the impact of that stress on my system. Having dinner with my sister I suddenly couldn’t function, complete warning to me from all systems to just stop, so off to bed for almost 12 hours, yesterday was totally low key once again, another twelve hour sleep, a short visit with my sister, a short walk by the river, and then my body says rest, so resting it is. The perfect time to do a catch up with everyone. One doesn’t realize how much strain your system is under during times like this last 5 or 6 weeks. I’m going to share something some shared with us who has been through this it accurately talks to what happens to your body at these times.

A beautiful read about these fires, Krystal Clark wrote:
I was raised in Lee Creek, my babies were born in Kamloops, and most recently I got to spend months on the lake healing my body with some really incredible therapies after years of pain.
I can’t even express how much my heart is with you guys, who are facing alerts and evacuations and everything that comes with a natural disaster like this.
I hope this share helps even one person ❤️

As the fires burn back where we are from, my heart has been heavy for everyone who has been experiencing this terrifying feeling of when nature takes over, and we are left helpless in its wake.

As a mother who was a firewife during our own evacuation 2 years ago, as well as a Shuswap resident during the 2003 firestorm, I want you to know a few things that I learned from our experience and surviving the PTSD that came with it.

Pack for longer than you think you’ll be gone. I grossly underestimated the time we would spend out of our home. Pack the sentimentals, the documents, all of the old laptops and memory cards, the sweatpants (yes, in august. You’re gonna need some comfy clothes for the weeks to come), multiple pairs of shoes and whatever else. Craft supplies and toys for the kids are also a really good idea.

Say goodbye to your freezer and fridge items. Empty it first if you can. Take photos of each room and each appliance if possible. If you have the receipts handy, take them. Try to set yourself up for an easier time when processing possible claims.

Trim back the hedges and put the propane tanks away from the house. Put sprinklers on your roof and around the parameter of your home.

Get used to the smoke. Ours lasted until winter. It took a full year to get the fire completely out. This is a long haul.

There is absolutely nothing like going through an evacuation alert or an order. The days leading up to a possible order while on alert will drain you. It will keep you in a state of fight or flight while you wait for the news, adrenaline will come and go, it will feel surreal, and having emotions during this time is completely normal and okay. You will likely remember key moments for years to come. I clearly remember the moment I looked up at the sky while on the phone with a coworker, and knowing in my core that this would be the day we would go south. Fast forward a few short hours, and I can still vividly see my babies in the backseat of my truck, screaming for their dad who stayed behind to fight the fire, and that fire raging in the back window. I knew I was doing the right thing, but it was intense. It was a lot. And what you’re going through is a lot too. Be gentle with yourself for the next while. You are not overreacting, you are experiencing a natural disaster, and you are going because your life depends on it. It is okay to be overwhelmed.

When you get to your destination, allow yourself the time to recoup and rest. Your body has been through a ton of adrenaline and fear, and your nervous system needs to reset. Don’t fight it. There will be time to get out and get the errands done.

You will pack the weirdest things. Ski boots, one golf club, clothing that hasn’t fit your children since 2013, whatever it is. Or, like one of our friends, you may completely forget your underwear. Bond with other evacuees over these things. In a strange way it really helped a lot of us to have a good laugh.

Call your insurance company when you get settled in your temporary location. Chances are good you’ll have to at least replace appliances, power can fail and most likely will. Our town lost power for a full 3 days before it was restored, and there was a lot of waste. It’s good to contact them to check in on what you’re going to need to document.

Don’t isolate yourself from support. Check in on your family and friends, reach out when it’s too much. The communities that have taken in evacuees often have discounts, events and gathering places for those who are displaced. Lean into their generosity and create some good memories in the middle of it. The city of Grande Prairie was absolutely incredible to us, and I will never forget meeting up with some other first responder and evacuated families to paint mugs and ornaments at Clay and Cupcakes, which has since sadly closed. You are not alone in this, so please lean in on those of us who understand ❤️

I know this will feel impossible, but try to limit your social media exposure to the comments sections in the weeks to come. Trust me on this. I know Fort MacMurray residents can attest to this. The sheer volume of comments about karma for the oil sands, political agendas blown out of proportion and the random trolls who want to see the world burn was a lot to take when it’s your home they’re speaking about. Your adrenal glands will be constantly kicking out the cortisol and other stress hormones as it is, so try to intentionally limit your time on your screens, and try to keep it pertinent to information and bonding with others. Download the apps that give you up to date info on the fire from the experts. Stay informed but also removed as much as possible.

When there is structure loss… grieve.
When there is human loss… grieve.
When there is animal loss… grieve.
You don’t have to be strong all of the time through this.

The biggest thing I leave with you is this:
You. Will. Get. Through. This.
You got out.
You’re alive.
You have your loved ones nearby (or so I hope).
The important stuff is with you.
You will get through this.

Our hearts are with you, we understand and you’re not alone.

bcfires #whitelake #fire #firefighters #Vernon #kamloops #kamloopsfire #shuswap

This was beautiful to receive, and it reaffirmed to me that the emotional, physical and mental fatigue I feel is real. The added strain my body endured during the unprecedented heat wave, being ill just prior, it’s been a tough year and I’m feeling the full impact.
so although it would be nice to say I’m on holidays, I am not I am on necessary reprieve to rest and be somewhere where my body can get out of that fight and flight mode. I am monitoring the situation at home, yesterday was very Smokey again, today it is windy, the fire is still out of control, I will reevaluate each day, that in itself is stressful. This is not likely to be over soon. I am appreciated of the private messages and emails. I am grateful to see family members and that they are appreciative of the fact that I am extremely stressed and tired.
im going to do what I can in and around my advocacy work over this next week, but will be mainly focused on breathing getting my lungs filled with good air, resting and trying to find ways to relax.
I’m ending with a few pictures from my last couple days. Be safe everyone

Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

The Air That I Breathe

Yesterday morning leaving at five am I drove to the East Kootenays, to stay at my nieces for a few days. The decision came when we were given an evacuation alert and knowing that waiting until a full order came would not serve me well. 

My health has been in decline, since June 21 being hit with the never before heat dome, followed by the smoke and fires, too much stress and strain on my heart and lungs, which really is causing harm to my whole system. I likely should have gone a lot sooner, but home is home and we always think tomorrow will be better, but the air quality being so so poor, I needed to give my system a reprieve from it, a compromised system will only manage being compromised for so long before it goes into a full crisis or worse.  I’m monitoring things from a distance know and will make a decision over the next couple days about when it’s ok for me to go home. 

Yesterday’s drive was truly unforgettable, when I left home at five a.m. it was still dark, a few blocks from home driving up the hill past the hospital, it started to rain, it hadn’t been raining at my house, just a light rain. Driving I was thinking I hope it rains the whole time I’m away, I hope it pours down on the fires. An hour later I was out of the rain and within another half hour I was pulling into a rest area to see the sun coming up and to hug a tree.  The air was clear, no smoke, the sky a pretty blue, I walked about with Pheobe just taking I. The fact that I could breathe, without it causing chest pain. The air felt so amazing. 

I drove with all the windows open listening to my music, the air feeling so good, as I drove I practiced taking intentional breaths. About 4 hours into my drive I suddenly realized that the headache that was having me eat extra strength Tylenol daily and effecting my vision it was so bad, suddenly was not nearly as bad, the true impacts of how much my system was being impacted. I had made the right decision for me.
For so many the impacts of the heat and fires was losing their homes, devasting losses, for me I was losing my health, the loss of my already compromised health doesn’t mean my loss was more than theirs, I am and have been heartbroken watching the destruction these fires are doing to people to communities to livestock, to wildlife. I have shed so many tears. I do not know of anyone in my area who is not traumatized be the events that have been unfolding. But for me the impacts on my health become and are much more important than than the possible loss of my home.
Once leaving Christina lake and heading up the blueberry polson pass ( you can tell how old I am I’m not sure they even call it that anymore), it started to rain, not a sprinkle but heavy heavy rain, the kind where your windshield wipers on high speed aren’t enough, where there is so much water running, you can feel your vehicle wanting to hydroplane. I turned my music off and enjoyed listening to the rain pound on my car as I slowly drove along. Driving was slow, then the thunder and lighting started, I was watching eyes peeled expecting the hillside to light up with fire, I have not checked today to see if any started, but I thankfully did not see any. Stopping in Castlegar to fuel up, I stood in the rain, just to feel and my oh my the air was fresh. I just stood there, looking up hoping and praying it would last for days and that it would travel to my area. Another 3/4 of an hour and I was out of it, I saw the blue skies again, then another surprise going over the kootenay pass, a hail storm, huge hail balls, oh what a drive this was turning out to be. The temperature were ranging from 9 Celsius to 18 as the day progressed, the cooling off was also making my body happy, and my headache progressively was dissipating. Coming down the other side of the pass again the blue skies and sunshine appeared and just in time. I wanted to stop for a rest and walk a little with Pheobe, one of my favorite little spots was closed for a long time for a flood that pretty much destroyed it but I was hoping it was reopened. I was thrilled to see it was. It was a beautiful and well cared for by locals spot, that was always so peaceful, it had changed immensely, still good energy ran through it, the floods had created a whole new creek bed, what was there gone, but what was now was beautiful the regrowth of plants and trees and the people who had and do stop had transformed it into a magical place, a healing place, filled with rocks, painted with positive messages, a healing heart area, remembering people who they have lost, it continues to grow.

Walking through it enjoying the smell of the cedar trees, the freshness of the water in the creek, all the positive energy flowing, I gathered rocks at the creek side, I will do a couple special rocks for placement there on my way home. Pheobe to felt it she was suddenly energized, I think the good air was starting to make her feel better as well.

This drive was turning out to be a much needed escape from the stress of fires, from the strain of all the isolation. I’m truly grateful to all my friends, my hot mess group, for it is all of them who encouraged me not to wait, to take of myself. I’m grateful to my niece for opening her home to Pheobe and I so we had a safe place to land, I’m grateful to my sister and her family for all they are doing to ensure I can rest and recoup.
My landlady called me about 7 last night to say she needed access to my place she had to keep all plants and outside of the building wet, it was hot and dry there, when I arrived at my sisters it was pouring rain and last night I feel asleep at my nieces with the window open the fresh rain air coming in, I was feeling a deep sense of gratitude and praying that all this rain moves to my area, although hot and dry is expected.
I will monitor and decide how soon I can or should go home, and be praying everyone there stays safe.

Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

Oh What A Night

Photo by Everton Nobrega on

Today started out on a good note, the air had cleared somewhat enough that it prompted Pheobe and I to go for a ten minute walk outside. We then even ventured out enough to do a short drive to have a change of scenery, but by then the heat was too much the smoke was returning and once again we were inside in a blacked out house trying to manage the heat.

I had the opportunity to meet and FaceTime with someone from New York, who is undergoing diagnosis for young onset. It was truly humbling that she reached out to me, to know that in some small ways the purpose of my book is realized. Truly a delightful lady and one who I am looking forward to getting better acquainted with as we continue to meet. Offering support to others is truly a very special privilege to be able to do and in all honesty I think I gain more from each of them than they from me.
The rest of day saw me attempting many things, starting many, leaving one to pursue another things unfinished, what I call my squirrel moments in full force, skittering about from one thing to another as they enter my mind, no focus, it’s more the norm now. So eventually after having to drain the water from the sink three times in an attempt to actually do the dishes before something else took me in a different direction, I decided or actually Pheobe was wanting to go to bed, so in attempting to get ready for bed I took my wrong pills in my blister pack, so ended up taking a double doze of medications, my dementia medication, my blood, pressure medications, my heart medications… yikes, no wonder it’s the middle of the night and it’s like I’m wired, I am thinking that tomorrow may not be very promising for me.
The other thing I was thinking about was how I really don’t cook anymore, or what little I do, it’s most basic at best. It’s more of a struggle. I’m eat more things like yogurt, cottage cheese, fresh fruit and veggies. I can’t imagine what it would be like to make dinner for two or three others at this point. I actually have no idea if I could do it, but know if I did, it would be very challenging. From my love of entertaining in days before dementia to shuttering at the idea now. Oh how things have changed, and maybe some of it comes from so much isolation as well, not sure at this point. I just know that I do things so much differently.
I was supposed to have a new volunteer come tomorrow, that will be put off until next week, tomorrow will be a no go for me, no use trying to pretend otherwise.
Many more evacuations happening tonight, so many being effected, I am still safe, I guess one of the bonuses of living in the centre of town, at least for now, but I worry about all those family and friends who are directly impacted. It’s a stressful time for all in this area, you, we, I am effected in one way or another.This may be why I’m struggling more with other things, it’s how my brain manages things now.
Another day will start soon, I have to try to find a way to rest, my whole system is haywire from the overload of medications, I’ll forgo my meds in the morning and talk to the pharmacist about how to get things levelled out again. Let’s hope I actually do remember not to take them…..ugh

Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

Is It All About Dementia

Photo by Brett Sayles on

I started to write my blog a number of years ago in an attempt to help not only myself but my doctors and others who may be working through a dementia diagnosis, or their families, so that people would know they were not alone.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on

Much of my blog has been focused on my dementia, the health complications, the interactions with medical professionals. The lack of resources and help available for those living with dementia. I have also spent a great deal of time talking about the importance of peer to peer support, and the importance of those connections. The importance of finding hope and purpose is also something I talk a great deal about, and being involved, finding things that bring you fulfillment. Working with organizations and research groups are two ways that help one feel valued.

All of these things are equally important steps in staying well, living well with dementia, and more emphasis should be put on helping people find those resources to help them stay engaged. Living with any type of illness is not easy, being willing to share with others somehow helps make the hard days easier, and the good days a lot more fun. Yes we do learn to find the joy and fun in life again after diagnosis.

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on

It can be frustrating down right maddening sometimes when we are constantly fighting against an all to still 30 year old believe in what dementia is and looks like, and breaking down the stigma surrounding dementia at times looks and feels no matter how much we try the stigma remains, but it was years in the making so will be years in the breaking. One must not stop trying, or if it’s time for you to stop then hopefully you will have been able to mentor others to pick up where you leave off. Passing the torch is important it helps ensure progress. Put advocating and working with others can not only help us regain self confidence and self worth it can truly make a difference in the lives of others.

So taking those steps to find those groups and people that will work with you, encourage you, will bring personal benefits as well, with friendships, with creating courage within ourselves, helping us discover things about ourselves we never new were locked away.

Something else I realized lately was that although my blog was started to document my journey with dementia and for the most part it still is, at times I have been told and or questioned why I write about other facets of my life and things happening directly or indirectly in my world that impact me.

Photo by Brett Sayles on

It is quite simple really, so often when people are diagnosed they are seen as their dementia or a dementia patient, and on and on the list goes, but the fact is I am still me. I am not who I was pre diagnosis, it would be impossible to be, just like people with other illnesses, it changes elements of who we are, how we see the world, our prospectives shift and change, things that mattered no longer do, other things take on more of an importance. However at the core of all of it I am still me, a kind, caring, very quirky individual. I love, I laugh, I cry. I am human.

To write only about my dementia is not a true or real view of someone living with dementia. For in living with my dementia I like all other people still live, I have heartaches and breaks, sadness and happiness, worries and troubles, fears and dreams. Life at times throws more at me than I think I can handle, other times it showers me with such joy and happiness I think I’ll explode. The things effecting my world, the world, my community, my family, still effect and impact me. All of these things have a great impact on my dementia, and managing it takes a lot of work and energy. So not to write about those things would not be a fair or accurate look at the life of someone living with Dementia. So although some may not see that, for me, it’s all an important part of staying true to who I am, to being real, the good the bad and the ugly and allowing people to have a glimpse into a life that is complicated by a dementia diagnosis. And I truly hope this blog will help people have a different or better understanding that people with dementia are people who live with a terminal and often invisible illness, but they are individuals who all aspects of life are still very much a part of, and impacted by. I am so much more than my diagnosis.

Photo by Brett Sayles on
Advocates Advocating Christine Thelker © 2020 Dementia Event For This I Am Grateful Good Grief Living well with Dementia Silver Linings Stress

August Arrives

Photo by Jess Bailey Designs on

We have arrived in August, what a spring/ summer this is. More people in our area evacuated last night as the fire has become a monster. I woke last night, startled, jumping up, the smell of fire so strong. Even though we had a sprinkling of rain fall, not enough to even dampen the ground under the trees, it brought the ash and smoke even lower, then the word that people on the west side road area where being evacuated, a lot of those people, friends, one of them messaged me that it was raining white ash as he drove it.

Yesterday was a strange day when around 9 am the daylight went from this smokey yellow grey we have been in too dark, needing lights on during the day. This morning will require the same it is dark. It feels like you are in this sort of mist, except the mist is not mist it is smoke and particles in the air from the fires. It has been effecting everyone, emotional, physical, mentally.

In many ways this has been harder for me than the covid, it has restricted me more, during covid ( yes I know it is still here, yes I know it’s getting worse again), but during covid although isolated, I could go for a walk alone, I could ride my bike, I could go for a drive, I could go out into the beautiful forests that are know burning, yes a lot of restrictive living, but not anything that felt so bad that I couldn’t find ways to manage it.

The heat dome that started in June, forced me indoors, my system can’t manage the heat., my house blacked out, but able to enjoy the very early morning sunlight. Then the fires started, the smoke rolled in along with heat, as of today more than half a million acres have burned in BC.

The red heart is placed right in the area I live

The impacts for me have been many, social isolation is becoming the norm, not sure how I will manage to reemerge into the world. And yes that is a real thing. My headaches caused from all the inflammation created from the heat and smoke are becoming unbearable, the pain pills also are not good for me, one thing compounding the other, concentration mostly gone, tired, not the fatigue I normally am challenged with but tired, its the lack of light and sun and oxygen getting into my lungs and breathing all the really bad air. I wonder what all this prolonged breathing of smoke particles are going to do and surface as going forward for people living here. They said this morning our area here in Vernon has the worst air quality in the country.

So as we move into August, and the province I love so much burns, on this BC Day a holiday here in BC, I am saddened by the what I see or more accurately don’t see, I wonder what the remainder of this year holds. I have to hold out hope that things will improve, that as 2021 heads to the ends stretch, that a new found hope and light emerges for the coming years.

I was just talking to my landlord, she is worried, so in trying to do something positive, we earlier had put out water bowls for the animals, we are now planning to find places to place seed/food for the birds as well, normally its not good to feed them, but the food sources they normally have, are all but gone, we have to try to help get them through this season. It may not be much but if feels good to try to do something. Working to stay positive and focused on the future, grateful that everyone I know who is evacuated is safe, praying they will all have homes to return too. Grateful for all the hard work of those fighting these fires in tremendously difficult terrain and conditions. Hoping people can maintain being kind and generous during these stressful days.